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Posted by: atowhee | September 23, 2018

OUR TURN ON TERN ISLAND, MALHEUR LAKE

Our Road Scholar Field Trio got to visit Tern Island thanks to Fish & Wildlife biologist Alexa Martinez.  The only way to get to island across inch-deep water and feet-deep mud was…by airboat:airboat1airboat2Look at how shallow the water is, not even reaching the avocet’s knee. The lake level is drought depressed, and the surface area is less than 2o% of capacity. Love that avocet’s upturned beak with which he sweeps the surface of the water, then filtering out the small organisms which he swallows.  This time of year the orange pate is gone until next breeding season.avo-bavo-cThere are two phrases you hear constantly if you listen to business news or news summaries on NPR: “Dow is up…”   “Dow is active…”  They both apply to DOWitchers, which we saw aplenty from our perch on Tern Island:

This man-made island is to welcome an introduced colony of Caspian Terns, those, in turn and intern and…, are to help the wildlife managers control the enormous population of carp, mistakenly introduced here in the last century.  This year the terns had a successful nesting season and some overhear protection helped them cope with landing pelicans and possible predators like gulls:CATERN NESTINGAnybody surprised that many coots were wading around in the shallows?COOTCETThis sort of visit would be impossible in spring when the birds are nesting on the island.  In addition to terns, White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants and some shorebirds use the island for nesting.  It’s a busy and loud place in spring and early summer. Here’s the view we had when almost all the action was in the water.TERN IS. VUBirds on the island’s shore included Least Sandpipers, omnipresent Killdeer, pipits and this lone Tree Swallow, tired from long flights and not keeping up with the Barn Swallows that were swarming anywhere insects could be swallowed.ttrsw-juv

I am offering a birding day in early May in the Klamath Basin.  It is being auctioned off by Klamath Bird Observatory as part of their fall fund-raising gala.  KBO GALAYou can go to the KBO website to bid on items before the gala…like that brilliant trip to Klamath when we hope to see dancing grebes on Klamath Lake. Click here for link to online auction for myriad cool bird-related items.

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