Posted by: atowhee | September 8, 2022

A DESERT DUST-UP

Sept. 7, Harney County.   Along the roadside I passed coveys of quail three times even as youngsters did the dumb squirrel act in the middle of the road.

I explored some parts of Harney County I didn’t know well.  More of Catlow Valley than just the highway to the Steens Loop.  From there down to Fields, up to Alvord Lake, south to Cottonwood Creek.  This included a stop at Roaring Spring Ranch oasis.  Though I saw four good-sized bodies of water along the base of the Catlow Rim, all spring fed and green, green, green…in that same area I ate dust.  And breathed it.  Just before 3PM a thunderstorm rolled across the valley, west to east.  It brought strong winds and splashes of rain.  It motivated tumbleweeds to tumble, each was so scrawny, bleached white, and desiccated they were crushed beneath the van’s wheels.  The storm was at its worst while I passed Hwy 205 MP 68, but it roared on until I was north of MP53.  That’s well north of Frenchglen.  Near there one ghostly tumbleweed bounded through the air and across a marsh as if it were a harrier.

I AM CORVINCED
South of Fields I found an alfalfa field being mowed.  It was full of crows and ravens, more of the latter, the larger.  Dozens, perhaps well over 200 on a field of eighty acres.  I can CORroborate that estimate.  They were feasting on all the minced tidbits the mower served up.  Not a single little cousin magpie!

Our birding group gathered for our first dinner, then  off to bird sunset at Malheur NWR Headquarters.  The adult great Horned Owls duetted, then the male went to hunt from the top of nearby utility poles.  At the same time several Turkey Vultures and red-tails came into the tall trees there for evening roost.  Down on the flats north of the HQ were many cranes.  We heard them bugling while flying past.  I saw some pairs, which indicates they were unable to nest successfully or there be a third, the young crane.

I have seen two migrating monarch butterflies so far–one near Fields, one in Bend. Below: Home Creek Canyon cut back into Catlow Rim, from Hwy 205. Then pond at Roaring Springs oasis.

So is the above sign deliberate bureaucratic humor? Of merely nature having one on us? Or somke sign-makers revenge on his customer? Certainly a piece of found humor, intentional or not. Andf many oif the roads are as bad as this sing–once then pavement stops 14.7 miles north of Fields-Denio Road intersection as you drive toward Alvord Desert…no washboard was ever that much of a washboard.

Here’s a bit of that corvid field near Fields:


Responses

  1. I appreciate hearing about Malheur this time of year.


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