Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

_MG_4057Today, I decided to do the 42 mile (one way) auto tour route of the refuge.  Emma and I left a little before 8:00, and it took us slightly over five hours to travel those 42 miles, and then we took a paved highway back to the rig.  This refuge is known for it’s spectacular spring migration of birds, so I didn’t have terribly high expectations for the last week of August.  :)  Of course, I enjoy looking at and for birds no matter what the season.
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First up was a small flock of white-faced ibis in a ditch beside the gravel road.  Most birds go through an annual molt of their feathers in the late summer, so they can be quite mottled looking.  It’s amazing how worn their feathers become in a year.  I guess it would be like us wearing the same clothes for a year straight.  (Yuck!)

Since this was my maiden run of the tour route, and I hadn’t packed a lunch, I didn’t spend much time looking for birds.  I just wanted to familiarize myself with the road.  I can do a more in depth drive at a later date, and with a refuge vehicle.  :)  What a very dusty road this is!  Since it is the end of summer, and this is the high desert, the water levels are quite low.  I also didn’t take any of the hiking trails as the temperatures quickly rose into the 90’s.  At least on refuges, I can take Emma on the trails with me when the weather cools down a bit.
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We did stop and get out at the Buena Vista overlook.  This view gave me a better idea of the nature of Malheur.  It is certainly an oasis in the dry environment of the Oregon high desert.  I think it helps to click to enlarge these pics.  Those dots in the photo on the right are round hay bales.  In Idaho, all the hay was in huge rectangular bales.
IMG_4023 But here, the bales are round, or they don’t bale them at all.  Some farmers/ranchers just leave the hay in clumps (like miniature haystacks) for the cattle to graze on.  I suppose they’re baled on the refuge so they can be moved off.

I did see lots of coots and common moorhens in the few ponds that were visible from the road, and most of those were juvenile birds._MG_3987My best treat of the day was coming upon this adult eared grebe with it’s youngster.  Talk about red eye in your photos!  This time it’s natural, though.
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I spent considerable time watching this adult grebe dive underwater for delectable tidbits for it’s offspring.  I was really surprised to see such a young little grebette (?) so late in the season.  Good luck little fella, you’ve got a lot of growing up to do in a very short time.

By the time I got back to the rig, the wind was howling and the temperature had risen to 96*.  Guess I should have put the AC on before I left this morning.  :(  A strong cold front is supposed to move through the area and drop daytime highs into the sixties.  It’s going to dip into the 30’s tonight.  That’s a pretty extreme fluctuation that’s predicted!  Yowzers!

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy


  1. I'm going to enjoy hearing about Malheur and seeing your photos of it as you get into the swing of things there.

  2. Malheur looks like a beautiful place...very peaceful. We are also looking forward to hearing more about this NWR. Great photos!!

    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

  3. Judy, your photos are nothing short of amazing as usual. Your vast knowledge of birds and waterfowl is also astounding. Thanks for this great post. I look forward to reading and seeing more about your time there.

  4. More great photo's , look forward to hearing more about the area.

  5. Great pics as usual. I love it that you take Emma with you! That grebe was kinda spooky looking. K

  6. Great pictures again. I am looking forward to cooler temps. It was 102 today on my car temp gauge as we did the Cache Valley auto tour up the hill from Logan, UT

    Enjoy your stay!

  7. Another great day of pictures, although you said Emma is not a Lab it looks like you are making her quite the bird dog in kind. Rigg's being a lab is interested in birds, but so far he hasn't chased or attempted to hunt any.Now a rabbit is anothert story, the chase is on immediately.Have a great day.Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  8. Great pics, Judy. I happen to really like the one of the round hay bales!

  9. thanks for the tour!..love the hay bale pictures..I drove Doug crazy trying to find the perfect hay bale in perfect postion on our way to Nelson!..lol

  10. Very nice photos, as usual! Guess I'm wondering what you will be doing there - what kind of work. It does look desolate, but your rig and setup looks comfy. Looking forward to hearing more!

  11. Love the pictures. I may use some of them for painting. Thank you so much for inspiring me.

  12. Judy I have never made a comment before but i have to say I admire your spirit to do everything you do on your own. I often think of what would happen to my travels if something (god forbid) happend to JB. You give me hope that my RV Dream would not come to an end

    Take good Care and keep on Keepen on
    Brenda Brown (John and Brenda's incredible journy)

  13. Wow what lovely shots today! Being at the Nature Preserve for a whole month is going to be a treat to all of us blog followers... seeing what you see through the lens of your camera is *almost* as good as being there!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard