A fall trip to Oregon’s Wallowas (09/29-30/2012)

It’s hard not to think twice about the drive when you are planing a Wallowas trip. Well, last weekend it happened and it was well worth it. And great fun!

Spruce Grouse is always very high on the list of target birds. 2 males were at McCully Creek.

Here’s the second male.

This Sage Thrasher was along Golf Course Rd. They are rare in Wallowa Co.

A huge kinglet flock at the Fish Hatchery in Enterprise offered great possibilities for a shot …

Also at the Fish Hatchery I ran into a cluster of at least 3 White-throated Sparrows. Here only a record shot …

Three vocal flocks of Gray Partridge were along Leap Lane north of Enterprise.

I also saw several Ruffed Grouse. This one was very close to the first Spruce Grouse.


For more info on my trip, check the comments.



  1. The full trip report was posted to OBOL yesterday:

    My first stop yesterday morning was the Fish Hatchery in Enterprise. No less than 3 White-throated Sparrows were in the sparrow flock along the trail; they were still present today. A large kinglet flock brought several Golden-crowneds too close to my lens to take a picture.

    At McCully Creek I quickly found a male Spruce Grouse that was entirely unafraid of me. After I sat down, he ended up coming as close as about 8ft. Within 150yds was a male Ruffed Grouse, quite a bit more antsy. Another 100yds further a second male Spruce was initially very skittish, but when I returned about 30min later very calm. Pileated Woodpecker, Red Crossbill and Townsend’s Warbler were among the few birds up there.

    2 more Ruffed Grouse were along FR3920 (the first 3mi are probably the most interesting; the more open areas on the east side had Mountain Bluebirds and a lingering Chipping Sparrow) which after about 10mi or so merges into the Wallowa Mountain Loop. Just south of this intersection an adult Northern Goshawk circled several times over the road.

    In the afternoon, I worked my way over to Imnaha (where I had a late Cassin’s Vireo in town) and from there up to Hat Point. At about 2.5mi up, 3 Mountain Quail (yes, this is the second time that I had them there!) were by the side of the road. I would have gotten nice pictures were it not for a truck barreling down the mountain. Just past MP9 there was a male Dusky Grouse. Couldn’t find any Great Grays up there, but they have been seen there in the past. The habitat up on the ridge looks decent for Boreal Owl, so I made about 10 stops after it got dark before I got too tired. They could well be up there. Great Horned Owl and Northern Sawwhet-Owl responded though and what I suspect to be a Western Screech Owl was flying across the road maybe 1.5mi uphill from Imnaha.

    This morning along Golf Course Rd a Golden-crowned Sparrow was a little bit of a surprise near the golf course. A Sage Thrasher further up the road was posing well for pictures. Along Leap Lane 3 coveys of Gray Partridge of a total of 20+ birds were easy to locate. They were also VERY vocal.

    Horned, Eared and many Western Grebes could be found on Wallowa Lake. Around mid day, I took the tram up to Mt Howard (about 8100ft). While birding was slow up there, the views are outstanding and well worth the hefty price tag of $26. An adult Northern Shrike was a big surprise at 8000ft+ in late September.

    Oddly, 2 Rock Doves were flying along I-84 just west of the Blue Mountain summit, still in Union Co. A brief stop at Cold Springs NWR in Umatilla Co yielded Sandhill Crane, 8 Pectoral Sandpipers, 1 Black-bellied Plover, an un-ided dowitcher and 150+ Killdeer.


    1. Wow – killer photos!!! I am particularly fond of the Ruffed Grouse image as I know how explosive they can be. How you got so close, I have no idea. Did you shoot that from the vehicle?

      Sounds like a great trip – congrats!


  2. Great photos, and birds, from the Wallowas. Your trip here makes me realize what a lazy birder I have been this summer and fall. But I got diverted by butterflies and the odonates, that’s my excuse. Looks like a hike up McCully Creek and a visit to the Fish Hatchery are clearly in order. Thanks for posting the report and pictures. –Kim Z.


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