Posted by: atowhee | September 26, 2019


Our Malheur Field Station birding group had spent five days in the Malheur Basin and up into the Steens.  Not one phalarope had we seen.  On our last full day we headed north toward Devine Canyon and on the way stopped at the Burns Sewer Ponds (surely we birders are the only folks who really look forward to visiting new sewer ponds when we travel).  There were all the Ring-billed Gulls, Ruddy Ducks and Red-necked Phalarope we had not seen previously.  The locally breeding Wilson’s Phalarope were all long gone.

As soon as we appeared on the dike around the ponds the ducks fled, the gulls were already a hundred yards away.  The phalarope whirled about, swimming in circles to bring more food particles to the surface.  Not hunted like ducks and cranes (in many other states), the phalarope ignored the big mammals and played on:wp in pond (2)wp in pond2 (2)How to get to the ponds?  There is access on foot at the county fairgrounds in Burns.  Drive to the far west edge of the grounds, walk past the horse barns and there is person-sized opening in the fence which leads you directly on to the berm around the northern-most sewer pond.  The dark line through the eye means these are Red-necked not Wilson’s Phalarope.

There were also a few phalarope on the Hines sewer ponds at the west end of Hotchkiss Lane but viewing was not as good as the pond is above road level, no viewing platform.

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