Wednesday, June 24, 2015

More Eastside of Mt Hood

The last few weekends I have birded some new trails in Wasco County. One was the Fifteenmile Creek Trail from FR 4421 up to the 457 trail interchange. Best access is to go out FR 44 to the turn-off for Fifteenmile Ck Campground (FR 4420), then stay on paved road all the way to edge of Mt Hood Nat Forest, then turn left.  The trail cuts through an oak forest up to the true firs.  It was very birdy and fun to explore.  

I was lazy and did not take any photos but here is a Hermit Warbler singing a typical song version heard on the eastern side of Hood.

My ebird list:

Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Williamson's Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  3
Western Wood-Pewee  11
Hammond's Flycatcher  3
Cassin's Vireo  1
Warbling Vireo  7
Gray Jay  2
Steller's Jay  2
Common Raven  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  11
Red-breasted Nuthatch  9
House Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  5
Hermit Thrush  6
American Robin  6
Nashville Warbler  5
MacGillivray's Warbler  3
Common Yellowthroat  4
Yellow Warbler  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
Black-throated Gray Warbler  2
Hermit Warbler  7
Wilson's Warbler  1
Spotted Towhee  4
Song Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco  7
Western Tanager  4
Black-headed Grosbeak  2
Cassin's Finch  1

Last weekend I camped Saturday night along FR 27.  I was hoping to hear some Flammulated Owls, but turns out I pitched my tent in the backyard of a Barred Owl family. So no other owls heard.  Flammulated Owls have been found just north of where I camped.

The next morning I hiked into the White River Wildlife Management Area. My hope was to find some hatch-year birds to photograph.  I saw a number of them, had a hard time getting them to sit still.  My favorite was a young Nashville Warbler.  I also wanted to search for Ash-throated Flycatchers.  Some have been spotted in Wasco County during the summer. But ebird has no records of them along FR 27 in the summer. I was curious if I could find a breeding pair.  None found, the hunt continues.

I had concerns about snakes so I kept Huck on a leash while I was birding the oak forest. There is another reason in photo below.

I also saw numerous deer and a bobcat.  Striped Skunk, the other option would be Western Spotted Skunk according to mammal list for Mt Hood.

This is a typical view of a side of a canyon covered in oaks.

Going down the road to Tygh Creek was a wonderful strip of woods full of Nashville and MacGillivray's Warblers.

As I mentioned, I was trying to find hatch-year birds.  Most young birds were Chipping Sparrows and a few cowbirds hanging with Cassin's Finch flocks. 

 I thought this was a female MacGillivray's Warbler. After reading The Warbler Guide I am not sure if the dark throat mottling is dark enough to kick it out of being a female.   So maybe it is a hatch-year male?  The Nashville I saw was still molting out of its downy feathers,  this shows none of those feathers. So I am sticking with female Mac.

I heard a number of Gray Flycatchers calling in the oak forest.  I was thinking the very short primary projection might make this a young bird.  I had a hard time aging them.  Pyle says young birds should have a strong lemon wash on undersides. I did not see any wash on this bird.

House Wrens were common and out singing.

My eBird list:

Wild Turkey  3
Turkey Vulture  3
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Mourning Dove  4
Northern Pygmy-Owl  1
Vaux's Swift  9
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Western Wood-Pewee  4
Hammond's Flycatcher  1
Gray Flycatcher  7
Empidonax sp.  2
Cassin's Vireo  3
Steller's Jay  2
American Crow  3
Common Raven  1
Mountain Chickadee  12
Red-breasted Nuthatch  13
Rock Wren  1
House Wren  4
Western Bluebird  8
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  4
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Nashville Warbler  9
MacGillivray's Warbler  8
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
Black-throated Gray Warbler  4
Spotted Towhee  4
Chipping Sparrow  21
White-crowned Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco  12
Western Tanager  6
Black-headed Grosbeak  2
Brown-headed Cowbird  6
Cassin's Finch  12

My second stop was a dry pine forest, I hiked up a road to see what birds were out.  By then it was noon and hot.  All the birds were quiet except a few meadowlarks.  Huck had enough and turned around and went back to the car.  He was waiting for me upon my return.

On the way home I stopped off at Tygh Ridge Road to see the Grasshopper Sparrows.

Horned Lark were also sharing the fence posts.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Harney County in May 2015

 I went on my annual trip to Harney county this year from May 27th to the 31st.  I have tried for the past 4 years to reach Ten Cent Meadows in the Pueblo Mountains.  One can access this area from three different watersheds:  Cottonwood Creek, Arizona Creek and Van Horn Creek.  My previous attempts were not successful for a variety of reasons, running out of time on the hikes, distractions from getting an early start and wrong directions.  I was determined to reach this area this year. I camped out at my chosen entry point , Arizona Creek.

It was mentioned to me that Cottonwood Creek shows as Little Cottonwood Creek on maps, I looked and sure enough it is Little Cottonwood Creek.  In any case, it is the creek right above Whitehorse Ranch Road.  When birders mention Cottonwood, they are talking about this creek.

Below is a map of my route.  This area is well worth exploring for the bird life.  The aspen groves were full of singing birds.

A picture of the early morning start.  Looking up Arizona Creek's canyon.  And the shadow of a birder with his hat!

Coming back through this area in the afternoon I saw on White-throated Swift.

You need an early start and an ample water supply to beat the heat.  The road might appear safe for cars, but not so, there are areas of very sharp rock.  I would not recommend exposing ones tires to that abuse.  If you get in trouble up there , you are in serious trouble.

This is the upper reaches of Little Cottonwood Creek.

Next to Yellow Warblers, the next most common warbler heard or seen was probably Orange-crowned.  MacGillivray's were a very close third.

Green-tailed Towhee's, Brewer's Sparrows, Rock Wrens, and Vesper Sparrows like this one were common.

After about 3 or so miles you get to your first aspen grove.  This is where it helps to have several sets of eyes and ears.  I was only able to cover a fraction of the area.  Dusky Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, White-crowned Sparrow, and Song Sparrow ruled the woods. But who knows what I missed that was not singing. Fields on this day was very quiet compared to these woods.

The big, fun highlight was finding the Dark-eyed Junco up there.  It is about 3.8 miles into the hike when you get to another aspen grove in a small canyon.  Along the edges of the canyon in the Mountain Mahogany was the junco.  The Gray-headed subspecies is from the southern Rockies. Below is photo and video of a singing bird, Dark-eyed Junco subspecies "caniceps".

Here is the song of the junco.

View back towards the north up near the junco.  Long-eared Owls were in area, one was down by the entrance to creek, two others were up here.  Lewis's Woodpecker were in area.  Lots of fun birds.  An exciting hunt.

A few yards beyond last photo looking southwest into basin and Ten Cent Meadow.  It is the green area, I searched those Mountain Mahogany trees for Virginia's Warbler, gray Bushtits and House Wrens were everywhere.

Down the trail to the meadow I saw Horned Lark.  Vesper Sparrows flushed off nests, Sage Thrasher were singing.  Meadowlarks were around as well of course.

This is a Horned Lark from Steens Mtn two days later. I show you this to point out the very black tail of a lark.  Helpful if you are trying to find the odd bird in a large flock of long-black-tailed lark.

Reptile break: yellow legged lizard creature..

Great Basin Collared Lizard

After a long day in the Pueblo Mountains I hit Fields in the afternoon for a milkshake.  I found a Black-throated Blue Warbler in the oasis.  It was not being very helpful as to photos.  After a night at Little Cottonwood Creek I hit Fields again and was welcomed to the oasis by a singing Catbird.  I headed up to P-ranch to see the Least Flycatcher and din din at Frenchglen.  Best photo of Least is below:

While visiting HQ a few times, I tried to get photos of Black-chinned Hummingbird to prove they were indeed Black-chinned and not Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  Black-chinned are supposed to have R3 longest, Ruby-throated have R4 longest.  R3 and R4 are the tail feathers as counted from the center.  You can see the very short R1 , a bit longer R2 , R3 with a bit of white etc out to R5 on this bird.  Also R4 and R5 are supposed to be more nipple shaped on Black-chinned than Ruby-throated.  Black-chinned tend to wag tail more than Ruby-throated while feeding.  Both molt in winter so all feathers should be grown out now. This bird wagged its tail, I suppose R5 looks nipple shaped, and R3 looks long but R4 is certainly not the longest looking feather.Top of head is not green enough for a Ruby.  So it is a Black-chinned. The red is a reflection from the feeder.

Wing shape is very important on hummingbirds.

The Archilochus ( Black-chinned and Ruby-throated) have narrow inner primaries. The Ruby-throated females and immatures are supposed to have a bit of a notch on the inner web of the inner primaries.  Black-chinned are supposed to be more blunt.  I think I can count down from P10, the longest primary tucked a bit under tail to P7, then an obvious step to a narrower P6.  And the tips of inner primaries look straight I guess, not  notch, not really rounded to me.  I am not sure, but I do not think I see P1 just tip of P2 under the secondaries?  Not easy!

So much for HQ,  next night I went to Jackman Park, could have stayed at Lily Lake or Fish Lake as well, I wanted to hike up the Steens Road to see if there were aspen up there or Rosy-Finch.  I had high hopes in these snow fields.  But every bare patch was full of Horned Lark fighting and chasing each other. 

White-crowned Sparrow "oriantha" were singing everywhere. If you have not seen the Gray-headed version of a junco or the "oriantha" version of a White-crowned, you have not seen these birds.  Well worth the effort.  Dark morning kept the bright red bill from being seen well. 

Song of the White-crowned Sparrow "oriantha".

Made it all the way to Kiger Gorge, I saw a swift/swallow type bird fly up over this edge when I got there, just a quick view from off to side. So not sure which, I scanned cliffs for swifts or raptors etc.  None seen.

I am not sure if this is Slate-colored Fox Sparrow or Thick-billed.  I saw a few Fox Sparrow up in Pueblos and on the Steens, all looked about like this one.

Same bird singing.  The chip note was very sharp, which I think is Thick-billed type of call.  But that difference was hard to detect in the high mountain air.

Spectrogram of song.

Last morning at HQ was a Tennessee Warbler, Tim and I plus others worked hard together to get a photo. Not sure how well he did, at least on this you can see the more obvious bright under-tail coverts of the bird. Warbling Vireos in same tree showed long tail and an even coloring below. Tennessee have the brightest white under the tail and a very short tail.  So it is easy to spot even if that is all you see.

A nice Swainson's Hawk was flying around HQ through-out the weekend.  Dark flight feathers and light coverts is an easy spot, just the opposite of a vulture.

Baby Ferruginous Hawks,

Thanks for the visit!