Date: 7/1/18 10:33 am
From: Alan Contreras <acontrer56...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Ochoco Mtns: Buffleheads at historic nesting site (Crook), Spotted Towhee and Orange-crowned Warbler at Aspen Springs (Wheeler)
In the late 1990s I found Bufflehead hanging aroung the flooded snags at the upper end of Beulah Reservoir near Juntura in summer. I’m not sure if that site is still in use but I’m pretty sure they were breeding there.


Alan Contreras
<acontrer56...>
Eugene, Oregon

www.alanlcontreras.com



> On Jul 1, 2018, at 10:26 AM, Joel Geier <joel.geier...> wrote:
>
> Hi all,
>
> My daughter Martha and I ran the Barnhouse Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)
> route in the southeast corner of Wheeler County yesterday morning (June
> 30th), then (after hiking a bit into an approximately 5-yr-old burn at
> the top end of the Black Canyon Wilderness), we took a leisurely drive
> via Forest Road 30 over to Big Summit Prairie, stopping at a few
> interesting patches of habitat along the way, before wrapping up a long
> day with an owl survey on private land north of Prineville.
>
> The Barnhouse BBS route went smoothly with no flat tires and no major
> surprises. It seems to be a good year for CASSIN'S FINCHES and RED
> CROSSBILLS (at least two types heard) in the northeastern Ochocos.
>
> As usual there were a few unseen warblers singing Hermit Warbler type
> songs, which we recorded as "unknown Hermit/Townsend's Warbler sp."
> since the only ones I've ever seen well in that area turned out to be
> hybrids but I suppose there must be a few real Hermit Warblers along
> with the predominant Townsend's.
>
> Toward the end of the route (south side of Spanish Peak) I heard a
> "WESTERN" FLYCATCHER sing briefly, but did not hear the male position
> note. I've encountered birds giving Cordilleran-type male position notes
> a couple of times along this route, but you can also find birds giving
> Pacific-slope-type notes along the north slope of the Ochocos.
>
> Along the Owl Creek Trail leading into the Black Canyon Wilderness (from
> "Boeing Field" just north of the Wolf Mountain Lookout), we found an
> abundance of nesting BLUEBIRDS (both Mountain and Western feeding young
> in cavities), NUTHATCHES (both Red-breasted and White-breasted feeding
> young in cavities - we encountered Pygmy earlier in the day but not in
> the burn), plus an assortment of woodpeckers/sapsuckers. The wildflower
> bloom in that whole part of the Ochocos is spectacular, including in the
> burn.
>
> After a siesta back in camp, on our way west along FR 30 we hiked down
> into Aspen Springs which is still on the Wheeler side of the zigzagging
> county line. In addition to expected riparian species such as
> MacGillivray's Warbler and Lincoln's Sparrow, I heard a SPOTTED TOWHEE
> call several times, and also heard an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER singing.
> Both of these species are surprising rare as nesting species in that
> part of the Ochocos, but with the lush riparian streamside growth in
> this aspen grove, it made some sense to find them there.
>
> At Peterson Creek Reservoir on the NE edge of Big Summit Prairie, Martha
> spotted two ducks which turned out to be female (or immature?)
> BUFFLEHEADS. This was interesting because in May of 2001 I watched the
> female of a pair fly into a cavity in an old dead snag at this same
> spot. At the time, this was one of the strongest indications of
> Buffleheads nesting in Oregon, outside of the Cascades. That snag is no
> longer standing but perhaps Buffleheads are still using this site.
>
> In ranchlands north of Prineville we had a sad encounter with a large
> WESTERN RATTLESNAKE. I saw a big snake stretched out as if heading out
> from the shoulder of the road. I just barely managed to swerve in time
> to avoid it. I couldn't tell if it was a gopher snake or a rattlesnake
> but figured I should go back to shoo it of the road ... though I had a
> bad feeling since another car was following close behind me and they
> might not have seen it in time.
>
> Sure enough, when we turned around and went back, we found it coiled in
> a defensive position as if hurt. It shook its rattles as I approached,
> though it didn't seem to be able to move its head. I found a 6-ft-long
> juniper branch on the side of the road and used that to nudge it gently
> over the fog line. But it looked like the front part of its head was
> badly injured, and unable to move on its own.
>
> It was one of the fattest rattlesnakes that I've ever seen in Oregon --
> about 3 ft long but it was about as thick as my wrist, over the main
> part of its body (the head was only about half that thickness). We
> wondered if it had just eaten a big meal, but now I'm wondering if it
> might have been pregnant. I didn't count the rattles closely as I was
> more focused on trying to move the snake to safety without getting
> bitten, but it had at least 6 rattles, maybe 7. Most of the rattlesnakes
> I've ever seen in Oregon have just had 2-3 rattles or just a single
> button, so I'm guessing this was a fairly old one.
>
> Good birding,
> Joel
>
> --
> Joel Geier
> Camp Adair area north of Corvallis
>
>
>
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