2022-04-22 Friday At Lake Wallowa

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
I enjoyed this very enthusiastic greeting for his mate while I camped at Lake Wallowa near Joseph Oregon. Canada Geese were about the only waterfowl I saw.
Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor
Tree Swallows were the first birds I met at Lake Wallowa near Joseph Oregon. They must have recently arrived, as they were in the process of looking for nest holes.

It was a long drive Thursday to reach the north face of the Wallowa Mountains from Richland Washington. It rained much of the night in Joseph Oregon, where I slept in the RV, and by morning the mercury fell to 27°F. The combination added up to an ice-scraping session before I could navigate. The cafe I found for breakfast was only a block away from where I parked for the night, but I felt it prudent to move the van from its overnight location on a side street before I sat down to eat. The Cheyenne Cafe served me a veggie omelet, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. Yet, it was just the kind of place I look for when I travel. It was a small, family-style place with local clientele enjoying the banter of their pals, and a friendly waitress to serve up some hospitality.

After my meal, I drove six miles out of town to the campground at Wallowa Lake State Park and booked a night’s stay. It seemed as good a place to hunt birds as anywhere I could find by looking at maps. Before I reached camp, I stopped at the boat launch near the north end of the lake and enjoyed the morning sunshine and the company of newly arrived Tree Swallows looking for suitable hollows to make their summer homes. When I reached the campground, there were many campsites available, so I roamed the facility’s 216 sites to find the right space for my overnight stay.

It came as no surprise that American Robins were everywhere I looked. I could also hear the toy horn calls of Red-Breasted Nuthatches throughout the camp. Perhaps the most fun was seeing the hordes of Pine Siskins flocking through the forest, or foraging near the base of the larger Douglas Fir trees. While driving through the various campsite candidates, I saw a small finch with a red face foraging with the siskins. I didn’t get a picture, but I suspect it was a Common Redpoll. I spent most of Friday wandering through the camp, looking for birds and enjoying the sights. By Saturday morning, when I left the camp, I’d captured images of American Robins, Canada Geese, Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, Columbian Ground Squirrels, Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrels, Northern Flickers, Osprey, Pine Siskins, Red-Breasted Nuthatches, and Tree Swallows.

While I camped and worked on my blogs, I planned for the weeks ahead. My friend Joe Ford is a marvelous wildlife photographer. I want to explore the Yellowstone region as I travel east, and Joe makes several trips a year there. I contacted him and learned of his plan to camp at the Gros Ventre Campground north of Jackson Wyoming, and I booked a nearby space for six nights, beginning May 6th, to coordinate with his plans. I usually like “winging it” as I roam, but now I have a plan, and must consider where I need to be for the next couple of weeks.

Burns Oregon is about five or six hours away from my Wallowa camp, and there seems to be some excitement regarding a Common Crane sharing the company of a flock of Sandhill Cranes there. Nearby Malheur NWR is one of my favorite destinations in southeastern Oregon. I’m tempted to take a run at the region, but it’s still too early for many of the species that make their summer homes there. I’m still thinking about it, though.

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