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Posted by: atowhee | September 21, 2017

A DAY WITH DUNCAN

I got to spend much of last Saturday on a field trip led by Duncan Evered, co-director of the Malheur Field Station. Few people alive know as much about the natural history of that basin over the past twenty years. Here are a few visual highlights:four speciesOur first stop was at the waterhole Duncan maintains in front of his home: quail, thrasher, WC Sparrow, Yellow-rumps.wcs-awcs-bwcs-yrwwcs-yrw2
NEXT STOP: THE NARROWS There is only a slowly drying shallow lake left at The Narrows. It is miles now from the main bodies of water in either Harney Lake or Malheur Lake.
gy-shldrYellowlegs and ibis cruised the water’s edge. Not a Glossy Ibis but an Ibis with gloss:ibis dipibis glossOne of two young night-herons along The Narrows:n-h kidSavannah Sparrow cleaning up after a bath.ss preenJuvie White-crowned Sparrow.w-c kid
PRINCETON HAS RAPTORSThere were newly mown fields, perhaps offering chopped rodent for lunch…certainly the predators were plentiful.
bdgr-prn2In one small area we counted eleven Ferruginous Hawks, including one very dark morph.fer-pivotferrudarkferrudark2ferruppA nearby Golden Eagle:geg-soarEn route to Princeton we passed this “road dog.”roadogroadog2 The coyote is still shot by many locals in Harney County. The same folks who constantly battle the ground squirrels to preserve their pasture profits and alfalfa income.
MALHEUR HEADQUARTERS
We ended our day at the Malheur Headquarters campus. Hermit Thrush, Townsend’s Solitaire, Orange-crowned and Yellow Warblers, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Caspian Tern. Duncan explained that many migrants linger briefly at the HQ because the pickings are slim, the plants mostly exotics, the brush largely cleared out. Many of the rare vagrants likely come there to die, with no chance of replenishing their lost body weight so they migrate to a more suitable habitat.
Then we saw a kingfisher. Duncan explained that kingfisher and Osprey are uncommon in the north end of the basin because there is little clear water which they need to fish. The very next day I saw an Osprey over the Blitzen River at Page Springs…where the river has just left Steens Mountain and still runs crystal clear. After twenty miles of paralleling Central Patrol Road and draining hay fields the Blitzen has turned muddy and turgid.gho-leaveskf-hq2We had missed the Great Horned Owl until it hooted at us, Duncan turned back ansd this largest leaf-bird of the day.

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