Today’s photos come from ecologist Susan Harrison. Her notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge her photos by clicking on them—especially the first one, a panorama.
John Day River, June 1-8, 2022
These photos are from a 68-mile trip down the John Day River in north-central Oregon (route here). This huge region consists of sagebrush-juniper desert with volcanic geology. The river canyon is carved from layers of columnar basalt. There are also fossil-rich deposits of volcanic ash, and if you are ever in the area, don’t miss the remarkable Condon Paleontology Center which displays mammalian and ecosystem evolution from 50 million to 5 million years ago.
Storms before and during our trip led to high and fast river flows, so we paddled only 2-3 hours a day, leaving plenty of time to explore and watch wildlife. We spent a layover day at a dramatic section called the Palisades.
On the towering cliffs across from camp, bighorn sheep grazed, and a golden eagle tended her two large nestlings.
Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis):
Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos):
Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum):
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii):
Black-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens)
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus):
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens):
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius):
This huge Robber Fly was not easily distracted, though it finally flew a few feet away while still slurping its prey.
Scattered native plants such as this one were flowering on the rocky slopes.
Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii)