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Here is a report out today about the Malheur NWF and the drought
From: Jerry Broadus
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2014 6:24 PM
To: Tweeters ; OBOL
Subject: [obol] Malheur is picking up
Last week here was exemplary for its terrible birding weather. Windy, cold every day. Yesterday I had to postpone my Sandhill Crane survey due to poor visibility, not from fog but from sideways blowing snow near Frenchglen. By
10:00 AM it was all gone, clear, and occasionally even warm. Today, Sunday, was beautiful and calm. Weather forecast for rest of week is clear and warm, into the 80's.
Clear and calm brought a distinct uptick to the birding. Not only were the Cranes ready to be counted, but bitterns (2) were calling from open spots on top of canal banks, pelicans using thermals, innumerable rails and soras chattering, Willets, snipe, and curlew in full noisy display, 25 black crowned night-herons, several hundred white-faced Ibis ( the most I have seen while volunteering here the last 5 years), assorted warblers, the first arriving Bobolink male, 4 Lewis' woodpeckers in one tree, a Swainson's Hawk flying below the treetops at headquarters, a posing Lazuli at a feeder, much more.
If coming, remember that Malheur is different every year. The Narrows and Ruh Red Rd are too dry to have much (though there is a burrowing owl about 4 miles down Ruh Red). The north half of the Blitzen Valley is mostly dry, and a time waster. Places for your time: still pretty good in flooded fields and sewer ponds in Burns, but not as good it was in April, Brood ponds and fields at Double O are in excellent shape, Diamond Lane has lots of flooded fields and in good shape, and the south portion of refuge, from Krumbo lane to Frenchglen and Page Springs is excellent-- however you actually have to stop your car, get out, and scope--because the willows and grass is getting too thick for viewing from a moving car. I am often asked by birders where the birds are, right after I saw them drive by dozens I had just scoped. If you know the safe pull-offs along 205 you can do better than the Central Patrol Rd, because the highway is elevated. But still get on CPR for Benson, Dredger, and Knox Ponds.
Most raptors are nesting and hard to see. Compared to last year the spotting for everything, except the Ibis, is a little harder this year, but I am optimistic as things are speeding up now.
Have not had a chance to get to Fields Oasis, but I would try it if I had time.
Just bought a copy of Tim Blount's Harney County Birding Map and have looked it over. I am giving it a big thumbs up, and this is totally unsolicited, (though we are friends). I can see there are still a lot of sites out here I have never birded, Looking forward to using the map.