A group of us gathered for a fun workshop this weekend at PLAYA <http://www.playasummerlake.org/index.html>, focused on birding the areas near Summer Lake. It was refreshing to see some lingering winter birds with the early spring migrants, backdropped by incredible scenery!
Notable sightings included a continuing MARBLED GODWIT at Windbreak Dike throughout the weekend, a NORTHERN SHRIKE at Paulina Marsh on Saturday, and a good variety of raptors including multiple ROUGH-LEGGED and FERRUGINOUS HAWKS. We looked for a reported GREAT GRAY OWL near PLAYA without success, though it had been seen and photographed by others a few days before.
Birds at the Summer Lake Wildlife Area included AMERICAN AVOCETS, BLACK-NECKED STILTS, thousands of SNOW GEESE (but no Ross' despite careful scanning), side-by-side views of TUNDRA and TRUMPETER SWANS, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS, four swallow species, AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, SANDHILL CRANES, a LONG-BILLED CURLEW, a cooperative VIRGINIA RAIL, three GREAT HORNED OWLS in the barn, and acres of waterfowl.
We looked for Sage Grouse at the lek near Fort Rock without success, and the sage areas were fairly quiet aside from thrashers and larks. We ventured up to the pine forest at Cabin Lake for particularly good views of RED CROSSBILLS, CASSIN'S FINCHES, and PYGMY NUTHATCHES.
Thanks to Jack and Laura Doyle, Stu and Hilary Garrett, Jordan Epstein, Larry Fox, and Farnaz Fatemi for a wonderful weekend in the high desert!