Monday, November 7, 2016

Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Today (Sunday, 11-6-2016) was my first visit to Cottonwood Canyon State Park. It was a perfect choice for a sunny November hike.  I went in search of any stray migrants that might be hiding in this beautiful state park.  Below is a map of some of the points mentioned in this report.  The park is 132 miles from my SW Portland home, it took my 2 hours and 10 minutes to get there.

The John Day River cuts through the canyon.  I walked out the Lost Corral Road.  This road is on the Gilliam County side of the river, the other side is in Sherman County.  The first section of the road is closed to hunting, after about 2 miles you enter the hunting area.  I saw some pheasant hunters heading out on my way back, other than them and three horseback riders, I had the place to myself.

This is looking back upriver from where I came, there is a road right next to the hillside.

And here it is, I pished and "Screech-owl" whistled many times, each time Ruby-crowned Kinglets, juncos, and sparrows all popped up to chew me out.

Looking down river.  Getting the idea that this is a beautiful place?

Several spots had nice groups of trees, Hermit Thrush were found here. I am always hoping to find a rare thrush in these spots, so it is always fun when a thrush is spotted.

I climbed up the edge of a box canyon, my turn-around spot.  Looking down river..

And back upriver towards the parking lot.

A view right into the sun.

Several Canyon Wrens were letting me know they knew I was there.  Water coming off the cliff created a bog area, I was hoping for some birds, but it was quiet.

All Bushtits were the interior form.

There is a moving, slightly blurry Bushtit in this mess.

A junco looking for that darn Screech-Owl.

This flicker was one of the first birds I saw.  The bright yellow was eye-catching. I could not see the red on the nape.  Both sexes of Yellow-shafted could have the red nape. A young Yellow-shafted male can have the pale orange moustache,  which I think is shown here.  

Darn bird never raised its head for a nape shot.

The place was loaded with Ruby-crowned Kinglets, I could have found three times as many if I had pished all the willows.

Townsend's Solitaire

The wing-bars make this a hatch-year Hermit Thrush. I am hoping to stumble across a Gray-cheeked in Oregon one of these times. When I first saw this one, all I saw was what seemed like a partial eye ring and an all gray thrush.  Then I saw the contrasting flanks/wing , spot pattern and tail.

Bighorn Sheep, with their white butts, were an easy spot.

Update:  Nels just pointed out that the lower left ewe has a radio collar, good spotting!

I liked this heron and its choice of a perch.  The tallest tree around.   This bird also liked standing up on the edge of a cliff.

The White-crowned Sparrows appeared to be gambelii.

I looked for, but did not see any raptors in the canyon.  I did see Kestrel and a Prairie Falcon on the drive down 206, but no raptors was a surprise to me. After the canyon I drove down Starvation Road to a river access point. I was looking for sparrows, larks or longspurs.  I did see a Lark Sparrow, and a few of these Western Meadowlarks.

The river access if you go down Starvation Road.

My eBird list for the canyon:

Cottonwood Canyon (Gilliam side), Gilliam, Oregon, US
Nov 6, 2016 7:22 AM - 1:22 PM
Protocol: Traveling
7.5 mile(s)
Comments:     mostly sunny 40ish in the morning, up to 58 degrees by afternoon
25 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  4
Bufflehead  4
Chukar  1
Ring-necked Pheasant  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Belted Kingfisher  2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)  6
Common Raven  3
Bushtit (Interior)  24
Canyon Wren  7
Pacific Wren  1
Marsh Wren  2
Bewick's Wren  5
Golden-crowned Kinglet  5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  50
Townsend's Solitaire  4
Hermit Thrush  3
Dark-eyed Junco  50
White-crowned Sparrow  6
Golden-crowned Sparrow  9
Song Sparrow  19
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Western Meadowlark  3
House Finch  14
American Goldfinch  1

eBird list for Starvation Road:

Starvation Lane, Sherman, Oregon, US
Nov 6, 2016 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
20.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Drove road down to river and back, on return cut over to Baseline back to 206
7 species

Ring-necked Pheasant  2
American Crow  2
Common Raven  2
Horned Lark  9
Lark Sparrow  1     large sparrow with distinctive head pattern seen on sage brush. flew before photo was attempted
Western Meadowlark  6
House Finch  50

A great day birding in a beautiful state park.

Thanks for the visit.

Monday, October 17, 2016

After the October Storm at Ft Stevens

I ventured down to the mouth of the Columbia River on Sunday (Oct 16, 2016) to see what birds might have been blown ashore due to the storm that passed off shore on Saturday.

Several hard showers hit me as I birded the area, I searched  from Parking Lot A to the access road over on the river beach in-between lots C and D.  The churned up ocean, dark clouds, golden beach grass and the logs on the beach made for a beautiful raw scene.

A fine looking coyote was picking over a seal at the road access to the river beach.  Trying to avoid rain showers, I broke my hike up into several stops.  I birded from Lots C, then A, then B and finally from the access road.  I was caught out in two rain storms.  But I had sandals and shorts on with my pelagic gear on from waist up, so the water puddles, waves and rain did not bother me.

Shorebirds were well hidden in  the foam on the beach. This Sanderling was using the foam to avoid detection.

Sanderlings are one of the easier peeps to capture on film.

Dunlin often hide in the flocks (see above), funny how quickly they separate once they land on the beach.  Dunlins are unwilling to wander as close to the waves as Sanderlings.

Numerous shorebirds were on the beach, I was surprised to see the number of Semipalmated Sandpipers in the group.

Least Sandpiper.

Two molting Western Sandpipers were there. Note how much bigger the adult scapulars are on these peeps when compared to juvenile plumage.

Black-bellied Plover.

A Peregrine Falcon was hunting the flats at Parking Lot C.

The only storm-birds I saw today were Red Phalaropes.  I tried for Red-necked, none seen or heard.  Red Phalaropes make a "quit" sound or a high-pitched "kit" , Red-neckeds make a lower "kit" sound. Listening to the Sanderlings and Red Phalaropes flying around was good practice.

Most birds were at the base of the jetty on the ocean. It was a very high tide. I was able to walk right down the middle of all the birds on the narrow beach without flushing them despite the fact that I had Huck with me.

The gulls were feasting on mussles that were attached to a log that had landed n the beach.

I called the back gull a Thayer's Gull.

Nothing rare but always fun to hunt.  I looked in the woods for birds, the rain and wind seemed to keep things quiet.

Parking Lot A to River Beach, Clatsop, Oregon, US
Oct 16, 2016 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
3.75 mile(s)
Comments:     over cast, some periods of rain, some periods of strong breeze
36 species (+3 other taxa)

Cackling Goose (Aleutian)  160     flocks of 40 or so arriving from high over the ocean, dropped in elevation and passed over area.
American Wigeon  15
Mallard  60
Green-winged Teal  350     large flocks arriving from the north
Surf Scoter  75
White-winged Scoter  85
Common Loon  1
Double-crested Cormorant  35
Brown Pelican  225
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  1
Black-bellied Plover  8
Semipalmated Plover  40     on beach at base of jetty
Sanderling  200
Dunlin  70
Least Sandpiper  35
Western Sandpiper  2
Red Phalarope  175
phalarope sp.  25
Heermann's Gull  15
Western Gull  100
California Gull  40
Thayer's Gull  5     scattered among gull flock
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  75
gull sp.  100
Belted Kingfisher  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Peregrine Falcon  1
American Crow  2
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  6
Brown Creeper  1
Pacific Wren  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Dark-eyed Junco  6
Song Sparrow  5
Spotted Towhee  2

Thanks for the visit.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Deschutes River State Recreation Area in October

Today I went back out to Deschutes River State Recreation Area, a spot I hit this past February.  I wanted to see if any fall migrants were in the canyon.  I think I missed the peak migration, I should have gone out there two weeks ago.  I am hoping this post encourages more birders to try this area next spring and fall.  The woodlands and brushy areas along the Deschutes seem like a natural spot for migrants to visit.

These Mallards were doing a rather odd trick. The Deschutes was a roaring river, the ducks had somehow grasped the rocks on the river bottom. They stuck their heads under water and just held it there.  They could have been nibbling on food attached to the rock in front of them, or they were filtering something out of the water.  How can that drake in the middle hang on in that torrent? Any ideas?

I zoomed in on the ducks at top of above photo.  They are not moving, they are just sitting there.

I saw the Mallards on may way back out of the canyon in the afternoon.   My first good look at a bird in the early morning was this Black-capped Chickadee.

Northern Flickers in fresh plumage are gorgeous birds. They deserve an extra look through the bins.

I climbed up to the road to show all the habitat along the river.

The woods where Gordon Canyon empties into the Deschutes River.

The road heading back to the parking lot, this section heads back down to Gordon Canyon.

These shrubs along the river trail had American Robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Ebird said my count of 125 Violet-green Swallows was unusual for the date.  There were a few large flocks working the river.

According to Sibley, the Pacific form of Bushtit has a brown head that contrasts with the back.  The Interior form has a gray head that does not contrast with the back. He mentions the lores on Interior birds tend to be pale.  The flock of Bushtits I saw were all Interior, but many seemed to have dark lores.

This American Pipit was part of a large flock working along the river.  They liked to sit on the rocks in the middle, this one flew over to my side as I was passing by, thanks!

How can that face not make you smile, love the Huckster.

You try licking your chops while running as fast as you.  He is talented.  We shall not discuss what he found to eat.

My ebird list for the day:

Deschutes River St Pk (Sherman side), Sherman, Oregon, US
Oct 2, 2016 7:50 AM - 2:50 PM
Protocol: Traveling
8.0 mile(s)
Comments:     partly sunny, then sunny, little to no wind 45 degrees then warmed to 60 ish
31 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  10
Mallard  8     odd behavior seen, in very swift river, they were staying in place somehow and fed under water..
Common Merganser  3
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  2
Ring-billed Gull  3
California Gull  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  17
Belted Kingfisher  1
Northern Flicker  7
American Kestrel  1
California Scrub-Jay  3
American Crow  5
Tree Swallow  15
Violet-green Swallow  125     numerous in three large flocks in the canyon
Barn Swallow  1
swallow sp.  50
Black-capped Chickadee  11
Bushtit (Interior)  12     all were of the interior form
Rock Wren  3
Canyon Wren  1
Bewick's Wren  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  9
Townsend's Solitaire  1
American Robin  4
American Pipit  25
Yellow-rumped Warbler  17
Golden-crowned Sparrow  7
Song Sparrow  19
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  5
Western Meadowlark  1

Now for something completely different: random shots from the past few weeks..

 At the end of August I birded up to Elk Cove on the north side of Mt Hood.  

Sabine's Gull and an Albacore in same photo on the Sept 3rd pelagic.

A large Humpback Whale popped up right in front of us on the showery Sept 17th pelagic.

On Sept 24th I birded my favorite areas along FR 27 in Wasco County.  This sapsucker which seemed to be a mix of Red-naped and Red-breasted was at the Bottomlands along Threemile Creek.

Mountain Chickadees in fresh plumage also rank up there as birds worthy of lengthy views.

I had to darken up this shot of Mt Adams, I think that is a lenticular cloud over the mountain.

Along FR 27 I was hoping to find  thrushes and Fox Sparrows. I found one Fox Sparrow and this Swainson's Thrush up high in the Tygh Ck area.

And finally, this weasel was watching me watching passerines at Broughton Beach a few days ago.

Thanks for the visit!