Looks like we have a little window of opportunity to take a Winnibago trip. So Debbie and I grab the cat and cameras and off we go to The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. With our toad(tow car) following behind us we are looking forward to seeing birds new to us in a county which is also new to us. Ahhhh… The Fall Migration! We have decided to use The Narrows RV Park as a base camp, a super nice RV park. This place is centrally located near the middle of all sorts of birding hot spots too many to mention here. Most birders are generous and enjoy sharing species sightings. We found people at the park, at the Malheur Headquarters and Tim Blount , the Harney Birder, to be especially helpful with the kind of info we needed to make this trip a success and WOW was it ever. First thing I noticed right at our camp was the number of raptors close enough to shoot. Most of you know Debbie and I have Cannon T2i cameras with 100X400(sometimes using a 2X extender) lenses and now we both use Manfrotto monopods. These monopods are a great aid to keep the cameras steady while also being pretty mobile in the field. Northern Harriers were easy to spot as they searched the wide-open fields for prey.
Then we had a great-surprise. As usual, with the RV parks blessings, we put out bird feeders at camp. There were Red-winged Blackbirds, White-crowned Sparrows, House Sparrows and others that enjoy a free meal. I’m tinkering around in the Winnie. Had a handful of something, backing out the door I hear a big ole wooshing sound bust out of a short bushy tree nearby. I’m shocked I had just flushed a Barn Owl that was probably eyeing the free loaders at the feeders. I grab my camera while all along yelling “Debbie, Debbie, come look now”. The bird glides over a wooden fence I can’t see through to see where it’s going. Debbie flys out the door knowing something spectacular was going on. ” I just saw a Barn Owl right there”, pointing to the tree. Oh jeez, Oh jeez I couldn’t get a shot, I’m freaked out! Then Debbie says “there it goes” pointing! The Owl had kind of circled around but was a good two hundred feet away. On the run I start firing away. Running, tripping, pointing the camera by instinct just hoping to get a photo. Other people in camp probably thought we were under a terrorist attack or something because of all the racket but I did get an acceptable photograph of a Barn Owl on the fly(it and me).
A little bit later durning the excursion we drove the Steen’s Mt. loop. A magical drive that I’ll tell you more about later but now I want to share a photo of a Red-shouldered Hawk we saw. A beautiful raptor, a buteo.
Debbie and I have so much to share with you about this trip that I’m going to have to break it up into a few blogs. Coming up we have ducks, songbirds, Cranes, White Pelicans and more. Want to thank all of you for the well wishes for Debbie. She’s holding up pretty well. Yikes!!!!!! more chemo next week already.