Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located roughly 30 miles south of the town of Burns Oregon. I arrived in the afternoon after my mud-slinging drive down the BLM Access Road and I spent a few hours around the Visitor Center before driving into Burns, securing lodging and a meal, then hosing down the mess I made on the muddy road.
The 187,757 acre reserve includes the shallow, often dry lakes Malheur and Harney in the north and south to Frenchglen, some 36 miles away. As with many parks and reserves, the Visitor’s Center is a productive area to collect photographs. I found about 20 birders wandering the grounds when I arrived that afternoon, and twice that number when I returned the next day.
Driving into Burns the first day I spotted a raptor (Ferruginous Hawk) nest about 200 feet to the side of the road. The light at the time was bad with the sun setting behind the scene. When I returned the next morning the light was better. I managed to capture a moment when the parent brought in a small rodent to feed the four large babies in the nest.
After spending a few hours back at the visitor’s center,I drove down to Frenchglen on the gravel central road called the Patrol Road and stopped at many locations to investigate the promising areas I met along the way. One fine moment for me happened ¾ of the way south at a shallow lake called Benson Pond. I was visiting with another photographer and I heard a flight of Canada Geese as they were approaching my position. As I turned to capture an image, I saw a Trumpeter Swan flying so close as to barely fit into my view finder, but I managed a couple of decent shots.
Subjects that I captured on this day were Barn Swallow, Black Tern, Black-Crowned Night-Heron, Brewer’s Blackbird, Canada Goose, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Kingbird, Ferruginous Hawk, Franklin’s Gull, Northern Harrier, Ring-Billed Gull, Trumpeter Swan, Western Kingbird, White-Faced Ibis and Wilson’s Phalarope.