Date: 11/10/19 8:41 am
From: <bmwboarder...>
Subject: [obol] North Fork Umatilla Wilderness
Hi friends,

I recently spent about a week in and around the North Fork of the Umatilla Wilderness bear Tollgate, Oregon. I wasn’t really there for birding, but I did have my binoculars and spotting scope, so did check out the birds that I could easily spot.

First off, there were Pygmy Owls calling all over the place. I think I heard them in 5 different spots, mostly along the rim of the canyons. Once one quietly popped up unsolicited and sat on the top of a tree at eye level, right at about noon! Such cool little birds. It was fun to show others in my family that it was an owl that had been calling, and look how small it is!

Next, we had a flock of gray crowned rosy finches at the edge of the canyon as well, near shamrock springs. I’ve seen them around the area before, but not sure how common they are there. Got pictures of one flock up in a tree.

Mountain chickadees and hairy woodpeckers were common birds.

Sitting at the point near Shamrock springs, my brother and I spotted a trio of swans flying below us, to the east, heading towards the 5,000ft summit (bottom of the valley is 2,400ft). Would these be assumed to be tundra swans? I marked them as tundra/trumpeter, but probably they are tundras at this location right? Ten minutes later they flew back past, heading back to the west and south. They sure seemed out of place in the forest/meadow mountains.

If you haven’t been out to that wilderness, it is super cool. Lots of trails that can get you deep into the wilderness and far from any roads. Though definitely rugged, many of the trails gain or lose close to 2,000ft of elevation. But the views and the wildlife are worth it all. I saw other birds of prey that I couldn’t identify, some were probably golden eagles, and I wonder about the others. Fun area to sit with a scope. If you have never been to the wilderness, a drive out to Zigzag springs or Coyote Ridge would give great views of the area.

Brandon Wagner
Back at home in foggy Independence, OregonPOST: Send your post to <obol...>
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