Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cold Springs and Lost Lake Campgrounds

For the third leg of our one week tour of Central Oregon we choose a couple of small campgrounds in the Cascades. The first night's stop was Cold Springs Campground, a Deschutes National Forest Campground located a few miles East of the town of Sisters on the McKenzie Highway. Sheltered by towering Ponderosa Pine and shimmering Aspen, it has 23 sites.  All were full save the last one #23, which we quickly took possession. 
It was paridise for a hot afternoon and we settled in to enjoy with the babbling brook beside us. I spotted a touring bicyclist circling through the campground, knowing there were no sites and knowing it was late on a hot afternoon, we offered to share our site.  He had just climbed over the McKenzie Pass and was grateful for a place to camp for the night.  He had started two days before in Eugene after flying in from his home in Colorado and was riding to Bozman Montana where he would catch a plane back to Denver.  Of course we had touring tails to exchange and tips to offer for his route through the Ochocos. 

Our next nights stay was at the Lost Lake Campground near the Santiam Pass.  This is a Willamette National Forest Campground, and like most is without hookups.  It's a pot-hole filled road around the lake, but we were determinded to check out all the camping choices. We settled on #13 which was shaded with a nice view. 

 One of the features we enjoy about our new van is the screened back, which allows us to open the rear doors and let the breeze blow through. Jeanette has also added a screen for the sliding door, and will be adding screens for the driver and passenger doors. Regular cost for a site are eight dollars, we paid four dollars with our Senior Pass.  Dinner was free as it was left overs from our casino dinner.

Lost Lake essential almost drys up every summer.  In general, I think no body knew why.  But in recent years there has been found drain holes that allow the water to escape.  The thinking is that in winter these underground lava tunnels perhaps freeze and allow the lake to fill.  The same senerio applies to near by Fish Lake.  The annoying thing is that this information has been in the newspapers and on TV and we had a stream of visitors.  We were actually the only people camping there, but we had people driving through the campground even after eight o'clock at night, and again the next morning, all wanting to see this wounder of nature.

Collier Memorial State Park

After leaving Crane Prairie Reservoir, out next area of concentration was Collier Memorial State Park for a couple of days, June 24-25. We love this park from the many past visits for volunteering, and especially the birding.  Arriving at the campground mid-morning we decided it seemed too crowded and went to plan "B", which would be an overnight stay at the casino.  That decided it left us free to hike and bird the trails of the park.  

Parking the van in the vistor area of the campground we set off to hike the Williamson River Loop Trail.  It was great to hike old familiar trails and remember previous bird sighting.  Above is a phot of a Red-breasted Sapsucker with a nice bug, probably on it's way to feed some young ones. Click here for our observation list. For a shady lunch spot we drove over to the Spring Creek Day Uses area of Collier, and had lunch, rested walked some more and rested some more.


Driving on to KLA-MO-YA Casino, we found a shaded parking spot that was just perfect for the night.  After some relaxing time and some catch up time on the computer we had dinner in the casino. We had enough left over for a dinner the next day, so for sixteen dollars we had overnight camping and two meals--hard to beat the price.

The next morning we could think of no other place we would enjoy birding than Collier, so back to the park for a second round of birding focused on Spring Creek. A more beautiful location to bird is hard to imagine. Among the birds we enjoyed were this mother Common Merganser with twelve babies.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Crane Prairie Resort & RV Park

The dock at Crane Prairie Resort & RV Park

We are taking a trip in Central Oregon and have spent a couple of nights at Crane Prairie Resort & RV Park camping with friends Dan & Charlene and some of their family. Of course birding is also on our list and Dan took us on a boat ride on Crane Prairie Reservoir. Among the birds we saw were lots of Canada Geese and a good number of White Pelicans, but the highlight was finding this elusive Sandhill Crane doing a good job of hidding in the tall grass along the shore. It was spotted by Charlene, our only none birder and without binoculars!

Sandhill Crane

We also took a morning bird walk through the neighboring Crane Prairie National Forest Campground.The highlight of that walk was the pair of Williamson's Sapsucker in the lower photo.  Jeanette had spotted one on her morning walk with Charlene but didn't get a identifiable look.  Later when we checked out the area, I found a tree and then the birds. Dan got a closer look and saw the red patch under the chin, which kept me from thinking it was a Black-backed Woodpecker.  Finally I got this photo and we were able to identify the birds as Williamason's Sapsucker.  The mom is just arriving at the nest with beak grammed with sap and bugs, and the dad is just exiting.
Mrs & Mr Williamson's Sapsucker

This is a near-by pine tree riddled with "sap wells" drilled by the sapsuckers to collect sap which they eat as well as the insects that are attracted to the sap.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Busy Time For Swallows

 It's a busy time for the swallows at our place right now.  We have three nest boxes with young ones getting fed, so lots of activity with the parents coming and going.  These photos are of the nesting Violet-green Swallows in a nesting box in our front yard. The top photo is of the dad standing guard for the area.  In the lower photo the mom is just leaving the nest with a fecal sack from the babies.  She comes in with some kind of bug to feed them, and then once in a while when she leaves she takes a fecal sack out with her. The two nesting boxes in the back yard are a little further along, and both parents are involve in constant trips to the box with food.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Osprey Success

This morning I dropped by the Audubon Nature Reserve on Eola Drive to check out the Osprey nest.  As I was exiting my pick-up the female flew in with a long stick.  I would have expected her to bring a fish not a stick.  I panicked for a moment thinking perhaps the nest had failed and she was attempting to rebuild the nest.  As I walked around the nest for a better position to see the bird or birds, I was rewarded with a chick poking it's head up.  Perhaps mom just had in mind improving the nest.  The nest is built upon a large circular platform atop a high power pole, so doesn't need a complicated big pile of sticks to retain it's integrity.

Eola Drive

Flushed with my success at the Reserve I decide to check out the nest on Murlock Dr.. You can see in the photo below it contains the two adults plus two chicks.  This Murlock site was the first to start a nest this season as it has since I have been paying attention for the last three years.  

Murlark Ave. 

I also swung by the Patterson Street nesting site to check on it.  From the photo it looks like we have two adults but no chicks in sight at this time.  Of the three nesting sites, I think this was the last to get started this year.

Patterson Street

All three of these nesting sites are within a mile of each other in West Salem.  We are so fortunate that Salem Electric has erected these poles and platforms for the Osprey.  It's certainly a big help to the Osprey in encouraging them to nest on the platforms instead of the the electric power poles. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Chapter 2 of What's for the Birds

Turns out that Pine Siskins like blueberries, who knew?  Last fall when we purchased a Quaking Aspen tree from Kordell's Produce & Nursery to add shade and perching spots for the birds, we also purchased some other plants.  In addition to six Kinnikinnick plants to be used for ground cover, Jeanette specifically wanted two blueberry bushes.  I think she had visions of fresh blueberries every morning to add to our granola. We have been keeping a close watch as the little green berries grew in size and started to turn color.  A day or so ago she announced to me that the birds were eating her blueberries! The question was which birds, I had not noticed any birds on the plants.  This morning that all changed when we discovered a mixed flock of Pine Siskins and House Finches feeding on the blueberries.  Not only is sitting still good for the birds, as I reported yesterday, planting blueberries is I guess also good for the birds.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sitting is for the Birds

For several days this past week I have been occupied in trying to recover from some sort of food poisoning. Yesterday, I spent a good part of the afternoon just sitting in my backyard patio.  I've always been a fairly active person, so having to resign myself to just sitting is not an easy thing for me, and I was reminded of the phrase, "sitting is for the birds", uttered in disdain and disgust.  However sitting still in my backyard for some time turns out to be a help for the birds.  They become more comfortable with the surroundings and feel freer to come to the feeder and the bird bath.  An example is shown here with three juvenile Brewer's Blackbirds taking turns taking a bath.  In other words, sitting for me may not be a good thing, but it is for the birds.  So with a different tone and emphasis, sitting is indeed for the birds!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Depoe Bay City Park

I spend a lot of time on Google's satelite map looking at eBird Hot Spots and looking for new Hot Spots.  This past week I spotted a site in Depoe Bay City Park.  In all my years of traveling through Depoe Bay, I was totally unaware of a city park.  Yesterday it was on our agenda to stop and explore it's potenal for birding.  We were delighted to find this hidden gem, tucked away on the south-east corner of the harbor.
From a birding stand point the most significant feature of the park is the nature trail, which travels along the meanering stream through a deep coastal forest. The trail was an absolute delight and the thick understory was filled with bird song. You can check out our observation list here.  Click on the map below to enlarge the photo.  
We had the park and nature trail to ourselves in the morning, but while we were enjoying our lunch in our van, the parking lot filled with cars with people coming to walk their dogs, and kids to use the playground.  None appeared to venture up the nature trail.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Our Summer Plan

This photo was taken yesterday afternoon along highway 101 at Seal Rock State Wayside, south of Newport, where we stopped to have some lunch and do some birding.  You can see our observation list here.

Having an RV enables us to roll with the weather and seek out the most comfortable temperatures. That's what is happening this week as we escape to the Oregon Coast for another respite from the heat in the Willamette Valley were we live.  Day time temperatures on the Oregon Coast right now are averaging thirty degrees cooler than the Willamette Valley.  That means when the temps at home are in the nineties, a mere 50-60 miles away on the coast the temps will be in the 60s. It's pretty easy to pick out a trail or beach to spend some time to walk and bird using the RV as our mobile base camp.  Need to use the restroom?  Want a snack or a meal? Tired, would like to rest or nap? We have it all.  Being completely self contained allows us the freedom of simply parking at a casino or Walmart for the night, camping in a state park or forest service campground, or the luxury of an RV park complete with cable TV and WiFi.  We tend to use a mix which gives us a nice variety. It is a plan that works well for us, and looks like we will continue to use it throughout this summer.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Osprey Breakfast

Wanting to check out things at the Audubon Nature Reserve here in West Salem, and with the temperature expected to break 100 degrees today,  I decided to make it an early morning trip and arrived  before 7:00AM. At first all was quiet at the Osprey nest, no bird in sight.  After making a loop on some of the trails I heard some calling from an Osprey and made a short cut back to re-check the nest.  I could see one bird on the nest, probably the female, and as I was trying to get into position for a photo, the male flew in, I missed his photo by mere seconds.  This is not a good photo, but despite taking 20 shots, this is the best I have to offer. However, the story is the story, not the photo, or I should probably say my interpretation of what I saw is the story.  It appeared to me that they were both eating, and I watched them for almost ten minutes. My guess is that he flew in with a fresh fish, and then stayed as they shared breakfast together.  All in all I think our loving couple is doing quite well, and by the first of July we should see some chicks peering over the edge of the nest.