Friday, September 30, 2011

Malheur Bird Refuge Trip

On the way to the Bird Refuge we stopped for a history lesson about the Bannock War.
"Five miles northwest of this location, one of the last battles of the Bannock War was fought in June 1878. The Bannock War began in May 1878 when the Bannock Indians of Southern Idaho became angered over treaty violations and increasing settlement. With the U.S. army in pursuit, the warring Bannock fled to this area and were joined by Wada Tika Paiute. On June 23, units of the 1st U.S. Cavalry commanded by Reuben Bernard attacked a camp under the leadership of Paiute Chief Egan on nearby Silver Creek. The battle continued into the night until Egan, severely wounded, led a retreat northward through the John Day Valley into northeastern Oregon. The tribes were defeated at Battle Mountain and surrendered after Chief Egan's death."

White Pelicans at Mulheur Lake 
Up ...


...and away...

... while others sit and chat.

This is a wonderful place for birding and we barely got here,
what a treat...

...even the Grebes were there to greet us.

We checked into the Narrows RV Park a nice RV Park with good
 views as the sun began to set...

...and set it did with a bang.

We left the RV park headed to the Mulheur headquarters and
passed some beautifully arraigned round hay bales...  

... in huge quantities.

Finally after a short 6.3 miles we arrived at the headquarters where
we were greeted by Suzanne a volunteer at the center. After an
excellent orientation...

... we stepped out on the patio that overlooks a great pond
filled with all kinds of aquatic birds...

... we then went on to their small but very nice museum. The first display
was a white owl clutching a field mouse...

... and another beautiful owl that looked like it was winking at
the camera.

Some of the other birds were unusual in color ...

...and others in how they looked...

... it is no wonder so many people enjoy "bird watching" like
 these two...

... even the beautiful statue reflect our interest in viewing
our feathered friends.

Two beautiful black birds one with a yellow head and another with yellow
on it's wings flew in for some food... 

... and were fun to watch

We then took a drive along the auto tour that went through the entire 
refuge starting at the old Sodhouse Ranch (no, not where an old sod lived)

"The Sod House Ranch is a historic ranch in Harney County in southeastern Oregon, United States. The remaining ranch structures are located south of Malheur Lake in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The ranch was built by Peter French, a well known 19th-century cattle baron. The Sod House Ranch became the headquarters for the northern operating division of the French-Glenn Livestock Company, which eventually covered over 140,000 acres."

Driving through the refuge was amazing with splashes of water surrounded by 
Tuli grasses between 6 and seven feet tall.

"In Oregon and much of the western United States, tule is the common name for two species of emergent plants that grow in shallow water of marshes, muddy shores, and lakes."

"Tule, a Spanish name, is based on tollin, of Nahurtl Native American lingustic stock, meaning a rush. Older botanical literature places these bulrushes in Scirpus, a closely related genus with various species names attached."

Some of the ponds had many birds, some birds were were very

Don't ask me why this harvester was in the field but it looked cool in the
 middle of all the rushes.

Some birds were difficult to spot and others almost impossible...

...still others were impossible to find in the vegetation.

I still don't know what this tower was for and there were no signs
but it looked interesting.

Then we found the Blitzen River, and yes there is a Donner river 
nearby,that butte behind the river is called "Rattlesnake Butte" 
but we saw no snakes. 

This is the bridge over the Blitzen river where I took the last picture, 
it is a wooden bridge.

The Blitzen River is part of the nation's first redband trout reserve, established by Congress in 2000. The Redband trout is generally similar in appearance to the rainbow trout but can be differentiated by having larger, more rounded spots, parr marks that tend to remain into adulthood, are more orange-red around the lateral line, and have very distinct white tips on the anal, dorsal, and pectoral fins.

The country around eastern Oregon is amazingly beautiful and

very different from where we live in Creswell.

While driving we saw a deer up ahead going into the bushes

on the left, I knew the trees there were on the river so I got
the camera ready as we very slowly drove up and sure enough 
out came the deer and a mule deer friend - very cool.

Near the end of the drive we went by Buena Vista ponds where
a group of bird watchers had set up a roadside camp with lawn
chairs and their spotting scopes.

"At the Buena Vista ponds about 15 miles south of headquarters, plan a longer stop. Scan the marshes and ponds for American bitterns, trumpeter swans, great blue herons, great egrets, and ruddy ducks. You might want to use a spotting scope to see the far reaches of the ponds."

South of Buena Vista Ponds is the town of Frenchglen where
the Frenchglen Hotel and State Park exist. This is the dining room
where we had a great lunch.

I liked the skull on the front porch of this hotel where Our son
Isaac stayed a few months ago on a photo trip.

It must be the perspective but looking at this picture
is the Musemoblie larger than the hotel.

The Hotel is a great historic landmark for this area and the State.

They told me at the RV park this was a controlled burn it makes 

me wonder what an uncontrolled burn would look like.

Back near the RV Park I took this picture of a dead tree in Harney 
Lake. Harney Lake is a shallow alkali lake basin located in southeast 
Oregon approximately thirty miles south of the town of Burns. 

The lake lies within the boundary of the Malheur National Wildlife 
Refuge and is the lowest point in the Blitzen Valley drainage.

Our beautiful Musemobile on the edge of Malhuer lake.

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