Saturday, December 24, 2016

A hike at North Bank Habitat Management Area

Early this winter break I got to spend some time back in Douglas County. I decided to make an effort to see if I could find some BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in the area, as they have been reported in multiple parts of the state. After conferring with some local experts (thanks Liz Gayner and Matt Hunter) I decided to hike into North Bank Habitat Management Area.

North Bank HMA is an old seven-thousand acre ranch that is managed by the BLM. While the main gate is closed for parts of the week, it is always open to recreationalists, and there is parking at the west entrance. (

As I climbed higher into the hills, the surrounding Madrone trees were laden with berries, and the usually quiet hills were erupting with sound. With all of the commotion my surroundings were more reminiscent of a jungle than of the Umpqua!

A Mass of Robins

I climbed higher out of the trees, and while I couldn't find any Bohemian Waxwings, I did find several flocks of Cedar Waxwings. The trail broke out of the forest and into the open, where I was rewarded with a fly-by flock of calling Evening Grosbeaks. I later heard a Northern Pygmy Owl responding to my calls while trying to bring some Black-Capped Chickadees into the open. As I was listening to the little owl, the sun came out, and the view turned truly spectacular. 

The North Umpqua River 
 I continued to walk, my spirits rising with the warming hillsides. As I crested a hill, a bird soared up the hillside in front of me, and I realized that I was in the presence of one of North America's largest and fastest aerial predators: the Golden Eagle

A shaky video of a soaring Golden Eagle

  I managed to get a shaky video of this amazing bird. This was probably the best view I have EVER had of one, and to capture it, even on a poor video, was very satisfying. I finished my hike filled with elation. Next week I will be heading back to Reedsport, and I will hopefully have a report to make on that adventure as well.