[Tweeters] Malheur NWR May 23-28, 2013

Mark Crawford markscrawford at gmail.com
Wed Jun 5 09:00:42 PDT 2013

Sixteen birders joined the May 23-28, 2013 Eastside Audubon field trip to
Malheur NWR. This trip followed the excellent itinerary established over
the past 12 years by Hugh Jennings.

*May 23, 2013 *

14 of us left the Issaquah P&R in four cars at 0730 for Burns, OR. Two
others came from Walla Walla. It was a beautiful day with sun, showers, and
rainbows. We had lunch at DeMoss Park (between Wasco and Moro, OR on
US97). There was a good selection of east of the Cascades passerines in
trees around this oasis. We arrived in Burns at about 6 p.m. and had
dinner as a group of 16 and got to the Silver Spur Motel by 7:30 p.m.

*May 24* - We left the motel at 0700 with the first stop at the Harney
County Fairgrounds for access to the Burns STP (viewing platform just south
of barns along berm containing settling pond). By 0720 we were over 50
species. The settling ponds were full of ducks, geese, grebes, and
phalaropes. Gulls, terns, and swallows were plentiful. Passerines were in
the fairground trees. On the way from Burns to the Malheur HQ the usual
breeding birds were plentiful (Long-billed Curlew, Willet, Sandhill Crane,
Wilson’s Snipe, ducks, grebes, egrets, pelicans, terns, etc). The Rock
Wren greeted us at top of Wright's Point near gravel piles and a Burrowing
Owl was on-mound north of The Narrows. The trees around the HQ were busy
with passerines and kept us very happy. A Plumbeous Vireo was the surprise
of the day. We ate lunch at HQ then proceeded to Round Barn where another
Burrowing Owl was just outside the store/visitor center. By the time we got
to Lava Pit Crater it was windy and birds were scarce. Following stops
along the way to Buena Vista Ponds we called it a day with 103 species.
Back to motel about 5 pm where a few took a walk about town after dinner,
picking up Scrub Jay and Vaux’s Swift.

*May 25 *

Left motel at 0700 and with strong determination sped by the wetlands
teaming with birds seen on the first day. We slowed down briefly for
Burrowing Owl, Loggerhead Shrike, Wilson’s Snipe, and Willet on the way to
the Field Station and the CPR. The Field station was not very birdy and
there was little water along the CPR south from the Field Station. Krumbo
Pond yielded a late Common Goldeneye. The day ended at 105 species.

*May 26*

Left at 0700 and with blinders on went directly to French Glen. Bobolinks
were abundant on the road between French Glen and Page Springs CG. With
effort we left the frolicking Bobolinks for a rainy walk at Page Springs.
The usual birds were present and active. Great Horned Owls kept an eye on
things from the cliffs at the entrance, Yellow-breasted Chats were
throughout the campground and up the stream, flycatchers included
Ash-throated Flycatcher vocalizing, the loop trail above the campground had
singing Black-throated Gray Warbler. A rainy in-car lunch at P Ranch was
followed by sun/wind/rain heading north on CPR to Benson Ponds. The only
Common Nighthawk for the trip was perched in a tree along the lakeshore. We
made a brief stop at CPR and Hotchkiss Lane where we were surprised to find
at least two Black Phoebes. Back to Burns by 5:20 with 101 species for the

*May 27*

We left at 0700 with rain and wind that lasted for most of the day. We
drove on to HQ where a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was kind enough to stay still
for some time and a few got looks at the Plumbeous Vireo. We then went
east toward Princeton with brief stops to scope Prairie Falcon and
Ferruginous Hawk in the rain. SR78 provided many raptors including a
newly mowed hay field with side-by-side Ferruginous, Red-tailed and
Swainson’s Hawks feeding on the ground. We drove past Lawen and on to
Ruh-Red Rd in wind and rain with the highlight being courting and
copulating Long-billed Curlew. We were cold and wet so decided to call it
an early day. However the rain stopped as we neared Burns and the STP
beckoned. As before, the settling ponds were teaming with ducks, grebes,
and phalaropes. A small flock of late Snow Geese were grazing nearby.
Careful sorting through swallows yielded Barn Swallows. Got back to motel
at 4:15 to dry out with 107 species.

*May 28*

We split up at 0700 with two cars heading north on US395, two cars west on
US20, and one car staying in Burns for repairs. Idlewild CG had
White-headed Woodpecker, singing Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes, feeding
Mountain Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, Cassin’s Finch, and Steller’s Jay. The
US395 cars stopped at the McDonald's in John Day for Lesser Goldfinch.
Dipper were here and there along the way and Battle Mountain SP had
Williamson’s Sapsucker. The US20/97 group stopped at Brooks Memorial SP
to add Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper and Gray Catbird. We got home to
sunshine at about 7:30 p.m. with 161 species for the trip.

It was a good time with good people in a spectacular birding area.
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