Date: 6/16/20 6:21 pm
From: Tom Myers <thomasaltonmyers...>
Subject: [obol] Harney & Deschutes Trip Report
I just returned from a birding trip to Harney and Deschutes counties
and had such a fantastic time I thought I'd share the details. This
was my second visit to Malheur NWR, the first being in 2018 when I was
still very new to birding. I've only been home a few hours and am
already dreaming about my next visit. I've never written a trip report
before, but here goes:

I left Warren early Friday and arrived in Burns at 10:30am. On my way
to Malheur I found a Black-throated Sparrow singing at Wright's Point
and 2 Burrowing Owls along Ruh-Red Rd. Then I spent two nights camping
at Page Springs and birding around the Refuge, with a rainy day side
trip to visit Fields and the Alvord Desert. While I didn't find the
exciting rarities that were around last week, I did manage to tally
141 Harney County birds during the trip, including the GRAY CATBIRD
that's been at HQ. It was great fun to sit on a bench and listen to it
mimic Red-winged Blackbird, Black-headed Grosbeak and even Sora!

Other personal highlights from Malheur NWR include: Black Terns
feeding on the ponds at Diamond Ln, Bobolink perched along Central
Patrol Rd, dozens of Common Nighthawks feeding on insects above the
Skunk Farm Canal, a Long-eared Owl harassing a Great Horned that was
perched on a utility pole by the P Ranch at dusk, and two recently
fledged Prairie Falcons engaging in some aerial horseplay while their
parents watched from a cliff above their nest on South Harney Rd.
Before heading north on Sunday, I stopped at Burns Sewage Ponds to see
the ROSS'S GOOSE that has been there.

After a night camping at Idlewild in Malheur Nat'l Forest and hearing
my lifer Flammulated Owl, I decided to extend my trip by a day and
look for some of the rarities in the Sisters area that kept showing up
in my inbox. And I'm glad I did!

On Monday, I went straight to Trout Creek Swamp and heard the NORTHERN
WATERTHRUSH singing loudly near the trail, and then had great views of
a Black-backed Woodpecker. Next, I visited Upper Indian Ford Creek and
photographed the LEAST FLYCATCHER that continues there. I spent the
night at Cold Springs Campground and spent time photographing the
resident pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers as they delivered food to
their nestlings and discarded their fecal sacs.

Today I woke up and decided to visit the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH again.
It was singing much closer to the trail and I was able to get some
photographs (much more satisfying for a lifer!). And then on my way
out of town, I pulled off Rt 126, ventured into Black Butte Swamp and
quickly found the VEERY that continues there, before heading back
home.

Since there's been discussion here around chasing rarities vs. finding
your own, I'll add that as a relatively new birder (started about 3
years ago), I've never found a really rare bird myself. I normally
don't chase rare birds either, unless they are close to home or
convenient to go after. I added the Deschutes County portion of my
trip on a whim and spent that time chasing other people's finds and
had a delightful time doing it - adding 5 birds to my Oregon list and
3 to my Life list.

It was wonderful to spend a few days out around Malheur, camping,
seeing and photographing beautiful wildlife, and then chasing other
people's great finds around Sisters on the way back. Thanks to all the
birders I ran into along the way and all the birders who posted their
great finds for me to chase!

-Tom Myers
Warren, Columbia County
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