Posted by: atowhee | June 8, 2012

PAGE SPRINGS SURPRISE

UPDATE: To see George Peterson’s good photo of Orchard Oriole, click here.

We added more than fifteen new species to our trip list today. That puts us at 120.
After a cold and rainy day on Thursday, this Klamath Bird Observatory field trip enjoyed clear skies and enough wind to keep us honest. Recent overnight freezes apparently have felled most of the spring mosquitoes. We hit Page Springs in the afternoon determined to find our Yellow-breasted Chat for the trip. That we did. However, the surprise: This is a male Orchard Oriole who appeared in the heavy weed growth over one of the spring branches. This vagrant is far from its usual range to the east of the Rockies. We’ve seen seven Icterid species previously, but this one we did NOT expect.
Also at Page Springs: We also saw a Great Horned Owl early in the day at the Malheur HQ.
INSECTIVORES
The mosquito population may be temporarily impaired by cold weather but the overall insect count here is quite high. We’ve seen swallows plucking insects off the surface of ponds and streams. Further up in the air swallows are joined by Franklin’s Gulls, Common Nighthawks, Common Poorwill (nights only), Black and Foster’s Terns. Flycatchers and waxings run aerial sorties for insect prey. The insect count is so high, nest sites so meagre, that here Barn Swallows live in colonies of hundreds. As do the Cliff Swallows which usually build colonial nests wherever they are found:
These Cliff Swallows were mud-gathering along Blitzen River at P Ranch, the south end of Malheur NWR.


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