Date: 6/24/18 12:12 pm From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...> Subject: [obol] Rock gardens, birds, and a cinnamon bear
My daughter Martha, a friend of hers and I ran the Santiam Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) route this morning, after camping out Saturday night near Crabtree Lake (the headwaters of Crabtree Creek, above Lacomb in Linn County).
At Crabtree Lake we gave our annual greetings to the multitude of Rough-skinned Newts, then checked out the rock gardens on the volcanic outcrops. Stonecrop is blooming abundantly now, along with Tolmie's Cat's-Ear (Calochortus) and a couple of other plants I haven't managed to identify yet. Paintbrush, lupines, penstemon, bleeding-heart, etc. are also blooming in widespread locations, so this is a colorful time to visit the mid-elevations of the Cascades.
A few Hermit Thrushes took turns with Swainson's Thrushes and Varied Thrushes to provide the evening chorus (curiously, though we heard numbers of all three, we seldom heard Hermit and Swainson's Thrushes singing at the same time. A few Vaux's Swifts skittered through the sky over a stand of old-growth where they still can find natural snags for nesting.
At sunset a few Common Nighthawks came out calling; one male "boomed" in a display flight. As we crawled into our sleeping bags, a pair of Spotted Owls started calling, then one flew over our campsite. It was good to know that some are still around despite the invasion by Barred Owls, which we also heard through the night.
In the morning we got up early so we were ready to start the BBS route by 04:54 (the designated starting time). A Northern Pygmy-Owl joined the pre-dawn chorus at the second stop. Farther along the route we encountered good numbers of Hammond's Flycatchers in stands on BLM land that were thinned a couple of summers ago, plus many Pacific-slope Flycatchers in denser stands of mixed forest, Willow Flycatchers in young "reprod" (replanted) stands, and one Olive-sided Flycatcher.
This year's route brought no major surprises in terms of birds. However a "cinnamon" Black Bear out foraging in a replanted clearcut at the 16th stop was a real treat to see. The bear was ambling through the stumps, apparently searching for grubs in decaying logs. At one point it climbed up on a big stump and just sat there for a while, sniffing the breeze. After it climbed back down I finally remembered that I had a camera in the minivan, and snapped a few photos.
The 10 minutes or so that we spent enjoying the bear almost cost us later in the route, when one of our tires got shredded on a very rocky stretch of road. After digging out one of the two spare tires that I always carry for this route, and swapping it in, we had to hustle to finish the rest of the route on time. We made it to Stop 50 just in time to complete the last 3-minute point count by 09:54, exactly five hours after we started.