Hope someone can forward this to COBOL since I'm still not signed up on the "new" server that they switched to in January, and too tired to do that now ...
My daughter Martha and I just got home from two days of Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) routes, mainly in Wheeler County though the last few stops of the second route ended up in Jefferson County.
On Saturday night we camped out at Barnhouse Springs campground, then on Sunday morning we ran the Barnhouse BBS route which starts lower down along Hwy 26, back up the north slope of the Ochoco Mountains past the campground, and southeast of there to end up on the north edge of the Black Canyon Wilderness, southeast of Spanish Peak. We mostly found birds that were expected for the higher parts of the Ochocos. A couple of perennial questions involve "Western" Flycatchers and the possibility of Hermit Warblers along with the usual Townsend's Warblers and a few well-observed Hermit x Townsend's Warbler.
This year I heard one very convincing Hermit Warbler song at the stop just outside Barnhouse Springs campground, plus (as usual) a few that I wondered about. Along the FR 12 grade just above the campground, I heard a "Western" Flycatcher song but just once through the song, not enough repetitions to even start to consider whether it might be a Pacific-slope or Cordilleran. Toward the end of the route, near Lloyd Spring, I heard about four repetitions of a Cordilleran-type male position note.
Some fun mammal encounters came at Stop 33 where a PRONGHORN came walking up during the point count, then started giving alarm "wheezes" after I moved a bit. Toward the end of the route we saw a SNOWSHOE HARE in summer pelage. A few stops later, I noticed some fairly fresh COUGAR scat that was still moist enough to draw flies, then heard some strange yowling from back in a dense stand of conifers about 20 m from the point. I was expecting to see a some type of large cat and saw some movement right by the road, but that turned out to be a female DUSKY GROUSE, who was clearly a little stressed. The yowling continued a little farther back in the woods -- I'm suspecting either a female cougar in estrous or kittens.
On Sunday night we stayed in Mitchell, then ran the Twickenham route this morning. This is a very different route, starting in canyonlands along Girds Creek which flows down into the John Day River, then traverses irrigated bottomlands before continuing into more canyonlands and badlands north of Sutton Mountain and Painted Hills. On our way to the starting point along Hwy 207 at around 4:15 AM, we stopped for good views of COMMON POORWILLS hunting insects from the edge of the road. Along the route we saw good numbers of Loggerhead Shrikes and Lark Sparrows, and heard good numbers of Ash-throated Flycatchers and a few Gray Flycatchers plus I think one Dusky, and many Western Kingbirds. Surprises for this route included a pair of EASTERN KINGBIRDS about a mile west of Burnt Ranch, one COMMON YELLOWTHROAT singing near Twickenham, and several YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS which seem to be expanding in this area, in response to riparian restoration efforts along lower Bridge Creek.
The town of Mitchell now has a brew-pub (Tiger Town Brewery) which we were quite happy with, as a supper option.