20 October 2018


Although I'm headed out of the country tomorrow (off to Australia!), I figured I better at least post some photos from Oregon before another two months go by!  No seriously, my previous blog post, posted a full week ago now, has amassed a staggering.... 11 views.  ELEVEN.  Goodness.

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!
This Oregon tour can be very good for woodpeckers.  In fact, 11 species were tallied which is pretty decent!  One of the target sapsuckers is RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER and we had awesome luck with these:
It's a crummy pic but it's of a female WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER, another fancy western woodpecker:
Although often a tough bird to track down, we had good luck with BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER as well:
Of course, perhaps the most-wanted woodpecker by visitors is the WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER.  Although they were never abundant for us, we did eventually snag a couple of these fascinating birds:

One of the perks of doing fall tours are the waders; we tallied 28 species of shorebirds between the two tours!  One of the rarest species we saw was this STILT SANDPIPER at Fern Ridge Reservoir.  This is not a species we'd expected to find on the west coast:
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:
Another in that category is the BLACK OYSTERCATCHER... here's six at once!
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:
Personally, I found it a lot of fun trying to track down some sage specialties.  We had great luck and ended up seeing SAGEBRUSH SPARROWS on both tours:
Also, eastern Oregon is a good place for SAGE THRASHERS too.  Here's one near Chickihominy Reservoir:
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:
Much more limited in range was this TOWNSEND'S CHIPMUNK we enjoyed finding up on Marys Peak:
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!

12 October 2018

Remainder of Aug

Looking back, I realize it's been more than 2 months since my last post!  Yikes.  Here are a few photos from the remainder of August... after that I'll try to catch up with photos from Oregon.

So yeah, I was home for the first half of August and, even though the weather here in Missouri has turned decidedly cooler now, it was still full-on summer back then.  I spent more time photographing things on the property then too including this SNOWBERRY CLEARWING, a species of moth:

I also snapped a picture of this ALDER FLYCATCHER on the property then as well.  Even though they don't breed here, they don't breed too terribly far to the north and this was probably just an early migrant:
Even though I'm not sure what kind of robber fly this is, it's one of the HANGING THIEVES:
The DAINTY SULPHUR, a species of butterfly, almost always make a good photo subject:
In the dragonfly department, I managed to find this BLACK SADDLEBAGS when it was actually perched:
Not a common butterfly around the house most of the summer, this is a COMMON SOOTYWING:
One of my favorites, this JUNIPER HAIRSTREAK was here on the property as well:
Before too long, it was time to head out for my next batch of travel.  Instead of going to a tour though, all of the Field Guides staff was meeting up in Portal, Arizona for our annual meeting.  So, off to AZ I went.

I tried to spend some time outdoors away from the hustle and bustle and ended up snapping photos of quite a few things, most of which I uploaded iNaturalist.  Here's a HACKBERRY EMPEROR:
This ARIZONA WOODPECKER sure posed nicely right next to our porch.  Photograph it?  I don't mind if I do!
Of course, this ACORN WOODPECKER had to get in on the action as well:
In the mammal department, there was this Harris's Antelope Squirrel on the driveway:
... not to mention this BLACK-TAILED RATTLESNAKE tucked in a rockpile nearby:
Portal is a lovely spot though.  Meeting there in August assures us of getting to experience the monsoons during the afternoons.  Here you can see the clouds building, as they do most days, up the canyon:
But after our meetings concluded, I wasn't heading home.  Nope, I was headed to Oregon where I was to guide two back-to-back tours!  My next post will be rich in photos from farther west, I assure you.