Gilliam & Morrow Counties

On Thursday I drove east for my second installment of Gilliam County birding.  My first stop was Willow Creek Wildlife Area, which requires a detour through Morrow County before emerging at a viewpoint of Willow Lake. 

Stellar windshield cellphone photo

The road twists down to a small parking area surrounded by sagebrush, and the dogs and I braved the narrow trail heading north along the eastern shore of the lake. 

Scanning the water turned up hundreds of coots, Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead, Mallards, and some Scaup Sp.   I meant to get the scope out of the trunk when we got back to the car and see what else was out there, but I forgot.  Driving back towards the highway I made a wrong turn somewhere and came around a corner and flushed hundreds of Canada and Snow Geese.  Since the Snow Geese were flagged by eBird, I felt this was a decent find. 

Back to the highway, and back to Arlington, the unofficial gateway of Gilliam County.  A lone Greater White-fronted Goose has been slumming it with the domestic ducks in the town park and I stopped to have a look.

You're better than this, you know you are.

I mean, it looks pure and wild, right?  There's no black mottling below but I know that's variable.  Tell me if this dude is not legit.

From Arlington I headed south on Highway 19 with big plans to track down some Gray Partridges near Condon, and check out the southeast corner of the county.  I stopped to take a thousand terrible and two tolerable photos of a Merlin. 

I kept driving south but never made it to Condon.  A dense fog took over and I started to weigh my options, eventually stopping at Wolf Creek Road to turn around.

Fog lark.

 Horned Lark

I drove back north out of the fog and birded Middle Rock Creek Lane where I had the pleasure of being the first to use the eBird hotspot "Oregon2020-Middle Rock Creek Lane."  After that, I continued north to The Tree Lane (Old Tree Rd) where I had some better bird luck.

 That's a Rough-legged Hawk hovering between two windmills.  As he slowly got closer to one I imagined what crazy photos I would have if he got too close...  

Thankfully he had no problem flying around them and came cruising right by me. 

This road also held my first ever dark morph Rough-legged Hawk.  Pretty cool.

I hit up Four Mile Road on my way back but found very little going on.  So no partridges on this trip, but I did add 14 more species to my Gilliam County list (and 15 to my Morrow list) so all is good.  I look forward to my first spring visit to the county!  Good times!


  1. For being super vegan and all you seem to have a pretty keen connection with many different raptor species Jen. What's the trick?

    1. This reminds me. How do y'all know that when something says, "Soy Milk" or "Soy Turkey" it's not just spanish and trying to introduce itself?

  2. My lists in those counties are very tiny. Looks like you found some good spots!

  3. I love the starkness of the white background photos. The two shots of the roughie look like they are two hawks in the same shot because you can't see the edges of the photos. Neat effect.
    And I had no idea we had counties called Gilliam and Morrow. Thanks, cross-country transplant, for expanding my horizons!

    1. Thanks! eBird has taught me the counties well...

  4. I was thinking what Laura said its a clutter free background and gives a great look...You amaze me you always come away with a good day birding!


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