Summer Lake.

Last weekend Jacob and I went down to the very un-summer-like Summer Lake to bird and explore for a couple of days.  On Friday we started the journey on good old Highway 26, stopping at a gas station that produced a few nice birds.

This Gray Jay was serving as a crossing guard for sasquatch families while simultaneously begging for granola bar crumbs. 

By the time we got to Summer Lake around noon, snow was blowing around and sometimes mixing with hail. 

Tree Swallows in snow

Long-billed Curlew in snow

Thankfully after a few hours of snow showers moving through the rest of the day was sunny and we took our time on the 8+ mile auto tour.


 Sandhill Crane, dirty-neck subspecies

Yellow-headed Blackbird

 Curlew in sun

Snowy Plovers, not in snow

There's a barn at the wildlife area that Great Horned Owls have taken over and it's easy to take a peek at them.  This one was perched on a beam in the center of the barn, and after a minute flew up to a wire at the front of the barn surrounded by Cliff Swallow nests.  It was a strange scene.

We checked out one last area for the day where we finally found good numbers of American Avocets, but no stilts. 

After dinner at the lodge we returned to the Bullgate Campground to set up our tent and catch the end of the sunset.

In the morning we learned our coffee and oatmeal plan was a bust, so Jacob had to deal with me for a couple hours without coffee.  😬 

The sky looked pretty amazing, between the moon and the crazy clouds.


 Western Wood-Pewee
We birded around for awhile until the lodge opened for breakfast where delicious pancakes and coffee revived me completely.  From our table we spotted a Black-headed Grosbeak and a Townsend's Solitaire in the gravel driveway, which are probably my best ever pancake birds. 

With full bellies we got back to the auto tour and found more birds, like this ridiculously approachable Bald Eagle:


Look what I can do! 

Farther up the road a Black-crowned Night-Heron flushed from some tall grass:

We decided to take a walk out on one of the dike trails where Forster's Terns were fishing. 

We kept going hoping for shorebirds and eventually found a shallow area with two pairs of avocets. 

A hail storm was pushing towards us but we chose to ignore that fact.

As we walked back to the truck the hail began and we had the pleasure of enduring the entire storm.  The sun came out again and we found a couple Bank Swallows, which was a pleasant surprise.

We finished off the auto tour and began the long drive back to Portland.  Overall it was a very successful trip with nine lifers for Jacob and tons of year birds for me.  We had 71 species at the wildlife area including a lot of great birds I did not manage to get photos of like Trumpeter Swans, American White Pelicans, White-faced Ibises, Red-necked Phalaropes, Franklin's Gulls, and all the Gadwalls I could ever want.  Good times!!!!!!


  1. Had to Google, have not heard of this place. Seems sick...that there is a nice mix of birds. Glad your camping trip didn't get hailed out.

  2. I also think it's weird/interesting that Trumpeter Swans summer that far south - they are only a winter bird in California.

    1. Yeah, it's a cool spot, though maybe not as good as Malheur. It might only be a single pair of swans that nest at Summer Lake, though I think Malheur has multiples. Not sure. I don't think they're anywhere else in Oregon in the summer.

  3. Your birds-within-scenery shots are just great. I want to look at those Tree Swallows on a fence all day.

    1. Thanks, Greg, that was one of my favorite photos from the trip!

  4. A most excellent post! I am crazy over that Bank Swallow shot...omg
    so what happened to the oatmeal and coffee plan? I can not move without coffee. Your pancake breakfast sounds most satisfying indeed!!
    Oregon's spring has been a cold one so far? I can't catch a glimpse of a curlew to save my got one in snow!!

    1. Yes it's been chilly here! Supposed to change soon though. All this rain is making the plants happy at least.

  5. I love Summer Lake and that cozy little lodge. Those owls are bomb. We had Evening Grosbeaks in the gravel driveway!

  6. Well I think you deserve all those siteings for enduring the cold weather, well done both. sounds like you had a good weekend.
    Take care, Gordon.


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