Friday, May 15, 2015

Hood River Treat!

With twelve consecutive days of birding and travelling Dee and I treated ourselves to a two-day stay in a suite at Vagabond Lodge, Hood River.

Splayed between the twin peaks of Mt. Hood in Oregon and Mt. Adams in Washington and with panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge and Cascade Mountain Range, what a great place to chill out and spend our anniversary.

View from our balcony at Vagabond Lodge
Of course, birding had to play its part at some stage and so today we took a drive out to a few nearby sites along the Columbia River, first stop was Government Cove. This is a historic area along the Columbia River with sheltered coves, an old rock quarry and a slough surrounded by hardwood trees.

I can't recall any time when I've seen so many Ospreys in the air at once!

Within minutes of arriving, it was obvious that a family or two of Ospreys were in residence with at least six birds constantly calling and fishing. One nest we discovered was located on a secluded island section, inaccessible and just across the cove. With overcast skies and a brisk wind the birding was quite a challenge and the only other birds of note included: Brown-headed Cowbird, Tree Swallow, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture and Bald Eagle. If there were passerines to be found here they were well hidden.

Black-headed Grosbeak - At least a half dozen singing along the trail today!

With the weather much improved later in the day, we completed one of the trails at Twin Tunnels, part of Oregon State Parks. This is a paved trail between Hood River and nearby Mosier along part of the old restored Columbia Highway. The habitat consists of mixed conifer and hardwood forest, along with ferns, big leaf maple, Douglas fir and standing dead trees. Californian Quail could be heard from the car park and soon after heading off a number of Black-headed Grosbeak were heard singing. Around halfway down the trail we finally managed to get a record of one on camera.

Dark-eyed Junco - A very secretive ground-feeding species!

Yet again we came across Western Tanager and a few warblers which included Orange-crowed Warbler and Wilson's Warbler. At one stage a small raptor shot across the path in front of us in chase of what looked to be a Robin, too quick for ID but may well have been a Sharp-shined Hawk. One or two Dark-eyed Juncos were noted feeding in leaf fall and a Spotted Towhee showed himself briefly.

Red-tailed Hawk - Showing nicely in the clear blue sky.

A Downy Woodpecker also made a brief appearance and some noisy American Crows and Raven up above alerted us to a Red-tailed Hawk, showing it's red tail very nicely in the clear blue sky. To finish off a trio of Jays that have entertained us from the balcony during our stay in Hood River are posted below. Now off across country once again back to the Pacific coast for our final few days birding.

Western Scrub-Jay - Blue Jay in the east!

Stellers Jay - The more secretive of the three

Gray Jay - The Yogi Bear of Jays, these birds will steel your picnic sandwich!