Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Travels from Zumwalt Prairie to Marin California

We left the Zumwalt Prairie on September 2nd. Our trip to Marin took us through La Grande, La Pine & Ashland Oregon. First stop was La Grande to visit Northwoods Manufacturing (the birthplace of our 5th wheel) to have some work done. We had the opportunity to bird and hike one of our favorite places in Northeast Oregon- Bird Track Springs Trail that runs alongside the beautiful Grande Ronde River. We were so lucky to have a beautiful fall day.

This Great Blue Heron had a view from the tree tops.
There were Song Sparrows all along the river bed.
We had Red Crossbills calling and flying overhead. The photo is a bit blurry but you can see the "crossed bill".
Bob saw this American Dipper that was preening on the other side of the river. It seemed very preoccupied and not bothered by our presence.
We heard this Hairy Woodpecker before we saw it. We had to look for quite a while before we found it. See the long bill used to find food in the bark of trees.... their bill is considerably longer than the Downy Woodpecker.
These juvenile Belted Kingfishers were squawking and displaying and carrying on. It was pretty adorable:)

We left La Grande and headed down to Malheur NWR to spend a few days checking out the area for fall migrants. We stayed at the Narrows RV Park which worked out perfectly for us.

These 2 Great Horned Owls were the first to greet us as we walked into the refuge headquarters/ Visitor's Center.
There were quite a few Warbling Vireos around the Visitor's Center.
This Willow Flycatcher was eating berries from the bush right outside the Visitor's Center. ( I guess they do not just eat bugs:))
We saw a handful of Lincoln's Sparrows down by Marshall Pond, near the Visitor's Center.
This Rock Wren was hanging out near the pond.
This hawk had us scratching our heads.... we thought it might be a Red-shouldered Hawk due to the breast being so red.... but it did not look like a Red-shouldered Hawk. After more research we think this is a Calurus subspecies of the Red-tailed Hawk species..... any other suggestion??
This one really caught us off guard- a new bird for us... we were walking along the road by the willows at Benson Pond and came upon this unusual warbler- a Northern Waterthrush was scampering along bobbing its tail on the mudflats at the bridge. It was hiding and calling from a downed tree. After looking at the range maps for the bird we learned that they breed in the Klamath Basin region! We never knew that:)

There were lots of shore birds at Benson Pond. We had fun getting the scopes out in the late afternoon when the sun was behind us and seeing what we could see....

Sorry about the fuzzy photo but these birds were pretty far away... the bird below is a Greater Yellowlegs. I find it very challenging to tell the difference between the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs....however we had them both together here at Benson Pond. The Greater Yellowlegs' bill is longer and slightly upturned.
The photo below captures a Lesser Yellowlegs  and a Dowitcher  ( I think a Long-billed Dowitcher since it is typically found in the west- it is very difficult to tell the difference between the Short & Long-billed Dowitchers apart physically)
We found the Pectoral Sandpiper below in Benson Pond. It was one of three. They breed along the Arctic coast of North America & Russia. They winter in South America. The books indicate that most of the birds seen in the fall in the west are juveniles.

This pair of Trumpeter Swans had 2 chicks that we saw when we were working onsite in the spring. From the looks of things only one made it. The Trumpeter Swan was reduced to near extinction by the early 20th century. They were hunted for their feathers - the largest flight feathers were considered to be the best quality quill pens. We never take seeing one of the largest species of North American waterfowl for granted:)
We had a chance to see the Olive-sided Flycatcher at the Visitor's Center before it left to migrate to its wintering grounds of Panama and northern South America.
I know it is a peek-a-boo shot but this little Pacific Wren was making a lot of noise for such a little bird.
The photo below is of a skulking warbler -an immature male Common Yellowthroat. They can be difficult to get a good view of in the binoculars.
Stunning male Townsend's Warblers could be found around the Visitor's Center.
A glimpse of a male Wilson's Warbler. They winter from coastal California south through Mexico to Panama.
It is always fun to see an American Redstart. This is a probably a female verses an immature male since the area on the side of the breast underneath the upper part of the wing is yellow verses orange/yellow. The immature male typically has more of a orangish-red color. They are fun to watch flit about the trees fanning their tail.
We ventured up to Steens Mountain to see if we could catch a glimpse of Black Rosy-Finches. They are birds of the high mountains and are known to breed on the side of cliffs of Steens Mountain. We were lucky enough to have a fly by of a small flock but no photos. I hope to get a better look at them some day. We also had a flock of White-throated Swifts fly by as well in addition to other fun birds such as Western Tanagers and Lesser Goldfinches.

What a view from the top!
Back at the Visitor's Center we had wonderful views of Yellow Warblers.
This resident male Spotted Towhee was munching on berries.
I love to see hummingbirds feeding on the plants and trees around the area verses feeders. I think this is an immature Rufous Hummingbird.
I love the spunky attitude of the Song Sparrows:)
We had wonderful views of Townsend's Solitaires at a number of local birding spots. This is a bird of  the high western mountains. They typically descend to lower elevations in the winter where it feeds almost exclusively on juniper berries.
This immature Turkey Vulture was hanging out warming up in the sun waiting for the day to heat up in order to catch the thermals. The Turkey Vulture uses its strong sense of smell to locate carrion. 
Another Townsend's Solitaire we found at a warm spring located at the south end of the refuge near the town of Frenchglen. There were many Juniper Trees in the area.
The Lesser Goldfinches were also enjoying the Juniper berries.
A small flock of Nashville Warblers came into the teasle while we were there. We imagine they were traveling through to their wintering grounds which start in south Texas through Mexico to Guatemala and central Honduras.
While at the Warm Springs spot a big flock of Bushtits came through- busily feeding in the trees.
We have been told "you need to try and look at every bird because you never know who you will see in a mixed flock". Lo & behold we had a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the flock of Bushtits.

This American Kestrel was feeding on a grasshopper or praying-mantis.
See the insect in his claws....he is not letting go of this meal.
We had a flock of Orange-crowned Warblers join the Nashvilles. We think it is the Orestera subspecies of the Great Basin & Rockies.
What a variety of birds we saw..... we had great looks at this Red-naped Sapsucker (not sure if it is a male or female- the female has a white chin)
On our way to Ashland we camped in La Pine Oregon and had a chance to bird at the La Pine State Park, located along the Deschutes River.

We saw the back of this bird and thought it was a Northern Goshawk.... but I posted it on my Flickr site and heard back from a friend that it is actually a Red-shouldered Hawk:) In the second photo below you can see the red shoulders as it flies away from us. (We are so appreciative of help from our friends!)

These Greater Scaup were swimming along enjoying the sunny day on the Deschutes River.
We stayed for 4-5 days in Ashland. We camped at Emigrant Lake Campground. It is a beautiful spot even though the water in the reservoir was very low. We had the opportunity to bird the area a few times.

There were lots of Western Bluebirds....
This must be a partial luecistic Western Bluebird due to the coloring or lack of coloring of the head.
There were mixed flocks of birds flying around in the mornings. We had quite a few Lincoln Sparrows....
And Golden-crowned Sparrows.... and more.
While in Ashland we got to visit one of our favorite places..... Rye Springs.....with some of our favorite people....Otis, Candace & Vince.....we had a beautiful day....

An Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler coming to the water to bathe.....
There is no other place I have ever been that you can see a Golden-crowned Kinglet (left), Red-breasted Nuthatch (middle) & Chestnut-backed Chickadee bathing together!!
A better look at the Golden-crowned Kinglet:)
And a Golden-crowned Sparrow....
A gorgeous Steller's Jay
Look at this adorable Hermit Thrush...
And a Fox Sparrow....
Fabulous views of a Gray Jay bathing....
We had the opportunity to bird Mt Ashland one morning and saw a few of the locals....

This is a Band-tailed Pigeon below. They are feeding on Elderberries. Note the white band at the top of the nape and the yellow based bill.
This Fox Sparrow came out to see what was going on...
This White-breasted Nuthatch makes a lot of noise for such a little bird:)
We had a wonderful time in Ashland. Our next stop is Marin, California.

We are blessed that the World is Full of Beauty & Wonder all around us:)

Turtle & Hawk

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