[Tweeters] John Scharff festival trips at Malheur

Jerry Broadus jbroadus at seanet.com
Mon Apr 15 17:12:20 PDT 2013


Shep Thorp and I had the opportunity to lead several field trips for the Burns, OR, birding festival. For the "behind the gates" trips we chose Crane Pond, which is in excellent shape this year with huge numbers of waterfowl, and good variety, with a couple of Golden Eagles for fun (on one trip they locked talons, seemingly for us.) We were permitted to drive in through the gate for close looks, but good views can also be had from the Crane Overlook Trail. We also viewed the heronry (and, uh, "comorantry"?) at Sod House, which was late getting started this year but developing fast.

A special trip for both of us, and several hardy guests, transpired Sunday when the Refuge kindly permitted us to lead a hiking trip to Stinking Lake, which has an unworldly and remote feel. It is a spring fed alkaline lake at the edge of double O unit. It is protected as a research area, so the experience is unique for most. Numbers of birds was not particularly high, but we did have 3500 ducks and geese, 1500 Eared Grebes, 400 American Avocets, 25 Willets, one Wilson's Phalarope, and, best of all, 7 Snowy Plovers. We led the 5 mile round trip hike from a makeshift parking spot on the edge of double O flats, to the springs (after giving a lecture on safety and some strict "no-no's". )

Otherwise, new migrants have begun arriving each day, including some Least Sandpipers, along with the Long Billed Dowitchers and Dunlin on Ruh Red Road (where a few burrowing owls have shown). White Faced Ibis are arriving, along with lots of Avocets and Black Necked Stilts. Saw both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs together, and many Sandhill Cranes, both Greater and Lesser. The Foster Flats Greater Sage Grouse lek is a shadow of its former glory, apparently due to last summer's Miller Homestead Fire, showing only 3 dominant males, one sub dom male, and no females.

All for now. Shep will be driving Clarice back tomorrow, leaving me to cram in some bird counts.

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


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