Monday, July 31, 2017

Lake County July 29-30 2017

I went down to Lake county this last weekend to bird the Fremont National Forest and Summer Lake Wildlife Area.  All points mentioned here are marked in blue stars, the red balloons are points I hit on last years trip or are general road interchanges and locations.

My plan was to hit Fremont NF on Saturday then go to Summer Lake on Sunday then back home.  I decided to drive down FR 28,  birding as I go.  FR 28 leaves Silver Lake as East Bay Rd, it is the road just before you enter the town of Silver Lake.  The nice thing is FR 28 is paved the entire way.  So you can drive down the spine of the Fremont on a nice paved road.  My plan was to leave FR 28 at FR 3315 and cut down to Paisley and up to Summer Lake, a nice loop. On Friday I left Portland at 5:30 pm, at 11:30 I camped at a side road for the night and did a short bird hike in the morning.  I then went to East Bay CG at Thompson Reservoir on Saturday morning.  I went there looking for shorebirds, nothing but good numbers of Spotted Sandpiper were found.

Once again I grabbed Tess, one of my daughter's dog sitting clients, for the trip. This is a typical shoreline that Tess is sniffing, I was thinking Willets or other long-legged birds would like this spot.

East Bay Campground and boat launch is on left.  The campground was almost full but as I drove over 70 miles in the forest I saw one car and a pair of hikers.  The only other people I saw were the campers at the campgrounds.

A few gulls were up at the reservoir. The narrow tail band and area of black on the wing mean it is a first year Ring-billed Gull.

When it landed I could see the dark secondaries and the pale gray coverts.  A very contrasting pattern.

A few adults were flying around as well.

The baby Eared Grebes were taking it easy.

A few Forster's Terms were catching fish.

Hard to walk by an Osprey without stopping for a look.

Chipping Sparrows are everywhere in these forests.

The morning was getting late and the mutts had blown off some steam playing in the water, so I took off to my main birding spot for the day, an old trail down FR 28.

Eastbay Campground, Lake, Oregon, US
Jul 29, 2017 8:00 AM - 9:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     walked along shore in both directions, did not look in woods for song birds.
26 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  40
Mallard  2
Bufflehead  6
Ruddy Duck  4
duck sp.  30     other side of lake. looked mostly large mallard type
Eared Grebe  8
Western Grebe  4
Double-crested Cormorant  15
American White Pelican  25
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  2
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Sandhill Crane  1
Wilson's Snipe  1
Spotted Sandpiper  8
Ring-billed Gull  4
California Gull  2
Caspian Tern  1
Forster's Tern  3
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Western Wood-Pewee  4
Tree Swallow  5
Mountain Chickadee  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
Chipping Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco  10

The Hanan Trail starts where FR 28 crosses the Sycan River.  It ends over at Coffeepot Spring on FR 3315.

Lots of water was flowing in the area from the springs.

It is a beautiful trail to bird along.  If any warblers nest along here, they were quiet or gone, just a few Butterbutts noted.  I was hoping to encounter hummingbirds, but only hummer seen was at a brief stop on drive from reservoir to trail, a Calliope.

Up near the headwaters of the Sycan.  These waters make it to the Pacific, just over that hill is the Great Basin.

Dragonflies ( or Damselflies?) and butterflies were everywhere.

The dogs had plenty of water and areas to explore, but the intense sun at 7200 feet in elevation had them mostly hanging in the shade.

Green-tailed Towhee. 

This Red-tailed Hawk was fascinated by the three of us.  It kept an eye on us, perhaps we were the only human-canine pack it had ever encountered.

As always, the White-crowned Sparrows at this elevation proved to be oriantha.  I note eBird no longer has this subspecies as a rare bird in this area.

A big breakfast was about to be enjoyed.

 Here is a short audio of an oriantha White-crowned doing two chip notes. 

What a beautiful bird hike, next time I might camp at the trailhead and hit this spot in the early morning rather than 10:40 am.

Hana Trail From Sycan TH to head of river, Lake, Oregon, US
Jul 29, 2017 10:40 AM - 2:20 PM
Protocol: Traveling
3.5 mile(s)
Comments:     sunny slight breeze,
22 species (+1 other taxa)

Turkey Vulture  2
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Williamson's Sapsucker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker  6
Western Wood-Pewee  15
Dusky Flycatcher  3
Pacific-slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher (Western Flycatcher)  1
Steller's Jay  3
Clark's Nutcracker  2
Mountain Chickadee  25
Red-breasted Nuthatch  5
Pygmy Nuthatch  7
Brown Creeper  2
American Robin  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler  6
Chipping Sparrow  35
Brewer's Sparrow  5
Dark-eyed Junco  50
White-crowned Sparrow (oriantha)  15
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Green-tailed Towhee  1
Cassin's Finch  8

After the hike and a lunch break, where I flushed a Red-shouldered Hawk from a tree, I wanted to see what birds were at Campbell Lake and to give the dogs a chance to cool off in the water.  In the hot afternoon, only birds out were Mountain Bluebirds and Chipping Sparrows.

Next two videos are for dog-lovers only.  

"I am not a fish, Bob"

After the swim, I went back to the FR 3315 junction and headed down toward Paisley looking for a nice spot to camp.  I found a nice open area in between Hadley and Sandy Buttes.  Below is a shot of Summer Lake at 6:30 am Sunday morning.

This turned out to be a nice birdy spot.  I heard a Great Horned Owl calling at night and this American Robin was up with me singing away.

I was doing a big loop in between the buttes early in the morning, I flushed this Northern Goshawk up off the ground onto a low tree branch.

Only other time I was closer to a goshawk was at a family house near the Mianus Gorge in New York.  A goshawk rushed down on me while I had my then 2 year-old daughter on my shoulders.  We ducked just in time before it roared over us.

Hadley Butte camp site west loop, Lake, Oregon, US
Jul 30, 2017 6:20 AM - 7:40 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
18 species

Sooty Grouse  1
Northern Goshawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  2
Williamson's Sapsucker  2
Red-breasted Sapsucker  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  5
Western Wood-Pewee  5
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
House Wren  3
American Robin  5
Chipping Sparrow  6
Dark-eyed Junco  20
Western Tanager  5
Cassin's Finch  6

Back at the car a frog had taken over the dog dish.

I finally made it to Summer Lake, I went on the loop looking for shorebirds.  Wilson's Phalarope were everywhere.

One way to look for the odd phalarope is to know that Wilson's lack a wing stripe and have all white rumps.  Red and Red-necked Phalarope both have an obvious wing stripe and have dark centers to their rump.

Wilson's Phalarope.

This one had already molted into basic plumage.

I do not add a bird to my life-list until I feel I can id the bird in most cases.  So I saw 6-7 Short-tailed Shearwater before it was added.  Despite me studying hundreds of Wilson's Phalarope on Sunday, I should remove it from my list. 

I saw this lone bird out on the marsh.  In person, I could not really see if it was walking on the grass or wading, I thought it was big, maybe bigger than the 40 Greater Yellowlegs I had just seen.  And it had a curved bill.  Funny thing is if a Killdeer or some such beast was standing next to it, I would have  skipped it as another Wilson's Phalarope.  But nothing was there for scale and I misjudged the size.  I was toast from that moment on.  It is an obvious Wilson's Phalarope once you reset your brain and forget about all the mistakes you made in initial notes.  Beats me why I saw a curved bill, bright sun, distortion, whatever.  I did not believe the photos when I saw them.  I have done that before with young cowbirds, see it once , easy id,,  come back later and in a different set of conditions, brain freeze.

I was happy to get back to where all the birds were down-sun, Long-billed Dowitcher. 

Lots of Tree Swallows to study.

The Yellow-headed Blackbirds were all rather scruffy looking.

A Peregrine Falcon was on guard at the exit.

Summer Lake Wildlife Area, Lake, Oregon, US
Jul 30, 2017 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
12.0 mile(s)
50 species (+2 other taxa)

Canada Goose  30
Trumpeter Swan  1
Gadwall  2
Mallard  10
Cinnamon Teal  15
Northern Shoveler  15
Northern Pintail  2
Green-winged Teal  10
Bufflehead  4
Ruddy Duck  10
duck sp.  120     too far out in sun to id most ducks
Eared Grebe  10
Western Grebe  8
American White Pelican  1
Great Egret  10
White-faced Ibis  15
Northern Harrier  3
Swainson's Hawk  3
American Coot  3
Black-necked Stilt  4
American Avocet  100
Killdeer  60
Least Sandpiper  75
Western Sandpiper  15
peep sp.  100
Long-billed Dowitcher  4
Wilson's Phalarope  200
Spotted Sandpiper  5
Greater Yellowlegs  40
Lesser Yellowlegs  2
Ring-billed Gull  10
California Gull  4
Caspian Tern  1
Forster's Tern  5
Eurasian Collared-Dove  6
American Kestrel  3
Prairie Falcon  1
Western Wood-Pewee  2
Black-billed Magpie  2
Tree Swallow  300
Barn Swallow  30
Cliff Swallow  30
Sage Thrasher  3
European Starling  5
Common Yellowthroat  2
Savannah Sparrow  140     constant contact with species over entire drive
Song Sparrow  40
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Brewer's Blackbird  20
Great-tailed Grackle (Western)  2     known birds
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
House Sparrow  8

Lots of great birds in a beautiful area of the state.  I urge everyone to wander the Fremont Nat Forest, certainly try birding the Hanan trail. Well worth the effort.

Tess snuggling for the long drive home, this is so not Huck.  He eventually moved.

Thanks for the visit.  Pelagic trips just around the corner.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Crook County July 1-2 2017

Last weekend I headed out to do my BBS for the year.  I did this same trip last year except I did the Clover Creek BBS.  I am alternating  BBS's each year due to the remoteness of the routes.  This year it is the Crooked River BBS's turn. As I did last year, I spent time in the Maury Mountains, part of the Ochoco National Forest.  I left Portland Friday at 6 pm, I found a camp spot at about 10:30 pm  (red tent on map).

On Saturday morning I birded up the road I camped on and did a general loop through the area, blue line on map.  Klootchman Creek was still a small stream.   MacGillivray's Warblers were along the stream, based on the family groups it seems to be a great breeding spot for them.

A view looking out towards the SE and Lake County.

My ebird list for the loop:

Klootchman Ck Loop, Crook, Oregon, US
Jul 1, 2017 6:15 AM - 8:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.9 mile(s)
Comments:     Camped up 150 from 16, hiked up 150 to 1750, down 1750 to turn on ridge (old clearcut landing) then cut through woods down to old logging road then down to 16 back over to 150 and up to car
21 species

Turkey Vulture  3
Common Nighthawk  2
Common Poorwill  1
Hairy Woodpecker  3
Dusky Flycatcher  5
Cassin's Vireo  1
Gray Jay  4
Steller's Jay  2
Common Raven  2
Mountain Chickadee  11
Red-breasted Nuthatch  5
Hermit Thrush  7
American Robin  9
MacGillivray's Warbler  9
Yellow-rumped Warbler  11
Townsend's Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  16
Dark-eyed Junco  11
Western Tanager  15
Cassin's Finch  6
Red Crossbill  5

My next stop was just down FR 16 from my camp, I saw an old grass covered logging road and decided to hike up (yellow line on map)  to a spring that was about 1 mi away.

Hairy Woodpeckers, and as this photo shows, Williamson's Sapsuckers are the expected woodpeckers up here.

A pleasant surprise was a group of Pygmy Nuthatches working their way around a pine tree.  I tried to see if any were juveniles (brown washed upperparts), but could not really tell what mix was.

Of course, Huck came with me.  Tess joined us as well, my daughter dog-sits her.  But Tess gets to go with Huck on our adventures.  Some dogs are sniffers (Huck hikes with nose to ground), others like Tess are lookers (hike with head up looking everywhere).  Lookers need to have an eye kept on them.  They will see a badger, skunk or deer just as easily as you do.  So Huck can pass right by some quiet deer out in a meadow unless he smells them, Tess will see them.

Both of the dogs are grazers of grass.  Huck has yet to grow back his rump from a fur cut to keep him cool in summer of 2016.  An older dog problem it seems.

Sniffers like Huck can find water anywhere.  Tess knows to follow him when he runs down into a ditch.

At the top of the hike was a nice cool forest with a spring.  Townsend's Solitaires were singing in the trees nearby, wonderful sound for the morning.

Ebird list for hike:

FR 180, Crook, Oregon, US
Jul 1, 2017 9:15 AM - 10:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:     up 180 to where it crosses small spring, 180 is old road right at cattle guard. Nice bird path
19 species

Mourning Dove  1
Williamson's Sapsucker  2
Northern Flicker  2
Western Wood-Pewee  4
Dusky Flycatcher  5
Gray Jay  3
Common Raven  1
Mountain Chickadee  7
Red-breasted Nuthatch  4
Pygmy Nuthatch  7     Mobbing flock
Western Bluebird  2
Townsend's Solitaire  5
Hermit Thrush  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  7
Chipping Sparrow  6
Dark-eyed Junco  4
Western Tanager  6
Cassin's Finch  8
Red Crossbill  5

After two great bird hikes, I wanted to let the dogs cool off, so I drove down to Antelope Reservoir and let them swim at the boat launch.  This Spotted Sandpiper was along the nearby shoreline. Some Tree Swallows chased away a Northern Goshawk that cruised through the boat launch.

In breeding plumage, Spotted and Common Sandpiper are much different.  In basic plumage they are very similar.  I try to train my eye to check out the wing stripe on every Spotted I see, one of these years I might see a wing stripe that extends to the flanks, a Common Sandpiper trait.  You can see this stripe fades out on the secondaries.

After giving the dogs a nice swim, and one more hike in woods (purple line), I camped at Double Cabin Campground.  The next morning I started the BBS at 5 am (green line on map).  It is mostly a drive through sagebrush and hay fields. One stop had me right next to  Ferruginous Hawk.  It was being nagged at by a young Red-tailed Hawk.

The Ferruginous Hawk stayed up on a phone pole. It did not like me stopping at its house.  It swooped down over me a few times.  On BBS's . you are supposed to stay 5 minutes at each spot.  I cut this stop short to get out of their area. 

I entered my BBS results in ebird in groups of 10.  The last one is in Deschutes County, the rest are in Crook.

After the BBS, I cut back through the Maury Mountains and headed to the new Crooked River Wetlands.  It was a hot day and the dogs were tired from the previous day's adventures.  I tried to do a loop through the wetlands, but dogs were not interested in being out in the direct sun, they cut the loop  short and wanted to get back to car.  

Here is a photo of pond where most of the shorebirds were.All ponds are bordered by a paved path or a gravel path.  Dogs are welcomed on a leash, though the only shade available are a few informational kiosks.

This is another pond next to the one above.  I am looking back to the parking area.  There is a shaded picnic area there and an outhouse. Note, in the midday sun, my car is the only one at the site.

Another pond.  They built some islands out in the center. Perhaps some Burrowing Owls will find their way here.

I am looking out across the upper five ponds.  That is gravel in front of me.  I cut in-between the pond in front of me and looped back to car.  There is tall grass off to right that borders the river.  Off to the left is a field that had singing Savannah Sparrows.

It seems to be a great area for viewing shorebirds, main attraction is there are no shrubs blocking your view.  And with all the paths, an infinite number of loops are available depending on how much time you have.

Thanks for the visit.