Last week Jacob had some time off and we decided to take a quick trip out to the northeast corner of Oregon. We got a cute Airbnb in Enterprise and spent a few days exploring the area.
Most good road trips in Oregon start with a fantastic sunrise in the Columbia River Gorge
We drove around the area hitting the various hotspots and not so hot spots and I picked up 38 Union County birds.
We ate lunch on Wilkinson Road with Tree Swallows and cows.
Along Highway 82 we made a couple more birding stops including one at Alicel Scrape where the heat waves were brutal but we managed some close shorebirds like American Avocet and both yellowlegs. Then we headed to Rhinehart Canyon, a spot that is well known in Oregon for Gray Catbird and Veery, both of which it was too early for.
View from the bridge
The best bird we saw here was probably a singing Nashville Warbler.
After that we headed straight to Enterprise and found our cute little house with a decent view of the mountains.
We ate dinner in the backyard and had a Prairie Falcon soar over while Cassin's Finches sang from the pines. Afterwards we checked out the Enterprise WMA where I did not take any photos but I did get a pile of Wallowa County birds including Sora, Wilson's Snipe, and Wood Duck. Then we drove back through town to Golf Course Road where I had once seen Short-eared Owls at dusk.
We drove for miles without seeing too much and turned around at some cool wildflowers.
This is a native clematis, Clematis hirsutissima, aka hairy clematis, aka sugarbowls, aka leather flower. It's one of the few Clematis species that is not a vine.
The drive back to town was gorgeous.
Jacob even spotted a Short-eared Owl flying around! I failed to focus on it but still a cool scene with a bison herd:
The next morning we were up early to hike the McCully Creek trail, known for a variety of forest chickens. There was a fair amount of snow on the trail but most of the time we were able to stay on top of it.
From the trailhead it's about half a mile along a gravel road to where the trail veers off to the left. We hiked another half a mile up there without finding much and turned back. We decided to go farther along the road for another half mile before turning around again. Then Jacob spotted our target, a male Spruce Grouse! He began started strutting around for us, hopping up to a branch, making all kinds of fun noises.
Eventually he wandered off back into the trees. Such a great experience and a lifer for Jacob!
Back at the trailhead we had some snacks and watched this animal poking out of a hole:
iNaturalist identified it for me as a Columbian ground squirrel. Wikipedia says it's the second biggest member of its genus, with only the Arctic ground squirrel being larger. This makes me feel better about being convinced it had to be a marmot because it was so big. Lifer mammal!
On our drive back down we passed the Ferguson Ski Area (Known on eBird as McCully Sno-park or something like that) where a couple Canada Jays were having no trouble finding their own food. The one on my side of the car was eating a worm.
The jay on Jacob's side of the car had a more adventurous snack, some kind of wasp or something:
Our plan after that was to drive the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. We made it to a pass where snow was completely blocking the road and now I see that it usually doesn't open till Memorial Day. It was still pretty.
We headed to Wallowa Lake to do some exploring instead.
It was a good combination of awesome scenery but also a few birds and butterflies. Eventually we headed back to the house to relax and I found a new-to-me jumping spider outside, a California flattened jumping spider.
For dinner we had made a reservation for a personal tent at Terminal Gravity Brewery but did I mention it was 80 degrees that day? The tents looked like they'd be hot and stuffy so we opted for a picnic table away from other people. This was our first time dining in public in over a year.
On our last morning we packed up and headed out of town. I decided to take us on a detour on the way home to Cold Springs NWR in Umatilla County. The Memorial Marsh Unit is the best spot here, in the southeast corner of the refuge.
Fiddleneck is distracting
A pair of waxwings was perched in a shrub passing a white berry back and forth over and over and over. Very sweet.
We had a nice variety of shorebirds and ducks here including Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Dunlin, Least and Western Sandpipers, Virginia Rail, and Cinnamon Teals. After our walk around the marsh we ate some snacks and headed back to Vancouver. It was an excellent three day trip! Good times!!