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Tag Archives: Malheur

It’s time to move on. Not that the honeymoon is over, that’s for sure. But the road trip is. There is a lot to be said about enjoying life on the road and getting away from day to day tasks and worries. And there is a lot to be said about being home and enjoying one’s own bed and shower and waking up to familiar birds and devoted dogs. So here are a few more images from our trip to Oregon. All of these are from my phone.

Malheur’s vast water

One of the craters

On the road from Burns to Bend – 130 miles of Sagebrush and Juniper

Oh gosh, there’s the ocean!

The bridge at Newport

And another thing…………..

We liked the Rogue Brewery.

The trail to the beach through the rain forest.

Ken was like a kid at the aquarium.

I wonder if it’s still there?

At the beach. We considered doing all of our wedding photos in this style……..

We always ate well.

Watch out for tripping bikes.

That’s a good one.

Astoria

Over the bridge and into Washington again.

Klickitat oaks

We stayed six days at Malheur NWR. Originally we had intended to stay maybe three days and then move on to the Redwoods and southern Oregon however the long days in the truck were really wearing and we were enjoying Malheur very much despite weather that ranged from rain to snow to hail with lots of high winds thrown in just for fun. Most of the weather came in sudden bursts with sun breaks in between. We generally timed our outings to avoid the drenching rains and managed to get in good birding, some nice walks and a brief bike ride. Sadly the weather conditions did not make for good photography conditions. I made the best of it when I could.

 

Frenchglen is a must stop in that part of Oregon. It has a school, a BLM office, a store that is rarely open and then with a surly shopkeeper, and a historic hotel. And it is usually swarming with birders!

 

Much of our birding was done from the truck in order to avoid wind and rain. Note the various layers of clothing. We wore many combinations in order to stay warm. I was happy to have my rubber boots with me.

 

White-faced Ibises. There were many thousands of them, it seemed.

 

 

 

The Hooded Warbler. If you look at your range maps, you will notice that this bird should not be in SE Oregon. Going through Frenchglen one morning we saw lots of birders searching with their binos; we even ran into birding friends from the Walla Walla area. Turns out everyone was searching for the Hooded Warbler that had been seen the day before. Alas, we did not find it despite tromping around in the wet grass and brush for an hour or more. The next day, at the P Ranch, as I rode by on Ken’s bike, a man said, ‘Hey, are you interested in a Hooded Warbler?” Screech, went the brakes! Oh yeah. What a find.

 

 

My, what big ears you have.

 

Lots of nesting shorebirds including this Black-necked Stilt.

 

The air was often full of the sound of winnowing Snipes.

 

I know, it’s hard to see however there is a Sandhill Crane on a nest down there.

 

Magnificent landscapes everywhere we turned. And water. So much water.

 

This intersting allium had me stumped. I still don’t know its species. It was on top of a basalt mesa.

 

One in full bloom.

 

 

 

Here you can see the outlines of the tops of the basalt columns that make up the mesa.

 

The rains produced lots of watering holes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page Springs is a BLM campground located just south of Malheur NWR on the Donner and Blitzen River. Just ten days before we arrived high water had forced some campers to higher ground so we picked a campsite on a hill to avoid that possibility. A small stream came off of Steens Mountain and rushed by our camper. During the day as snowmelt and rain contributed water to it, the level rose dramatically. At night, with cold temperatures, it dropped. The Donner and Blitzen was so high and loud, it was like being next to ocean waves with a constant roar that covered up most other sounds and lulled us to sleep every night. Despite cold temperatures and wind and rain we stayed warm in the little pop-up trailer and slept well. The last two nights of our stay were a little warmer and we were treated to a bird song that repeated itself over and over through the darkness. Based on what others say I have decided it must have been a Yellow-breasted Chat although it did not sound like any ‘typical’, as if there is a ‘typical’, chat call that I am familiar with.

 

This is the creek that rose and fell each day. I expect many years it sees little water and is dry in the summer.

 

The junipers are really magnificent.

 

 

The mosses and lichens are pretty amazing too, especially in this year of much water.

 

 

Long-eared Owls nest in the junipers and we were fortunate that some folks showed us the exact spot. I had gone there and searched that same area however they are so cryptic I did not find them on my own.

 

Sagebrush violet growing through an old deer skull.

 

Bitteroot was blooming on the plateau above the campground.

 

 

Yup, that’s snow on the truck.

 

Great-horned Owl branchlings. The nest tree was growing in the middle of a pond, a very secure place for a nest assuming the young birds don’t fall out of the tree.

 

Reflections on a side channel of the Donner and Blitzen River.

 

Teasel, an invasive, growing next to the river.

 

Lush greenery in the riparian areas. We were lucky it was cold. Otherwise the mosquitoes would have eaten us alive.

 

Lupine, sagebrush and a lomatium.

 

Day two actually got us to our destination, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in south east Oregon. It is world renowned for its wetlands that attract migrating and nesting birds by the thousands. It is also a magnet for birders. We found that cell reception in this remote area was excellent and this proved to be a boon for interesting bird sightings. Rarity reports were quickly shared via the internet thanks to smart phones and other technology. But first, we had to get there. And as usual, the weather wasn’t the best.

 

This big fella is in Umatilla, Oregon. We were looking for a breakfast spot when a kindly local police officer stopped us and suggested going on to Hermiston or Pendleton if we were serious about food. Also, he gave Ken a warning and we were headed down the road again.

 

Main Street Diner in Pendleton.

 

Tasty food and lots of intersting stuff to look at. The fellow in the black t shirt seemed to be both the owner and server.

 

I think Pendleton might have lots of intersting old buildings, if you like that kind of stuff.

 

 

A pretty wild pea or vetch growing alongside the road.

 

I wonder why this old Umatilla school bus was left to decay in the woods south of Pendleton?

 

You’d think if the guy was buying the things, he’d know that they are antlers and not horns.

 

Snowy Egrets in a flooded field in the town of John Day.

 

Raining hard at Malheur NWR. We put up camp in ten minutes.

 

The evening was quite pleasant, if a little on the cold side. The snow in the background is on the flanks of Steens Mountain, rising to over 9000′ elevation. Malheur is at about 4100′ - the high cold desert of Oregon.

 

The famous P Ranch of Malheur. Birders go here to see Bobolinks and other intersting bird species.

 

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