Monday, July 6, 2020

Sherman County in June

A couple weeks ago we had to return to Vancouver for a fun trip to the emergency vet (everything's fine now) and after a few days I had the urge to get out for some birding.  A day trip to Sherman County seemed like a nice break from the dog stress and I hoped to finally crest 100 species there. 

Columbia Gorge sunrises are always good

I took 197 down to 216 where just before White River Falls State Park (four miles before entering Sherman County) I noticed a bunch of turkeys in a field.  There was a pullout there so I stopped to send Jacob a photo of them.

I looked over to my left and a Lewis's Woodpecker was flying around, hunting from a telephone pole. 

Nice start to the day's birding

In the field below was this pheasant that I think is a Ring-necked but not the usual variety.

I continued on to my first destination, the BLM road that winds along the Deschutes River over 17 miles to Macks Canyon.  It was slow-going as it was quite birdy and I only made it six miles total.

Bushtits were the most abundant bird along that road with a a new family group every time I stopped. Lots of cuteness. 

These should be the Interior subspecies rather than the Pacific we have in the Portland area and at the coast, but I didn't research it enough to eBird them as such.

Lazuli Buntings were very common, singing from a variety of perches.

An American Dipper down in the river was a nice surprise when I was scanning for Spotted Sandpipers.

I spooked this Osprey with a rainbow trout (maybe a redband trout?) when I parked at another pullout.

Nonstop scenery along the way.

As I crested the short section of paved road a Rock Wren hopped on to a guardrail post. I'll take it.

A family of Western Kingbirds was entertaining and I later found another on a nest.

Also in the area were plenty of Bullock's Orioles including this one on a nest.  Sad to see all the fishing line involved which seems kinda hazardous.

A few more birds from along the road:

Western Wood-Pewee


Young Say's Phoebe

There are a number of camping areas along the road and I pulled into one to scan the river.  Immediately I noticed tons of insects swarming the ground, burrowing into little holes. 

They were digging quickly with their front legs like above until they were completely out of sight in the ground.

Note that dirt still flying!  iNaturalist suggested American Sand Wasp (Bembix americana) for the species.

Eventually I turned around, accepting that I would not make it all the way to Macks Canyon if I wanted to visit other places as well.  From the Deschutes I headed east to a pond on Ball Lane that I apparently birded once before.  A lone Ring-necked Duck seemed random and Ruddy Ducks marked my 100th Sherman County species.  I hadn't counted up my birds yet though so I was completely unaware of this.

Next was Twin Lakes Road where target birds kept appearing, starting with a most cooperative Grasshopper Sparrow.

A far less cooperative Vesper Sparrow, above, was followed by a semi-cooperative Swainson's Hawk.

At the lakes for which the road is named I managed to spot a couple bright red ducks through the haze, my county Cinnamon Teals.

I stopped at the Rutledge-Barnett Road Ponds without finding anything interesting, ate a snack at the Moro Sewage Ponds, then headed north to drive the Biggs-Rufus Frontage Road.  A singing Common Yellowthroat was my 14th and final county bird of the day.  

Birding Oregon's third least birded county (by complete eBird checklists) is always fun and distracting so I'm grateful I was able to go while Jacob worked from home and kept an eye on the mutts.

Jake wants you to know he is doing perfectly fine now. One of his old man benign lumps opened up and got infected which made his leg swell up to a ridiculous size. A round of antibiotics and lots of bandage changes got him back to normal. Good boy.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

June birds

It's been another long emotional month in 2020.  I have barely blogged because really I don't know what to say beyond the obvious (or what should be obvious):  Black lives matter and wear a fucking mask. 

Our Lincoln City neighbors

At least there are still birds to look at.  At the beginning of June a Glaucous Gull was still lingering on the beach here despite everyone celebrating the reopening of the beaches.

'mericans love driving on the beach

Baby birds have been happening this month, starting with baby robins.

West Devils Lake Road

Young Hairy Woodpeckers have been around the neighborhood and our yard.

West Devils Lake boardwalk

Dad was always leading the young male around (backyard)

A couple times this month I had to return to Vancouver for vet appointments for the mutts.  On one occasion I went birding at the end of Lower River Road and heard a young Great Horned talking. I was looking up at it when I stumbled upon its parent feeding on a dead rabbit on the ground.

One morning I opened the blinds in Lincoln City to find a Virginia tiger moth staring back at me. Very cute.

Another morning I looked outside and saw a Willow Flycatcher flying around the backyard.  Super weird yard bird, possibly attracted by the new water feature Jacob built.

In case you are curious, here is said water feature in its current state:

More rocks and plants to be added but so far the birds like it.

Later that day I went over to the Lincoln City sewage ponds where the most exciting thing was a nest full of baby Black Phoebes.

The parents were hanging out nearby.

Waterfowl was limited to the most common birds and their kids.

A flyover Peregrine was nice, along with my county year Red-shouldered Hawk.

I checked the phoebe nest on my way out and it was cuter.

The yard has been stuffed with young chickadees and nuthatches this month.

The Violet-green Swallows claimed this nest box months ago but only in the last few days have I heard babies inside.  They sound almost exactly like the adults. 

Dark-eyed Juncos and White-crowned Sparrows brought their babies around this month though the White-crowneds had to work a little harder.

Brown-headed Cowbird baby in addition to three White-crowned babies

Lastly, a couple nights ago Jacob and I went up to the clearcuts across the lake from us to see some nighthawks.  We picked a new spot that turned out great- a shorter walk and excellent views.


That's about it for the month.  Hope your June was filled with baby birds too!