Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lincoln’s Sparrow and more on West Mountain Road

During our Memorial Day trip to Valley County we stayed at a hotel on the west side of Lake Cascade. West Mountain Road follows the western shore of Lake Cascade from top to bottom, and runs through some excellent birding habitat. There’s been lots of development in recent years (including the hotel we stayed at) which has impacted some of the wildlife, particularly Great Gray Owls,  but at least for now there’s still a decent amount of scenery and habitat to explore.

IMG_4066

West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

During our stay we made at least a short excursion down West Mountain Road each day. On our first pass, we got great looks at a Lincoln’s Sparrow, a species we have thus far only observed during migration. This bird was on exactly the type of habitat they prefer, and was exhibiting some territorial behavior, so it seems we may have found one that was settling in for the summer.

IMG_4107

Lincoln’s Sparrow on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

Lincoln’s Sparrows have this funny way of showing their discontent at an intruder on their territory. They flap one wing at a time, raising it up by their side (perhaps to make themselves look bigger or more aggressive?) over and over again. We caught this fellow in the act several times in a couple of different perches. Quite entertaining to watch!

IMG_4115

Lincoln’s Sparrow on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

Not having seen them on breeding territory before, I’m not familiar enough to be sure exactly what kind of a gesture the wing flapping was. They’re also known to feign a broken wing to distract potential predators from the nest after incubation begins, so it’s also possible we were seeing a broken wing display rather than territorial behavior.

IMG_4142

Lincoln’s Sparrow on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

IMG_4125

Lincoln’s Sparrow on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

The scenery was just fantastic, and a little different around every corner.

IMG_4166

West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

Other birds we were able to photograph on our first pass included a nesting Bald Eagle and numerous Savannah Sparrows.

IMG_4189

Bald Eagle on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

IMG_4198

Savannah Sparrow on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 24, 2014.

Lots of Tree Swallows call West Mountain Road home. At the start of our second pass, we saw this Eastern Kingbird trying to blend in on a power line next to Tree Swallows.

IMG_4811

Tree Swallow and Eastern Kingbird on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 25, 2014.

We only had a few minutes before the sun started to set on this pass, but enjoyed a Great Horned Owl just starting his evening of hunting as the light faded.

IMG_4827

Great Horned Owl on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 25, 2014.

The scenery didn’t disappoint on our third pass either. Lots of beautiful green meadows, deep blue lake views, and a couple of side trips to mountain overlooks.

West Mountain Road Pano

Lake Cascade from West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 26, 2014.

IMG_4957

West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 26, 2014.

IMG_4924

Lake Cascade, Valley County. May 26, 2014.

Sandhill Cranes were present in good numbers at several different spots along the lake. Some were still in groups, perhaps still working their way north, or just not quite ready to settle down on a territory yet, but others were already incubating.

IMG_4870

Sandhill Cranes on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 26, 2014.

 

IMG_4959

Sandhill Crane near Cabarton Road, Valley County. May 26, 2014.

Ospreys were back and well established all along the lake as well.

IMG_4914

Osprey on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 26, 2014.

Our last good find on this trip was a Pileated Woodpecker that swooped right in front of us on the road and landed on a power pole.

IMG_4935

Pileated Woodpecker on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 26, 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment