Friday, July 25, 2014

Camping! Part two!

Back to the woods!  On Sunday afternoon we took the dogs on another hike, this time down a random forest road off of 1018.  One of the first birds we found is one of my favorites:

I will never get sick of White-headed Woodpeckers.

 The day was turning out to be a lot cooler than the previous day, for which Jake was probably the most grateful.

 My friend jumped at one point when he spooked a lizard along the side of the road.  The lizard did not make it far and we were able to inspect it closely.  A pygmy short horned lizard!

So damn cute.  We hiked up to yet another view of North Sister...

Yellow-rumped Warblers and Chipping Sparrows kept us company on the hike back.

After our hike we drove down to Cold Springs campground to fill up our water jugs and wander around a bit.  Best free water source in town.

 This area offers up a nuthatch trifecta.

 Red-breasted Nuthatch

 Pygmy Nuthatch

 White-breasted Nuthatch (future Rocky Mountain Nuthatch??)

On the drive back up to our camp spot I stopped to spy on an Olive-sided Flycatcher, strangely undisturbed by us.

Back at camp our Gray Jay friends returned, begging for snacks. 

Gray Jays have ugly kids

The dogs were a bit more excited by this other visitor to camp...


Here's a bit of a wildlife quiz for you all...  Sunday evening after we got in the tent to go to bed we heard an animal moving around our campsite.  In the morning I found that something had dug up the spot where I had last peed the night before.  What would do that?  Coyote?  There were footprints in the ground nearby, but no details in the prints could be seen.  More like holes in the ground.

Monday morning we packed up our stuff and headed out.  I abandoned my original destination when we passed the sign for Lava Lands Visitor Center, part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  We were intrigued and decided to check it out, especially when we realized one of my annual passes got us in for free.  The first thing we did was take the drive up to the top of Lava Butte.

                     Lava Butte as seen from the Trail of the Molten Land

Lava Butte is a cinder cone, believed to have erupted once about 7000 years ago, which resulted in all of the lava flow seen above and continues over two miles to the Deschutes River.  There's still barely any vegetation in the immediate area.  Views from the top of the cone were lovely- Mount Bachelor and the Sisters mountains looked great.

At the top is big a crater, about 60-160 feet deep depending on where you are on the rim. 

After the butte, we went back down to walk the Trail of the Molten Land.  It's an impressively strange landscape...

Lava rock for days

After exploring this area we drove down to the Lava Cast Forest.  Along the forest road that leads there I found this thing that looks like a tent caterpillar nest with the craziest prehistoric critter sitting on it.

What is this thing?

We arrived at the trailhead for the Lava Cast Forest with some delusions that we were going to see trees made of lava rock.  This defies logic, of course, and what we did see was pretty cool.  I'll let this sign explain it:

No matter what I do, blogger will not upload the sharpened version of this sign.  Grrrrrrr

The lava casts look like this:

 They kind of look like wells.  Pretty cool. 

Island of trees in the middle of lava rock

All this rock means one thing:  Rock Wren heaven!

Rock Wren in a tree!

Our last stop before heading back to Portland was Paulina Peak, the highest point of the Newberry Volcano at about 8000 feet.   There's a 360 degree view that on a clear day reaches from California to Washington. 

That's it!  After all that dry and dusty heat it was lovely to return to a rainy and cool Portland.  Good times!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I spent this weekend camping with my friend down in the Deschutes National Forest outside of Sisters.  Before we looked for a camp site we stopped along Cold Springs Cutoff to walk the dogs and check out the birds.  Mountain Chickadees were abundant. 

After that we drove out to FS 1018 and starting looking for a good spot.  About six miles down the road we found a pullout that had a fire pit and a couple trails leading out from it.  Looked good.  Jake was bummed on the heat so we took a break in the shade nearby,  where a couple wood nymphs came to visit.

We set up camp and then headed back into town.  A California Quail family crossed the road in front of us- my first quail kids!

Cute.  Since it was about 90 degrees and Jake was not doing so well with the heat we decided to take an air conditioned drive down to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.  It was a pretty drive, though most of the pulloffs and lake spots were packed with people.  A few weren't bad, and Jake was even able to cool off in the crazy green yet clear waters of Devils Lake. 

We stopped at a viewpoint for Mount Bachelor and Sparks Lake where I found some Pine Siskins. 

We made it back to camp where the mutts seemed completely refreshed and ready to keep tabs on the local ground squirrels.

Common Nighthawks called overhead while we ate dinner...

The next morning my friend and I woke up super early and walked the dogs down a nearby trail.  Our camp area was surrounded by healthy trees, but just a quarter mile away there were huge areas of burned trees.  As the sun rose we started hearing more and more woodpeckers. 

Many of my woodpecker views looked like this:

Hairy Woodpecker

Sometimes they actually hopped out into the sun. 

Black-backed Woodpecker

Throughout our hike we would catch glimpses of North Sister between the trees and didn't want to turn around till we found a good clean view of it.  Finally...

We hiked back down to our camp spot to finally indulge in some coffee and breakfast.  Gray Jays and this little beetle guy came by to check us out.

Just after breakfast some Red Crossbills came by...

The dogs napped for awhile before we set out on another hike, but I will save that for next time.  Good times!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Frenchman's Bar, the Clackamas, old pygmy-owls, and other random things.

It's July.  I don't have a whole lot of birds to show you.  Time to get random.  I will be interspersing Northern Pygmy-Owls throughout this post to make it interesting. 

Frog, Alder Flat Trail to the Clackamas River

You all should check out Sondra from South Carolina's Birdathon post from last month!  She joined my team, the Bloggerhead Shrikes, and had an awesome day of birds I can only dream about.  Not only does she include photos of a Summer Tanager, an Anhinga, and a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, but also a video of a gator!!  Go now!

Portland, Spring 2014
Yesterday I walked the dogs along the Frenchman's Bar trail in Vancouver.  It was warm and tame but a there were a few highlights...

Portland, Spring 2014
A Swainson's Thrush was being followed by a vocal young bird that did not strike me as a young thrush.  I never got a good look at it, besides this quick photo:

Perhaps if the thrush had read this helpful information, it would not have had to spend so much time plucking snow berries for this young nuisance.  Unless of course I am wrong and that is actually a young Swainson's Thrush. 

Bad bad photo

The Osprey nest in the river has been successful with two healthy-looking young birds in the nest.  Last year I watched the same nest with two healthy-looking young birds.  Unfortunately those birds did not live to adulthood because of dickwads and fishing line. 

Portland, Spring 2014

So, how are you guys at identifying underwater creatures?   My friend and I spent Saturday submerged in the Clackamas River, watching strange critters.  There were lots of shells of stoneflies on the rocks...

Underwater there were critters that covered themselves in pine needles and critters that covered themselves in tiny rocks and sand.  I read that stoneflies lay their eggs underwater and their nymphs are aquatic.  Is this related?  I know little about these critters, please share your wisdom.

Two of the critters covered in rocks.  

 Critter covered in pine needles (or something similar)

 Also.  This guy was cute:

This spot on the Clackamas was recommended as a more mellow spot on this fast-moving river.  I've been to worse spots, danger-wise, but this was no safe swimming hole.  We found spots where we could wade in and stay cool, though, and the views were lovely.

Can you spot the Spotted Sandpiper?

What else, what else... Oh!  There's a new bird book in town!

It's a fun little book, especially because it's geared towards birds in the northwest.  So many kids books are filled with cardinals and Blue Jays, but here we have Steller's Jays and Varied Thrushes.  The woman that put this book together founded the Friends of Force Lake and loves our local birds.  If you know a kid that could use a book, I would definitely recommend this one!  It can be found at, or that other online book retailer. 

Ok, I think that's it. 

Good times!!