MAY 1, 2016 IN THE CASCADES
John Bullock and I had a day of birding around the Cascade Lakes east of Ashland. Most of the day we were between 4500 and 5000 feet in elevation. Our conclusion: only some migrants are back on nesting territory. Juncos are all over the forests here bu many of them probably wintered at somebody feeder downhill in Ashland. Today we saw Vesper and Savanna and Chipping Sparrow, Tree Swallows, Mountain and Western Bluebirds all fuming over nest boxes, Cliff Swallows building nests on a barn, Sandhill Crane pairs patrolling the perimeter. In all we saw 17 cranes today, by far the largest number of nesting cranes I’ve seen in a single day in this area. I cannot know if some of today’s birds were yearlings who won’t nest. We saw three definite territorial pairs.This nonchalant pair of cranes were near DIMR at Howard Prairie. Another pair across the road were much redder from mud-staining their feathers. This distant pair were at Hyatt Meadow about one mile north of Hwy 66.
Our richest trove of cranes were in a meadow at the furthest northwest end of Forest Service Road 38-3E-11-4. To look over this privately-owned meadow drive east on Dead Indian Memorial Road (DIMR). East of Lily Glen take the first left-hand turn onto FS 38-3E-11. About three hundred yards after you leave DIMR take the left turn onto 38-3E-11-4. Take it as far as your vehicle will go safely, and its northwest terminus it become boggy. Along the way you may have to drive under partially fallen trees and around mudholes. But my Prius made it. After you can drive no further, walk to where the ruts meet the fence. Beyond that fence is a broad, wet meadow with lines of willows along the stream course. Here John counted 11 cranes today.
We checked three nest platforms in that section of the Cascades and saw no evidence of Great Gray Owl nesting. Migrants that are apparently not back yet: all montane flycatchers, tanager, warblers besides Yellow-rumps, vireos. Migrants on passage that we saw included Bufflehead on Howard Prairie Lake. Mountain Bluebirds were at Howard Prairie and Hyatt Meadow where john Bullock has put up nesting boxes. Not all have been claimed by Tree Swallows.
Other birds we enjoyed today included the Dippers at the dam on Little Hyatt Lake. The Dipper’s dam:
A second year Bald Eagle high on a spar overlooking Howard Prairie Lake.
A Kestrel was hunting in Hyatt Meadow.
Surprise was the partially luecistic (white-crowned) Tree Swallow hanging out in a nest box at a small meadow along Keno Access Road. We couldn’t see most of the bird but it appeared to have normal dark shoulders. Normal Tree Swallow: This bright Savannah Sparrow was very nterested in us, as we were in him, Howard Prairie. Tow different Vesper Sparrows in two different meadows…they are found only here in Caacades, not further west in the Siskiyous. The warbler you can’t escape, not ignore…on a fence line near the Mountain Bluebirds.
Finally, the spring wildflower show is well under way, enjoy:Checker lily ( a Fritillaria) at Hyatt Meadow, inside and out: