Jeanette & Buster exiting the RV at Mayer State Park
A couple of weeks ago I dreamed up the idea of birding in all of Oregon's counties in one year. I was thinking of starting in January 2016 and being able to count some birds in each of our thirty-six counties by the end of December. Jeanette being a woman of action, thought why wait, we should start now. We already had visited 13 of Oregon's county this year in our normal wonderings, and we still had four months left in this year. Looking at the calendar we realized that this first week of September was the only week of the month we did not have commitments or appointments, so in short order I put together a loop trip of 3 or 4 days to bird in a group of new counties in north-central Oregon, starting up the Columbia River, over to the John Day River and back across the Santiam Pass to Salem.
Old people get up early, so it was no big deal for us to leave our drive way at 6:30 AM this morning. The traffic on I-5 flowed smoothly, and after an early morning stop at Kordell's Produce in West Linn, we continued on 205 to I-84 without a hitch. Our first stop was at the Bonneville Hatchery. The grounds are beautiful and was just the thing we needed to stretch our legs from the drive and count some birds in Multnomah County. Next was a stop at Hood River to find some birds in Hood River County, but it was pretty windy so we decided a stop at Pfriem Family Brews for lunch was a better idea. As we were leaving Hood River I suddenly realized we had not seen any birds in this county. Luckily as we were driving up I-84 Jeanette spotted a Turkey Vulture and a Crow before we had crossed the county line.
My next idea for a stop was Mayer State Park along the Columbia River between Hood River and The Dalles. It made our third county for the day, Wasco County. We have passed up on Mayer State Park in the past when we were looking for hiking trails and camping sites, but this is the first time we have looked at this park with the idea of birding and it looked much more interesting. Although the birds were a little scarce on this warm summer day, we both agreed it has good potential in a different season.
Jeanette and Buster search for birds at Mayer State Park
This trip up the Columbia River Gorge today brought back a flood of memories. Jeanette and I have traveled the Gorge on many adventures starting with our honeymoon bicycle tour in 1993. We returned to bike tour, backpack, car camp, hike, and photograph wildflowers many times in the following years, but this is the first time the focus is on birds.