So fast forward to this fall when I was recently on the ground there in Oregon doing some scouting and planning. I came back with lots of ideas, some fun bird sightings, and a whole lot of pictures to share... so bear with me.
I started out of Eugene and straight away did some birding around Fern Ridge Reservoir which was hosting a variety of raptors like RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, PEREGRINE FALCON, and this NORTHERN HARRIER:
The view from the road to the top was not bad!
But, as you can see, the weather was lovely which probably hurt the birding. Still, I saw hundreds of birds such as PACIFIC LOONS, SURF SCOTERS, MARBLED MURRELETS, and much more. Meanwhile, BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS surveyed the rocks:
The morning light really lit up birds though including this BREWER'S BLACKBIRD:
This AMERICAN CROW also posed in nice light long enough for me to grab a couple of frames of it:
Yaquina Head Lighthouse:
Once I walked out beyond the dune grass a bit, I was met with this beautiful view:
I'm already really looking forward to revisiting those spots and seeing some of these fun shorebird species again. What can I say... we don't have many Surfbirds in Missouri. :-)
From there, the tour will turn inland which is what I did during my scouting. I made my way towards Crater Lake but stopped along the way to take in the view and grab some fresh air:
The mountain air was cool and crisp up at that elevation... and there were some GOLDEN-MANTLED GROUND SQUIRRELS running about my feet:
In my opinion, the view of Crater Lake, which we'll enjoy on tour as well, is easily one of my favorite scenic views in the US. It's breathtaking to walk to the edge and be face-to-face with this:
I eventually dropped in elevation a bit as I drove north to the Bend area. I ventured up to Sisters for some scouting and enjoyed some PINYON JAYS, CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS, and lots of singing TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES. I also pulled off to watch some MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS at this sage-filled landscape:
We'll visit recent burns on tour, like this one, hoping for some fun woodpeckers like LEWIS'S, BLACK-BACKED, and WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER:
Woah, it's a PALM WARBLER! Although common in much of the eastern US, it's a fairly uncommon vagrant out in those parts. I hurriedly managed a photo for proof.
Before long, it was time to head farther east towards Malheur NWR where we'll spend several days birding on tour. En route, I stopped at the Chickahominy Reservoir to make sure there weren't any Sabine's Gulls out on the water. It was another gorgeous vista:
My scouting gave me several days to check out Malheur NWR and I have to say, that's some fantastic birding! Right away, at The Narrows, it was clear why this is a hotspot: gulls, terns, shorebirds, and ducks were all packed in right next to the road. Included was this CASPIAN TERN:
If you have a chance to stand back and look at the scenery around you at Malheur, you'll be greeted by a lot of sky. It's a lovely landscape, in my opinion:
Some of the views as you ascend are top notch though!
As I huddled over the lip of the ridge (out of the howling wind, you see), I was eventually rewarded with a magical BLACK ROSY-FINCH that came out of no where and perched point-blank in front of me. I'm glad my nearly-frozen fingers remembered how to use the camera:
After the finch flew off (along with 20 others), I looked around and realized the weather was just getting worse. A fair bit of snow had fallen by that point (and it was COLD):
... and so it was time for me to get off the mountain. I did so but I can assure you it took a while for my fingers to warm back up!
My last morning of scouting took me north to Malheur National Forest. I birded some of the campgrounds there which were rather mystical-looking with frost clinging to the giant conifers. I was treated to a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL along with this BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER:
link to learn more about openings and such. Cheers!