The first part of the route took me through places I had been before via routes I had not travelled before. I stopped by an open structure where I had once seen a Barn Owl, and sure enough I took one step in the building when an owl flew out. I was bummed to have missed it but decided to look for pellets to poke. That's when a second owl flew past.
Then a third and a fourth started flying around and things went south. The windows in the structure have thick metal screens over them, learned the hard way by one of the youngsters. There was a big bang as the owl hit the window and I ran outside to end their panic. I peeked in from outside to see the owl sitting next to the window it had just struck before flying back up to a perch.
Though the owl seemed to be fine I felt terrible. I won't be going back in that building, that's for sure.
Along Fourmile Road there is a sign for Fourmile Historic Site, a good spot to view wagon tracks of the Oregon Trail.
I took a wrong turn somewhere around here and drove past the Caithness Shepherds Flat Wind Farm graveyard.
I picked up my Gilliam County Brewer's Sparrow on this off-the-route drive:
Finally I got back on track and started on Upper Rock Creek Lane, one of the better roads I've birded in the area.
I continued on to Bunker Hill Road, though I can't recall if this was an official part of the route. Either way, I was psyched to see a Common Nighthawk flush from the side of the road. After flying out over a field it returned to roost on the road.
I abandoned my raptor route practice at this point to head to Willow Creek to look for a couple birds reported there recently. There were a couple dead Barn Owls along the way.
At Willow Creek I easily found the Great Egret, a good bird for that area.
I also added Pied-billed Grebe and Eastern Kingbird to my county list, bringing me up to 96.
Last week I took a trip out to Jefferson County to try to find myself a state bird that is known to hang out there. I stopped by an open structure hoping for another Barn Owl but found only a few hanging plastic guys:
I drove 26 to Laurel Lane where the sage smell overpowers everything including dog farts.
I pulled up to a spot on a side road, got out of the car and was welcomed by a large flock of Mountain Chickadees and Bushtits. Quickly I noticed one of the Bushtits was not like the other Bushtits, and was in fact a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. State bird!!
The dogs and I crossed up and over a barbed wire fence on some rickety steps and started exploring, hoping for a certain bird that I never found. I did find a porcupine! State mammal!
I drove back towards Madras to get some food...
After food I stopped by the unexciting water treatment ponds and out of town on Grizzly Road. More Mountain Chickadees came to check us out.
After exploring this area for awhile I decided to call it a day and drive back home. I added 18 species to my Jeff. Co. list, plus picked up that state bird and state mammal. Good times!