By Dick Lamster, Count Coordinator The 80th Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC) was held on…
I have a couple of goals for mid-to-late summer this year. One is to get up to the higher mountain elevations to see the montane wildflowers on display July through August. It has been a few years since I made this trek, and I realize it is something I don’t want to miss yet again. I have memories of hiking the trail at Iron Mountain when hillside rock gardens were ablaze with Indian paintbrush interspersed with bright yellow stonecrop. And in the high meadows, enjoying a lush array of blooming flowers that changes weekly as the progression of flax, penstemon, yarrow, saxifrage, lupine, larkspur, beargrass, and others creates a stunning palette of colors. Trails at Mount Hood, Jefferson Park, and the Three Sisters areas can be bountiful with flowers, but also mosquitos. Identifying the wildflowers is made easier if you go to this website: wildflowersearch.org It was created by Steven Sullivan, brother of William (Bill) Sullivan, the hiking book author!!
Male Rufous Hummingbirds will move up to these higher elevations, where the flowers can provide them with a feast of nectar before they begin their southward migration. Other birds to look for in the high mountains are Mountain Bluebird, Gray Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Sooty Grouse, and Ruffed Grouse.
A second goal for this summer is to visit the coast in August to see migrating shorebirds. This southern migration occurs over a relatively long period of time. Generally, the adult males move through first, then females, then juveniles, and the movement lasts through October. The fall shorebird migration is more leisurely than spring migration and the birds might stay in an area for a time to feed and gain strength. It seems like a great chance to not only enjoy the ambiance of the Oregon coast, but also to hone my shorebird ID skills for not-often-seen birds like Golden Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, Marbled Godwit, and any variety of sandpiper. I also enjoy seeing the easier to identify Black Oystercatcher, which I do not see unless I go looking for them on the beautiful Oregon coast!
I get busy in my day-to-day activities and don’t always make time for some of the things that I enjoy most. A chance to hike and picnic at the mountains or on the coast would be a welcome change. Some of these outdoor experiences are so transient and special that if we do not seek them out, appreciate them during their short span of time, then we have to wait a full year for them to happen again. Who knows what can happen in a year’s time? Life is short and time is precious.