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.
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.
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.