2001 Annual Conference — Columbia Gorge
by Scott Morrison
Those of us who left western Washington on Friday morning
for the WOS conference were greeted by beautiful sunny skies upon our arrival in the
Gorge. It certainly lifted people’s spirits after the grayness of the
“wet’ side. A short field trip to Dalles Mountain officially started
the conference. Later in the evening, John Davis delivered a
superb evening presentation on the natural history of the
Columbia Gorge. This overview provided a nice framework as
field trips forayed into various areas shown in the slides and
described in the talk.
Saturday dawned sunny and bright - there’s always a bit of a
breeze in the Gorge - and five groups embarked on field trips to
areas all throughout the Washington side of the river. The
unabridged versions of the trip lists follow this article. The
conference list is very impressive. Special thanks to Wilson
Cady for organizing the leaders and making the trips a reality.
After the trips returned, conference attendees had a chance to
socialize and share stories, as well as buy books from Flora &
Fauna’s display table. Field trip accounts were shared just prior
to the evening’s keynote speaker, Catherine Flick.
Cathy’s lecture on Nighthawks: Living with Dive-bombers was
delightful!. The presentation was truly multimedia - from
etymology to visual images to sound recordings to fecal coils -
there was something for everyone. Cathy’s knowledge of these
birds, their behaviors and life history, was very informative and
Sunday was a little breezier than the previous days, but the field
trips headed off in search of elusive or restricted-range species
and the trip lists reflect what they found. Take a moment to look
over the lists and note what was and what wasn’t seen.
Particularly comparing similar trips between two different days.
The field trip leaders all did a terrific job. Thanks to all of you.
The conference evaluations were generally very favorable. A
couple of the major concerns were the cost of lodging being too
high and various comments regarding the food. The conference
committee tries to anticipate the overall meeting experience.
Sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn’t. All
comments and suggestions are welcome and the committee will
do its best to organize enjoyable annual conferences for the
membership. Thanks for your continued attendance and
participation in WOS.
Those people who drove on the conference field trips are entitled
to monetary compensation for their efforts. We have identified
most of the drivers. If you drove on one or more of the field trips
and haven’t been reimbursed, contact the WOS treasurer, Rachel
Conference Field Trip Notes
Dalles Mountain Road - Wilson Cady
On Friday, June 15th, Wilson Cady led a short trip to the top of
the Dalles Mountain in Klickitat County. This was the one low
wind day of the conference and even though there were only two
hours in which to bird it was an enjoyable outing.
One End To The Other - Wilson Cady & Carol Watrous
The Saturday, June 16th, field trip started at the western end of
Skamania County and worked it's way along Highway 14 to
Maryhill State Park in Klickitat County. We found all of our
target species except the Acorn Woodpecker and picked up a
couple of surprises too. Only a gentle breeze was blowing when
we started at Cape Horn under cloudy sky but by the time we
reached Klickitat County it was difficult to hold your binoculars
steady and using a scope meant you had to hold the tripod to
keep it from blowing over.
Potato Hill - Andy Stepniewski
Saturday, June 16th, field trip to Meadows RV Park (1.6 miles
west of Trout Lake on SR-141, then 0.9 miles north to the RV
park), then north to Takkakah Lake on the northwest shoulder of
Mt. Adams, and finally the Potato Hill area on the western
boundary of the Yakama Indian Reservation. A significant
number of forest songbirds were "heard only". This May-July
dependence on songs and calls was especially driven home to me
as a leader, who dearly wished more of these birds would expose
themselves to our binos. Without playback tapes, one simply
does not see many species readily. We did not use tapes, save for
the Hermit Warbler.
Trout Lake/Conboy Refuge - Wilson Cady and Carol Watrous
Our trip on Sunday June 17 was to the Elk Meadows RV Park at
Trout Lake then to the Conboy Refuge and back down the
Klickitat River to Highway 14. It was tough to pull ourselves
away from Elk Meadows where we kept finding birds and had
great conditions. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the groups that I
birded with and think that the use of FRS radios to keep in touch
between the vehicles was a great asset. Our most exciting
sighting was when a small dog running loose at the Conboy
Refuge flushed a family of Wild Turkeys. Several of the young
poults were perching in scope view in a pine tree when a female
Cooper's Hawk made an attempt at one. She missed and was
sitting in a nearby tree until one of the young turkeys made a
mistake and jumped to the ground where it was quickly snatched
up by the hawk.
Columbia Hills to Satus Pass - Andy Stepniewski
Sunday, June 17th, I led a field trip originating in The Dalles that
went up over the Columbia Hills on Dalles Mtn Rd, down into
the Klickitat Valley to Goldendale, to Brooks Memorial State
Park and, finally, Satus Pass. We detoured a bit on the Dalles
Mountain Road into the Columbia Hills Natural Area, a
substantial DNR site on the crest of the Columbia Hills. Brooks
Memorial State Park south of Satus Pass held the most species
diversity, with a nice assortment of riparian and forest species.
We spent considerable time and effort clambering the steep,
brush-grown sidehills at Satus Pass at the site where Green-tailed
Towhee was seen 3 years ago, without conclusive results. A
variety of habitats were covered: Garry Oak groves, weedy
(south-facing) and native (north-facing) grasslands, riparian,
rocky wildflower-dappled lithosols on ridge tops, and Ponderosa
Pine and mixed-conifer forests.