My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Crossing a River in the Sky

This morning was supposed to be windy and rainy. But I woke to a clear sky and calm air.  I decided to spend most of the day birding and also go to the library and buy groceries in Burns.

My first stop was Ruh-Red Road. It runs against the north side of Malheur Lake for about three miles.  Those three miles have water on both sides of the road and are the best birding place I've found as the birds are a little more dense and much closer  to the observer than most places.

A strange blue

A few of about eighty pelicans

Our birds are mostly just stopping here for a refuel so our populations change dramatically.  I saw no tundra swans today but we are really getting in the pelicans. The most common duck was the shoveler - I saw around 400. We had more lesser scaup today but no ring-necked ducks. There were only a few redheads which breed here. But I did get around 28 species at this location.

Then I took the information about birding around Burns and started towards town.  I was reading about the birds to be found on Wright's Point when I learned it is actually not a strange ridge, but an old stream bed. It had a lava flow down it which protected if from weathering so now you have to climb to cross the old river bed.  You climb up one side of the ridge, then finally cross over, where there must have been wide part.  Then you go down along the east side of the ridge.   From the road, you just see this strange, winding ridge, with flat land on either side of it.

Wright's Point - the only hill between Malheur and Burns

The road goes up the south side and then turns and comes down along north  side

A closeup view of some of the rim rock which is old volcanic rock and doesn't weather as fast as the rest

View from Burns side on way back home

View from the top of Wright's Point looking east

I spent another few hours just driving around and taking pictures.  I had wanted to go hiking but the wind was so strong that it was hard to get the car door open. In fact, while I was shopping, I was called to the front of the store.  A woman had parked her van next to me and when she opened her door, the wind tore it out of her hand and it knocked off one of my racks. Didn't hurt anything, though.

Old building and hay

The wind blowing water against the bank

The first avocets I've seen in full breeding plumage - some breed here

Red-headed ducks breed here also

A field of snows - I could only get a small part of them they will go much further north to breed

View looking east across Malheur Lake at sunset - that is light, not snow

A wild sunset