Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sunny day in Wasco County

If the forecast calls for rain in Portland, one possible spot to catch some sun is the White River WMA in Wasco County. I had a warm, sunny hike around a few of my favorite spots today.  I was looking for spring arrivals.

My first stop was at what I call the Bottomlands of Threemile Creek.  I found this meadow this past winter. I was eager to get down there this spring to see what would be there.  I was hoping for some hummingbirds,  this nice Nashville Warbler was a nice start to the day.

A view of the riparian area, the stream is an irrigation ditch, I believe it flows year-round.

The meadow, stream is off to the right.

I'll visit this spot in a few more weeks to see what else arrives.

Bird List:

Turkey Vulture  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  2
Cassin's Vireo  5
Common Raven  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  3
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Nashville Warbler  4
MacGillivray's Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  5
Black-throated Gray Warbler  6
Chipping Sparrow  7
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  3
Cassin's Finch  1

I left this spot at 10 am to head to my favorite loop up on FR 27.  I was expecting to catch the first arrival of Gray Flycatcher, maybe just a few birds. I was wrong, the area is packed with them.

Long, narrow, straight sided bill, short primary extension and small dark tip to bill.

Chipping Sparrows were hiding everywhere as well.

This is the road/trail that goes down to Tygh Creek. I was birding here in early March, this tree was standing at the time. When it fell,  it brought down a few other trees. It took a bit of an effort to get through this mess.  Even Huck struggled under and over the branches.  He is taking his revenge out on a branch.

Tygh Creek is nice , but too noisy to hear any birds. MacGillivray's Warblers will be here in good numbers soon. I heard none that I was sure of today, heard a few strong chips, but lots of other noise made it tough to be sure.

Birds seen from car down to this spot:

Turkey Vulture  3
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Vaux's Swift  4
Northern Flicker  2
Gray Flycatcher  8
Cassin's Vireo  3
Steller's Jay  2
Common Raven  2
Mountain Chickadee  3
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
House Wren  3
Western Bluebird  2
Orange-crowned Warbler  3
Nashville Warbler  12     numerous in all locations along trail.
Yellow-rumped Warbler  21
Black-throated Gray Warbler  9
Wilson's Warbler  1
warbler sp. (Parulidae sp.)  1     song only, possible Townsend's
Chipping Sparrow  19
Dark-eyed Junco  4
Cassin's Finch  3

There is another riparian area you pass by on the way to Tygh Creek.  I returned to this drier creek bed and hiked down to a watering hole then up to a ridge then back to the car.

By this time it was later in the day, the wind kicked up and the birds went quiet. Still a great birding experience.

The pond at the bottom.  

Birds seen in this section:

Vaux's Swift  2
Gray Flycatcher  3
Cassin's Vireo  4
Steller's Jay  3
Common Raven  1
House Wren  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Nashville Warbler  4
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
Black-throated Gray Warbler  4
Chipping Sparrow  15

The oak woodlands are beautiful with the new oak leaves and the blanket of yellow and purple flowers.  Lots of Chipping Sparrows, Gray Flycatcher, and a few bluebirds.

Proof that Rock Creek Reservoir is indeed a reservoir and not a big dry hole in the ground.

I drove to the area via Hwy 26 to FR 43 then up to FR 48. 

On the way home I tried to get from FR 48 to Hwy 35, I chickened out 2 miles short of my goal.  It does not look all that bad, but up ahead there is a big snow drift blocking the road.

I was surprised to hear or find no woodpeckers, never a lot of species but always a great birding experience. There is a google map of this area on the ECAS website/Wasco County/ White River WMA and environs.

ECAS Wasco County

Thanks for the visit.

And yes that is my wonderful Huck, he got his summer shave yesterday. He is much happier during the summer minus all that fur.


  1. Wasco Co is my hidden gem for birding. Thanks for sharing. I haven't been to these areas but will check it out.

    1. Thanks for the comment. If you go to these areas, please post results in eBird. I have talked to the manager of the WRWMA , he would appreciate info on what passes through and lives in the area.

  2. Thanks for this report Bob. Nice spread of birds for this early.

  3. Wasco County is no further from Portland than the coast, yet probably gets two orders of magnitude less visits from birders. It offers solitude in addition to outstanding birding. And the forest birding offers way better visibility than westside habitats.

  4. Does anybody know who is putting up the bluebird boxes along Hwy 197 east of the The Dalles going out to the Dufur area? I have a Boy Scout looking for an Eagle project and helping with this is one of his interests.