Sunday, July 29, 2012

July Guided Bird Walks

Today’s Guided Bird Walk was on a section of the Williamson River Trail and the Riverside Loop Trail. The day’s group of bird watchers, representing three different countries, is shown in the above photo, and the Bald Eagle that they were looking at is shown in the lower photo.  This was my last Guided Bird Walk for the month of July for Collier Memorial Park.  During July I lead 8 trips, and counted 436 individual birds of 45 different species.  It’s been a great experience for me and I am looking forward to more of the same for August.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Williamson River Trail

Yesterday Jeanette and I hiked the length of the Williamson River Trail from Collier Memorial State Park Campground to the Williamson River Campground in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, and back to Collier.  It was a round trip of 5 miles with the purpose of double checking the route, and making sure of the trail distance and the hiking time. My hope is that I will be adding this to my list of responsibilities for next month and lead a hike on this trail once a week, probably Saturdays. It’s a great connecting trail between these two campgrounds and has some wonderful vistas of the Williamson River.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Paradise Found

I’ve never really understood John Milton’s epic work “Paradise Lost”, but I do know that when I find a bit of paradise, I don’t want to leave.  The flowered banks of crystal clear Spring Creek here at Collier Memorial State Park are such a place.  When I walk these banks in the early morning looking and listening for birds, my soul is touched in such a way I don’t want to leave. All this is my way of explaining why Jeanette and I have decided to accept our ranger’s offer and stay here for another month.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wood River Wetland Revisited

Two weeks ago we went birding at Wood River Wetland and vowed to return. Today I made good on that promise.  It’s amazing that this outstanding birding site of the Klamath BasinBirding Trail is so close to where we are living and working at Collier Memorial State Park, like 15 minutes! I should be dropping over several times a week.  Jeanette stayed back today to do washing and house work, so without my “spotter” I found fewer birds, but it was good to get in some time birding.
Western Wood-Pewee

White Pelican

Green Heron (juvenile)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nest of the Day

Since making the proclamation a couple of days ago that “For the most part nesting is over here at Collier Memorial State Park”, we are finding new nest daily.  Always seems to happen to me after I’ve made a big declaration. Go figure! Yesterday we discovered a Robin’s nest in a tree right in our camping site. Today we realized that a Douglas Squirrel is nursing young ones in a bird house literally a few feet away. But the best nesting photo of the day is the above photo of three WesternWood-Pewee chicks all squinty-eyed and fuzzy-headed. The parent was easy to hear and see close by, insect in beak, waiting for us to leave the proximity of the nest. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Merganser Family

One of the things I really like about birding is that every day is different, and often has a surprise.  This morning’s surprise was this female Common Merganser and chicks.  One chick had hopped on the mother’s back and was getting a free ride.  There were actually 8 chicks in all; one chick did not make it in the photo. The mother and chicks were in Spring Creek, a favorite hike of mine that I’ve done many times during this month here at Collier State Park, but today was the first time I have seen this Merganser family.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nesting Suprise

For the most part nesting is over here at Collier Memorial State Park.  In the last month we have seen Black-backed Woodpecker’s nest empty, the same for the Osprey, Robin’s, Tree Swallows, and Western Bluebirds.  Even the big populations of Cliff and Barn Swallows that nest under the bridge are greatly diminished. So, you might imagine my surprise when I found this NorthernFlicker's nest yesterday afternoon.  When I took the photo I thought I could see only one young bird in the cavity, but if you will look closer, you will notice that there are two bills lined up in order.  This morning I stopped for a long time and watched the male feed the young, and was able to count two male juveniles and one female juvenile, so at least a total of three young ones are inside the nest. My guess would be due to the lateness of the season that this is possible a second brood this year for these flickers.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Belding's Ground Squirrel

The fourth and last squirrel of Collier Memorial State Park to be discussed here in Cascade Ramblings Blogspot is the Belding’s GroundSquirrel.  This is not a squirrel to be seen in the campground, but in the grassy lawns at the office and the Day Use Area, where they colonize in a vast network of underground burrows. Notice the total lack of stripes and the skimpy tail. These are one of the earliest squirrels to hibernate, with males going into hibernation starting in August.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Douglas Squirrel

To continue in this series of the squirrels of Collier Memorial State Park, here is the Douglas Squirrel.  He has a high pitched bark that 99% of the time is mistaken for a bird’s song.  He cries out early in the morning high in the pine trees, and protests through-out the day of persons entering his domain.  You may not see him, but you will always hear him.   He gets busy this time of year squirreling away cones for the winter. He does not hibernate, but stays active year around, in fact I have photographed Douglas Squirrels on cross-country ski trips during the winter high in the Cascades. Of the three squirrels I have discussed here in the blog he is by far the most vocal.

The Least Chipmunk

Ninety five per cent of the campers here in our campground at Collier call the little squirrels running from burrow to burrow and featured in the previous blog, chipmunks. They are however Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, which burrow, nest, and hibernate in the ground.  Featured here in this photo is our actual chipmunk, specifically know by the common name of Least Chipmunk.  They hang out in the trees, where they build their nests. Chipmunks can easily be identified by the stripes on their face, which ground squirrels do not have. Next time you see a little varmint scurrying away from your picnic table, check to see if it has a striped face.    

Monday, July 16, 2012

Baby Squirrels

I caught these baby Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels coming out of their burrow under the pavement a couple of weeks ago, but just missed getting the forth one in the photo.  Two of them look like they are still adjusting to the sun light. They are fun to watch at this age when they are filled with such curiosity and fun antics. We basically have four different species of squirrel here at Collier State Park, Douglas Squirrel, Belding Ground Squirrel, Least Chipmunk, and Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel.  The Belding’s occupy the grassy lawn areas around the office and day use area, but here in the campground these Golden Mantled are the dominating squirrel.  It would be impossible for a camper here at Collier to not notice these guys, and be either amused or annoyed, or in all probability both.  They burrow under the rocks, pavement, trees and fire pits, emerging and fleeing in a scene of constant activity all day long. This is the busy time of year from them, their numbers are at their peak, and they are busy finding all they can to eat before burrowing in for the winter by late October.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Guided Bird Walks

A part of my volunteer responsibilities here at Collier Memorial State Park are to lead Guided Bird Walks on Saturday and Sunday.  They are beginning to fall into place for me, developing a rhythm and gaining in popularity and bird counts. Below is a sampling of some of our sightings.

                                          Bald Eagles

                              Western Tanager

                               Song Sparrow

                             Red-breasted Sapsucker

juvenile male Hairy Woodpecker

                              juvenile male Pileated Woodpecker

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wood River Wetland

Today was a day off work for us and we chose to go birding at the Wood River Wetland.  We got an early start, and were birding by 7:15 AM in an effort to beat the heat.  The Wood River Wetland is a 3,000 acre wetland along the Wood River on the north edge of Agency Lake, and has one of the largest concentrations of birds of any place we have ever visited.  We birded for 3 hours and identified 42 different species.  Some we missed, but we will be back with our spotting scope to get a closer look. The best photo of our morning was this Double-crested Cormorant drying off its wings.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Williamson River Rainbow

Nine o’clock tonight I was sound asleep when there was a knock on my door, and a voice said, “Jim I want to show you what one of these guys looks like.”  The voice belonged to a fly fisherman camping here at Collier that I had helped get into his site the other day. He said he was 87 years old, so it was understandable that he needed some help backing into his site.  However, he is obviously still young enough to go about fishing successfully. I guess if I ever have any energy after working, or get bored with birding, I’m going to have to go fishing. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Trail Work at Collier

Jeanette is shown this morning trimming back some brush on the River Loop Trail. Trail work is something we both enjoy and it left us with a good feeling of being able to make a positive contribution. This was our first day of trail work in our maintenance position. We have spent a couple of days working as campground hosts, then two days off which were used for laundry, groceries, etc. All in all we are having a good time here at Collier Memorial State Park. It seems to be a good fit for us.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Please delete the previous post from your memory bank!  After scrutiny by experts it was determined that my American Three-toed Woodpecker was instead a juvenile Hairy Woodpecker.  As it turns out the yellow/orange crown on a juvenile male Hairy moves back across the top of its head as it matures until it is at the back and turns the bright red that we are used to seeing in a adult male Hairy Woodpecker.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Three-toed Woodpecker

I photographed this American Three-toed Woodpecker in our campground this afternoon. I was confused when I first saw it as it has a yellow crown like a Black-backed Woodpecker, but the center of  its back is white like a Hairy Woodpecker.  I was madly taking photos, and explaining my confusion at what I was seeing to Jeanette, when she exclaimed, “it’s a Three-toed Woodpecker”.  She had remembered and was right on, and it is a new addition to my Life List. What a great omen for our first day in our new volunteer positions at Collier Memorial State Park. We will be here for the month of July and I will be leading bird walks at 7:30 in the mornings on Saturday and Sunday.