Black-Necked Stilt Chicks

After a stop in Vancouver to visit a terminally ill friend, I drove to Malheur on my way to Colorado to visit Tyson and Jen and grandchildren. I definitely needed an uplift before the long drive to Broomfield.

Luckily, it didn’t take long to find many birds on Ruh Red Road. Driving down the road, I was surprised when this Black-Necked Stilt stood her ground instead of immediately taking flight as they usually do. When it started looking in the reeds and making strange sounds,

Black-Necked Stilt

I realized there was probably chicks nearby, and it didn’t take long to find one,

Black-Necked Stilt chick

apparently totally indifferent to the car and photographer not more than a few feed away. I must admit that if I hadn’t seen them together I doubt that I would have recognized it as a Black-Necked Stilt.

Once I’d sighted the first chick, I soon began seeing them everywhere, and in different stages of development, like this older chick which seemed almost recognizable as a Stilt.

Black-Necked Stilt chick

It was the first of several different chicks I saw that evening and the next morning before heading out on 12 hours of driving.

Loren Gets Sentimental

Undoubtedly, my favorite sequence of shots during my last Malheur visit were those of this Western Grebe. She first attracted my attention because of her ruffled tail feathers. I also noticed that she didn’t dive when I pointed a camera at her unlike most of her companions.

Western Grebe

I didn’t have to watch her too long before I discovered why. All my questions were answered as soon as I saw the small head pop up.

Western Grebe with Chick

Needless to say, she became a focal point. It didn’t take too long before I realized she had not one but two chicks.

Western Grebe with Chicks

Later, when she caught a small fish, the chicks became quite vocal.

Western Grebe with Chicks

I’m still not sure if the one chick ate the entire fish are if it actually ended up being shared. Either way, both of the chicks appeared quite healthy.

Western Grebe with Chicks

Although I was delighted last year when I got shots of larger chicks crawling up on their mom’s back, I liked these shots even more. I’m going to have a hard time topping these.

Eared Grebe

One of the few disappointments of my recent trip to Malheur was that I was unable to get a good shot of an Eared Grebe in breeding colors. It wouldn’t have been so frustrating if I hadn’t seen any, but I did see several. It was just that they were too far away and, for some reason, I only saw them when it was cloudy. My best shot

Eared Grebe

was almost as grainy as the original shots I got two years ago in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Fortunately, they seemed to be the commonest bird in Tule Lake, California, the NWR I visited after leaving Malheur. Not sure what this bird was doing, but I liked the pose.

Eared Grebe

This one seemed almost as curious about me as I was about it.

Eared Grebe

I’m always amazed at how thin their head is, particularly since it seems much larger in profile.

This is my favorite shot, though.

Eared Grebe

I’m going to have to try for a flight shot or a shot with chicks to improve on this.

Kha Tai Lagoon Nature Park

After a delicious, but filling breakfast at Sweet Laurette Cafe & Bistro Leslie and I needed a walk before the shops opened. So we decided to stroll through Kha Tai Lagoon Nature Park. I didn’t expect to see many birds, but I took my camera just like I always do.

I was pleasantly surprised to immediately encounter a small flock of Cedar Waxwings, where these two seemed to be pairing off.

Cedar Waxwings

We didn’t have to walk too far to encounter these Ruddy Ducks obviously involved in mating rites.

three Ruddy Ducks

The male in front with his bright blue bill seemed to have attracted the female’s attention.

This White-crowned Sparrow seemed further along in the mating process.

White-crowned Sparrow

We were amazed at how it managed to pick up each individual piece of grass without dropping the others it had already collected.

We only saw one Red-Shafted Flicker,

Red-Shafted Flicker

But considering how hard it was to spot there could easily have been a mate nearby we hadn’t seen. The bird looked too noble not to have attracted a mate.