Friday, June 26, 2015

Summit Lake, etc.

Early yesterday morning I took the mutts up to Summit Lake by Mount Hood in hopes of finding the American Three-toed Woodpeckers that nested there a couple years ago.  No luck, but the lake and the surrounding area was completely deserted so I was stoked.


On the way up to the lake along NF-42 the Cascade lilies were blooming...


We spent over two hours walking around the campground and the surrounding dirt roads.  The first birds encountered were two Evening Grosbeaks lurking around a campsite, likely eating the ash from the firepit.


The lake itself was pretty tame.  No Barrow's Goldeneye as I had on my last visit, but instead a Mallard family and a lone Bufflehead.


More birds were to be found along the dirt roads nearby including singing Hermit Thrushes, Hermit Warblers, Pine Siskins, juncos, and this curious Gray Jay:


Now I'm going to show you a crappy photo of a Yellow-rumped Warbler because the little worm in his mouth made him look like Yosemite Sam.


There was this one young bird that I assume is a junco, mainly because that's who he was hanging out with.


After Summit Lake I drove back to NF-42 and past Timothy Lake on NF-57.  I was reminded that things could always be worse:


After making sure no one was inside, I continued on down 57 stopping at a pullout along the Clackamas River.

Ralph has no idea how cute he is. 

 Corydalis... but which kind? 

A quick drive up NF-58 did not turn up any grouse but I stopped to look at these:



Back on NF-57 I was still looking for grouse when I spotted a dark blob in the road.


Varying hare?  So cute.  Unfortunately a car came and he disappeared. 

 Columbia lily 

I made my way down to 224 to stop at Timber Lake and check the dragonfly scene.  There were plenty around, but not plenty wanting to stop for photos.

Cardinal Meadowhawk

That was about it for my Mount Hood morning.   Good times!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Camping in the middle of nowhere.

Pronghorn, Hale Ridge Road, Morrow County

I thought I had a good plan for camping with my friend Chris this week.  There were a bunch of spots I wanted to bird in Gilliam County, and then figured we could dip down to the Umatilla National Forest for the night.  It all made sense.

We left Portland Wednesday morning and made our first stop in Wasco County for White-throated Swifts and nesting Peregrines.


We even witnessed a mid-air food exchange between the adult Peregrines.


Showy milkweed

We continued driving east, down into Sherman County, across the John Day River to Gilliam.  And then it occurred to me.  "Oh my god," I said.  "I forgot the tent." 

The lone rock of Lonerock, Oregon

Gilliam County was hot, too hot for Jake to walk around.  We decided to drive straight to the forest where we could at least get some shade.  A rocky road out of Lonerock would get us there in just 8 miles.

Red-tailed vs. Golden Eagle

The road seemed so promising until boom, a fence.  Across the road.  We had to turn around.

 Blanket flower

We drove back up to Lonerock for Plan B:  the much longer route up Buttermilk Canyon, over to 207, and south to the forest.  Buttermilk Canyon turned out to be awesome although still super hot.


 We stopped at a little watering hole that was too gross to let the dogs drink from, but good enough for the Killdeer and the dragonflies.

Common whitetails

In the more canyon-y part of Buttermilk Canyon Road we came across a couple of Canyon Wrens.  Go figure. 




Eventually we made it to 207 and drove south into the Umatilla National Forest, picking a random forest road to make home for the night.

Western blue flag iris? 

Without a tent there wasn't much to set up.


Cassin's Finches and Steller's Jays were the more common visitors, while the loudest sounds came from nearby cows.  We slept in Chris's truck that night, crammed on the dogs' beds with the dogs.  Not exactly comfortable, made worse by a splitting headache and no painkillers anywhere. 

In the morning some clouds kept things cool initially and we headed back towards Condon for coffee and ibuprofen.  Near Ruggs at the intersection of highways 206 and 207 we found a Chukar chilling on the side of the road.


A nighthawk flew over, then a harrier carrying a dead bird.  A couple of deer crossed the road right by a deer sign.  It was a cool little spot.  We continued west on 206 towards Condon until we saw big ole rattlesnake in the road.


So cool.  We made it to Condon, cured my headache with ibuprofen and coffee, then headed south to Wehrli Canyon.  I picked up some new Gilliam County birds along here including Yellow-breasted Chat, Western Kingbird, Common Nighthawk, and Lazuli Bunting.  Along Quinn Road I picked up Gray Flycatcher and Cliff Swallow.  It was already too hot for Jake's tender feet and he waited in the truck with a tennis ball for company.


At Dyer State Wayside this cute little beetle landed on my filthy glasses:

Trirhabda or some other leaf beetle

We headed back home soon after this...


It was a poorly planned and poorly executed camping trip, though overall pretty fun.  Good times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Life after Maine.

It took me awhile to recover from the great SD card failure of Maine.  When I got back I barely had the desire to take photos, and if I did they were mostly with my phone.  Even when a pile of Clark's Nutcrackers landed twenty feet away from me and Chris on a hike last week I only digi-binned them.

This bird was so close and I had my camera and I refused to crush it. 

It took some time but I'm finally using my camera again and actually have some non-cellphone photos to share.  Yesterday I hit up a couple clearcuts with Christian, including the one along Skyline Blvd that has been talked about lately.


Between the great views and the piles of birds, it was easy to see why it's been so popular.



Band-tailed Pigeon

 Olive-sided Flycatcher

 Willow Flycatcher



Yesterday evening we went up to a Larch Mountain clearcut to see if we could find any nighthawks.  There weren't any recent reports up there and expectations were low, but amazingly we heard a couple almost immediately.  We stuck around for awhile and saw at least three more, though it was hard to keep track of them all.   They were still catching insects when we left.


This was a county bird for me and a bird I had never had the chance to sit down and watch for a long time.  The sound that occurs when they swoop down for insects is hilarious to me and can be heard in the last couple seconds of this video:



They mostly refused to fly in front of the pretty sunset, but once or twice they humored us.


As did a Cedar Waxwing...


I hate that sometimes I love clearcuts.

This morning I took the dogs for a good walk to Frenchman's Bar Park to see if I could hear the Red-eyed Vireos reported yesterday.  No luck on those, but other fun stuff around.

Lower River Road deer



And lastly, this intriguing insect:


I haven't tried to ID him yet, but he looks awesome.


That's about it.  Good times!