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.
Chestnut-sided Warbler. The hardest part of the hunt? Finding out where campsites 1-8 were!
The state listserve was abuzz for a couple of weeks about a male Chestnut-sided Warbler inhabiting the stream side Aspens behind campsite 6 through 8 in Indian Ford Campground between Sisters and Bend. On our first pass through the campground we were totally confused as to where campsites 1-8 were and gave up.
About half way to Calliope Crossing i had a nagging feeling we should of crossed that little bridge and we turned around. When we got there a couple of birders showed us where the bird was and we spent a half an hour or more watching it come in and out of the stream-side Aspen thicket. The bird put on a great show!
We spent the rest of the day in the Ponderosa/Bitterbrush woodlands and made our way up the recently opened McKenzie Hwy into the montane forests of the Cascade crest.
Another side trip was out of Sisters up to the Tam McArthur Rim in search of woodpeckers in the burn areas. Not knowing this area well, or even where the woodpeckers had been seen recently, it turned out to be just a very enjoyable drive up to the snow. Many wild flowers were in bloom and a few butterflies were flitting about.
eBird Reports for:
This was essentially the same trip as yesterday’s post except i went to Clear Lake, in the rain, instead of Camas Prairie up in the Cascades, and traveled different roads out on the plateau. My main focus for the day was really the wildflowers.
However, i did come across a colony of Tri-colored Blackbirds which are not all that common on the plateau. I was walking the road and scouting the ditches for wildflowers when the sound of these birds made me take notice that they weren’t the default Red-wings. I would of probably just walked on by if not for their vocalization making me check them out. It was mid-day so the lighting was really harsh making it difficult to get any great photos of these black birds. But there’s a few that are diagnostic.
In the ditches i did find Narrow-leafed Milkweed, a couple of Buckwheats, and a Mariposa Lily as well. Oh, and a Northern Sagebrush Lizard — my first on the plateau!
I’ve been thinking about getting a small digital sound recorder to carry with me in the field. If anyone has a recommendation i’d like to hear it.
Outside of Maupin at Criterion Summit i walked out in to a recently burned grass and juniper field to get some pictures of the wildflowers dotting the area and i kicked up some Vesper Sparrows along with a few Chipping and Brewer’s Sparrows. Later in the month i was to also find Ash-throated Flycatchers at this spot. If you happen by it’s worth the stop to walk the short path into the field that heads west.
Ecoregions were the same as yesterday’s post.
Oregon State Highway 216. This little road covers a wide range of habitat; too much to adequately cover in a single day, or even two days. On the west end it starts off in the high Cascades, drops into the oak and conifer foothills of Pine Grove and out onto the Umatilla Plateau.
On this day i only made it to 197 and really didn’t do justice to the grasslands having spent most of my time trying, unsuccessfully i might add, figuring out Camas Prairie. I hiked the trail heading west from the corral and just wandered through a dense forest for a few miles. I caught a few glimpses of opening but it was on the other side of a pole fence that i followed for about a mile. i’m just not sure what to make of that place. I was really hoping to round up some dragonflys — maybe next time.
The oak woodlands around Pine Grove seem like really nice habitat but i couldn’t find any real access. It appears to be all privately held land.
I continued out to 197 and drove the road that follows the White River into the hamlet of Tygh Valley. It was just a real quick scouting trip as it was getting late in the day.
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.
Cruised the Molalla River drainage in Clackamas County which included both the Valley Foothills and Western Cascades Lowlands and Valleys.
Valley Foothills: Level III ecoregion 3, Level IV ecoregion 3d.
3d plant community structure: Mosaic of oak woodlands and Douglas-fir forests — Oak savanna and prairies with California oatgrass, fescue, blue wild rye, brodiaea and other prairie forbs. Douglas-fir forests with sword fern, oceanspray, hazel, baldhip rose, poison oak, and invasive Himalayan blackberry.
Western Cascades Lowlands and Valleys: Level III ecoregion 4, Level IV ecoregion 4a.
4a plant community structure: Mostly Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Douglas-fir, Bigleaf Maple, Red Alder, Vine Maple, Salal, Pacific Rhododendron, Oregon Grape, Huckleberry, Thimbleberry, Swordfern, Oxalis, Hazel and invasive Himalayan Blackberry forest.
This was actually more of a Sunday drive with the family than a trip afield. Just can’t get Sheri interested in field studies. So the birding was casual and i didn’t chase the few butterflies and dragonflies i did see. No pictures – no ID’s. Anyway it was still a nice time.
We started on the Clackamas River to observe the Bank Swallow colony — quite impressive! We then headed over to the BLM Molalla River Recreation Area, and ended the day at Wilhoit Springs. Fifty Nine species of birds seen in aggregate on the day.