My dad and I spent a long weekend wandering around Malheur, enjoying the ridiculously warm weather (64F in Fields yesterday) and a few late-winter birds. February is the least-birded month in Harney County and the first week of February, according to eBird, was the most underbirded week of the year (only two checklists ever submitted!) until now. We had the place to ourselves.
SNOW GOOSE migration has certainly kicked in - we heard them flying over the field station each night and thousands could be seen going to roost on Malheur Lake north of headquarters on Friday.
Two HARRIS' SPARROWS were also at headquarters on Friday, and 5 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS were along the CPR north of Buena Vista on Saturday morning. Two male CINNAMON TEAL were with hundreds of other ducks along Krumbo Rd on Saturday.
On Sunday, Page Springs had a dozen EVENING GROSBEAKS, singing CANYON WRENS, and a VARIED THRUSH. A HERMIT THRUSH was practically the only bird in the Fields Oasis. During lunch there, four small airplanes landed on Hwy 205 and taxied into the parking lot - a group of friends from Klamath Falls out for a Sunday afternoon jaunt.
This morning a lone WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE flew over the Burns Sewage Ponds with a CALIFORNIA GULL and an apparent HERRING GULL. Up at Idlewild Campground, all three NUTHATCHES packed in one tree with a CLARK'S NUTCRACKER.
Lots of TUNDRA SWANS, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, a couple of FERRUGINOUS HAWKS, GOLDEN EAGLES, just one NORTHERN SHRIKE, and many GOLDENEYE including a couple of BARROW'S rounded out 75 species in Harney Co. this weekend.
Otherwise, our "bird of the trip" had to be the pair of cooperative BADGERS at the field station, seen each evening - best looks I've ever had! And the lingering EMPEROR GOOSE was a nice tick in Bend on the way home today.