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.

Nancy Stotz

 
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