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.
The alternate naming of species reflects differing common names.
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.
Earlier i lamented that most of the Oak/Conifer woodlands had limited access due to private property ownership. So come mid July I did a little Google mapping and a lot of poking around the lands surrounding Rock Creek Reservoir. There is a large system of off-road vehicle trails that accesses the area along Hwy 216. But, i’m not one to share the trails with these critters.
Along 216 i stopped at a beaver pond and searched the fen for marsh flowers and dragonflies. I got pictures of both but only a few of the dragonflies that were present are represented. I’m never going to add these renegades to the library unless i break down and get a net. And that’s not going to happen any time soon. I guess i’ll just have to settle for the ones that perch in conspicuous places.
Around the reservoir i did come across a foot trail that follows Rock Creek for a few miles. So i hiked that with aBoo and then spent the rest of the day driving the roads around Pine Grove. I drove Kelly Springs Rd hoping to make it westward, back into the woodlands and eventually circle back to 216. At an old quarry it became apparent that the road was not suited for a low clearance sedan.
Oh well, we parked, had bit of lunch and walked the road for a mile or so and headed back to the Willamette Valley stopping at Barlow Crossing up in the Cascades to scout the campground and wander around a bit.
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.