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.


  1. Nice blog Bob, especially the shot of the Goshawk. Tis hard enough to see one, so getting a decent pic makes it extra cool. The raptor runner Jeff Fleischer has yet to see one, last I knew.

  2. Love the goshawk. I didn't remember that Mt White-crowns were found there. Not an area I birded many times.

    1. I have seen Mt White-crowns in a few spots in the Fremont , Lookout Mtn in the Ochocos, and of course on the Steens. Meadows above 6500 feet seem to be the common thread.

  3. Wow, a goshawk sitting still! So cool. I appreciated the dog videos too.