Posted by: atowhee | June 13, 2011


The Rogue Valley Audubon expedition to Malheur left Ashland on June 9, returned on June 12.  Twenty of us made the trip. staying at the Malheur Field Station three miles west of the Wildlife Refuge Headquarters.  Water is very high this year with both the Blitzen and Silvies Rivers still running at near flood stage.  Part of the Central Patrol Road is still closed.  Malheur Lake is about triple its average surface area and double its depth in the deepest parts.  That means extensive expanse of freshwater marsh over what is normally pasture land.  Good news for breeding ducks, shorebirds, herons and egrets, gulls, terns, White Pelicans. This image shows the “fields” south of Red-Run Road looking toward the normal Malheur Lake shore.  You can see both the fence and the wildlife refuge folder dispenser have been overtaken by the flood waters this spring.  Highest flooding since 1997.  Right now that “no cars” sign is unnecessary.  Should say “no boats.”

WHAT WE SAW Our June trippers got a total of 126 species.  Many seen nicely by everybody.  One highlight was a show of competitive singing  by several male Yellow-breasted Chat near the entrance to Page Springs Campground.  This immediately followed the cessation of an hours-long, disheartening rain storm.  Then we went on to P Ranch for some fine Bobolink viewing!   Here’s my best Bob-o-pic so far.  Not good, but clearly identifiable.  This songster was about a miles north of P Ranch on Central Patrol Road (CPR).  We also had others thereabouts plus one on CPR NORTH of Diamond Road and then one on a fencepost halfway between Hwy 205 and Diamond Hotel.  This year there is flooded grassland habitat for Bobolink far beyond the usual confines of their Harney County breeding territory.

I got three Oregon lifers, putting my list at 281.  Now I have most of the easy ones and the it’ll be tougher to add news ones.  This trip I saw Cordilleran Flycatcher, Cape May Warbler and several Eastern Kingbirds.


MFS–Malheur Field Station; PS–Page Springs; HQ–Malheur Headquarters; RP-Rocky Pt. at Klamath Lake

Canada Goose; Wood Duck–Howard Prairie Lake; Gadwall–most abundant duck at Malheur this season; Mallard; Blue-winged Teal–seen well along Red-Ruh/Lawen Roads; Shoveler–widespread in flooded fields; Pintail–saw a few pairs, esp. along Sodhouse Road; Redhead–numerous small groups; Ring-necked Duck–seen in Klamath Marsh; Lesser Scaup–a few on large Maheur lakes; Bufflehead–seen on one flooded field along Lawen Road; Common Merganser–Howard Prairie Lake, Jackson County; Ruddy Duck–in breeding plumage on a couple of flooded fields at Malheur; Ring-necked Pheasant; California Quail–esp. easy to see at MFS; Pied-billed Grebe–Rocky Point, Klamath Lake; Eared Grebe–breeding at Malheur; Western Grebe; Clark’s Grebe–Klamath Lake and Malheur; American White Pelican–breeding at Malheur Lake; Double-crested Cormorant;

American Bittern (heard) east of MFS: Great Blue Heron; Great Egret; Black-crowned Night-heron; White-faced Ibis in the hundreds; Osprey at Howard Prairie and Collier State Park; Bald Eagle; Harrier; Swainson’s Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginou Hawk; Golden Eagle; Kestrel; Sora (heard); Common Moorhen–Klamath Marsh; Coot; Sandhill Crane including one chick see in deep grass along Lawen Road; Killdeer; Black-necked Stilt nesting; American Avocet nesting; Willet; Long-billed Curlew; Wilson’s Snipe; Wilson’s Phalarope; Franklin’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull; California Gull; Caspian Tern–Howard Prairie; Forster’s Tern; Black Tern; Eurasian Collared-Dove; Mourning Dove; Great Horned Owl–two families; Common Nighthawk in abundance, even feeding mid-day; Red-breasted Sapsucker at Collier SP; White-headed Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Olive-sided Flycatcher–RP & HQ;  Western Wood-Pewee; Willow Flycatcher; Gray Flycatcher; Cordilleran Flycatcher–HQ; Say’s Phoebe–MFS and other places; Western Kingbird; Loggerhead Shrike; Cassin’s Vireo–HQ; Warbling Vireo; Steller’s Jay; Clark’s Nutcracker; Black-billed Magpie; American Crow; Raven; Horned Lark–The Narrows; Tree Swallow; Violet-green Swallow; Northern Rough-winged Swallow; Cliff Swallow; Barn Swallow; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-breasted Nuthatch; House Wren; Marsh Wren; Mountain Bluebird–Sage Hen Hill Rest Area; American Robin; Sage Thrasher; Starling; Cedar Waxwing–HQ; Yellow Warbler–ubiquitous; Cape May Warbler–HQ; Common Yellowthroat; Wilson’s Warbler; Yellow-breasted Chat; Western Tanager; Green-tailed Towhee; Chipping Sparrow; Brewer’s Sparrow; Vesper Sparrow; Lark Sparrow–PS; Sage Sparrow–east of Silver Lake and at Malheur; Song Sparrow; Black-headed Grosbeak; Bobolink at Malheur on Central Patrol Rd and Diamond Road; Red-winged Blackbird; Western Meadowlark; Yellow-headed Blackbird; Brewer’s Blackbird; Brown-headed Cowbird; Bullock’s Oriole; Cassin’s Finch–Sage Hen Hill; Pine Siskin–HQ; American Goldfinch; House Sparrow.  In addition, one lady in our group saw a few Chukar on a rocky slope while the rest of us were mesmerized by a Loggerhead Shrike.    OTHER POSTS ABOUT THIS TRIP: Ashland to Malheur NWR, June 9.

COMMON NIGHTHAWK GALLERY & ESSAYYoung Great Horned Owl and Red-tails on the ground.  Orange-stained Aecmorphus grebes.  Ibis, Cranes, Black Terns and a declining sparrow beauty.  Malheur mammal gallery.

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