I left town Monday afternoon on a mission to finally track down a somewhat easy life bird that I had let slip through the cracks for too long. My plan was to camp near Sisters for the night in Flammulated Owl territory, then head to my real destination in the morning. Thunder was rumbling when the dogs and I got out of the car on Cold Springs Cutoff. It was rumbling when we went for a walk at the campground. It was rumbling with some added lightning when we drove up NF-1018.
Half the reason birders visit the Sisters area is for the burns, many of which are started by lightning. This made me a bit nervous but by the time we set up camp along NF-2061 things had mellowed. That night I heard no owls though a poorwill was calling for hours.
We got up around 5 and went up the road to bum around the GW Burn for awhile. Lewis's Woodpeckers were a highlight, though it was too dark for decent photos.
Sparrows were the stars of the day, as I had hoped.
Jake was done with walking by about 7 a.m.
I made some coffee, fed them breakfast, then got on the road to Sisters for gas. I drove around the Ray's Place shopping center checking for Pinyon Jays, instead finding this other gorgeous pine-lover:
Coloradia pandora (Pandora Pinemoth)
Wikipedia keeps it real and explains why this moth may not be so good for the local pine trees. But it was soo cool-looking...
I got back on the road and began the 40-mile drive east to the famous sagebrush area off Highway 20 to find my target bird: the Sagebrush Sparrow.
I drove a loop of roads off 20: South on Spencer Wells Road, then west on Ford Road, then north on Fort Rock Road back to 20. The birds were somewhere in this mess of sage just waiting to be found.
There were pockets of sparrow activity all over the area and Sagebrush Sparrows proved easy enough to locate. The challenge was finding them in decent light. Brewer's Sparrows were much easier.
At one point there was a Sagebrush Sparrow and a Brewer's Sparrow perched in the same bush providing a most impressive size comparison.
Finally after two hours of sage-beating and hummus-eating I stumbled upon this most cooperative fella:
I drove back to Sisters to stop by Cold Springs again to cool off the dogs. These little wasps were gathering on the planks over the springs.
It was too hot out to walk the dogs anymore so I called it a day and drove back to Portland. Good times!!