Posted by: atowhee | April 17, 2008

Mountain lake circuit: cranes, warblers in the snow, Osprey in action

Sandhill Cranes on stilts, dagger beaks spading up goodies from the thawing mud.  A pair of Osprey: consummation, a “Fish Hawk Serenade,” nest for the season.  Goldeneyes there for the counting.  Bufflehead,  Pintails, one Lesser Scaup still hanging around.  Tree Swallowing of countless gnats over frozen lakes and lingering snowdrifts.  Warblers on the snow.  Wilson’s Snipe so smitten with spring love they ignored us.  Lewis’s Woodpeckers making rattle calls from an oak hillside in mid-April.  An early arrival for lone White Pelican.

The Lewis’s Woodpeckers were still in the oak woods just west of milepost 10 on Highway 66, east of the southeast corner of Emigrant Lake.  Will be worth watching to see if they stay through the summer as they’re not regular nesting species here in Jackson County.  A good place to look is at the large pull-out on the righ hand (uphill direction) side of the highway opposite a large electricity transformer and a 30MPH sign, both on the west side of the highway (downhill side).

This habitat is also permanent residence for Acron Woodpeckers & Western Meadowlarks.  breeding territory for Chipping Sparrow where we heard one signing this morning.

 Except for the Pintails we found all our ducks in Little Hyatt Lake along Highway 66.  Sorry my picture of the Barrow’s Goldeneye isn’t better but you can see his pointed face splotch and her dainty yellow beak. 

It was at this small lake we encountered our first phalanx of Tree Swallows, but at least it looked normal.  No ice or snow.

At still-frozen Hyatt Lake we were amazed at the swarms of Tree Sparrows over the snow and ice.  But there were insects visible in the sun-warmed air.  The feeders on a home there had attracted our Siskins contingent for the morning, a pair of Purple Finches, a large gang of Brewer’s Blackbirds.  Robins hopped about on the snow piled at the edge of the parking lot.  At a later stop we encountered Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding at the edge of snowdrifts.

This was at the same pull-out along the west of Hyatt Lake where you get great views of the Osprey on their nest.  The same one they used last season.  Clearly their coupling was enough to produce celebration as the female immediately began her sweet alto song, which continued for some time.  The male perched on the right hand of the picture, just beyond the nest.

Osprey will raise only one clutch of chicks per season and at these mountain lakes they must cope with Bald Eagles who will opportunistically steal their fresh-caught fish.  This nest currently sits above a lake where there is only a thin margin of open water along some shallow coves or where streams enter the lake.  It will be some time before Hyatt Lake is ice free.  There is much more open water at nearby, and lower, Howard Prairie, but usually there are competing Osprey at that lake.  Little Hyatt Lake did not appear to have any nesting Osprey.

We had set out with hopes of Sandhill Cranes but as we approached DIM Road at the northwest corner of Howard Prairie we were running out of chances.  Then, we saw our first pair, just west of the Howard Paire Road turn-off from DIM.  The second pair was hunting in the next field a few hundred yards west on DIM Road.  There we got out for pictures. Whooosh, Bill spotted a shorebird speed past and disappear in the dense, mud-rooted grass.  Not one but four Wilson’s Snipe we saw mucking about.  Also, here we got a view of Lark Sparrow in his bush surrounded by snow melt and unmelted snow.  Neither pair of cranes were alarmed but both moved slowly away from us.

Note how tiny those Mallards look.  Yes, that’s snow.  And here’s a Bufflehead flotilla upon Little Hyatt Lake, just because there are great ducks.

THE ROUTE:  It was a warm and sunny day, no wind and almost no traffic.  Bill Hering and I headed east into the Siskiyous.  We made a circuit from Ashland to the two nearest large lakes, Hyatt at just over 5000 feet elevation and its nbeighboring resevoir, Howard Prairie, at around 4500 feet.  The roads were clear but considerable snow was on the ground above 4000 feet.  And there were Western Bluebirds where the snow had turned to run-off.  Juncos and a Chipping Sparrow in days-old spring grass, Ravens checking us out, one lone White Pelican sharing an island with Canada Geese at the north end of Howard Prairie.  It was on the flats there that we found the Pintails in with Mallards and a crowd of Canadas.

Location:     Howard Prairie Circuit
Observation date:     4/17/08
Notes:     Circuit from Intersection of Highway 66 and Dead Indian Memorial Rd, this time we went east on 66, north part Howard Prairie Lake, west on DIM Road.
Number of species:     45

Canada Goose     60
Wood Duck     3
Mallard     75
Northern Pintail     15
Lesser Scaup     1
Bufflehead     12
Common Goldeneye     14
Barrow’s Goldeneye     2
American White Pelican     1
Double-crested Cormorant     3
Turkey Vulture     5
Osprey     3
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Kestrel     1
Sandhill Crane     4
Killdeer     4
Wilson’s Snipe     4

Acorn Woodpecker   4
Lewis’s Woodpecker     10
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     5
Steller’s Jay     8
Western Scrub-Jay     2
Common Raven     6
Tree Swallow     500
Barn Swallow     4
Red-breasted Nuthatch     1
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     4
Western Bluebird     2
American Robin     25
European Starling     6
Yellow-rumped Warbler     25
Chipping Sparrow     1
Lark Sparrow     1
Savannah Sparrow     1
Fox Sparrow     1
Song Sparrow     1
Dark-eyed Junco     30
Red-winged Blackbird     4
Western Meadowlark     12
Brewer’s Blackbird     50
Brown-headed Cowbird     4
Purple Finch     1
House Finch     2
Pine Siskin     20

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(


  1. What a great day for the birds and birders!



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