I had the opportunity to guide a lovely couple from Florida on a trip to Mt. Hood National Forest. The weather was not great, with dreary conditions at lower elevations and driving rain at Timberline Lodge. But we did manage to find some great birds.
Our first stop was Wildwood Recreation Site for riparian and lower elevation species. The first bird of the day was a Bald Eagle flying over the river; a nice start. Our main target was American Dipper, and the footbridge over the Salmon River is a pretty reliable spot.
One of two American Dippers we spotted in the early morning gloom
We next tried to bird around Timberline Lodge for high-elevation species, but the rain and wind made birding impossible. So we headed down to Little Crater Lake.
Birding in the forests this time of year can be deadly slow, but we did encounter two groups of Canada Jays. Even when you don’t have food, these birds will come in close to check you out.
On the way back from Little Crater Lake, we came across a group of six Sooty Grouse. This was a lifer for my client, and the largest “flock” that I have seen.
After a second trip up to Timberline proved equally unbirdable, we decided to head back toward Portland to look for sparrows and other grassland species at Powell Butte Nature Park. We found a few sparrows, but the highlight of this spot was the group of three Black-tailed Deer feeding on fallen apples.
One reason songbirds may have been so hard to come by at this site was the pair a American Kestrels (female shown here) that were actively hunting. A Sharp-shinned Hawk was also lurking about, so the sparrows may have been keeping a low profile.
Some nice birds and excellent company made for a good day, despite the dreary conditions.