White ibis

White ibis
Ibis

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Leaving the Gold


A few days ago, we had at least four kinds of weather before noon.  One of them was a clearing sky with a beautiful rainbow  about15 minutes before clouds returned and we had a couple of minutes of light rain.

Rainbow over Malheur Lake
I raced out to get the picture of the rainbow showing the gold in Malheur Lake and then went on to work.  Later I had to go back to my house to get some of the things I'd left behind in the rush.  But I started thinking about the promise of the rainbow and how I had really gotten the gold ring when I was accepted to work here. I had some of the most enjoyable jobs I've ever done, including designing activities on pollinators and then sharing them with the Paiute Indian kids, producing a Power Point show that introduces the refuge, and working many hours on collecting bees, pinning bees, and working on a bee display. And I have made golden friendships here and hope to work with some of the volunteers here or at other refuges.

Shades of gold have been one of the main colors here in the desert.  Now, even the wetland grasses are golden. Some of the trees are also turning golden. And the wildlife is golden too, in the sense of  riches.

Here is a retrospect of my favorite pictures of the golden place. .  Many of them have golden colors and the rest represent the riches of Malheur. 

Our famous cottonwood tree on Central Patrol Road

The oh-so-entertaining Chicogoans, AKA California quail.

The first bumblebee I met up here

One of thousands of yellow-headed blackbirds that came to breed here

Monkey flower showing its nectar guides - the red spots.

Willow blooms- for feasting bees, flies, and beetles

Black-headed grosbeak getting grape jelly snack

Singing bobolink

Headquarters fawns on one of their first  forays away from Mom

Black-crowned night heron.I woke him up and he's a little indignant

Hungry deer eating from my willow tree

One of our breeding sandhill crane pairs

There is also dross here. Malheur Lake has been so degraded by  invasive carp that it can only support  about ten percent of the historic numbers of waterfowl and waders. I came back from my vacations to find almost no water or birds in the wet fields.. And there are very few birds on Malheur and Mud lakes. But the good news is that the refuge is working with other partners to learn ways to control the carp in all of Harney Basin and there is lots of research going on to determine all the ways they can get the upper hand with the carp. I'm hoping that our pot of gold will be carp numbers greatly reduced and maintained, the turbidity in the lake cleared up, and food needed by  the ducks, geese, swans and native fish once more able to get enough light to grow. This will make this place a golden  stopover for birds in the fall, as well as in the spring.


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I'm leaving all this gold in a on October 30.  It's always a bittersweet time, looking back at what I'm leaving and looking forward to visiting friends and relatives while waiting to confirm my next assignment. And Lucy is going to ride with me to share adventures and costs so that will be fun.