Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lava Beds & the Modocs

I had planned to go south to Mt Shasta after leaving Crater Lake but chose instead to go to the Lower Klamath and the Tule Lake NWR's to do some birding BOY Im glad I did (see the post before this one if you missed it)..Seeing different birds has been one of the highlights for me on this trip and I increased my life list by nearly 30 could be more I have gull photos to pour over and try to ID.  Actually this drive is called the Volcanic Legacy Scenic ByWay! Between the 2 refuges not exactly geographically but close by is the Lava Beds National Monument! 
I stayed 2 days in the campground it was a nice one we had a nice BIG site the CG has 2 loops, Loop A was reserved for the Modoc Indian Tribe and it was time for their annual event a sort of run from a distant flat topped mesa to the campground in remembrance of the Modoc War 1872-73 with the Klamath tribes. 

 This park was once part of their homeland...On Saturday morning sunrise... I arose to the sounds of native drums and was quite nice! Then they all left for their reinactment...

later just before sunset the young runners returned in a large group and ran into the campground hooping and hollering and celebrating their victory..that night they had a dance, drum and song it was a private affair and they ended the party at 10 so that was good..  

We had a Townsend's Solitary come to visit our campsite right around breakfast time...A new bird for me!

This is another wonderful area where volcanic activity is so vividly presented and preserved for us to learn from...

It is however difficult for me to photograph it to where you can get the idea of just how cool it really is! I think this is where they shot the Moon Landing...the fact is there's basically 3 types of  lava the A'a is like cinders or chunks of volcanic rock its light as a feather too!! This video shows that...

Visiting the volcanic parks I've been to on this trip has been a geology lesson for me! Another type of flow is more smooth like this...

And I like these smooth cinder cones mountains  too...

...this flow is what they refer to as Ropy since it kind of looks like a coiled rope it was thrusting upward...Can you just imagine the sounds, the steam, and the smell as this lava oozed out to later became this rock?

Flickr ate my photo

I think they call this type Aa. 

We picnicked near some lava tubes and cinder cones and Casey explored this lava tube that was easy to go through...for him anyways...

We sat at one of the tables made by the CCC back in the mid 1930's...the sign nearby said the tables were made from wood cut at Oregon Caves National Monument! Still very sturdy...

If you like going into caves you might like these caves which are really huge lava tubes...I hiked to Skull Cave. I did go just into the entrance but caving is really not something I enjoy so after a quick look inside I was ready to get back out in the sunlight!

Here is a short video of the entrance...

There was a small herd of about 4 deer rambling along side one of the parks side roads, at least 2 of the roads are wildlife viewing areas alongside Tule Lake...

There were many trials I didn't take and a few roads I didnt explore but I did on my way out of the park stop at Pertoglyph Point. The story is that once an ancient lake ( I think maybe Tule Lake since its so close by) lapped up against these rocks and ancient people in their ancient river crafts paddled up alongside the rocks and drew this art. of course later along comes graffiti wannabes and added their scrawls to the now the rock is surrounded by an ugly chain link fence! 

And of course birds make these rocks their homes I saw many kestrels flying away when I arrived and it looks like a great swallow nesting area too...

I enjoyed beautiful sunsets and sun rises here....then we headed South again..

I'm headed back to SC and I will have to finish up posting about the great places I visited when I arrive back there till then be safe everyone!

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BIRDSSSS everywhere!

Casey and I had a cold night in Farewell Bend so we headed South this is where I made a complete navigational blunder! I had planned to go see Mt Shasta...but I found out about Lower Klamath NWR and Tule Lake NWR from studying the map so I left Crater Lake on the west side to find camping it was a short drive back to the  east side of 62 and then south down 97 alongside Upper Klamath Lake where I saw hundreds of Western Grebes !! Hard to photo due to a RR track and a Weird fence but I snapped this one..

The problem was I saw no access for me to just pull over and really explore the lake with my binoculars so this and of course the almost always present american coots which are always a treat to see anyways!  I kept driving South on 97 and took 161 East over to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

Which is in CA! Goodbye to Oregon...I sure enjoyed every single moment of it...and I hope to return one day to continue to explore the areas I was not able to visit and I'm sure you could live there your whole life and never do that!  This Lower Klamath is chock full of birds the numbers are amazing!!

SO many species too...this is a mostly Northern Pintail flock...mixed with all sorts if anyone sees a duck I in this flock I have not mentioned let me know what you see!! Try as hard as I did I never got a really decent photo close up of one!  I drove down the canals and they would fly right away...

There was other wildlife to see as well...

And I saw more Sandhill Cranes! 

And I added the Cackling Goose, and in this same shot is the Great White Fronted Goose with the pink beak..

Flickr ate my photo

Northern Shovelers were plentiful I got this shot of a female. Still a bit grainy...

There is so much waterfowl there. This Redtail Hawk was not happy with me driving down the gravel road he was hunting on and flushing the hundreds of dabblers out of his way....he really looks pisst and he was screeching at me!

I also saw in this same area but got no photo of the northern goshawk! A new bird for me! I got a real good look but my camera was not in my hand and not even turned on when I took Casey out for a quick leg lift break...Im calling this next bird a pine warbler, until I am told different I couldn't pin any other I'D on this donkey so Pine Warbler it is! Thanks Jen for the correct I'D Orange Crowned Warbler

Flickr Ate my Photo

And lots of American Wigeon males and females were on the lake mixed in with the coots..

Brewers Blackbirds were around in numbers too...

Flickr ate my Photo

The beautiful thing is Lower Klamath is basically on the way to Lava Beds National that's where I headed for the night to camp. I ended up spending the entire weekend there.  I will report on Lava Beds later....another great birding area nearby is Tule Lake,
 its located right by the Natl. Mon. So the next morning I left early and made my way into one of the photo blinds...BUT first I had to walk the mosquito quantlet!! The issue I had with this blind on Hill Road was none of the openings were for a person my height so I ended up on my knees...there were some openings 6 ft up and some 2 ft from the floor? SO strange...none at about 5 1/2 ft--the first thing I heard was all the shootgun blasts! Not what I wanted to hear...and hopefully none would penetrate the thin walls  of the blind while I was in there I spent about 30 mins in there...Once again Thousands of American Coots and Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, western Grebes, American Wigeons, Eared grebes, Mallards, White Pelicans, 

Tule Lake 

Female A. Wigeon 

Eared Grebe

I was so pleased to actually get this shot of the female Rudy Duck..

Found a cubby of  California Quail hiding in the brush.

Fkickr ate my photo

The White Pelicans gave me an air show...

The snow geese were unsettled...

ANd I've never seen such a large concentration of Egrets some great, some snowy's as well..

Saw 2 adult Western Grebes...

Feeding this immature Western Grebe..he was soooo cute!

And I watched the White Faced Ibis pick up crustaceans for a meal...

These 2 days of birding was fantastic I would recommend both these spots for migration and wintering water fowl!! Many of my photos are still unidentified and not really good enough to share! I will go over them with a fine tooth comb when I get myself back to SC. A bonus of being in this area is the natural beauty of the lakes...and the View of Mt Shasta!  I had a wonderful 2 days of birding in this great refuges...I only wish there was no hunting..that made me sad..:o( 


Lava Beds National Monument is my next stop and next post!

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mt Mazama, or Crater Lake!

Crater Lake was known by lots of other names through the years and was finally named Crater Lake, still had some wildfire burning but they declared it safe so I was very happy to hear that!! You can see the smoldering of the 0.9% that was still burning..I was there Oct, 9th. 

OMG right off the bat the very first thing I see is the lake!! So BLUE! This lake was formed when the entire top of a Mt Mazama, the volcano, collapsed and sunk and the caldera filled with rain water and snow it has no source and no outlet..its the purest lake in America!

They get 44 ft of snow in the average year! Thats is a look from another viewpoint..

The Island there is called Wizzard Island.  There's an East and West Rim drive and its about 30 miles all the way around.  Here is a zoom in of the cinder cone in the middle of the island

Casey and I decided to drive down the west rim drive...and we had lunch at one of the view points no one was there and so we enjoyed our lunch right by the crater...

He is a cheap date for sure! The signs say not to share but this uninvited guest wouldn't take no for an answer!  This Clark's Nutcracker was making quite a fuss!!

Another beautiful thing I noticed is the gnarled wood near the rim of the lake....

It could be Bristle cone pine but don't make me swear to that..

the pines around the rim attracted a lot of Pine Siskins...

Nearby is another volcanic peak Mt has a very sharp top!

The park has some beautiful landscape around...

There is a rim trail too if  you want to hike along the rim...I didnt I had planned to camp in the park but Mazama Campground closed on Oct 4th! There was a 16 site primitive camp near the Pinnacles area, but it was full! So that all meant I had to leave the park to find a spot for the night so I didnt make it up the entire East rim drive. But there are no bad views here...

We met some other friends along our route...any hand out was greatly appreciated we didn't oblige but others did..

This gray jay was not as demanding as some others we have encountered on this trip...he just eyed us then moved on...

The other camp ground was near the Pinnacles these things were created by steam rising up out of the ground and building sand castles along its path upward! They remind me of Hoodoos, a little but some have very sharp points!

It was most amazing!!

I did watch a film in the VC, it was really awesome and explained the entire creation of the lake, so if you go make sure you see that!  I really did want to spend an extra day here but the lack of camping spurred me to move on, so I exited the southwest on Highway 62, toward Union Creek.  We traveled into the Rogue River Natl Forest and found a nice campground called Farewell Bend....they were scheduled to close on Oct 20th! 

we set up right by the river in this beautiful spot...

I made up a video here and figured I'd share it...hope y'all can view it..

We were in Site #3, and it cost me 1/2 the usual so I paid $10.

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.