April 21-25, 2017 Malhuer NWR, Oregon

Grey Ghost
Grey Ghost

I arrived at The Narrows RV Park and set up camp. Very nice, well maintained campground where I have stayed a few times before. About 20 miles south of Burns and only a couple of miles from the refuge headquarters, this is a convenient spot to stay.

My first day out I encountered nine different male Northern Harriers, the grey ghosts, and Malhuer is one of the few places I have ever found that these guys can be found in numbers. But for some strange reason, I never again encountered more than one or two of them again during the rest of my stay.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

Meadowlarks were out singing for mates all throughout the refuge.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant

I almost always get some good chances at capturing the brilliantly colored male Ring-necked Pheasants here, but never quite like this sequence.

Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant

He was escorting two hens and not 30 feet from me started this “rooster crowing” display.

Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant

Can’t say it really sounded anything like a “cookie-doodle-dooo”, but it must do something for the gals.

Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
Ringneck Pheasant
American Bittern
American Bittern

Another pleasant surprise was getting a chance at a couple of bitterns, this guy assuming his classic camouflage position, apparently not realizing he was surrounded with short green grass, not his usual hiding spot within the taller straw colored grasses.

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew

Curlews and white-faced ibis were plentiful throughout the refuge this spring…

Willet
Willet

… as were willets, this one perched high up on the smokestack of an incinerator, kind of an unusual spot to see one.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

October 17 – 19, 2015 Las Vegas, New Mexico

Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening

Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge

While having the work on my motorhome done in Santa Fe I had searched Google Maps for a place to spend a few days of peace and quiet and perhaps find some wildlife to photograph. Noticing the close proximity of the Las Vegas NWR to the town of Las Vegas and the Storrie Lake State Park, I decided this was the spot.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

I had forgotten that I had visited this NWR several years ago, but quickly recognized the place when I approached the refuge. Back then, I pretty much had no luck at all in finding anything here. This time, however, there were some songbirds around along with a host of raptors.

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Thought this was kind of an appropriate greeting upon entering the refuge.

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

There were several juvenile Red-Tailed Hawks hunting the meadows in the refuge, but curiously I did not spot but one mature one in three trips through the refuge.

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk Portrait
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk Portrait
Prairie Falcon
Prairie Falcon

I’m not positive on this ID, but I believe it is a Prairie Falcon, and if so, the first for me. There were several spotted, but this was the only decent shot I could get of these small skittish creatures.

Female Northern Harrier
Female Northern Harrier
Female Northern Harrier
Female Northern Harrier

I found several female Northern Harriers flying over the meadows, and as usual, no males.

Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening

And I spent about half an hour shooting this very distant one doing her preening routine, sure wish she had been closer, these were shot with the 600mm lens with a 1.4 extender attached.

Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening

Western Meadowlarks

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

And now I will add a lifetime supply of meadowlark images. I don’t know if the number of meadowlarks here was due to migrating birds coming through or if there are always this many here, but there were hundreds of these guys along the refuge roads, as usual, singing up a storm.

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

I get a kick out of the expressions I sometimes get from my photographic subjects, this guy looks like he is disgusted with my intrusion on his singing performance.

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

I did say a lifetime supply of these guys!

Kind of nice to get back doing one of the things I enjoy most .. bird photography. I next must make a stop in Amarillo, Texas to get my Prius body work done and then it’s on to Salineno, Texas, for a five month volunteer stint at the Salineno birding site. So, for those of you following this blog who look forward to the bird images, there will be some nice stuff coming, for those of you that enjoy the “travelog” features, well, the next several months will be the first time since I began full timing that I will be stationary for an extended period of time. But please stay tuned anyway!

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

May 1, 2015 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Bullock's Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole

My Last Day Here and Still Seeing New Birds

Usually when I arrive in a campground where I intend to stay more than a few days, I will set up a feeding station for the birds to see who may be in the area. I regret that I did not do that here until just my last few days here.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Bullock's Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole

This petite, and argueably the most beautiful of the orioles, the Bullock’s Oriole, appeared on the scene just a few moments after I quartered up an orange I thought was going bad, and stuck it in the tree that was only a couple feet from my dinette window. These two shots were taken from the inside of the motorhome, through two panes of glass with my 18-200mm lens, so forgive the lack of sharpness, but I couldn’t let this guy get away without some kind of shot..

Only a couple days before, I hung out a suet feeder and a small platform feeder with seeds and had several surprises appear out of nowhere, including a brilliant lazuli Bunting and three kinds of warblers. I really didn’t think there would be this kind of birdlife in a largely barren landscape, but the campground did have a lot of young trees planted among the campsites acting as a sort of oasis in the highland desert, and now I really wish I had gotten the bird attractants out sooner !

Old Orange Dumptruck
Another Watercolor Possibility

Located another possible watercolor candidate.

Jackrabbit Standoff
Jackrabbit Standoff

I decided to do one last run through the refuge this morning and came across these two Jackrabbits alternately fighting and then staring each other down.

Jackrabbit
Jackrabbit

I challenged myself to try and get a shot of a Jackrabbit going at high speed … and almost succeeded in doing so. Darn, they move quick. There is no shortage of these guys all throughout this area, along with their Cottontail cousins. Lots of fast food ( pun intended ) for the coyotes and larger raptors.

Gadwall Takeoff
Gadwall Takeoff

One more shot of a Gadwall takeoff.

Mystery Raptor
Help ! ID Please ?

A mystery ( to me ) raptor overhead, but I don’t dare hazard a guess as to who he is. After consulting my Sibleys, I still don’t have a clue. Help ?

Willets and a Curlew
Willets and a Curlew
Courting Willets
Courting Willets

I encountered a pair of Willets, apparently courting, with a Curlew observing.

Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier

And lastly, I had my final chance for my hoped for great  ” Gray Ghost ” shot, when I came upon this male Northern Harrier doing his preening routine within a decent distance of me. He kept pivoting constantly as he did so, first facing me, then turning around, so I waited patiently for ten minutes or more, waiting for him to finish up and take flight. I figured, with no wind, I had a 50/50 chance he would take off facing me and not leave me with yet another bird butt shot.

Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier

I lost ! And so my days at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge end. I didn’t get my hoped for images of this guy or the Short-eared Owl, but I’ll be back. Next time, for sure.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

April 26, 2015 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Ring-necked Pheasant
Ring-necked Pheasant

A Cool Morning in the Refuge

Frosty Morning on the Refuge
Frosty Morning on the Refuge

Temperatures dipped into the 20’s last night and it was just a bit nippy as I headed into the refuge this morning.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Frosty Morning on the Refuge Road
Frosty Morning on the Refuge Road

The chilly temps do not seem to deter the birds as they were out and about as soon as the sun peaked over the hills to the east.

Male Northern Harrier Preening
Male Northern Harrier Preening

One of the male Northern Harriers had found a perch warmed by the early sun and was performing his daily grooming ritual.

Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier

Anyone following this blog can probably tell I have a strong fascination with the ” Gray Ghost “.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

The great Short-eared Owl shot still eludes me, though he does seem to take a certain delight in tormenting me with his distant antics.

Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Duck

Male Ruddy Ducks are now sporting their brilliant blue bills to impress the ladies.

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Meadowlark
Meadowlark

And small birds are singing their hearts out everywhere throughout the refuge, again hoping to impress members of the opposite sex.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark
Bird on a Wire ( Kestrel )
Bird on a Wire ( Kestrel )
Ring-necked Pheasant
Ring-necked Pheasant

Late in the afternoon, just around sunset, I ran into this colorful male Ring-necked Pheasant along the southern portion of the refuge road. Lighting conditions were just ideal to capture the breathtaking colors of this bird, the sun was low and the soft light further diffused by clouds as the bird moved in and out of the shade at a fairly close distance from me. These conditions just make all the colors pop!

Ring-necked Pheasant
Ring-necked Pheasant

In this closeup, you can see every color of the rainbow on this bird. The purple around the neck is a color I had never noticed before, revealed when this bird walked into the shade.

Ring-necked Pheasant
Ring-necked Pheasant

Pretty spectacular creature, wouldn’t you agree.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !