I followed my trip to Bear River with a stop at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and it’s probably a good thing I decided to make several stops on this trip because Malheur is suffering mightily from our recent drought. I suspect that the lake is only about a third of the size it was when I started going there a few years ago. While variations like this are “normal,” I worry about the state of the refuge unless there’s a swing back to more rainfall soon.
Although there weren’t nearly as many birds as I’ve seen on past visits, there were still birds that I never see near home, though I did seen most of them at Bear River. There were lots of Yellow-Headed Blackbirds declaring their territory:
There were a few Wilson’s Phalaropes, though this seemed to be a single bird.
There was also one (or two) pairs of Sand Hill Crane,
which I saw on both days but in different places.
There were also several Bullock’s Orioles. I got a few shots of a male, but nothing to match the ones I got at Bear River. I think this may be the first female Bullock’s Oriole I’ve ever managed to get a picture of.
As long as I continue to find birds that I can’t find at home, I will continue to visit Malheur, though I probably won’t rave about it as much to my birder friends until it starts to recover from the drought conditions.