My long awaited trip to the Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon commenced on April 22. My memories of eastern Oregon as part of the Great Basin Desert were renewed…miles and miles of sagebrush.
Road across E. Oregon desert (Not the Oregon in the travel brochures!!!)
Lake Abert-A shallow salt lake in SE Oregon
Sand dunes in Oregon along Hwy. 395
Arriving in Burns, OR where I stayed I immediately went to check out the refuge and was disappointed to find the spring migration had not yet occurred and there were few birds in the ponds and the tress had not yet leaved out.
Overview of Malheur NWR pond
Still, my primary goal was courting sage grouse and I wasn’t disappointed. Although the courting are (lek) area had burned over last year, there were still 4 remaining males showing off their stuff.
Sage grouse strutting area (lek)
Sage grouse-Puffing out the air sacs on their chests, they emit the sound like a large bubble bursting.
Sage grouse highlighted with rising sun
All along the route, starting in NE California I saw individual pairs of greater sandhill cranes. This pair, just east of Burns, were the most photogenic.
Sandhill crane-Normally gray, the adults acquire a rust-color to their plumage during breeding season.
Although few and scattered, the ponds provided some opportunity for shorebird and waterbird photos of the early arrivals.
Left Burns a day early and returned home via Hart Mtn. Antelope Refuge. Lots of gravel roads; sagebrush; very few animals. What I saw was:
Lots of sagebrush
2 Pronghorn bucks
Herd of mule deer
A stop in Alturas at Subway for a Subway Club and then on home.