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Posted by: atowhee | October 14, 2018

NUTCRACKER SWEET

The grand finale of our hike on Saturday was a flock of feeding Clark’s Nutcrackers. The species is unusual enough in that location that eBird required an explanation.  I referred them to the photos below. The hike was sponsored by the Friends of the Klamath-Siskiyou National Monument. Click on any image to see it full screen:

 

We found them about a mile south of Hwy 66 along Soda Mountain Road. We counted eight and they were eating cones in the tops of the Douglas firs.  We saw one fly between two fir-tops with an entire cone in its beak.  They were silent but very busy.  Two Steller’s Jays were nearby, perhaps puzzled that their big cousins were in the vicinity.

We found several birds gathered in their usual wintering flocks.  Our first flock were Lewis’s Woodpeckers that winter along Hwy 66 in the oak chaparral exactly ten miles from Ashland (look for MIlepost 10).  There we found at least twenty of them.  mIt first they hid, they ducked into the shade, they flew insect-hawking sorties from distant trees.  The longer we stood watching the more they took us for strange shrubs and finally a couple flew insect chases right over our heads–their green, pink, scarlet iridescence on full display in the bright morning sun.  A meadowlark was singing as we watched the woodpeckers.  American Goldfinches were flitting about.

Later we found a flock of Western Bluebirds sharing a ponderosa with a flick of siskins.WB This was on the north end of Hyatt Meadow about two miles north of Hwy 66 on Little Hyatt Lake Road.  There was also a flock of Savannah Sparrows there but they refused to give us a good look, flicking fearfully from one perch on the ground across the grass-tips to the next hiding spot.  Pne migrating harrier passed by about four hundred feet in the air.

At Little Hyatt Lake we found a lone dipper feeding on the lakeshore as Keene Creek was barely maintaining a flowing trickle. There we found a flock of at least a dozen Band-tailed Pigeons feeding in the conifers and posing in the sun on dead branches. BTP-LITL HYT

Ravens circled us and croaked but found us wanting in any trait that could hold their attention.  I glimpsed one lingering Yellow Warbler in the creekside willows.  Nearly everywhere we stopped alongside conifers we could hear the honking notes of Red-breasted Nuthatches and one stop brought us the sharp, thin alarm notes of a distant Townsend’s Solitaire.

Before we even started our trip, a Red-breasted Sapsucer flew into a tree near us in the Rite-Aid parking lot.   A happy omen, we thought.

There were no water birds on Little Hyatt Lake.  We did not find a Great Gray Owl.

BU-FLYIMG_4888This view looks west from Soda Mountain Road, across valley to Mt. Ashland, the gray hint of smoke still hangs in the air.

Hyatt Meadows, Jackson, Oregon, US
Oct 13, 2018. 10 species

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  12
Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi)  1
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  15
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  30
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  8
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  X

Little Hyatt Reservoir, Jackson, Oregon, US
Oct 13, 2018, 7 species

Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)  12
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  3
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  X
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)  1
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  5
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1

Soda Mountain Road, Jackson, Oregon, US
Oct 13, 2018.  3 species

Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  2
Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)  8     photos on my blog; seen by whole group at close range; feeding on Doug fir cones
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1

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