A friend cruised through town and we took to the road. Mosier to The Dalles via the Old Columbia Highway through the Memaloose Hills and Rowena Plateau. Up over to the Tygh Valley and down to Maupin where we parted ways as he headed to Bend and i to Portland.
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.
One of my favorite places in Oregon is the Oak – Pine woodlands stretching from the Columbia River around Hood River south along the eastern flanks of the Cascades.
So, i headed out for the last wildflowers of the year. The fires had the sun rising in a deep orange-red but i was still on I84 so i didn’t get any photos. I pulled off at Mosier and drove the old Gorge Hwy to the Dalles and then over to Heritage Landing. And this is what i found:
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.