Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival Birding - Catch up Tour (Day 4 of 4)

Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival Shirt Artwork
Brewers Sparrow

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  ***]

The last of my three day Woodpecker Festival featured a "Catch up Tour" where festival participants requested various birds they were hoping to get. Most birders wanted to go where we went on Saturday, so we re-united with our guides from the previous day and had some fun exploring different areas. Some target species were mountain grouse, Hermit Warblers, Lewis's Woodpecker, and Pileated Woodpeckers. With those two woodpeckers, my total woodpecker species for this festival would hit the maximum 11 species mark.

Our first stop was an old burn that had now become a brushy field. Brewer's Sparrow and White crowned Sparrows were present. We noted the slight difference in Western White crowned Sparrows (see above), whose eye line is from the eye back. The western species essentially has white lores while the eastern species has a complete black eyeline! [compare]

Steller's Jay
We then continued on into some forest stopping at various spots seeing what was around. We found a Townsend's Warbler with a white belly, hinting that it was an "intergrade" - having traits from Hermit Warbler. Below, you will see a Hermit Warbler, which should have a white belly - having a yellow belly - showing features that Townsends Warbler may have passed on with some interbreeding. Common nighthawks were seen flying overhead as well.

Townsend's Warbler - Should have a yellowish breast
We saw our first Hermit Warbler - I was really happy to see this. This was one of the few lifers I had on my fourth day in Oregon. Very exciting to get all four target warblers!

Hermit Warbler

The Dry Creek Burn area had several Lewis's Flycatchers easily seen. When we were there, they were very active, flycatching and moving from snag to snag. These were not life birds, but still, breathtaking to see. Only nature could have come up with such a colour combination! Lazuli Buntings and Olive sided Flycatchers were singing and easily seen in the area as well. I saw several Stellar's Jays as well, but they were a little camera shy.

One last stop at Suttle Lake made one last try at seeing Pileated Woodpeckers - Mission Accomplished! We also saw more Hermit Warblers! The Hermit Warbler shown below has a yellowish breast - hinting of some genetic traits from Townsend's Warbler.

Hermit Warbler - with yellowish breast of a Townsend's Warbler

Hermit Warbler - My only lifer on day 4!

Red Crossbills (Type 2 – Ponderosa Pine Crossbill ) were seen almost daily on this trip
On Sunday afternoon, I was anxious about getting back to Portland to prepare for returning back to Detroit. I went to the Best Western Hotel in Sisters which sometimes hosts the local flock of Pinyon Jays but came up short. I also attempted to find Barrows Goldeneye, American Dipper and Vaux's Swifts while driving back but no luck!

The last four postings really detailed my Oregon trip and my personal birding highlights. I had a great trip and wanted to document what happened photographically and through my blog so that I would not forget about it and also to share the experience with my blog readers. Its expensive to travel, not just financially but environmentally, time not with family, opportunity costs abound ... so the least I can do is document my trip. I like knowing I can at any time go back and look at this trip, my old Florida trips, or my trip out to BC two years ago and easily re-live the highlights of those trips. This concludes my Oregon Trip to the Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival. If I had to rate this trip I would rate it.... 11 out of 11 Woodpeckers! ;-)

MacGillivray's Warbler at Black Butte Swamp

Rufous Hummingbird at Cold Springs Campground

Good Birding!

Life List Summary based on my 50 target birds (crossed out birds were missed):

1 American Dipper
2 Canyon Wren (#351)
3 Townsend's Solitaire (#352)
4 Sage Thrasher
5 Black-throated Gray Warbler (#353)
6 Townsend's Warbler (#354)
7 Hermit Warbler (#355)
8 MacGillivray's Warbler (#356)
9 Western Tanager (#357)
10 Green-tailed Towhee (#358)
11 Brewer's Sparrow (#359)
12 Sage Sparrow
13 Black-headed Grosbeak (#360)
14 Tricolored Blackbird (#361)
15 Bullocks Oriole(#362)
16 Cassin's Finch(#363)
17 Red Crossbill(#364)
18 Lesser Goldfinch
19 Cassin's Vireo(#365)
20 Pinyon Jay
21 Steller's Jay(#366)
22 Western Scrub-Jay(#367 - Seen while driving through Prineville)
24 Pygmy Nuthatch (#368)
25 Rock Wren(#369)
26 Northern Pygmy-Owl (#370)
27 Common Poorwill

28 Vaux's Swift

29 Anna's Hummingbird
30 Calliope Hummingbird (#371)
31 Gray Jay
32 Williamson's Sapsucker (#372)
33 Red-naped Sapsucker (#373)
34 Red-breasted Sapsucker(#374)
35 White-headed Woodpecker(#375)
36 Hammond's Flycatcher(#376)
37 Gray Flycatcher(#377)
38 Dusky Flycatcher(#378)
40 Ferruginous Hawk

41 Prairie Falcon

42 Snowy Plover

44 Cinnamon Teal (#379)
45 Barrows Goldeneye

46 Sooty Grouse
47 Clark’s Grebe (#380)
48 Ruffed Grouse

49 western screech
50 White throated swift (#381)
51-Barn Owl(#382)
52-Band tailed Pigeon (#383)
53- American Three toed Woodpecker (#383)

Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival Websites:

PS: I photographed and attempted to identify some butterflies while in the Sisters Oregon area. The eight or so species below were photographed in Central Oregon.

Becker's White - Seen at Smith Rock State Park

Nelson's Hairstreak?

California Tortoiseshell

Pale Swallowtail - Common around Sisters Oregon

Hoary Comma
Great Arctic
Two banded Checkered Skipper
Ancilla dotted Blue - Smith Rock State Park

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival - Black Butte Tour (Day 3 of 4)

Williamson's Sapsucker

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  ***]

On Saturday Morning we had a small group led by two amazing birders, Tom Crabtree  & Rich Hoyer [link]. We started off at Cold Spring Campground in the Dechutes National Forest. Here we saw White headed Woodpeckers, Cassin's Finch, Cassin's Vireo, Red Crossbills, Hammond's Flycatcher, Red breasted Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker (rare) Northern Flicker and the single most desired bird on my Oregon trip: Williamson's Sapsucker!

Red breasted Sapsucker
Cassin's Vireo
Hammond's Flycatcher - Identified by call
We then visited a Forest Service road near Indian Ford Road which gave looks at Thick-billed Fox Sparrows, Pale Swallowtail butterflies, Northern Pygmy Owls as well as some western warblers!

Thick billed Fox Sparrow - A future lifer?

Northern Pygmy Owl - So small!!!
The Pole Creek area was a recently burnt forest that attracts two specialty woodpeckers that love freshly burned forest: Three Toed and Black Backed Woodpeckers! Mountain Bluebirds, Western Tanager, Clarks Nutcracker, and Cassin's Finch were among other highlights. [ebird list]

American Three toed Woodpecker - Has a little white on its back ... and Three Toes!

Black backed Woodpeckers have black backs. Amazing birds!
The Pole Creek burn was so recent, very few plants had emerged from the scorched sandy soil.

One of the few male Cassin's Finches that were seen on this trip. 

I was surprised to see how common this bird was in Oregon. Seen easily at most locations!
After the days birding on Saturday, there was a social gathering at a local hall in Sisters. Each group leader went up to give a talk about some of the trip highlights. After the social finished, it was 8pm and I tried to go back to Calliope Crossing. One of my group leaders suggested that sometimes the Calliope Hummingbird will perch on the small trees and shrubs at this site. As I crossed the bridge over Indian Ford, I looked East, away from the setting sun  --- To have a reflective magenta blast of colour from a distant shrub. Unmistakable! A perched Calliope Hummingbird showing off his striped gorget in the setting sun! This is the smallest bird in North America if I'm not mistaken. With the exception of Williamson's Sapsucker, this is probably one of my favorite birding moments on this trip! Bob Bowers states of this tiny bird:"The Smallest Bird in North America - It would be hard to picture a better choice for this record holder. With their uniquely streaked iridescent magenta gorget, adult male Calliope Hummingbirds are easily identified and difficult to mistake. The Calliope Hummingbird is a member of a bird family found only in the Western Hemisphere, is unassuming yet beautiful, quiet yet remarkable. This is a bird that keeps to itself, introverted and secretive, but one that stirs emotion when recognized. Those who have yet to see the Calliope are in for a treat."(Bowers)

Calliope Hummingbird at Calliope Crossing. Its striped magenta gorget is diagnostic.

Good Birding!

Bowers Bob, "Caliope Hummingbird -Smallest bird in North America", ND, WEB , June 24, 2014

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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