Date: 3/5/18 2:53 pm From: Nicholas Mrvelj <nickmrvelj...> Subject: [obol] Columbia River from Sherman to Morrow Counties
Yesterday, March 4th 2018, Peyton Cook, Em Scattaregia, Adrian Hinkle and myself drove east on I-84 hoping to find rarities along the Columbia River. Our main targets were gulls. Although we did not locate any rare gulls, we did have a fantastic day of birding with plenty of great things to look at. Here are some of the highlights of our trip:
We arrived at the Deschutes State Park around 7:40 am after a frosty drive from sleepy Portland. It was still rather brisk when we got there, but the day was showing promise for much sunshine and warmer temperatures. Adrian directed us to the location him and others had a SWAMP SPARROW back in early December. Sure enough, as on cue, it vocalized once from the reed canary grass, and briefly perched on a cattail for all to see a moment later. It alluded any attempts to obtain a picture however. A little while later, we found a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER on a utility pole, which eventually moved over to a small pine with wells. According to eBird, this is a county first, however, I have trouble believing that it truly is.
Other highlights from Sherman County including vocalizing Chukar, Canyon Wrens, Varied Thrushes, Western Meadowlarks, and my (our) first singing Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the year. The John Day Dam was very quiet, with very little, if any, birds in the river near the spillway area, and practically no gulls. We did find two SAY'S PHOEBE, a great staple of late winter/early spring.
Our only stop in Gilliam County was in the town of Arlington. We began at Earl Snell Memorial Park and finished up nearby the Port of Arlington. Gull numbers were pretty good, predominantly consisting of CALIFORNIA GULLS, many of which were in impressive alternative plumage. We had about 30 HERRING GULLS, 20 or so GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS and/or hybrids, 5 RING-BILLED GULLS, 3 "THAYER'S" ICELAND GULLS and 2 MEW GULLS. There was also a large raft of GREATER SCAUP, LESSER SCAUP, COMMON GOLDENEYES, and AMERICAN COOT near the port.
It should be noted that we drove around a few small towns during our trip in the hopes of finding a Blue Jay, but were not to be rewarded for our efforts.
We decided to scrap our idea of heading to the McNary Dam, and instead focused our efforts on the town of Boardman. Here are some of our highlights:
The Snow Geese were obviously the shining moment of our trip, and a sight I won't forget anytime soon. Although not a bird, we did see around 60-70 BIGHORN SHEEP on the car ride home. Great times, good birds, and excellent company!