Posted by: atowhee | October 17, 2009

More Malheur, then homeward bound

Mid-day Friday I was at Benson Pond.  From there I continued south toward P Ranch and Frenchglen.  IMG_0266  Much of this drive is along the Blitzen River, flowing north into Lake Malheur.  This late in the season the willows mostly held pheasant and Yellow-rumped Warblers. 

 

 

 

The Crane Lake overlook near Krumbo Resevoir revealled hundreds of waterfowl from a fine prospect:CRANE LAKE

At P Ranch I picniced on the hood of the car and the only notable sighting was the century-old Long Barn.

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On to Frenchglen, not even a wide spot in the road, but perhaps a hamlet.  The Frenchglen Hotel, a country store with two gas pumps, anelementary school.  And the Frenchglen Hotel magpie, who rules the gravel parking area:MAGPIE1

 

 

 

 

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magpie wing open

 

 

 

 

 

 

and there were some other birds about the hotel. Free range birds at that:IMG_0269IMG_0270

 

Just north of Frenchglen along the main hiway (paved that is) was this fine little marsh with a beaver home and two Trumpeter Swans too far away for photo.BEAVER HOME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEER WATCHING COYOTEIMG_0250I noticed the deer standing alertly near the hiway.  I was curious about what held them in thrall.  Answer: coyote.

HORNED LARK 3Back north of the Sodhouse Road to the Malheur Headquarters you drive along several miles of raised causeway.  In the wet months of wetter years, these lowlands are inundated.  Now they are alkalai flats and crowded with cows.  And apparently unwelcoming habitat is home to scads of Horned Larks.  They drift across the hiway like tufts of pale down.  They swirl and flutter over the parched, dessicated dun-colored stubble.HORNED LARK2

Whenever I think of Horned Larks or am lucky enough to be in their presence, I think  “sere.”  One dictionary defines it as simply “dry, withered.”  Yet the Lark is a bird that moves with the wind, in flowing, almost liquid, waves.  Like bits of flotsam on the ocean of air.

caqu in rd1In the town of Burns, where I could find both gasoline and an ATM, the traffic ground to a halt.  The traffic would be my car.  The roadblock: dozens of California Quail, roaming the residential streets like hoodies, oblivious to my car and any house cats that would come outside and brave the coyotes.  Dozens of California Quail in their Oregon homeland.  East of town in the Burns Ponds (water-filled gravel pits) was the only Ring-necked Duck I saw the whole trip.thrasher porchthrasher truck2

Back at the Field Station: a Sage Thrasher just one move ahead of my camera as I tried to get near enough for a good shot.  And hundreds of Kroodsma’s tuneful Starlings, including one that seemed to converse with the quail in pretty quail-ese.  Another wasa quoting Killdeer, yet another did a pretty goofd Scrub-Jay.

THE ROAD HOME

The southern route home (four hundred miles exactly) took me through Nevada: a Golden Eagle.  Sheldon Wildlife Refuge:IMG_0313wild horses slimpronghorn line

Wild burro, wild horses, very wild pronghorns who stay well back from the road.  Along the hiway I picked up two more Oregon lifers.  Three Juniper Titmouse near Warner Pass, not wishing to be photographed I found.  And a couple of Loggerhead Shrike, hunting along the hiway, blue-gray flashes of flight and terror for the prey they pursue.loggerhead

High

wide

and lonesome:

 

 

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Tha’s the sign as you leave Denio, Nevada, heading toward Adel, Oregon on Route 140.  Earlier in the day, heading south in Oregon, I saw four cars in three hours of driving on paved roads, and passed through two townlets, Frenchglen and Fields Station.


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