Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival Birding - Ochocos Tour (Day 2 of 4)

Brewers Sparrow - In the early morning light

Editors Note:
This Sisters Oregon Woodpecker Posting is part of a 4-part series on my June 2014 trip
Day 1: Arrival & self guided touring
Day 2: Ochocos Tour 
Day 3: Black Butte Tour 
Day 4: Catch up Tour - Dry Creek Burn  ***]

Friday was the first day of my Woodpecker Festival tours. The Ochocos tour went out east of Sisters and visited several spots between Redmond and Prineville Oregon --- into the Ochoco National Forest.   Steve Shunk of a local touring company describes the geography of the Sisters area of Oregon as follows: "The eastern slope of the Oregon Cascades epitomizes habitat diversity. Eastward from the Cascades crest, alpine meadows give way to mixed-conifer forests, which yield to ponderosa pine, eventually reaching the expansive juniper and sagebrush of Oregon’s high desert"(Shunk). Our first stopped checked out a Golden Eagle nest. We did not see any Eagles, but we did see Bullocks Oriole.  We then stopped close by to check out Brewers Sparrow. I like the name Brewers Sparrow because it reminds me of two things I enjoy... birding and beer! The Brewers Sparrow looks just like a Clay colored Sparrow but is a little drabber and less colourful.

Next we stopped near a place called Eagle Rock [link] near Prineville. Rock and Canyon Wren were present, along with a few swallow species and White throated Swifts. We saw Mountain Bluebirds, Bullocks Oriole, Black throated Gray Warbler, Ash throated Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, and others at/near this stop!

Black throated Gray Warbler - One of four Western Warblers I was lucky enough to see... Amazing

After Eagle Rock, we stopped off at Prineville Resevoir. Here we had a Yellow breasted Chat, Lazuli Buntings, Western Flycatcher (nesting in the parking lot), Western Grebe, Clarks Grebe (which I found!), American White Pelicans, and more.  I was hoping for Barrows Goldeneye, but no luck.

Next at Ochoco National Forest, we stopped near Mill Creek [link] and saw MacGillivrays Warbler, Dusky Flycatcher, Calliope Hummingbird (momentarily in flight). We moved up the mountain seeing White headed Woodpeckers, Dimorphic Williamsons Sapsuckers, Cassins Finch and Vireos along with many butterflies.

MacGillivray's Warbler is similar in appearance to Mourning Warbler

To close up the trip, we saw a few more birds driving around. We visited a Tricolored Blackbird area, Cinnamon Teal along the edge of a small roadside pond, Brewers Blackbird, Yellow headed Blackbirds, Swainson's Hawk, and Virginia Rail were noted. We saw a few dark-morph western Red tailed Hawks. We stopped at a barn where we saw two Barn Owls with two or so baby Barn Owls.

Little did I know when we pulled up to this barn that I would see my first non-captive Barn Owl!

Tricolored Blackbirds have wings with red-white, not red-orange colour combination of Red winged Blackbirds.

The Ochocos trip was well led by a local birding expert - Chuck Gates [link]. I picked up a tonne of lifers! As the trip came to an end, I picked up some subway sandwiches and headed to Smith Rock State Park near Redmond Oregon. Early to bed for tomorrows tour- Woodpecker Rich Black Butte Tour. One advantage easterners have on the west coast that waking up at 7am is like waking up at 4am. Being awake and ready to start birding at 5AM is not much tougher than waking up at 8AM Eastern Time... But 9pm out west is like midnight in our eastern time zoned internal clocks... A compromise any birder should be willing to make!

Good Birding!

Shunk Steven, Woodpecker Wonderland Tour, Paradise Birding,  ND, WEB, June 24 2014

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