Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Malheur NWR (part two).

Alright, back to Malheur!  After drooling over the Burrowing Owl I headed to the refuge headquarters to see what was around.  A couple of men were watching the hummingbird feeder and pointed out a female Calliope and female Black-chinned Hummingbirds...

Calliope Hummingbird

 Black-chinned Hummingbirds


The other feeders hosted gobs of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and a couple of California Quail picked up the pieces below...

California Quail

From headquarters I headed south along the Center Patrol Road and quickly found a Short-eared Owl hunting in the distance...


And then I got stuck in the weirdest of traffic situations...


This pronghorn was strolling up the road and refused to let me pass...  There were no turn-offs along the road for me to take, but surely she (?) could have jumped into the grass anywhere.  Instead I got stuck behind her for about two miles, until another car came and chased her down the road.  I was behind them for at least another mile and a half before stopping to look at something...


What I stopped to look at was a nice surprise for me- a pair of Eastern Kingbirds!



The morning's birding and lack of coffee made me pretty sleepy so I stopped back at the campground for a nice mid-day nap with the dogs.  We got up refreshed and ready for more birds... We went over to P Ranch for a walk along the river trail. 

Common Mergansers, the cutest ducklings ever...

A drive north along the Center Patrol Road led to my favorite sighting of the trip- not one, not two, but three Bobolinks!!



Such a rad bird!!  I had hoped for these guys on my last three visits to Malheur so I was pretty surprised to actually find them this time.   One more:


 Awesome.  Along the water that parallels the road were willows and bushes filled with Yellow Warblers, swallows, blackbirds, Willow Flycatchers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Bullock's Orioles, and...


A Great Horned Owl?  It seemed like a totally random spot and definitely the closest I have ever been to one with its eyes open!  Up the road was a White-faced Ibis trying to hide in the grass...


I stopped by Benson Pond to walk along the little trail and was psyched to find a couple of Common Nighthawks perched in the trees- my first ones not in flight!



In the mud around the pond were Spotted Sandpipers, avocets, stilts, Wilson's Phalaropes, and Killdeer while the nearby trees hosted Western Kingbirds, swallows, and blackbirds.  It was getting dark so the dogs and I headed back to the campground for more veggie dogs and owl hoots. 

The next morning we got up and took a drive up Steens Mountain for about 11 miles.  Of course, we saw more great stuff! 

Long-billed Curlew

 Horned Lark

 Lark Sparrow

 Cow, bird

Western Meadowlark

 Pollination party.

There were a lot of sparrows around that made my brain hurt..  I want to call this fella a Vesper with those reddish spots on the wings...


And lastly, I made a panorama with my AutoStitch app at the point where I turned around on Steens Mountain...


It came out pretty cool-looking.  I left the area by mid-morning and made it home in the afternoon.  It was such an awesome trip with five lifers, about 90 species seen, and a whole lotta rad eye candy.   Good times!!!

15 comments:

  1. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick. Ive always wanted to bird Malheur...did you see Trumpeters?

    Seeing Bobolinks releases endorphins.

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    1. No Trumpeters- never actually seen them down there, but it's a seriously massive refuge...

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  2. Jen, Wow! Eye candy is right on! Amazing birds and photos. The owl is really cool and I love the Bobolinks. The Nighthawk is awesome. Congrats on your new lifers. Great photos. I do not think I would mind much if I had to ride behind the pronghorn for awhile. I wish I had time to add Malheur on my list of Oregon places to visit. I think I would need to add another week. I love the sky shot, well done. Great post and report. Happy Birding!

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    1. Yeah, you would definitely need at least a week- especially with all the places to stop between here and there!

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  3. This is one loaded up post! Great shot of the Great Horned Owl; I would like to see one so close up! Love the Merganser chicks too; I've never seen them before!

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    1. I had never seen them either- adorable!

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  4. UH LA LA...
    Love the quail, the pronghorn, the owls, the BOBOLINKS, the Merganser puff balls omg so cute..So nice to see the nighthwaks...heard one the other night it ws nice to hear...Using your words this WHOLE post is RAD!!

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  5. Dang Jen you cleaned house here! Two Owls, Nighthawks, Lark Sparrow, California Quail...and man top notch photos too truly and greatly well done!

    That Merganser shot is tops though, I think. That must be why they call you 'Merganser Jen'.

    Of all the people that used to hate birds but now blog about them, you're my favorite.

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  6. Sigh. So much good stuff! I love those Merganser babies---ADORABLE!

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  7. Oh, thank you SO much for the rockin' virtual birding extravaganza.

    And, btw, thank you NW Nature Nut 'cause apparently the baby mergansers shot hadn't loaded yet, so I went back up, and WOW! Awesome baby fashion! =)

    And, how in the world did you spot that nighthawk? Nicely done. In that 1st shot it's SHORT little beak is basically invisible. Yow.

    SCHWEET!! =)

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  8. Awesome photos, I 'll never forget my trip to the Steens.

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  9. Awesome photos, I 'll never forget my trip to the Steens.

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