[Tweeters] P Ranch, Malheur NWR

Jerry Broadus jbroadus at seanet.com
Sun Apr 7 12:49:49 PDT 2013

Starting another spring of bird counts at Malheur. Clarice and I housed at P Ranch house, arrived April 1. Getting situated included getting the satellite TV to work. It's easy to say you don't need a TV, but.... Figured out a barrel connector on the cable was corroded, after lots of pain, trying to aim dish, etc. fix was a 2 dollar part, plus a 130 mile round trip to the Radio Shack, or wait to see if TV tech would ever show (there is an address at P Ranch, but you can't find the name of this "lane" on any map, and there is no mail delivery), plus the 120 dollar fee. But, out here, people help each other. Enlisted help from John at Frenchglen hotel, who had the part and tools.

Beautiful weather until today, with typical Frenchglen roaring winds. Spring has been warm. No recent snow here. Lots of water at south end of refuge. Have been counting a little, but mainly scouting locations for bird festival trips, including areas where I had volunteer permission.

Boca Lake mostly dry, with pelicans, no shorebirds yet. Knox ponds and Benson pond full, with lots of waterfowl. Have seen many more swan and Sandhills than usual. Water at Ruh Red Rd and the Narrows down, but not out, saw lots of birds but mostly scope views. Most interesting to me was a mixed flock of Dunlin and LB Dowitchers, all feeding together in water just Dunlin tummy deep. Dunlin were just able to poke without getting their eyes under water, while the dowitchers next door were probing like little oil pumps.

Krumbo Reservoir excellent, with very tame birds. An exquisite breeding plumage eared grebe practically at my feet, but of course camera was in the car. (also 2 breeding plumage horned grebes near Burns on Greenhouse). On the metal bridge over the outlet channel noticed remains of 4 coots, wings and feet, as well as large pellets and much whitewash where a big raptor must be resting after having coots for dinner. Krumbo swamp (the pond at the Krumbo gate) also good, with canvasbacks.

Several Sandhills at double O, with lots of water there. Brood ponds full of cinnamon teal. GH Owl still in the little tree right beside the road in, just like last year. Double O flats wet but passable.

The fields on Greenhouse and Hotchkiss flooded with immense flocks of "white" geese, and several blue ones, lots of shovelers, pintail, Sandhills, and white fronted geese. The Sandhills appeared to be mixed greater and lesser.

HQ still pretty quiet, but migrants are beginning to show, some pretty early, for example one western kingbird and a small advance vanguard of WF Ibis on south edge Malheur Lake. Saw 4 ferruginous hawks on raptor alley, along with some bald eagles, redtails, prairie falcon, and several rough legs. Harrier pairs are in full hormone display flights, and (a first for me) two rough legs flying and looping together as if courting.

The herons and cormorants just started crowding in to the Sod House tree nests.

Let the wind die and off to Page Springs.

Jerry Broadus
Puyallup, WA
Volunteering at P Ranch for Malheur NWR

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