Date: 6/11/19 3:36 am From: Paul Sullivan <paultsullivan...> Subject: [obol] Malheur trip report 6/6 - 6/8
I am writing in response to the fine Malheur trip report by Angela Batliner-Calabrese, Emile Chen, and Dick Vreeland. I applaud their first time enthusiasm and all the lifers they found. Malheur is a magical place. I'm sure they will be back.
I visited Malheur NWR for the 91st time on 6/6-6/7, leading an Audubon Birding "Weekend" group of 15 people. We ranged in age from 60 -80, 5 were retired doctors, 6 wore hearing devices. We've done this before, but the thrill is still the same.
Like Angela's group we relied on Alan Contreras' reports, tips from Dan Heyerly, and reports from earlier visitors.
I checked the Burns sewage ponds before breakfast on 6/6 and found 5 Ross's Geese, so the Hines and Burns sewage ponds became our first stop. The day was cold and threatened rain. The Ross's Geese had disappeared, but we found Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks, Eared Grebes, and Wilson's Phalaropes, plus a Swainson's Hawk at the fairgrounds. On Hotchkiss Ln we found the first of many Yellow-headed Blackbirds and White-faced Ibis.
We reached refuge headquarters early and found multiple Common Nighthawks, Yellow Warblers, flying ibises, Cedar Waxwings, and the fluffy Great Horned Owlets. We got to see the Swainson's Thrush and heard a Warbling Vireo. Following Dan Heyerly's tip, we went to Benson Pond to search for the waterthrush that others had reported. We found stiff wind, Bullock's Orioles, the Trumpeter Swan on its nest, a calling Sora, but no waterthrush.
After lunch we continued down the Central Patrol Rd, finding the usual Pheasant. At Knox Pond we found a legion of swallows, a Western Grebe, Buffleheads, and 4 Black Terns. The star of the day was a cooperative Bobolink that sat on a bush beside the cars north of P Ranch, preened and sang. At Page Springs we found the expected Y-b Chats, but not the Dipper reported from the dam. We got great looks at a Virginia Rail with chicks in the marsh by the pay station. On the way to Frenchglen folks in the back cars saw Eastern Kingbirds.
As we came down the north side of Wright's Point we discovered a slough with Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, a Black-crowned Night-heron, Forster's Terns, Franklin's Gulls, and Black-necked Stilts. A Ferruginous Hawk with two chicks was in a nearby nest.
Early on 6/7 we returned to Benson Pond under better weather conditions. We heard the Sora, saw the swan, but no waterthrush. We did find Olive-sided and Willow Flycatcher, and W. Wood-pewee. The pond on the way to Krumbo Reservoir held a nice mix of waterfowl, and our only Bald Eagle perched on the rim. Then we visited the marsh a couple miles east of Rt 205 on the way to Diamond, but wind and a brief hailstorm cut that short. Back at Buena Vista overlook we searched for cranes but found none. We did see Rock Wren and Loggerhead Shrike.
On a tip from another birder we turned onto Foster Flat Rd and found multiple American Avocets in pairs in a shallow pan of water. We observed courtship and mating. Quite a show.
On South Harney Rd we found the young Golden Eagle at the nest, a Loggerhead Shrike on the utility wire, and a badger crossing the road. Back at headquarters we missed Alan, but saw the owlets and their adult Great Horned parent.
Early on 6/8 I scouted near Burns. After breakfast I was able to take the group east on Hwy 78. At m.p. 4 we enjoyed views of Clark's and Western Grebes in a small reservoir. At m.p. 6 we saw a Burrowing Owl. The fishing ponds nearer Burns yielded our only Spotted Sandpipers. Back on Rt 205 we finally found a pair of Sandhill Cranes and I got to see an Eastern Kingbird. On Greenhouse Ln we found a wealth of Black Terns, Avocets and Black-necked Stilts with chicks, Wilson's Phalaropes, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and more. At the ODOT rock quarry west of the BLM office we saw flying Bank Swallows.
The group had a tally of 106 species for the trip, largely the same as Angela's list.
On the way home I added birds at Sage Hen rest area, along Hwy 20 in Deschutes county, and then White-throated Swifts at Smith Rock. Others of the group went by way of Cabin Lake and found good birds there.
It's always good to get out of the house and go birding.