Posted by: atowhee | September 9, 2022

THE FLOCK IS THE THING–MALHEUR REFUGE

Malheur, Sept. 8.

Often here in the desert dawn begins with a dust-inspired color show.

At refuge headquarters this morning we saw two female hummers; an Anna’s and a broad-tailed.  Male Western Tanagers were in the large trees.  A kettle of White Pelicans circled high east of the HQ.  There were also cranes seen and heard.

On County 414 northwest of Buena Vista we checked out a manmade watering hole for cattle.  Here was as flock of Horned Larks (40 or more), Sage Thrasher, Say’s Phoebe.  While birding along that road we watched a Prairie Falcon speeding along the ridgetop.

We bypassed Buena Vista which is bone dry, the “marsh pools” have been mown and their hay baled!
Krumbo Lake had fishermen, coots galore, the three species of small grebe and our first bittern of the day.
Benson Pond had a pair of Trumpeters who had not nested successfully, many Mallards and some other dabblers, coots, Sora, Marsh Wren and Yellow Warblers.
South of Benson the willows of Central patrol Road were alive.  We saw several pheasant, at least a half dozen  quail coveys, a full mischief of magpies, two Great Blue Herons, hundreds of blackbirds in mixed flocks, a wood-pewee, a juvie black-headed grosbeak, a bittern, some robins and yellow warblers and hundreds of migratory sparrows—lark, savannah, sagebrush.  As we passed, clouds of them would rise from the willows and currant shrubs.

At Knox Pond we saw our assortment of shorebirds, two Ring-billed Gulls and a small cluster of White Pelicans STANDING in the middle of the shrunken pond.  White-faced Ibis, Great Egrets, both large grebes and uncountable hundreds of dabbling ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Canada Geese and our second bittern made for our richest and final birding stop of the day.  Shorebirds were both nesters (avocet, stilt, Killdeer) and passers-by (Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher and one Marbled Godwit, not a usual species out here). The single crane was unusual for at least two reasons. It was an adult with no companion mate, no off-spring. That did not bode well. Also, the single ibis. Most birds we saw today that ever flock were flocked. It is flocking and flying time: TVs, sparrows, shorebirds, waterfowl, Horned Larks, any and all Icterids–flocking.

Bittern aloft

Top to bottom: bittern, pelicans, dowitchers, Lark Sparrow on Central Patrol Road, one of scads.
Sora heard but not seen, ditto Marsh Wrens at Benson Pond. Swallows were mostly barn, a few rough-winged and tree. We saw all five locally breeding grebe species. One one-day count was over 75 species.
Mammals today included mule deer, least chipmunk, two big brown bats the night before, coyote.


Responses

  1. It sounds fabulous, all of it!


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