Sunday, April 30, 2017

Another Visit to Western Wasco

Mother Nature is taking her sweet time this year compared to last year in Wasco County. Last year I was out there on April 23rd, the oaks had leaves on them and the wildflowers were out in full force.  This year, with the harsher winter, the oaks have buds but no leaves and the wildflowers are still working on their bouquets. I revisited Smock Prairie to see what was around the reservoir.  

 On the way out to Smock, I saw this Peregrine Falcon near the pond on the north side of White River Crossing, a nice birdy spot BTW.  The extra white in cheek made me think it was a Tundra.  It was a beautiful bird. The belly view was right in the sun, so no photo.

The prairie was covered in green, just no Gray Flycatchers or Nashville Warblers in the oaks as of yet.  Western Bluebirds, and a few Chipping Sparrows have arrived.

I went down to the reservoir to see what it was like.  This is where I saw the most birds, they were in the brush and surrounding trees.

The reservoir and spillway that allows water to exit.

There is a Nature trail that leaves the first gate into the prairie and works its way down to the reservoir.  I cut cross country over to where I thought the trail was and followed it back to the car.

I will need to return to see what is here in a few weeks when the place has some leaves.  I did run in to a few Nashville in here.

While looking for birds, sometimes you find them looking at you.

Buntings were hunting around on the ground for food with the Chipping Sparrows.

My ebird list for the morning:

White River Wildlife Management Area--Smock Prairie, Wasco, Oregon, US
Apr 29, 2017 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.83 mile(s)
Comments:     oaks have not leafed out yet, last yr they were out by the 23rd
36 species

Canada Goose  2
Mallard  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove  3
Mourning Dove  2
Great Horned Owl  1
Vaux's Swift  15
Lewis's Woodpecker  8
Downy Woodpecker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Gray Flycatcher  1
Steller's Jay  2
California Scrub-Jay  3
Common Raven  2
Tree Swallow  4
Mountain Chickadee  12
Red-breasted Nuthatch  6
White-breasted Nuthatch  8
House Wren  7
Western Bluebird  9
American Robin  3
European Starling  4
Orange-crowned Warbler  3
Nashville Warbler  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  50
Chipping Sparrow  20
Dark-eyed Junco  7
Golden-crowned Sparrow  4
Spotted Towhee  1
Lazuli Bunting  4
Red-winged Blackbird  6
Western Meadowlark  3
Brewer's Blackbird  10
Cassin's Finch  5

Next I went up to Threemile Creek, the entry road is always great for birds. Nashville Warbler.

Gray Flycatcher.  Narrow long bill, short primaries.

Hit Threemile Creek between 9-11 am and you will not be disappointed.

My eBird list:

Bottomlands at Threemile Ck, Wasco, Oregon, US
Apr 29, 2017 11:40 AM - 12:40 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     most birds were on road to meadow, shrubs at meadow yet to leaf out
17 species

Turkey Vulture  3
Cooper's Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  2
Gray Flycatcher  1
Cassin's Vireo  4
Warbling Vireo  1
Mountain Chickadee  4
Red-breasted Nuthatch  3
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
House Wren  2
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Nashville Warbler  10
Yellow-rumped Warbler  25
Black-throated Gray Warbler  5
Townsend's Warbler  3
Dark-eyed Junco  4
Cassin's Finch  

After a stop for lunch up a logging road (I wanted to get to a Fox Sparrow spot, but road was as washed out as I remembered and did not have time to walk), I went up to a meadow I know at north end of FR 27. A good spot to nab Ruffed Grouse.  No empids or tanagers found there yet.  Still a lovely place to wander with a few springs in the area. 

My ebird list:

Camp Solitaire, Wasco, Oregon, US
Apr 29, 2017 2:15 PM - 3:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.75 mile(s)
Comments:     no empids yet
10 species

Ruffed Grouse  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Mountain Chickadee  3
Red-breasted Nuthatch  5
American Robin  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  7
Black-throated Gray Warbler  3
Townsend's Warbler  2
Dark-eyed Junco  3

As a general update, I have been doing a few pelagics the past few months.  I had a blurry Parakeet Auklet on one in March and Leach's Storm-Petrels and nice views of Ancient Murrelets on a pelagic last weekend.

Thanks for the visit!!


  1. I like the picture of the Great Horned Owl the best! Is it unusual for it to be out during the day? Also, I think the meadow would be a great place to site a Sasquatch. I could imagine one lurking in those trees. hahaha :)

    1. They usually hide in a tree next to a trunk, just like this one (owls not Bigfoot). I will keep my eyes open for Bigfoot, very nice spot to find one!