Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

Musings about birds, nature, and our meanderings on the Central Oregon Coast

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 Dancing Grebe Trip - Day 7

On Thursday the 30th, we headed out of Klamath Falls on our way to Bend - the final leg of our journey.  There were a couple of places enroute that I wanted to visit. First stop was Wood River Wetland, on the north tip of Agency Lake.

When we stepped out of the car, we were overwhelmed by the sounds - songbirds, marsh birds, waterfowl...  It was incredible.
Orange-crowned Warbler

We immediately saw several Yellow Warblers, followed closely by foraging Wilson's and Orange-crowned Warblers. Tree Swallows were guarding nests, Black-headed Grosbeaks foraging on the ground.

Tree Swallow near nest
Black-headed Grosbeak

As we walked down the trail, the trees and brush initially hid the water from our view - but not the sound.  "Sensory overload!" I commented, smiling.

 Coming out of the shaded portion of the trail, we had a nice view of the wetlands - and a greeter...
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Garter Snake

There were several snakes - mostly Garter Snakes - either sunning on the path, or curled up in the nearby grasses. 

Western Grebe

Although we now had clearer views of the water, it seemed that most of the waterfowl were back in areas that were hidden from view - there were a few that we could see well...
Green Heron

... and we were excited to see both a Green and a Black-crowned Night Heron.
The next stop was to have been Collier State Park, but it was packed with people so we moved on to the last site - Klamath Marsh NWR.
Western Kingbird and Mountain Bluebird

Heading up Silver Lake Road, we noticed a bird atop a leafless bush -- we stopped to see him better, and enjoyed watching a pair of Mountain Bluebird join him, taking turns hunting in the bush.  After a few minutes, a Green-tailed Towhee popped up from below, only to be chased away by the female Bluebird.
The marsh was full of Red-winged, Yellow-headed and Tricolored Blackbirds. From the many waysides along the road, we spotted a number of Common Yellowthroat and Marsh Wrens. A soaring Red-tailed Hawk was chased by two Northern Harriers - we probably never would have seen the Harriers if the Red-tail hadn't caused them to rise up out of the tall grass and give chase. 

Following the suggestion in the Klamath Basin Birding Guide, we drove back on Forest Road 690 along the edge of the marsh.  We were hoping to see some Woodpeckers, but it was very quiet - a few warblers and a Mountain Chickadee. Returning to the main road, we decided to continue on our journey rather than seeing more of the Marsh. 
Canada Geese

We waited to let families of Canada Geese cross the road (this happened a couple of times), then we were on our way to Bend. 
I had been a little dubious about staying at a hotel that was right on Highway 97 Business, but The Riverhouse was great - our room overlooked the river, complete with a bridge housing a family of American Dippers!  Worn out and with my hubby finally succumbing to the cold he had been fighting, we settled in for a couple of nice, restful days before heading home. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

2013 Dancing Grebe Trip - Day 6

Wednesday, May 29th was day 6 of our trip.  We were both tired from our previous day's adventures, and so we decided to take in a couple of auto tours - Lower Klamath Basin and Tule Lake.  Our first stop was the intersection of Highway 39 and State Line Road, where the fields on both sides of State Line were full of birds - White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Franklin's Gulls (and others) and Black-necked Stilt.
American Avocet

Black-necked Stilts

Our first Black-necked Stilt was a proud parent of at least two fledglings.

Black-necked Stilt Fledgling
Lower Klamath Basin

Lower Klamath Basin lived up to its fine reputation - we saw lots and lots of birds along the route - and a few mosquitos.

Cliff Swallows

The kiosk was being put to good use.
American White Pelicans
White-faced Ibis

Much prettier "live" than in photos.
Canada Geese families
Next, we headed down to Tule Lake, stopping first at the Tule Lake headquarters -- definitely worth the stop!
Yellow-bellied Marmot

We enjoyed walking the short trail around Discovery Marsh... a Yellow-bellied Marmot was our first sighting.  We got some nice close-up views of shorebirds...
American Avocet
Marsh Wren

... and marsh birds.

Back in the car, we resumed the auto tour - but by then, it was mid-afternoon and we had both pretty much exhausted our energy.  We saw quite a few waterfowl, although the masses of wintering ducks and geese were long gone. I hadn't realized until just now that I didn't take any photos at the lake itself.  So, that's going to have to be another trip - perhaps earlier in the season!

2013 Dancing Grebe Trip - Day 5

We are now home, but I wanted to catch you all up on our wonderful adventure.  Day 5 was our 2nd full day in Klamath Falls.  In the morning, we visited Putnam's Point and walked about a mile up Link River Trail.
Forster's Tern with Breakfast

Over and around the water were Western and Clark's Grebes, Forster's Terns, American White Pelicans and much more.  We got our first look at a Black-crowned Night Heron (no pic)...
American White Pelicans
White-faced Ibis flock

... and an overhead flock of White-faced Ibis (thanks for catching my goof, Sarah)!

Along the trail, we saw Bullock's Orioles, Yellow Warblers, Warbling Vireo and many Flycatchers.

Even after yesterday's lesson on Stukel Mountain, I still struggled with identifying the flycatchers - even the "simple" ones get confusing!

We also saw this fabulous woven nest - any idea who the weaver might be? I think fishing line played a big part in this one!

Walking back to the car, we stopped to watch the Grebes again - we seemed to be always catching them napping rather than interacting.  But one pair was awake -- as we watched, they entered into a synchronized dance - moving gracefully over the water.  They were on the opposite side of the water, and I didn't even try to get photos - we just enjoyed the dance. Finally, they engaged in some mutual preening and moved apart. It was amazing!
Forster's Tern
Franklin's Gull and friend

Next, we drove back to the marsh across from Howard Bay where we had seen dozens of Franklin's Gulls and Forster's Terns on our way into town.  They did not disappoint (although my struggle to get good photos of them did).

While taking photos of a Franklin's Gull, a mystery bird flew into the picture.  Know who he is?

Next, we had decided to have an adventure -- go up to check out Aspen Lake.  Not much talked about, but what descriptions we could find sounded intriguing.  On our way, we overshot the access road and ended up at the road to Eagle's Ridge.  Hey, why not - it's on the list!  It was beautiful - and fun!
View from Eagle's Ridge
Looking down over the marsh, we were able to watch our first Black Terns and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Too far for photos but wonderful to watch -- all told, we saw 26 species of birds on the road in and out of the park.

Finally, we headed back and found Aspen Lake Road.  Now this was an adventure -- thankfully we had great GPS signal and cell phone reception (for emails to our local guide who was a bit taken aback that we had taken it on). Once more, we ended up with 26 species including what we believe was a large GOSHAWK!
Sandhill Cranes

First look at Sandhill Cranes.

Mountain Bluebird

We decided to risk driving all the way around the lake - after all, our GPS showed that the road went all the way around (hmmmm, there's something wrong with that statement...)
Bluebird Nest

Mountain Chickadee

The birds were wonderful - Bluebirds perched near active nest sites...  Unique area birds like Mountain Chickadees and Green Towhees.

Also unique were the free-range cows/cattle we saw all around the lake.  We didn't get nervous until the road ran out, and a young bull decided to stand in the road we had just driven in on -- our only way out!  I guess I was too nervous to take his picture, but here are some of the bovines.
Free range cows
Luckily, he quickly lost interest and we turned our little Baja around.  It didn't take long to figure out where GPS had led us astray and get back on the proper road.  Next time, perhaps we'll be a little less impetuous!