Category: clackamas, or

Select Photos From Winter 2014

Clackamas County Field Guide

Above is an annotated map of the locations that i have birded in Clackamas County.  Click on any of the pin markers for the annotations. I’m not much of a County List birder.  I’m much more interested in patch totals which is more habitat specific and of keener interest to me.  But many in the birding community are interested in building County level lists, so this is offered in that format.  One advantage to the County concept is that it is bounded by imaginary lines and that constrains the data to a digestible amount of information.  The map is an ongoing effort and will be updated as new places are added and more specie specific data is added.

I chose Clackamas County in this first Field Guide because not many people bird the region extensively. I happen to work in the County and have the privilege to be able to take an hour or two on the way home to check out the birds in the area.  Hence, the pins concentrate on this route along the Willamette, Pudding, Molalla, and Clackamas Rivers.  But i do range east in the snow free months.

Whereas i live in Multnomah County, i rarely bird there because it is so well covered, as is Washington County.  90% of my lists from Multnomah come from my yard, and most of my birding in Washington County is during the Forest Grove Christmas  Bird Count.  I tend to spend my limited field time in areas that do not get covered very much, and are an hour or two from home.  This expands the eBird database and increases our knowledge of avian distribution.  Another checklist from Mt. Tabor in the spring doesn’t add very much.  But if i was invested in that patch -i’d visit it much more often, but i’m not.  I’d rather see a new bird on Clackamette Cove than a life bird on Mt. Tabor.

Some of the sites on the map are not mentioned in the two existing Oregon birding guides for the area, but many are.  So, i think it is additive in the main, which is my intention.

ECAS Birding Oregon – County Specific
Oregon Birding Trails – not County specific.

Sub-Alpine Bog Meadow Survey

Hiked into Black Wolf and Cottonwood Meadows on a sunny August day.  Best birding was early morning at Black Wolf.  The hike down to Anvil Lake and an unsuccessful attempt at Dinger Lake (too much of a scramble for the dog) yielded a few of the expected montane birds.  On the return trip back through Black Wolf there was a trio of Lewis’ Woodpeckers, a first for the ecoregion.   By mid-day at Cottonwood most birds had hunkered down against the heat.  A couple of Common Nighthawks cruised overhead.

Level IV (4c) Cascade Crest Montane Forest

The alternate naming of species reflects differing common names.

Mt. Hood at Timberline


Level IV: 4d Cascades Subalpine/Alpine

Clackamas Cascades, Photo Essay

Faraday Reservoir to Little Crater Lake.

Level IV: 4a Western Cascades Lowlands and Valleys
Level IV: 4b Western Cascades Montane Highlands
Level IV: 4c Cascade Crest Montane Forest

Early May at Camassia Photo Essay

Level IV: (3c) Prairie Terraces

All native species:

Following the Bloom at Camassia

Dropped into Camassia today to check on the progression of the wild flower phenology.  The Fawn Lilies are just about bloomed out, Trillium ovatum is gone except for a few wilting stragglers, while albidium is still found in fine shape.  Rooting around in the duff i found Wild Ginger in bloom.  Fringe Cups are coming out and the first False Solomon’s Seal is unfolding.  Blue-eyed Mary, Early Saxifrage, and Rosy Plectritis are still in their prime.

The best find of the day: California Darner!  Not a record early flight (15 April) but my earliest by 6 days.  The eyes are still grey so it is recently emerged, just past teneral.

As an update: earlier i identified a geranium as Dove’s Foot Geranium.  Well, when i was checking on it today the population had been eradicated.  I talked to one of the naturalists there and she said it was actually Shiny Geranium, an invasive.  In my defense — none of the floras i consult (see references page) has Shiny Geranium listed — oy vey!

Spring at Camassia

This is the best time of the year to visit Camassia Natural Area. There’s a few birds around, but the main reason i am sure to visit in spring is that it is one of the best places in the Metro Area for a diverse cross section of wildflowers that i know of. (well, i know of one other but i promised Lona not to tell)

Owing to a variety of habitats there are many niches to fill: woodland, prairie, wetlands, seeps and rocky outcroppings.  The preservation of this area has been remarkable.  Except for the roar of 205 on the north side, you wouldn’t know you were a stone’s throw to the Tri-county Metro area.

The show is just getting started but some of the early bloomers are already fading.  I made trips there at the end of March and early April.  A magnificent showing by Fawn Lilies this year.  And on one seep i even found a Chickweed Monkeyflower population which was quite unexpected.

Over the winter the volunteers put in a new path that leads down to the stream and into a small wetland.  I’ll be interested to see what comes up in this habitat.

All flowers pictured in the gallery are native. (UPDATE — the Dove’s Foot Geranium is mis-identified.  It is actually Shiny Geranium and it is an invasive.)
Camassia Natural area lies in Ecoregion LIV (3c) Willamette Valley Prairie Terraces

Backing up — 26 August into the High Cascades

Another weekend with aBoo.  I love the dog to death, but when she is with me we are extremely limited to where we can go.

Why?  Well she is a 110lb Newfoundland with a mean streak toward other dogs.  I’m not a particularly large guy and i have found myself on the ground being drug around as she heads out to establish her territory.  110 lbs may not sound like much but it is all muscle and all up front.  When she takes off she only needs one or two steps to get to full speed.

Anyway, even in the hinterlands of the National Forest Roads of the western Cascades there are plenty of folks roaming around.  That cut our trip to Timber Lake short.  I was hoping to get some pictures of Chalk-fronted Corporals that i have seen here before but i couldn’t find any.  Flight dates were on the tail end but within the norm.  Bummer.  A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk had me going for a while with it’s banded tail feathers.  No mammals this time which is rare.  But there was a family up there fishing with their unsupervised off-leash dog that chased us off.  One of these days i’m just going to let aBoo go and kill one of these yappy pocket dogs.  Also came across a brown diving duck that i left unidentified but i think it was a Lesser Scaup and not a Ring-necked.

So we headed up higher in search of the last wild flowers.  Came across a trio of Sooty Grouse, but the flowers have peaked at these elevations.  A few Fritillaries were about — probably Hydapse, but i’ll leave that to the lepos.


Level IV: 4a Western Cascades Lowlands

Level IV: 4b Western Cascades Montane Highlands

eBird Reports:

Timber Lake

NFR 58

Faraday Dam – Early July

PG&E maintains a paved road in the area of the Faraday Dam and Powerhouse that is available to non-motorized access.

This makes for a very easy hike with the dog and wife — no bush whacking, no soggy sneakers and no cheat-grass.

The road lies in Level III ecoregion 4, The Cascades.

Level IV ecoregion 4a, Western Cascades Lowlands and Valleys

It was a pleasant day that heated up a bit toward the end of our trek allowing us to take off the fleece and rain jackets that we started out with.  There was a large collection of vultures in the area and we even came across a Dipper as it patrolled the fish weir.

eBird Report for Faraday Road