Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tetherow Crossing

The stout wooden bridge that spans the Deschutes River marks Tetherow Crossing. Named for the family that lived and operated a cable ferry crossing here in the 1870s, this provided an easy river crossing for wagons headed west towards the Willamette Valley or those heading east into central Oregon. One of the more level locations that provided a crossing along the steep-walled canyon of the Deschutes River, today one of the oldest houses in the county stands abandoned at this point. Trails along the river provided easy access along the riverbanks, and though vehicle traffic is light, sometimes the neighbor's roaming dogs make the birding interesting.

Yesterday was my second visit to the area in over a week. A lone swamp sparrow had been reported here and my first attempt to locate it was blown away by the wind. Literally.

So I returned yesterday, staked out the "seed station" location and waited. Of course, the dogs were back and a third one spent most of an hour barking at me. Two vehicles had parked into the pull-out near the small cluster of willows were some seeds had been left on the ground to attract the sparrows. Fortunately, my waiting paid off.

Not only did I get good looks at the swamp sparrow through my spotting scope, but I was also treated to a cornucopia of sparrows: white-crowned, song, Lincoln's and house. A few house finches and some dark-eyed juncos also showed up to provide a montage of plumages. The swampy was a lifer.

White-crowned sparrow
In addition to these birds, I also picked up a golden-crowned kinglet foraging in the juniper tree near this pullout and a spotted towhee farther downstream. I was also treated to a trio of golden eagles soaring on winter thermals (don't think there was any warm air on the below freezing day) high above the river. I missed the canyon wren I had heard the previous week, but I'm sure I'll be able to get that one on another visit. Even with the barking dogs and occasional car, this is a very pleasant location to bird or, if the birding is slow, just to take a walk up the canyon.

County list to date: 45 species

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