Day 1: June 29, 2002
Whitehorse County Park and vicinity

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped chickadees are common in riparian areas.

Rogue River
Rogue River at Whitehorse County Park.

old riverfront road
An old road follows the riverfront at Whitehorse Park and makes for excellent birding.

We left the Portland area in the morning and, after a 4-hour drive (not counting a one-hour stop to visit my grandmother in Salem), arrived in Grants Pass in early afternoon. We picked a camp site at Whitehorse County Park (DeLorme Atlas, page 19, A5, boat ramp 4527). The campground is in a beautiful mixed woods a bit back from the river. The composition of the trees in the campground was about 35% madrone, 30% ponderosa pine, 25% Douglas-fir, and 10% white oak. After setting up camp we went for a ride along the Rogue River Loop, down to Robertson Bridge (DeLorme Atlas, page 19, A5, boat launch 4503) and back. On this trip we saw Osprey on nests and flying or perched at several areas along the river. We also observed a Western Kingbird on a wire above the road at one of the many small streamside farms.

Back at camp I was building up quite a list of birds in the campground. I kept hearing whistled "whoit-whoit" calls and harsh rattles from a small patch of trees nearby. At first I thought it was an oddly paired mockingbird and oriole--until I finally realized that these were the calls of one bird--Yellow-breasted Chat. I pished up a flock made up of juvenile Black-capped Chickadees, Brown Creepers, Warbling Vireos, a Hutton's Vireo, and an Orange-crowned Warbler. A pair of loudly calling Cooper's Hawks flew through the trees and remained throughout the day. Evidently they have a nest here.

After dinner I headed out for an evening birding stroll down to the river. There were lots of birds, including about 10 Yellow-breasted Chat singing away, but mostly hidden. One of my target birds flew up into a tree, Red-shouldered Hawk. It was an adult in heavy wing and tail molt. Both Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiers called from the gravel bar amid-river, and an Osprey was picking apart a fish there, ignoring people playing and fishing along the bank nearby. I did get to observe the local race of Wrentit. Gray headed birds here have rather pinkish breasts, in contrast to the coastal form that has a ruddy-brown breast.

I returned to camp to find that poor Marlene had been stung severely by a yellowjacket while I was away birding. Little did we know that this was just the start of Marlene's saga with the bees...

Go on to the morning of Day 2: Whitehorse County Park...

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