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White-faced Ibis

Celebrate our National Wildlife Refuges -- Malheur NWR

Bird PhotographyTim Boyer2 Comments

It's National Wildlife Refuge Week, let's celebrate! My all time favorite National Wildlife Refuge is Malheur NWR.  I first went there around 2000 armed with a 300 mm lens and a 2x Extender with a Canon film camera.  I had heard there were Sandhill Cranes there, so I went there for a week in mid September looking for newly arrived cranes.  I think I heard a few, but I discovered so much more.  The abundance of birds, the wide open landscape, the room to breathe, just the freedom of the West, so prevalent in the High Desert of Eastern Oregon.  Here are just a few of the birds that can be found at Malheur, and a few landscape iamges as well.

A Sandhill Crane pauses during feeding to checkout the surroundings.
A Sandhill Crane pauses during feeding to checkout the surroundings.
From near the Refuge Headquarters a full moon rises over the landscape.
From near the Refuge Headquarters a full moon rises over the landscape.
Lake Malheur from The Narrows at sunset.
Lake Malheur from The Narrows at sunset.

When there's water at Malheur the birding and the bird photography is fantastic.  Didn't Roger Tory Peterson himself describe this a a birding place not to be missed!

A Black-necked Stilt chick foraging by the side of the road in a "wet" year.
A Black-necked Stilt chick foraging by the side of the road in a "wet" year.
An American Bittern by the side of the road in one of the years where tehre wre birds everywhere.
An American Bittern by the side of the road in one of the years where tehre wre birds everywhere.
One of my all time favoirte birds becasue of the way they sit side-ways and the sound they make when they dive through the eveing air.
One of my all time favoirte birds becasue of the way they sit side-ways and the sound they make when they dive through the eveing air.
Sunset on the high desert near Malheur Lake.
Sunset on the high desert near Malheur Lake.
White-faced Ibis flyinig near sunset.
White-faced Ibis flyinig near sunset.
In the spring, a huge variety of songbirds migrate thorugh the refuge, and migrate traps like the Malheur NWR Headquarters site arrtact them.
In the spring, a huge variety of songbirds migrate thorugh the refuge, and migrate traps like the Malheur NWR Headquarters site arrtact them.
I love the way Western Meadow Larks sining along the side of the road as I approach the refuge make me smile.
I love the way Western Meadow Larks sining along the side of the road as I approach the refuge make me smile.

Our National Wildlife Refuge system protects and preserves land and animals.  It's one of the things that makes America a great place.  I encourage everyone to visit a National Wildlife Refuge and for a few minutes just stop and listen.  You'll hear the natural world, birds, insects, and lots of  other animals.  Then plan to go out and experience a sunrise or a sunset at a Refuge, when the sun breaks the horizon it's usually magical.

More images from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge can be seen here .

If you'd like to join me on one of my photography workshops to Malheur Natioanl Wildlife Refuge, more information can be found here.

Many thanks to Sue from A Sense of Wonder for giving me the idea that I need to post about Wildlife Refuges this week.

Enjoy!        Thanks As Always          Tim

Bird Quest 2014 #16

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in June can be a contrast of bounty.  In a wet year, the baby shorebirds and song birds are right beside the road and so plentiful it's hard to decide what to take a photo of.  In a dry year , the birds are there, they're just harder to find and photograph.  This year was a dry year again,  the last wet year was 2012.  These images are from the June 20 to 22 Malheur Photography Workshop.  

Horned Lark on teh Foster Flats Road
Horned Lark on teh Foster Flats Road

I went up the Foster Flat road to see if any of the Greater Sage-Grouse were still around, I looked two mornings in a row and didn't see any. I knew it was a long shot in June, but decided to try since they are such cool birds.  I did find a bunch of sage birds, and had a nice morning up there.

Cedar Waxwing near P Ranch
Cedar Waxwing near P Ranch

After trying for the  Sage Grouse I went  down to P Ranch to see if I could find any Bobolink, and along the way I found Cedar Waxwing and Willow Flycather.

Willow Flycatcher near Benson Pond
Willow Flycatcher near Benson Pond
Yellow Warbled near Benson Pond
Yellow Warbled near Benson Pond

The Willow Flycathers and the Yellow Warblers were really singing up a storm in the mornings, this Yellow Warbler let me listen for several minutes before changing locations.

Tree swallow near Knox Pond
Tree swallow near Knox Pond

There's a swallow box near Benson Pond, and they offered some close images.

Black Tern north of Buena Vista Ponds
Black Tern north of Buena Vista Ponds

On my second day of scouting the refuge for birds, I decided to try the northern portion of the Central Patrol Road, I did manage to find a few Black Terns, but with less water, there were not many birds in this area.

Forster's Tern from the Narrows
Forster's Tern from the Narrows

Ending the  day at The Narrows, from the pull off between the lakes, Forster's Terns were flying by, and then on the way to dinner at The Narrow RV Park, they had two Common Nighthawks on the fence railings.

Common Nighthawk at The Narrows RV park
Common Nighthawk at The Narrows RV park
White-faced Ibis form near P Ranch
White-faced Ibis form near P Ranch

Also at P Ranch there were plenty of White-faced Ibis and three times in three days there were Bobolink right beside the road.  I saw more Ibis and Bobolinks in this visit then any other visit to Malheur.

Bobolink from half a mile north of P Ranch
Bobolink from half a mile north of P Ranch

Bobolin are on everybody's want list when they visit Malheur, this year it was easy, most years it's a difficult task and  involves walking on the river trail and fighting misquotes.  Glad to have it easy this year, but they're such interestingly marked birds, it's always a joy to see them.

Enjoy!

Thanks

Tim

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (Photo Big Year?)

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

Some people think I'm crazy, but I keep going back to Malheur. It's one of several places that I feel a deep connection.  Part of it is the wide open spaces, with the expansive sky, anchored by the Steen Mountains to the south.  It's also the birds, some times there is a multitude of birds that boggles the mind, and others it's just one bird that allows a close view or shows a unique behavior.  Last year I saw more baby shorebirds then I ever imagined I could, this year it was one stunning Common Nighthawk, and a Tree Swallow, each making the morning a special memory.  Both making me stop and wonder and be in awe of them for awhile.  Malheur is a landscape that makes me step back, re-focus and try to be more creative, to wonder and be in awe of just about everything.  It's about wonder and birds,  and I try to forget about the mosquitoes!  

Common Nighthawk balancing on a wire.
Common Nighthawk balancing on a wire.
Tree Swallow taking a morning rest.
Tree Swallow taking a morning rest.
Wilson's Snipe stretching its wings.
Wilson's Snipe stretching its wings.
Western Meadowlark singing.
Western Meadowlark singing.
American Avocet feeding.
American Avocet feeding.
Wilson's Phalarope searching for food to pick off the waters surface.
Wilson's Phalarope searching for food to pick off the waters surface.
Ring-necked Pheasant walking back nto the cover of grasses.
Ring-necked Pheasant walking back nto the cover of grasses.
Brewer's Blackbird.
Brewer's Blackbird.
Cliff Swallow feeding its young a dragonfly.
Cliff Swallow feeding its young a dragonfly.
White-faced Ibis feeding.
White-faced Ibis feeding.
Yellow-headed Blackbird calling.
Yellow-headed Blackbird calling.