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Northeaset Zone weekly wildlife viewing report

Northeast Zone VIEWING

GRANT COUNTY

Bighorn sheep can be viewed along the South Fork of the John Day. Sandhill cranes can be seen and heard as they migrate through the valley in large flocks. Logan and Fox valleys are good places to look for cranes. Bald eagles can be seen near the John Day River. The Phillip Schneider Wildlife Area remains closed to access to protect wintering deer and elk. 3/26/13.

BAKER COUNTY

Bighorn sheep and mule deer can be viewed along the Snake River road between Huntington and Richland. Keep your eyes open as Bald Eagles are also plentiful in the area. Bighorn sheep in the Burnt River are down low in the canyon along the riparian areas and can be viewed from the road.

Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler Counties

The signs of spring are all here in the Heppner area. Sandhill cranes have been seen heading north for the summer. The official first sign of spring for the Heppner area, a Say’s phoebe has been seen and heard in the area. The earliest of our summer migrants are starting to appear.

Long billed curlews can be seen in a few wheat stubble fields. Mobs of ravens can be seen in the foothills as can golden eagles. There are still a few rough-legged hawks in the area and can be seen in the north half of the District. Short-eared owl can be seen along the grasslands of the north end of the District. Our year-round resident raptors, red-tailed hawks, Northern harriers, and American kestrels are all easily found. Heppner’s merlin has been seen in the area as well. Prairie falcons can also be seen in the area, although much rarer to be found. Sharp-shinned hawks can be seen along the riparian areas of the north half of the District. Western meadowlarks can be seen in most grassland areas.

In the yards of the district, one can find the common songbirds around the feeder. Dark-eyed juncos, song sparrows, house sparrows, white-crowned sparrows are all easily found. American gold finches and Rufus sided towhees can also be see in the Heppner area.

Waterfowl can be seen paring up and starting nesting along the Columbia River and wetlands in the north end of the District. It is easy to spot mallards, American widgeon, northern shovelers, coot, blue wing, green wing, and cinnamon teals, buffleheads, and common mergansers. One can also spot common and Pied-billed grebes along the Columbia. Great blue herons are found along all of our streams that support fish. There are two that can be found most days between Heppner and Lexington along Willow Creek. 4/2/13.

UMATILLA COUNTY

Columbia Basin Wildlife Areas

Willow Creek and Coyote Springs Wildlife Areas are both found next to interstate 84 and the Columbia River and have excellent viewing for wetland and riparian obligate bird species. The upland areas are also available for savanna and shrub steppe species of birds. Willow Creek has an ample deer herd and the evidence of beaver activity can be seen on the Willow Creek delta area of the wildlife area.

The Irrigon Wildlife Area holds riparian and wetland habitat and hosts a number of species of birds associated with each habitat. One can see a number of waterfowl and wading bird species in the pothole pond areas. Painted turtles are also common in the pond areas. White pelicans can be commonly found along the Columbia River as well. Geese and ducks are beginning to build along the Columbia River and will be commonly trading back and forth along the river.

Power City Wildlife Area between Hermiston and Umatilla on Highway 395 is also characterized by both wetland and upland habitat. Birding in the early hours will offer opportunity at a number of summering bird species typical of Columbia Basin habitats. 11/6/12.

See the ODFW Wildlife Viewing Map for locations of these ODFW Wildlife Areas.

Umatilla County Uplands

Uplands and forested riparian areas will have a number of wintering birds.

Elk will be more common in the early morning and late afternoon in mid and lower elevation areas now that wintering conditions are in place. Roads moving upslope from the valley floor to the mountain areas would be best to see these animals.

WHITE-TAILED DEER are common along the foothills of the Blue Mountains and can be seen either early morning or evening in those areas. Mule deer are found in better numbers in the desert and mountain areas. 12/3/12.

UNION COUNTY

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Note: Wildlife viewers and anglers need a parking permit to park on the wildlife area. The $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.

The Tule Lake Public Access Area and Auto Route and the Glass Hill Unit are now OPEN. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area. Dogs are not permitted within the Wildlife Area, on or off leash except during authorized hunting seasons. There are numerous quality viewing opportunities from county roads that pass through the area. Binoculars or a spotting scope will help as many animals are best viewed from a distance.

Tundra Swans continue to use the area. They have been seen on the refuge below Foothill Rd and on the Tule Lake wetlands as well as other locations. Greater White-fronted goose and Snow Goose numbers have increased. Canada Geese are nesting throughout the wildlife area. Duck migration is in full swing with nearly every expected species present including Northern Pintail, Wood Duck, Mallard, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup Ruddy Duck and Northern Shoveler. At least two Eurasian Wigeon and one Eurasian Green-winged Teal have been seen among the many ducks on the wildlife area.

American bittern, Lesser Yellowlegs and Black-necked Stilt have all been observed this week. Shallow flats on Tule Lake are good places to look for shorebirds as th migration heats up.

Northern shrike and American tree sparrows continue to be seen in a variety of locations within the wildlife area along with White-crowned Sparrows and Song Sparrows and the season’s first Vesper Sparrows. Say’s Phoebe and Tree Swallow are still present.

Northern harrier, red-tailed hawk and bald and golden eagles have all been seen hunting over the wildlife area. American Kestrels, Cooper’s Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks are using the area also.

Both Greater and Lesser Sandhill Cranes have arrived on the area. Numbers are relatively low but we should see large flocks of Lessers passing through soon. Most of the local nesting pairs have returned to the area and have been seen on their territories. Please report any sandhill cranes wearing leg bands to the Ladd Marsh staff (541-963-4954). If possible, note the color and order of bands on each of the bird’s legs (e.g., pink above white on left leg; silver above black on right leg). The specific combination and order can identify individual birds.

Both Mule and white-tailed Deer can be seen using meadows and the slope above Foothill Road.

For more information on access rules for Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, please consult the Oregon Game Bird Regulations or call the wildlife area (541) 963-4954. 3/26/13.

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