Saturday, February 20, 2016

Deschutes River State Recreation Area

I went out to Sherman County today to explore the Deschutes River State Recreation Area.  Wasco County is on the western side of the river, Sherman is on the eastern side.  I did a 7 mile (round trip) bird hike up to where Gordon Canyon comes down to the Deschutes.  It was a very birdy day,  no unusual birds were found but lots of action kept it fun.

You  can either bird along an old road up off the river or bird the Blackberry Trail.  The trail follows the river's edge. It is an easy hike.  There is one spot where the canyon narrows and you need to hike up and over a shoulder that sticks out from the edge of the canyon, but it is not all that bad and right upstream from the shoulder was the best area for birds.

Sagebrush, small trees, blackberries and grass line the river.

Meadowlarks and sparrows were common along sections like this.

The river trail petered out here, the road continues on up river.

A view downriver at my turnaround point.

Spotted Towhees were all looking nice.

The two in the center are Barrow's Goldeneye.

A few flocks of Bushtits were creating  their normal racket.

Geese were everywhere, in sage and water.

I thought I heard a Say's Phoebe, but it was a Rock Wren.

Song Sparrows were all out singing. This one looked nice with the red twigs.

Merg on a rock.  Common Merganser, goldeneye and geese were flying up and down the river all day.

A number of Canyon Wrens were singing.  I tried to get a photo of this one before it dove for cover.

Fortunately it popped right back up.

Other than a distant Sharpie, this was the only raptor I found. My excuse is I had my head down all day looking for sparrows.  Anyway,  on Golden Eagles the wings pinch in at the body a bit more than Bald Eagles.  Their heads are a bit smaller.  And all ages have the golden nape.  I thought this was a 3 or 4 year-old bird with those tiny flecks of white still visible on the wing. After reviewing Liguori's "Hawks at a Distance" when I got home, now I think it is an adult that is showing some molt, the white is in the wing linings rather than the secondaries.

Lots of train action on the Wasco County side.

My eBird list for the day:

Canada Goose  30
Mallard  4
Bufflehead  8
Common Goldeneye  15
Barrow's Goldeneye  4
Common Merganser  11
California Quail  1     heard only so not sure on number
Double-crested Cormorant  6
Great Blue Heron  3
Golden Eagle  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)  1
gull sp.  4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Belted Kingfisher  2
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  4
Western Scrub-Jay  4
Black-billed Magpie  6
Black-capped Chickadee  10
Mountain Chickadee  3
Bushtit  12
Rock Wren  1
Canyon Wren  5
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  11
American Robin  6
European Starling  12
Yellow-rumped Warbler  40
Dark-eyed Junco  5
White-crowned Sparrow  13
Golden-crowned Sparrow  24
Song Sparrow 20
Spotted Towhee  14
Red-winged Blackbird  30
Western Meadowlark  11
Pine Siskin  1
American Goldfinch  35

Thought I would mention a nice spot I found last weekend:

Last weekend I went exploring in western Wasco County, at the White River WMA.  I think I found a good spot for warblers this spring. It is west of headquarters about 2 miles or so.  There is an irrigation ditch that passes through the woods.  I will be back come spring.  See the ECAS site, Wasco County, White River WMA, there is a map.  I hiked the blue loop.  Not many birds at all but that will change as spring approaches...I hope.

A great birding experience today.  Thanks for the visit.


  1. Thanks for the report! I almost went to this same place last weekend but hit the very rainy coast instead.

    1. It is worth a visit before the ticks and rattlesnakes decide to come out :).

  2. I always enjoy your reports Bob but this one has several blank photos. At least on my iMac...

    1. Thanks for reply, all seems fine on my computer, I also checked using my iphone.

  3. Bob; I enjoyed this report. I wish more people would work up some of their birding trips this way. I like the inclusion of annotated maps.

    All the photos showed up fine on my Windows 7 system, and on my android smartphone.

    Priscilla Sokolowski

    1. Thanks much, I wish more folks would describe where they go as well.

  4. Two years later...I just used your list to identify a Golden Crowned Kinglet, which I'd never seen before. Saw it at the Deschutes just south of I-84. Thank you!