I traveled the Portland Basin (IV3a), Coastal Lowlands (IV1a), and the Columbia Plateau (IV10c&e).
Traveling to the Deschutes River mouth i was almost done in by a deer on I84. Thank goodness there was a wide shoulder to dive into because i had just passed a semi when i had to slam on the breaks. The deer is fine.
Anyway, first stop was Celilo Park. I’m walking down to the boat ramp to scope the ducks and an very odd, big white bird comes in off the river. My first thought was Great Egret – not unheard of in these parts but certainly uncommon. What i found when i got my scope on it was even more rare – a leucistic Great Blue Heron! Check out the pictures in the gallery. It was early morning so the lighting was quite poor.
Also on the river was a Horned Grebe and a half a dozen or so Western Grebes along with assorted ducks and coots. A nice surprise – a Varied Thrush in the park.
From there is was a stop at Heritage Landing and the Deschutes River Park. Best birds here were a flyover Cooper’s Hawk, Barrow’s Goldeneye on the river, and another Varied Thrush. A few reverse season wild flowers and the last of the summer’s bloom. There were quite a few fungus up with the wet weather — too bad i don’t know my mushrooms, i’ll have to work on that.
Then off to the John Day Dam. Best birds more Horned Grebes, Common Loons, Common Goldeneye, and Bonapart’s Gulls – LOTS of them at the spillway. Also came across a finch i first thought was a Purple Finch. The lighting was poor, it was a female so i left it un-ticked. It could of been a Cassin’s Finch.
… 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’m upping the ante a bit here with this post. My focus has always been eco-regions. It’s a stretch for most, which is why i really haven’t been in depth with this viewpoint. It is in my educational background and i am re-directing this blog along these lines. The bulk of this work for Oregon was summarized and condensed in the late 80’s through the mid ’90’s. Here is the summation of these efforts. Really cool stuff that when i was an undergrad at OSU was a pipe dream.
Anyway — In an effort to study the unique eco-region of the Columbia Plateau i made another trip to the Deschutes river and the wind-mill plateau. If you’ve ever traveled Gordon Ridge you’d understand that last comment.
All areas have a Level III eco-region of 10 (Columbia Plateau). The Deschutes River Valley is designated 10k (Deschutes and John Day River Canyons) and the plateau is 10c (Umatilla Plateau) at Level IV. Right along the Columbia we have a really unique Level IV region – 10e, the Pleistocene Lake Basins. These run from the Dalles out to Milton-Freewater. I plan a couple of trips out to Hermiston and Umatilla to study this region a bit.
Anyway, the wind was really ripping all day. It was hard to hear the birds that actually braved the winds. There were pockets of refuge and the swallows on the river didn’t seem to mind even if the wind ripped spray off the rapids.
Perhaps given the wind and cooler temperatures, i didn’t see any Odonates and only a couple of Cabbage Whites. Too bad, these critters are proving slow to join the photo library.
The wildflowers were probably past their prime but a few were still in bloom.
eBird Report 1 Deschutes River SP
eBird Report 2 Gordon Ridge
eBird Report 3 Moro