After a three day long journey along the coast I finally reached the ultimate destination of my trip, Crater Lake National Park. This park represents a world of contrasts: The enormous volcanic crater is filled with one of the clearest and deepest lakes in the world and the jagged rim lies at about 8000 feet (2100 meters!) above sea level. The park receives an average of 44 feet (or 14.5 meters) of snow annually and the snow often lasts long into the summer months (no kidding!). They have constructed a 31.5 mile long two-lane road all around the rim of the crater, but unfortunately this spring had been record cold so half the rim loop was closed off due to snow.
I entered the park through the northern entrance from Diamond Lake and passed through the Pumice Desert, a vast area covered in toxic volcanic debris from ancient eruptions that has prevented the vegetation from reclaiming the land.
Along the edges of the desert I spotted Gray Flycatcher, Cassin's Finches, Pine Siskins, Chipping Sparrows, and Red Crossbills. (PS. I do not recommend renting a white car when birding central Oregon.....)
As I climbed higher towards the crater rim it became apparent that I would not be doing much hiking in this park.....
And there it was! What a view!
Look at that reflection!
The belly of the beast on Wizard Island:
The bird that I had the greatest hopes of seeing up here was the Gray-crowned Rosy-finch. However, I never expected it to be the first bird seen when pulling up alongside the rim!!
This little guy, a Golden-mantled Ground-squirrel, ran up and down the steep edge of the rim looking for treats every time a car swung by.
Another common sight at rest stops along the rim were small groups of Cassin's Finch:
The air space over the crater was patrolled by Turkey Vultures (below) and Bald Eagles:
I totally fell in love with this guy. He was just sitting in a tree next to the road waiting for someone to feed him, and did not hesitate accepting bread crumbs from my hand:
Had I known that the eastern half of the rim road was closed off at the southern access road I would have spent more time at the northern and western end of the crater, but since I would have to go all the way back the same way and the roads were getting crowded with tourists from all around the world I decided to just keep going to my next destination. The deep snow cover had kept a lot of the normal residents away from the higher altitude areas, so I figured I had seen most of the species possible to see in the Park.
Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Maryland, United States
Ornithologist with a PhD in evolutionary biology. I am committed to the conservation of birds and their habitats through volunteering and citizen science projects. Currently, I am hired as a contractor to coordinate the Maryland Bird Conservation Initiative.