Thursday, May 24, 2018

Malheur in May

I visited Malheur NWR this past week with my husband Alan to see what birds had arrived in mid-May. We saw a very different cast of characters than on our trip one month ago in mid-April. The Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese, most of the Sandhill Cranes, and the large numbers of ducks that we saw in April had all left. Yellow Warblers, Bullock's Orioles, and Western Tanagers (below) were abundant.
Tap or click on any photo to see sharper version.

Yellow-breasted Chats were singing at the entrance to Page Springs Campground, and all along the trail at the south end of the campground.

Western Kingbirds were everywhere, plus we saw several Eastern Kingbirds.

Bobolinks arrived around May 15, and a good place to see them is along Diamond Lane near the Diamond School. I watched several in the distance, disappearing into the dandelions in the field, then one appeared right on the fence post next to me along the road.

Two Lewis's Woodpeckers had been hanging around HQ for a few days.

The Ferruginous Hawk nest along Hwy 205 is being used again this year (it appeared to be empty last year), in the lone tree on the west side of the road, between MP 16 and 17. There were at least 2 baby hawks in the nest with an adult on Tuesday.

Diamond Craters is always a treat to visit, especially in the early morning. A Chukar ran across the road in front of our car on the way in. One Black-throated Sparrow was singing in the distance on top of a sage bush. A Vesper Sparrow was singing at crater #8. An adult Great Horned Owl and two young were perched along the rocky edge inside crater #6. Also at crater #6 were a Canyon Wren, a Rock Wren, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher (below).

Malheur HQ has a new gift shop, run by the Friends of Malheur NWR, located in the house-like building nearest to the photo blind, and next to the lilac hedge. The gift shop has been separated from the visitor center that is still in its same location.

On the way home we stopped at Idlewild Campground, just 17 miles north of Burns, and saw 2 Black-backed Woodpeckers.

The highlight of the trip for me was finding a Broad-winged Hawk that flew over HQ on May 20, and being able to capture a photo that shows its field marks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk at Malheur NWR HQ, 5/20/18.

I saw this bird flying overhead with stiff, fast wing beats. It's tail seemed too short to be an accipiter. It has a light supercillium and dark malar marks. The trailing edges of the wing are dark, as are the wing tips, and the primaries seem to form 4 fingers. It has coarse streaking on the full length of the underbody, especially the sides (and no patagial marks). The tail has narrow bands.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


The Murre the Merrier team, raising funds for Portland Audubon Society in a 1-day Birdathon from Portland to the coast 5/12/18.

Team photo taken at Oceanside Beach

Morning highlights: Western Wood-peewee and Western Tanager at Pittock Mansion; Hermit Warblers, Hammond's Flycatcher, Evening Grosbeak, and 2 American Dippers at Jones Creek Day Use Area in the Coast Range on the way to Tillamook.

Jones Creek Day Use Area

We saw 2 Black-bellied Plovers and a Whimbrel at Sitka Sedge Natural Area.

Sitka Sedge Natural Area

We had lunch at the beach house of our leader's parents in Pacific City, overlooking Haystack Rock where we saw Tufted Puffin and Osprey. In the afternoon, we encountered dense fog at Cape Meares but managed to spot a Red-necked Grebe among the Surf Scoters. The fog was further out at Oceanside Beach, enabling us to see Pacific Loons, Black Oystercatcher, and our eponym, Common Murre. Purple Martins were in the birdhouses at Bay City Oyster Company.

Looking south from Bay City Oyster Company

Sewage Ponds at Bay City and Nehalem added only a few ducks to our list (Northern Shoveler, Gadwall; Ring-necked Duck, 1 Bufflehead). The team finished the day at Dawson Creek in Hillsboro, with a total of 101 birds for the day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Malheur in April

A large mixed flock of Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese that are typically here in April, near Burns.

Highlights that we found at headquarters today were a bright Nashville Warbler and Bushtits. We also saw a Harris’s Sparrow that has been seen at the feeders for the past two weeks.
Nashville Warbler


Harris's Sparrow

Looking North from Benson Pond

Benson Pond has Trumpeter Swans (one with a green neck band) and several Tundra Swans. Sora and Virginia Rail are calling at Buena Vista ponds, and an American Bittern was hiding in plain sight just south of Benson Pond along the CPR.

American Bittern

Krumbo Pond has water, and a good diversity of ducks. At Krumbo Reservoir were Horned Grebes and Eared Grebes in their bright breeding plumage, and a Common Loon.

There is a good amount of water in the fields near Burns, along Greenhouse and Hotchkiss Lanes, but almost no water at the Narrows. Ruh Red Road has no water except one small area towards the east end, that yielded an interesting Blue-winged Teal X Cinnamon Teal hybrid.

Blue-winged Teal X Cinnamon Teal hybrid, with Cinnamon Teal

For comparison, here is a Blue-winged Teal (right) I found along Diamond Lane the next day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Virginia's Warbler

A NE Portland homeowner reported a Virginia's Warbler coming to his suet feeder. I went to look for it on 3 days with no luck, then the bird started coming to the suet feeder more often and I got to see it 11/18/17.

Camera comparison: photo above taken with Sony RX10 iv;
photo below taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Prothonotary Warbler

Along with a small group of birders, I got to see this rare bird, thanks to a hospitable homeowner who invited us into his yard in NW Multnomah county.

It has been coming in to the birdbath every evening like clockwork at 7pm for just a few minutes, starting 4 days ago.
This is only the 8th Prothonotary Warbler ever documented in Oregon.