I had the chance to visit Fort Rock State Park recently. This is a U-shaped rock formation (formerly a volcanic island in the middle of a huge lake) surrounded by sage steppe. This site is a lovely sample of high rimrock and sagebrush habitats, attractive to a nice selection of birds and other wildlife.
Loggerhead Shrikes were some of the more frequently encountered birds within the crater.
Sagebrush Sparrow is reliable here, as is Brewer’s Sparrow, although the Brewer’s did not let me get close enough for a photo.
Green-tailed Towhees were surprisingly shy, only allowing distant views.
This California Quail was hanging out in the parking lot.
Here are four of the TWENTY-SEVEN baby California Quail I saw along a narrow trail. Baby quail can fly, and were flushing all around me.
I was really hoping to find some herps on this trip, but my luck with reptiles has been terrible this year. I did manage to find four Northern Scorpions, which is pretty neat, but I would have much preferred a few snakes and lizards.
Fort Rock (Birding Oregon p. 27) is a wonderful open ring of rock rising out of the flat sage steppe of Lake County. The remnant of a lava eruption, worn down by the waves of an immense lake, the high rock walls are home to White-throated Swifts, Rock and Canyon Wrens, and various raptors. The sage flats inside and surrounding the structure attract Sage Sparrows and Green-tailed Towhees.
The rock is filled with bubbles, the result of lava erupting into a lake.
The moon over the western wall. There is a pair of Prairie Falcons in this photo, the male is on top of the ridge and the female is down and to the left near the whitewash.
Here’s a closer look at the Prairie Falcons.
A view of the west wall from inside the crater.
Rock Wren, blending in well with his surroundings
This Mountain Cottontail was soaking up a little sun on this cold windy morning.
The outside of the eastern wall near the parking area. This area seems to be best for White-throated Swifts and Canyon Wrens.
The vegetation near the parking lot attracts both migrant and resident birds. Brewer’s Blackbirds are common here.
Green-tailed Towhee being buffeted by the wind
Cold temperature and high winds forced this Western Wood-Pewee to hunt from the ground.