Posted by: atowhee | July 22, 2013

CUCKOO TRAIL

P1660699 (1280x960)I musta been cuckoo myself to go looking for rare birds this morning. I hit the trail up into the Soda Mountain Wilderness before 7AM this morning. Of course there was no sign of either the thrasher or the cuckoo that had been seen there earlier this month. But the sun was obvious. The cloudless sky was bleached blue from the strong light. The Scrub-Jays were complaining during my climb. It was over an hour of uphill going on a trail that tried to followed a badly eroded, abandoned ranch road. Long time since cattle have run here. They probably starved or died of heat and thirst.
The ground had contracted in the dry air, leaving little crevasses, some a couple feet deep and three inches wide. The dwarf oak forest at the foot of the trail was a sure sign of the bad soil and lack of water. A few scattered western junipers were on the slope as well, another sure sign of aridity. Junipers are not found in most parts of Jackson County but do live on this south facing slope of the nexus of Cascades and Siskiyous.
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All along the climb the brush was mostly ceanothus. None of the trees were large. It seemed to be too hot and dry for mistletoe in the oaks!
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yelo lupin Not really a lupine this is Golden pea, Thermopsis macrophylla. Other wildflowers included American wild carrot, prairie star (a saxifrage) and a few tiny penstemon after I reached 5000′ or so in elevation.

At the top of the climb is this fine view of Pilot Rock from the southwest: pilot rock vu In the other direction you look down across I-5 to California. Several vantages offered a look at Mt. Shasta topping the foreground ridge.
Once I reached the ridgeline the forest grew lusher and more dense.

SODA MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS, Jackson, US-OR
Jul 22, 2013 7:00 AM. 11 species

Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) 4
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 5
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus) 5
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 12
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) 1
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) 2
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 20 flock of mostly juvenile birds
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) 1
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 40


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