Saturday, June 30, 2012

Birds of Tingley Lake

Tingley Lake Estates and RV Park turned out to be an excellent place to stay. The birding was fantastic.  In lieu of a lot of words to describe, here are photos of some of the birds we enjoyed.

     American White Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

 Foster's Tern

        Yellow-headed Blackbird

   House Finch

Friday, June 29, 2012

Travels with Buster - Final Chapter

Buster and I had a wonderful day of travel yesterday, checking out Moore Park in Klamath Falls and the Klamath State Wildlife Area just south of Klamath Falls.  At the last minute I jettisoned my plan to park at Wal-Mart for the night and instead chose to try out Tingley Lake Estate & RV Park.  I had read about another birder spending some time here. This turned out to be very fortuitous decision on my part, it is an unbelievable oasis, and just as I was setting up I got a call from Jeanette saying that she was getting set to leave Chico and drive my way. Buster was extremely happy to see his mom again, and so my solo travels with Buster have come to an end.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Travels with Buster - Chapter 4

This chapter could be called “Breakfast with a View”. To understand how significant a stop it was I must back up to explain where we stayed last night.  We had had a great morning yesterday, with a hike on the North Fork Little Butte Creek, and then a second hike and lunch at Great Meadow with a fabulous view of Mt McLoughlin across the meadow.  I thought I should just stay up there in the Cascades, so went in search of a campsite at Lake of the Woods. That is where things started to deteriorate, the campgrounds where buried deep in the trees, the sites were small and dirty, and although empty, most seemed to be reserved. (This is what happens when ownership turns registration over to a reservation company – empty sites) Well, not a problem, back to my original plan to camp at Odessa Campground, a small campground with no charge on a marsh of Klamath Lake.  It turned out to be buried deep in the brush with very poor sites, and angry stares and barking dogs from the one inhabited site.  Strains of “Deliverance” rang in my ears, even Buster was intimidated. At the break of day we were out of there and down the road to this parking lot on Wocus Bay, with bright morning sunshine, a fantastic view across the lake, the chorus of serenading Western Grebes, and breakfast!   Life is sweet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Travels with Buster - Chapter 3

Buster loves to hike.  His day is most perfect and whole went he gets to be out hiking. This morning I decided to take him hiking on the Fish Lake Trail below the dam along the North Fork of Little Butte Creek starting at the North Fork Campground. As it turned out, it is one of the trails on the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail. It was a perfect trail for him, a dirt path covered with soft pine and fir needles.  He was off with his nose to the ground taking in the scents of chipmunks and squirrels and who knows what.  For me, the unbelievable beauty of this creek side trail had a choke hold on my attention to the point that I wasn’t able to pause and ID the untold number of singing birds. A few did penetrate my consciousness: the liquid song of a Swainson’s Thrush, the cry of two circling Ospreys, the strong melody of a Song Sparrow, the nasal call of a Nuthatch, the squawking protest of a disturbed Common Merganser, a mother Canada Goose with two juveniles trying to hide in the grass, and then while I was searching the stream for signs of trout, the splash of a feeding American Dipper.  Yes, Buster sure loves to hike.

Travels with Buster - Chapter 2

As I remember, Steinbeck always thought of his dog Charlie as being very noble in breed and character.  I’ve never looked at Buster in these terms, words like impulsive and impatient would be more appropriate, which were the very characteristics that were displayed when I pulled into our campsite at Fish Lake yesterday afternoon.  He could not wait to get out the door.  Wisely I had selected a site next to the trail, and lucky for me the site was so level there was no need to fiddle with leveling the RV.  It was just a matter of grabbing my shoulder bag and we were out the door and Buster was immediately engaged in marking his territory and exploring the trail.  We spent an hour checking out the campgrounds and lake-side trails.  I will have to say that Buster was on his best behavior and did not even bark and this little fisherman we came upon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Travels with Buster

I’m reminded today of John Steinbeck’s classic “Travels with Charlie” as I travel in the motor home with Buster.  Yesterday Jeanette left Elkton for Chico to help Tony and Maggie get ready for their baby.  Today Buster and I began a slow route from Elkton that will take several days to get to Collier State Park where we start our July volunteer jobs. I’m trying to emulate the relaxed self-sufficient style that carried Steinbeck on his journey around the US, and also experience the same energizing curiosity that drove him on. In that same spirit I think I will be having lots of conversations with Buster.

Monday, June 25, 2012

An Interesting Observation

This photo of a male Black-backed Woodpecker removing an egg from his nest was sent to me by Bill and Marsha Teague. Bill & Marsha had the campsite at Collier Memorial State Park where the Black-backed Woodpeckers had made a nest in a Lodge Pole Pine. We stopped by their campsite many times while we were at Collier the week before last and enjoyed watching both the male and female feeding young ones. Why this male would be removing an egg from the nest from which he has been busy feeding young birds is a bit of a mystery.  My best guess and it is truly a guess, is that perhaps it’s an egg that did not hatch and a bit of house cleaning is going on. If anyone has a better scientific explanation, please leave a comment.  I am very grateful to Bill & Marsha who spent many hours and days observing these Black-backs, and I thank them again for sharing this photograph.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yes! to More!

We have said yes to more time in this scenic place, CollierMemorial State Park. It's official as of today, our back ground and security checks came out OK, and we will be volunteering at Collier for the month of July.  It’s sort of like the old saying, “be careful what you pray for”.  Although we are not the praying kind, we did get just what we wanted, an opportunity to spend more time at Collier. When we volunteered at Collier in October of 2010 we worked as host in the Information/Gift Shop.  This time we will be working at a variety of positions as campground host 2 days a week, maintenance host 2 days a week, and interpretive host 1 day a week.  Our days off are scheduled to be Wed & Thur. Hopefully I will spend some of my time casting flys for trout in this beautiful water.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Our week of volunteering at Collier Memorial State Park last week is now only memories, but what good memories they are.  One of the most memorable to me was watching and listening to this Cat D7 start up.  I remember as a kid being entirely enthralled with the process.  There are no electric starters to get these beasts going. Instead a small 2 cylinder gas starter engine mounted next to the big diesel engine is fired up by means of a hand crank, or in this case a spring starter.  It sputters to life and runs erratically for a few minutes. Once warmed-up sufficiently it is run wide open, screaming for all it’s worth at a high pitch, to produce as much power as possible to turn over the big diesel engine.  It’s a procedure that never seems to go smoothly; almost always the little engine dies several times. But eventually the big diesel engine slowly bellows to life adding its base tones to the cacophony of mechanical music. Ah, excitement and success in the air so strong you can taste it.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Living History Day

Today was Living History Day at Collier Logging Museum in Collier Memorial State Park

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cliff Swallows

For the last four days our volunteer work here at Collier has been the manual type, raking and hauling off pine needles.  Today that changed and our “work” was leading two bird walks, one at eight this morning and a second at ten.  I will have to confess it does get a little confusing when our “work” is such a fun thing as birding. These Cliff Swallows that I photographed this morning seem to be in a little confusing situation too.  This nest looks to be in need of some repair (they are normally gourd shaped), but they appear to be just hanging out watching the other swallows who were busy feeding their young.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Black-backed Woodpecker

Never hear of a Black-backed Woodpecker?  Don’t feel bad, neither had we until yesterday when our boss, Ranger Joel mention the nesting Black-backs in the campground.  We were ignorant enough to assume that he had misspoken and meant to say Ladder-back Woodpecker.  Well, we got an education.  We found the nest and did some reading and learned about three-toed woodpeckers, of which the Black-backed belong. Look closely at this photo of a feeding female and you can see the baby’s mouth inside the nest. It also looks like the mother has a lot of yellow pine pollen on her which is thick in the air and cover everything right now here at Collier Memorial State Park.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back to Work

Jeanette and I are now set up at Collier Memorial State Park for a week of volunteering.  We are helping prepare the park for Collier Living History Day on this coming Sunday June 17th.  We love this park, so it’s very enjoyable to be back here.  We spent most of this morning raking up pine needles and cones into this dump truck and then hauling them up to the burn pile. They are making major improvements to the Logging Museum, reorganizing the equipment, new information kiosks, and graveled paths to guide you through the displays. It's great fun to be involved in such a positive atmosphere of change and improvement.   

Monday, June 11, 2012

Juanita Lake

This is a photo of lovely Juanita Lake, located off of Highway 97 between Weed California and Klamath Falls Oregon in the Klamath National Forest.  Despite its beauty and a wonderful campground with 22 paved sites, it seems to be almost unknown.  As it turns out our GPS sure doesn’t have any idea where it is. I was unable to bring it up by name or locate it on the GPS map.  I had originally found out about Juanita Lake from a birding site, so I went back to that site, which luckily for me had the coordinates listed for the lake. I put the coordinates in the GPS and off we went.  The complete story is way too long to tell here, but the GPS made numerous attempts to misdirect us.  Finally a California State Trooper (Jeanette says handsome), helped us and we made it here yesterday afternoon. We have enjoyed the lake and campground so much, we will be back here sometime for sure.   

Sunday, June 10, 2012

En Route

We left Almond Tree RV Park in Chico at 7:30 this morning and drove north into gusty headwinds of 25 miles per hour.  Not fun. This is our stop at Weed for diesel and some lunch with Mt Shasta looming close by. We are on our way for a week of volunteering at Collier Memorial State Park north of Klamath Falls, but stopped today at Juanita Lake for the night.  More on Juanita Lake tomorrow.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Swim In Big Chico Creek

In many ways the center piece of the City of Chico is Bidwell Park, and without a doubt the center piece of Bidwell Park is Big Chico Creek.  The creek provides a riparian area lush with spreading Sycamore trees, and towering Oaks and an assortment of other trees and scrubs too numerous to note. Dirt paths wind along its banks, and paved walking and bicycling trails run on either side of the stream. Temperatures here in Chico were in the mid-eighties again yesterday and we spent some of the afternoon enjoying the shade of Bidwell Park.  Maggie, our daughter-in-law, however was the only one brave enough to enjoy swimming in Big Chico Creek.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Baby Phoebe

I took this photo of this juvenile Black Phoebe while birding this morning at Horseshoe Lake in Bidwell Park.  Juveniles have a lot of brown in their coloring and lack the dark black plumage of an adult, and notice the wide light colored “chick” bill. There were actually two juveniles with an adult who seemed to be trying to show them how a Phoebe should act as in flying to a perch and then capturing a bug.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Acorn Woodpecker

I went birding in Bidwell Park this morning and was fortunate enough to get this photo of a male Acorn Woodpecker feeding young ones in this cavity nest. If you have been around Acorn Woodpeckers you know they are about the easiest of woodpeckers to spot as they are one of the nosiest. They also seem to like to hang out together which also makes for easy observation. Below is one of the young ones peeking out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Clark's Grebe

We took Sean and Maggie on a side trip today to Oroville to check out camping and birding possibilities. After a disappointing look at Lake Oroville and an equally disappointing experience of lunch, we almost by chance ended up at Bedrock Park on the Feather River Parkway. One of the first birds we spotted was this Clark’s Grebe and things began to pick-up.  In less than an hour, and without needing to travel very far, we identified 18 different species of birds.  We were delighted to find that Bedrock Park was a busy place with a variety of users.  People were picnicking and enjoying the sun, others were using the paved walking and biking path, a good number of men were fishing, and of course we were busy counting birds.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bidwell Park

It was a hot day in Chico yesterday with temps close to 90 degrees so we spent some of the afternoon wandering the shady trails in Chico’s amazing Bidwell Park. Jeanette is shown here with son Sean, who flew in from Florida on Friday, and Buster wading in Big Chico Creek.  Jeanette’s other son Tony and his wife Maggie live here in Chico and guided us along some of their favorite trails. We followed up with dinner downtown at The Rawbar Restaurant & Sushi, outstanding!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Valley of the Rogue State Park

We are on our way to Chico California for a week of visiting with our next grandson’s parents. We are making it an easy two day trip, and have stopped for the first night at Valley of the Rogue State Park.  The park is located on the Rouge River between Grants Pass & Medford.  Much to our surprise when we stopped at the entrance to pay for a site we found out it was "State Parks Day" and that camping was FREE! Proof positive that “dumb luck” can pay off!