Archive for the ‘Burns’ Category

More from Malheur Refuge

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009


Horned owl at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.


Young swan seen at the same spot a number of days. Two adult, banded, swans were seen in a nearby water channel.


Two young male California quail, on right, in a covey.


Female ring-necked pheasant.


Young hawk often seen flying with two adults, probably it’s parents.


Livestock is often on the road. I can’t pass through the area without getting cow dung on my truck. The day after this picture was taken, saw  two cows with their calves walking along the highway a few miles away. They soon showed up at the cafe/rv park/laundromat that I had gone to do my laundry. They wanted in the owner’s pasture, but he said “no way”. He got on his atv and herded them to the other cows in their herd about a mile away. Glad they finally got some water, it was hot out.


Stayed one night at the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.


Malheur Refuge & Steens Mountain

Sunday, September 6th, 2009


Have been at the BLM Page Springs Campground at the base of Steens Mountain in Oregon for about a week now. It is right next to the southern edge of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Have spent most of my time visiting the refuge, but have also driven Steens Mountain Loop. Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area was created rather recently, in the year 2000. The BLM is also doing a study on how to deal with the development of western juniper forests that have developed because of fire suppression. They have cut down a lot of juniper trees and will burn them after it snows.

Picture above: Surprised a great horned owl while driving through the refuge late in the afternoon. There is also an owl that perches near the visitor center. Wondered if they bribe it with mice to get it to stay there for visitors to see.


Have had four coyote sightings. They really look healthy.


Common merganser.



Top: male California quail. Below: a young quail.

Have surprised quail with a lot of young ones several times. Each time the male flew up to a bush to supervise while the female corralled the young ones into the brush.

Birds seen but not pictured: Three trumpeter swans, large flock of white pelicans, lots of great egrets, magpies, ring-necked pheasants, vultures roosting on an old fire lookout tower and a few sandhill cranes.


A rattlesnake decided to sleep in the middle of the road by the campsite next to mine. Bad choice. The camp host came over with a shovel and decapitated it. Talk about nerves of steel!


There is a long history of Basque sheepherding on Steens Mountain. When I was driving past the ones above, they started to cross the road in front of me. A sheepherder and his dogs quickly came into play and returned them to the area they were supposed to be in.


There are four u-shaped gorges on Steens Mountain. Above is Kiger Gorge with a little patch of snow.

Getting here

Stopped at Lake Walcott State Park in Idaho on the way here. They water the lawn by the campsites one hour a day, 5 days a week. This, along with the naturally occurring water, makes it very buggy.


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Drove a little more than 100 miles from the Hart Antelope Refuge to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which I visited last fall. Just stayed one day. Did not see any large flocks of any one bird, but rather a large variety of nesting birds.

Above, two cliff swallows in their mud mansion.

Think this is an ash-throated flycatcher.

Long-billed curlew

Yellow warbler

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Finally made it to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the high desert (4,000 feet elevation) of southeast Oregon. It’s huge and beautiful. The auto tour route is 41 miles long! The nearest town with reasonable gas is Burns, 35 miles away. Glad I came well supplied with food and propane. In driving the tour route, it surprises me that I haven’t used more fuel than I have. In part this is probably due to my staying in the refuge, so there is no driving 20 miles to get here.

The weather has been in the 50′s and 60′s during the day and the 30′s at night. An early winter storm is coming through that has brought the temps down to the 40′s during the day and 20′s at night. My rv has come through great in the cold, with the furnace coming on intermittently at night. I prefer being here in cold weather rather than the hot and buggy summer.

The refuge has brought in sheep to get rid of some invasive weeds. The sheepherder has 5 or 6 labs, along with Australian shepherds. Guess the labs are to protect the sheep. They chased after my truck after I took this picture.

So far, I’ve seen coots, ducks, magpies, hawks, pheasants, quail, long-eared owl, and western grebe. I’ve heard sandhill cranes, but have not seen them.

Getting here

Took I-395 south from Pendleton, Oregon. Went over a lot of brown rolling hills that gradually turned into forests then back to brown rolling hills. Passed a lot of cattle ranches. Probably took more gas taking this two lane highway, as compared to a truck route, but it was worth it. Glad I filled up near Pendleton. Didn’t pass many gas stations.