Tag Archives: northern harrier

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 !


 

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 23, 2015 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Pintail

Pintail

Grouse Lek in the Morning, Meadows Near Burns in the Afternoon

Once again I got out really early to get to the Sage Grouse Lek before sunrise.

Sage Grouse Display

Sage Grouse Display

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

Sage Grouse Display

Sage Grouse Display

Thankfully, the birds were there and doing their dance, unfortunately, the harsh lighting conditions were very similar to my last visit.

Sage Grouse Display

Sage Grouse Display

Sage Grouse Display

Sage Grouse Display

Sage Grouse Display

Sage Grouse Display

The forecast calls for rain in the next few days, so I shall return when there is a little better light, and will hope the grouse are still into doing this bizarre dance.

Pintail

Pintail

Pintail

Pintail

Pintail

Pintail

After leaving the lek, I drove north on Route 205 to explore the farm roads around the town of Burns. Managed to catch a Pintail Duck taking off from a portion of a small roadside wet area.

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

These fields or meadows around Burns are usually flooded in the spring and attract all kinds of birds. This year, a flooded field is hard to find, but Jim Palmer had given me some suggestions for areas to check on, and I did find some productive spots.

A Willet in a Hurry

A Willet in a Hurry

The water I did find off Double Zero Road yielded the above shots of pintail duck, greater yellowlegs, and willet, but the drought has left precious little standing water in the area and there simply weren’t that many birds around.

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

Acting on another tip from Jim, I drove out Ruh Red Road to pole #132 to check on some burrowing owls, and they were actually there. One of the pair actually was kind enough to almost completely show himself instead of remaining below ground, with just the top of his head showing, as is usually the case with these tiny birds.

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

I have driven the northern portion of the main refuge road pretty much every morning since I have been here, trying to get a good shot of one of the many male Northern Harriers here.

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, i just can’t sneak up on them as the road is made with fairly large crushed rock and therefore produces quite a loud crunching sound as you drive over it. As a result, by the time I am close enough to get off a shot, I am usually shooting at a bird’s butt, or they drop down in the bunch grass or cat tails and are hidden from view. I’m starting to think I’m just not going to get that one great ” Gray Ghost ” shot I initially really thought I would get here.

Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows

These tree swallows aren’t put off by the road noise though.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

And speaking of bird butts and frustration, there is this guy, a beautiful Short-eared Owl who I meet up with every day at the same place on the refuge road, yet just can’t get a shot of him. This is one of the few owls who hunt by day, but he too, always hears me coming and heads off before I can get close enough for a good shot.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

 

 

 

 

 

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Every morning, and some afternoons, he is sitting on the same bush, just taunting me, and I now must admit, I believe he has gotten the better of me. At least I have some painting reference shots.

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 18, 2015 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Exploring the Refuge and My ” Guide ” Arrives

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

I drove the refuge main road again this morning and once again found the pair of Short-eared Owls, though they remained just out of range,

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

 

 

 

 

 

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

once again found several Northern Harriers, including the elusive Gray Ghost,

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

Male Northern Harrier

Female Northern Harrier

Female Northern Harrier

Female Northern Harrier

Female Northern Harrier

plus a Canada goose family with five goslings, along Buena Vista Pond.

Canada Goose Family

Canada Goose Family

Canada Goose Family

Canada Goose Family

Canada Goose Family

Canada Goose Family

Probably one of the reasons these guys have become so numerous, and become such a pest, is because they are such good, protective parents.

Red-wing Blackbird

Red-wing Blackbird

Red-wing Blackbird

Red-wing Blackbird

Red-wing Blackbird

Red-wing Blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are all kinds of small birds along the road, such as Magpies, Meadowlarks, and many, many Red-headed Blackbirds, singing up a storm.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

I made a quick run up to Burns to fill up the Prius and grab some groceries, and on my return south on Route 205, I saw this Ferruginous Hawk taking off just off the side of the road, another first time bird for me.

Jim Palmer arrived around 3 PM and we talked for a couple of hours and then decided to go out to check on the Sage Grouse lek off Foster Flat Road around 6 PM. We saw a few at twilight but they were too far off, and there just wasn’t enough light to shoot. I definitely will return to this location for what is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Jim is a long time gifted wildlife photographer I met in Yellowstone National park a couple years back and he had graciously agreed to meet me here and show me the ropes, as he has been photographing here at Malhuer for many years. There is a lot of ground to cover here at Malhuer and it will be nice to have someone to show me where everything is ( or might be, I should say ).

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 !