Date: 7/1/18 1:10 pm From: Nancy Stotz <nstotznew...> Subject: [obol] Bufflehead broods and other Ochoco Natl Forest birds
My husband and I recently returned from a camping/hiking/biking/birding trip exploring the Ochoco National Forest. We found it to have lots of good birding, though recent eBird records for the area seemed mostly focus on lower elevation reserviors and wetlands closer to Prineville instead of the national forest. The mountains aren't as spectacular as the Cascades, but with few skeeters in evidence and relatively few people in using the campgrounds, we quite enjoyed our time there.
On Delintment Lake (in the portion of the Ochoco NF southeast of Paulina and NW of Hines), we saw 2 broods of 5 young bufflehead fledglings with adult females (photos and checklist here https://ebird.org/view/ checklist/S46789037 ). I didn't realize breeding records in eastern OR were so sparse (I just took the photo cuz they were so darn cute!).
We also hiked the Owl Creek trail into the Black Canyon Wilderness that Joel mentioned in his post. Like Joel, we also saw lots of woodpeckers on that hike, including a male Black-backed feeding a fledgling (photos and checklist here https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46779737 ). The day before, in the forest adjacent to Sugar Creek Campground, we found a pair of White-headed Woodpeckers visiting a nest https://ebird.org/view/ checklist/S46790754. The day after the Black Canyon hike, we found a Hairy Woodpecker nest adjacent to Deep Creek Campground https://ebird.org/view/ checklist/S46788404 Not as exciting as the other 2 species, but fun to get the 3 actively breeding woodpecker species 3 days in a row.
Though Delintment Lake was quite birdy, perhaps our most amazing outing was the 5.8 mile hike (one-way) from Mill Creek Campground to the Twin Pillars (NE of Prineville a few miles above the more famous Steins Pillar). Incredibly birdy trail, both along Mill Creek, and especially in the recovering burn you climb through on the way up to the pillars. I was overwhelmed by bird song many times finding myself unable to separate out different songs/calls.The dense Ceanothus shrubs in the recovering burn were being devoured by an infestation of California Tortoiseshell caterpillars, and the shrubs were full of nesting MacGillivray's Warblers, Lazuli Buntings, and Green-tailed Towhees, with Lewis's Woodpeckers and both species of bluebird gracing the snags above. Checklist here https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46777521
We also camped two nighs in the Maury Mts of the Ochoco NF on our way to Malheur in early May, and had a Flammulated Owl calling in camp (Elkhorn Campground), with winnowing snipe, Sora, and Sandhill Crane included in the dawn chorus from the little wetland next door.
Though we haven't done much exploring in other mountains yet, I'm sure we'll go back to the Ochoco NF.