I traveled the Portland Basin (IV3a), Coastal Lowlands (IV1a), and the Columbia Plateau (IV10c&e).
… and windmills. Headed out to Sherman County to get away from the rain and people. Successful on both counts except for the Deschutes River where the fishing types were encamped.
There were still a few wildflowers in bloom, even a couple of surprises – Water Speedwell and Common Sunflower. The Sumac and Poison Oak were in full scarlet splendor. The sumac seeds were still too green to harvest, maybe another couple of weeks without rain.
Not a dragonfly to be seen, probably a bit chilly.
The birds were a bit more cooperative; along the Deschutes a Mountain Chickadee, both Kinglets, a late Canyon Wren, a Marsh Wren and a Red-breasted Nuthatch were the highlights. Along the Columbia a small group of White-fronted Geese, and a knot of Cackling Geese were the stars. Although there were quite few more Black-billed Magpies than i’m used to. A Brown Creeper crossed my path at DeMoss Park. Snipes were seen at both the Wasco and Moro sewage ponds. A Pipit was a nice surprise in Moro. And every Eurasian Collared Dove in the county were having a convention at the Moro city shops. I counted 47 just on the main equipment barn.
Level IV 10c
Level IV 10e
Level IV 10k
Drove out I84 to the Deschutes River confluence with the Columbia. There are trails on both sides of the river for upriver access. I usually head up the east side from the Deschutes River State Park, but this time i went up the west side from Heritage Landing.
Mistake – at the time of morning that i went the sun was directly into the line of sight across the river, the trail is not as established, and it does not follow the river as closely. Oh, well.
Interesting distribution note: when i was here last, just a couple of weeks ago, you could almost walk across the river on the backs of the swallows they were so thick. Today, i only saw a few.
Anyway, after that little diversion i headed up out of the river basin and up onto the plateau, stopping here and there before heading back to Portland via Hwy 216 out of Grass Valley. One productive stop was at the Moro sewage ponds where a few shore birds were resting on their way south.
Level IV: Pleistocene Lake Basins (10e)
Level IV: Umatilla Plateau (10c)
Ok — i give up. What’s with the Camas Prairie? I have now hiked both trails and have only wound up in covered canopy forest. Are there any paths that border this prairie that i am missing? Do i have to just keep going on one of them?
Anyway, i took the south trail out of the corral, and while i did get to cross the far eastern fringe, i just about broke my dog’s legs on those f’n open slatted boardwalks. This place just frustrates the heck out of me due to my expectations of being able to travel the edges and have open views across the fens. Crap!
I did get some nice shots of a few bog flowers and some new woodland flowers were in bloom this time. And as a consolation, way up in a tree that i had to stand directly underneath to see, was a Black-backed Woodpecker. Not a new bird, but not one i come across often. I also had a calling Northern Pygmy Owl, but i couldn’t see it because, well, i was in a closed canopy forest with sightlines of about 40 feet! Prairie my ass.
After that nonsense i headed straight for the Umatilla Plateau and took the White River Canyon Road over to Wamic. Nice open country on a beautiful day. I came across a small patch of Blazing Stars, a flower i haven’t seen in a long time. A covey of Mountain Quail was a treat. Three to four adults and a whole passel of chicks scurrying in the grasses below camera level.
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.