Day 2: June 30, 2002
Afternoon: The Illinois Valley

The plan for the afternoon was to visit Lake Selmac and see if that was where we'd like to camp for the night, then bird a few locations in the Illinois Valley around Cave Junction. I had directions from Romain Cooper to the vagrant Indigo Bunting in a town called Takilma. So that was on our itinerary, too.

We left Whitehorse County Park and continued west on the Rogue River Loop Highway and crossed the Rogue at Robertson Bridge (DeLorme Atlas, page 19, A5, boat ramp 4503). Not far down the road a Mountain Quail crossed in front of us--the only one we would see during the trip.

Live oak
Drier hills are covered by canyon live oak.

We soon joined Hwy 199 and headed south. Though called the "Redwood Highway" there are no redwoods along this highway on the Oregon portion. I had received a list of birding places from Linda Heinze that mentioned a small park near the town of Wonder (DeLorme Atlas, page 18, B4). We followed Waters Creek about 3 miles to a small parking area and rest room. The hillsides were covered in canyon live oak and ponderosa pine, while the riparean areas included Douglas-fir, bigleaf maple, alder, and (I believe) Port Orford Cedar.

Marlene and I arrived about noon. It was hot. But the air was pleasant along the shaded Waters Creek. A nice graveled trail went along the creek. Pacific-slope Flycatchers and Western Tanagers sang, and I also found Steller's Jays and Spotted Towhees. I heard some birds up the hill, so I left Marlene in the shade by the river and scrambled up a short slope to the road above. In 2 or 3 minutes time I had pished in a flock containing Hutton's Vireos and 7 Black-throated Gray Warblers. I heard Marlene give a short cry and ran back to find her with a red welt in the middle of her forehead. Yep, another bee sting. As we returned to the car we noticed that the trail crossed over the creek on a large culvert. There, hanging in the mouth of the metal culvert, was a paper wasp nest....

Lake Selmac
Lake Selmac from our campsite.

Our next task was to investigate Lake Selmac to look for a camping space (DeLorme Atlas, page 18, B4). On our drive in from the town of Selma a mother Wild Turkey and several ungainly large young chicks crossed the road in front of us. I'm not sure how "wild" they were, but this species has been established in SW Oregon longer than elsewhere in the state. The habitat surrounding Lake Selmac is open areas interspersed white oaks and Douglas-fir. There are several campgrounds along this rather large man-made lake. We chose a site on the south shore of the lake and set up camp. We noted a Green Heron fly over. Several American Coots and Wood Ducks swam in the lake. And we recorded Steller's Jays, Brown Creepers, Black-capped Chickadees, crows, ravens, and a solitary Common Nightawk winging over the lake. Click for more information on Lake Selmac County Park.

Serpentine habitat
Serpentine habitat along Eight Dollar Road.

A note from Dennis Vroman put me on to Eight Dollar Road (DeLorme Atlas, page 18, C3). The road is high up on the canyon wall overlooking the Illinois River on the edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. There weren't many birds there this hot afternoon, but I did want to see exactly what "Serpentine habitat" was. It turns out that the mineral serpentine is exposed on the surface and very few plants grow in it. The main plants are Jeffery pine, Port Orford cedar, lodgepole pine, and manzanita.

We next drove to Takilma (DeLorme Atlas, page 18, D4). As soon as we stopped I could hear the sweet refrains of the Indigo Bunting. Listen to the Indigo Bunting. Interestingly, this was the second Indigo Bunting found by this same casual birder and workmate of Romain Cooper! While Marlene and I were there, Romain and a group of other birders stopped by for a look. The bird had been seen for a couple of weeks previous to this, but was not noticed again after this date. Other birds here included Lesser Goldfinch, American Robin, Bullock's Oriole, House Wren, Nashville Warbler, and Ash-throated Flycatcher. Romain told me of other birding sites nearby, but it was obvious that I didn't have time to get to them all. The closest was a drive up Sanger Peak Road to Waldo Hill (DeLorme Atlas, page 18, B4). Romain had Common Poorwill here in summer, but I didn't have time to go look. I had also wanted to look for Black-backed Woodpeckers reported in the 1930's by Gabrielson and Jewett near Bolan Lake (DeLorme Atlas, page 19, D5). But these, too, would have to wait for another trip.

Instead, Marlene and I drove into Cave Junction for dinner. We stopped at Carlos Mexican Seafood, and it was very good. Birds in town included Acorn Woodpeckers, Western Bluebirds, and Black Phoebes. Satisfied and cooled off a bit, we returned to camp at Lake Selmac.

Indigo Bunting Indigo Bunting
A vagrant Indigo Bunting a Takilma.
Another view.



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