Posted by: atowhee | May 27, 2017


On Friday I led a nine-hour birding trip into the southern Oregon Cascades. Today was an eleven-hour trip with a group of excited birders from Golden Gate Audubon Society.  We saw many of the same birds that our different group of birders had seen the day before, but more time in the field and a change of karma always means different birds.

Same: Vesper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Sandhill Cranes, those garish Western Tanagers who are so over-the-top in their garb, flickers, Tree and Barn Swallow, Western and Mountain Bluebird, ravens and more ravens, Steller’s Jays, Bald Eagle and Osprey, robins and iuncos galore…but there were some additions and some birding moments unparallelled.

One oddity: the Mountain Chickadee is just “not present.” They must be nesting right now and being stealthy.

Late afternoon found us along Keene Creek upstream from Little Hyatt Lake.  Riparian willow thicket, uphill dry slope with brush, dense Doug-fir forest, across the creek was open grasslands…in short: four habitats meeting at one spot…and for over and hour we could barely keep up with the bird variety…MacGillivray’s and Yellow Warbler, Willow Flycatcher and Western Wood-Pewee, Western Tanager of the garish sort not welcomed at the Court of St. James, Warbling Vireo, Song Sparrow, a pair of Green-tailed Towhee, Lazuli Bunting, Hairy Woodpecker, Flicker, Raven overhead…and then, as one birder asked, pointing up, “Is that a Turkey Vulture”…raptor soaring across the treetops upstream…long tail, short wings…white tufts at the base of the tail…”xW#(@!#,” I shout…that’s our Goshawk!  The bird is resident, dominant in its habitat and not often seen by primates as it has a large range and it ranges widely and daily…cruising the treetops for avian delectables.  One Goshawk sighting per year is a good average for birding this part of the Cascades.

Other bird-bits of the day: eleven Sandhill Cranes in a flock at Howard Prairie, presumably the yearlings who are a teen gang, none ready to pair off and breed…Mountain Bluebird in Hyatt Meadow once again putting the sky to shame…Great Gray Owl presiding over his vole meadow…blooming trillium at 4500 feet…White Pelicans and Common Mergansers all collected at the shallow end of Howard Prairie Lake to escape the  boating tourists of Memorial Day weekend…White-headed Woodpecker at their nest hole…camas lilies in profusion…Pileated Woodpeckers who treated us to high-speed fly-bys…the tireless Pygmy-Owl who called for over an hour that we could never locate, see or bedevil by answering back, final score of that contest was: Owl 9, birders 0…Osprey diving at perched Bald Eagle, no pain, no gain…Wilson’s Snipe sitting atop fence posts…meadowlarks serenading the evening…the weird ‘gooswan’ on Howard Prairie Lake with the long white neck and face; some artificial genetic mix loose in the wild…it was about Canada Goose sized but not Canada Goose purely.


Courtesy of Kirk Gooding, cameraman extraordinaire:tang-1Great Gray Owl and don’tcha love the effect of the back-lit aspen leaves…painterly bordering on poetic, thanks, Kirk.GGO-1GGO-2


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