But yes, I was fortunate to lead two back-to-back tours to Oregon with Field Guides this fall. It was a blast! I'll be returning in 2019; feel free to check out the tour webpage here.
One of the main targets was SOOTY GROUSE and I'm happy to say that we had outstanding luck with this sometimes-tricky species:
Another oft-wanted target is MOUNTAIN QUAIL. Yikes, what a tough bird to try to track down. One of the tours had luck in tracking some down though which was excellent:
Another quail on tour, this one being much more common, was the CALIFORNIA QUAIL. These were everywhere around Hines and Burns. Beautiful birds too!
It's a crummy pic but it's of a female WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER, another fancy western woodpecker:
The coast of Oregon comes in a couple of different varieties... here's the rocky version at Boiler Bay:
Of course, this rocky coast is the winter home of some rock-loving shorebirds. These specialties were of high interest to our folks and we had a good time with species like SURFBIRD and BLACK TURNSTONE including these north of Newport:
Not the entirety of the Oregon coast is rocky though... here you can see it transitioning from rocky to sandy:
Here's a sunset we enjoyed one fine evening:
But get this... that sunset photo was taken from our dinner table one evening! What a nice mealtime view.
Shifting gears to the owls... we had a few species and none was as numerous as GREAT HORNED OWL; here's one we spotted alongside the highway south of Hines:
At Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, there is often a pair of Great Horned Owls at headquarters and, I have to say, we couldn't have gotten better looks at them:
Perhaps the rarest owl sighting wasn't of a Barred Owl... or a Spotted Owl. Instead, this bad boy:
... is actually a hybrid of the two! Pretty cool, it was a lifer hybrid combo for me.
Another species of owl we saw, and this one a bit smaller, was BURROWING OWL. What cute little dudes out in eastern Oregon:
Eastern Oregon, by the way, is beautiful. Lots of open vistas, sage flats, and beautiful clouds:
Owls weren't the only birds of prey though, we enjoyed sightings of a variety of raptors including PRAIRIE FALCON, PEREGRINE FALCON, MERLIN, SWAINSON'S HAWK, and, one of my favorites, FERRUGINOUS HAWK:
Being out west, we enjoyed a variety of jays such as STELLER'S JAY, CANADA JAY (formerly known as Gray Jay), CALIFORNIA SCRUB-JAY, and an amazing encounter with PINYON JAYS. We were in downtown Sisters when a flock of 175 of these streamed through. Here's one of those nomadic jays as it passed by:
At higher elevations, we also spent time around CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS including this one at Crater Lake National Park:
Have I mentioned Crater Lake National Park yet? Goodness, the view we enjoyed on the first tour was spectacular!
Second tour, same spot... this time with clouds:
I'm really happy this tour is able to visit this iconic National Park. In fact, we get to eat lunch in the historic lodge that sits right in Rim Village, a beautiful setting.
Although not on Crater Lake proper, this BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was on a nearby lake:
We even had a nice variety of nuthatches on tour... WHITE-BREASTED, RED-BREASTED, and PYGMY NUTHATCH. Here's the latter, not a species you'll find in the eastern half of the US:
I was thinking about this... in how many other areas can you routinely pick up 3 species of chickadees in a matter of hours in the Lower 48? Oregon certainly has some spots. We had this BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE near Roseburg:
At higher elevations, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES were ubiquitous:
One of the more range-restricted chickadees in the US, the CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, was a fun addition for folks from back east:
A decent SIX species of wrens were tallied on these tours. They were BEWICK'S, MARSH, PACIFIC, HOUSE, CANYON, and ROCK. Here's the latter at Chickahominy Reservoir:
A bit of a West Coast specialty, the WRENTIT was a species we were keen to find. We did just that, on both tours:
Shrikes! We had looks at LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES on both tours in the eastern half of the state:
In terms of hummers, we tallied 4 species between the tours: BLACK-CHINNED, RUFOUS, CALLIOPE, and ANNA's. Here's the latter sitting pretty in Roseburg:
And lastly, in terms of birds, the second tour snagged this northwest specialty, the VARIED THRUSH, on our final day:
There were some cool mammals on tour too. One of the common little dudes was LEAST CHIPMUNK:
Of course, it would be a shame to not mention the whales! We saw GRAY WHALES nicely on both tours! From a bouncing boat on the ocean? No, from dry ground (the way I like it). Here's a fluke:
Sadly, I didn't get to spend much time with butterflies. The MYLITTA CRESCENT was perhaps the most common species though:
It was pretty fun seeing a few MORMON METALMARKS though, not a species we have in Missouri:
All in all, it was a lot of fun exploring Oregon and showing folks the birds, landscapes, mammals, etc. I'll be back in less than a year!