Date: 6/23/19 12:30 pm From: <clearwater...> Subject: [obol] Santiam BBS notes: Good year for Hermit Thrushes, Hammond's Flycatchers
Daughter Martha and I just got back from running the Santiam Breeding Bird Survey in the western Cascades of Linn County. This route mostly follows the Crabtree Creek drainage from where it starts above Lacomb, then jogs over to the Roaring River drainage, comes out of the hills at the Larwood Bridge, then fishhooks around via a bit of Meridian Rd. and the Snow Peak mainline.
We always camp out the night before the count, on BLM land near Crabtree Lake at the top end of the route, around 3400 ft elevation. When we arrived there last evening at about 5 pm, we were surprised to hear a chorus of 5 or 6 HERMIT THRUSHES, then saw two more hopping along the road. A former BLM staffer who came by to hike the trail with her partner also commented on hearing Hermit Thrushes. Usually we hear a handful at this spot, but normally they're far outnumbered by Swainson's Thrushes and Varied Thrushes. Perhaps lingering snow from this winter's heavy snow caused more Hermit Thrushes to nest slightly lower than usual in the western Cascades.
Along the route we also heard better-than-usual numbers of HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS. This can probably be chalked up to recent BLM thinning projects over the past several years, which have produced tracts of relatively open timber, with enough room between trees to suit this species' foraging habits. As usual, we also found PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHERS in denser/mixed forest, and lots of WILLOW FLYCATCHERS in areas that were clearcut and replanted in the past 8-12 years, and are now at the stage that Willow Flycatchers seem to thrive in.
We only heard two OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS along the survey route; one calling from old-growth forest at our campsite last evening didn't make it onto the count. Likewise a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL that sang at dusk, and briefly again at first light, didn't register his presence for the survey, but we heard two others calling lower down.
We only heard two COMMON NIGHTHAWKS (one "booming" in his mating display dive). Between stops we encountered a RUFFED GROUSE mom watching over at least one tiny chick along the edge of a mostly-overgrown road.
A loose flock of nine or ten VAUX'S SWIFTS skimmed sips of water from the surface of Crabtree Lake in early evening. We also watched several ROUGH-SKINNED NEWT in their aquatic stage lunging like little sharks to grab bites off of a large DRAGONFLY that was floating on the surface (apparently already dead). The wildflowers on the volcanic rock outcrops above the lake are still in peak bloom -- I'll post some photos on Mid-valley Nature in a couple of days when I get time to offload them from my camera.