The eagle has landed: Just reached 100 species for each OR county!

After an over 3-year long period of trips to Oregon’s “dustier corners”, I finally finished with Malheur Co on 06/17/2012. Ironside Mountain in Malheur’s very NW corner was a life safer. Some of the counties in Eastern OR are so far away that it is really a stretch to work them if you just have a weekend. The best approach might well be to do a Big Day. Another problem is that there really is only one spring every year.

Sometimes you ask yourself: Why am I doing this? It is worth spending that much money on gas? Why do I exhaust myself every weekend? But then, you have a mission, a master plan. Moreover, it’s a unique way of seeing your state and visiting all those remote and odd spots you would never see otherwise.

County birding out west seems to be just right, compared to the east. Did you know that TX has 254 counties and Georgia 159? Good luck with that …

It is humbling to realize the effort that folks like our own Paul Sullivan or the crazed CA birders around John Luther and co (see http://www.cal.net/~ani/county_birders.htm) have put in throughout the last few decades. County birding really is a life-long project.

My personal highlights during this project was discovering the beauty of Wheeler Co, finding out about the few, but productive areas of woods in extreme SE Gilliam Co and an amazing day with Chuck Gates in Crook Co that lead to a totally unplanned Big Day record. Other places (and counties) I would rather not return to …

Anyway, it was fun … I shall rest now. Onto the 125 soon.

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I’m stumped … What is this tree?

I’ve often wondered what this tree is. We are east of The Dalles along I-84 between MP85 and MP104. It is one of the most common trees on the OR side of the highway. Often stunted in growth. Somewhat looks like an ash, but I can’t find any references at all on this tree. Can you help?

I took these 3 pictures on 6/17/12 with my cell phone in 30mph winds, so the quality is pretty bad …

A few goodies from out east (Union, Baker, Malheur and Gilliam Co; 6/2-6/3/2012)

This last weekend my goal was to clear 100 for Baker Co. Well, I did. Comfortably.

When I pulled into Spring Creek (Union Co) Friday night, I was surprised to hear a Flammulated Owl near the intersection of FR21 and FR2155. It was the only owl I would encounter all weekend.

The highlights from Baker Co include (see sites on http://birdingoregon.info/Home/BakerCounty/tabid/180/Default.aspx):

Lots of Green-tailed Towhees on Dooley Mtn and along FR1680 SE of Unity
Ferruginous Hawk and a PEREGRINE FALCON just east of Unity
Flammulated Owl (2-3 at Long Creek CG)
Bobolink (1 singing male in Bowen Valley along Elk Creek Rd)
Gray Partridge (a pair at Hole-in-the-wall)
Chukar (several near/at Hole-in-the-wall)

This morning I drove Willow Ck Road from Ironside (coming from Unity) and birded Malheur Reservoir before sneaking back into Baker Co south of Bridgeport. I tallied 64 species on this short excursion. The west end of the reservoir was plastered with waterfowl. 4 Caspian Terns, many Cinnamon Teal, several pairs of Western Grebe and 8 Greater White-fronted Geese were unexpected.

En route back home, a brief check for Veery and Gray Catbird at Red Bridge SP in Union Co was unsuccessful.

Back in Gilliam Co, I stopped at Willow Creek Wildlife Area. 2 Lark Sparrows were still in Morrow Co on the approach. The (excellent) mud flats held 3 White Pelican, 12 Caspian Terns, 4 American Avocets and 1 Bonaparte’s Gull. All decent birds for Gilliam Co … Beware of the mosquitoes, they are bad here.