A Winter Adventure in Harney County

Jan 6, 2013: Today started with bleak gray skies and cold temperatures. The thermometer read 17 degrees Fahrenheit… warmer than yesterday but still cold enough for concern. After putting out feed for the birds I headed for Marshall’s Pond at Refuge Headquarters to check the geese.

Marshall Pond geese
Canada geese at Marshall Pond

The pond has the only open water for miles and the Canada geese congregate there. Some of the geese are covered with snow and frost. A large hawk was watching carefully and ignored me long enough for several pictures.

Cell phone reception is good at the parking lot so I took time to check in with home and let Chris know what I was doing.

After chatting with home I headed south on the Patrol Road… even though covered with about ten inches of snow traction was good. Almost immediately a young coyote spooked and ran for cover… no picture today. Spooked another coyote near Wright’s Pond. Several miles south I found a Bald Eagle perched on a post roadside… unfortunately I was about half a second slow catching the perfect pose. A rooster pheasant posed long enough before leaping into flight I took several shots.

pheasant MFS

This segment of the Patrol Road terminates at the Diamond Highway. The gas gauge read 1/4 full… just enough to make it to Burns for a refill.

On the return trip, about milepost 15 four Golden Eagles brightened my day. They were perched on power poles roadside… not the best presentation but good enough for the memory book.

The road to Double O Ranch heads west from Hwy 205 so I took a side trip… not much to be seen today. After turning around at ten miles a LBB (Little Brown Bird) caught my attention. It would fly just ahead of the car a ways and let me catch up and then fly on again. It was a solitary (one) Horned Lark wondering no doubt where all his buddies were. I took about fifteen pictures, order hopefully at least one will be in focus.

Horned Lark
Horned Lark OO road

Back at hwy 205 I headed south once more. At the Diamond Road intersection I spotted a Golden Eagle perched on a power pole but the sun was in my eyes. After passing the eagle I turned the car around and as I was doing so found a Magpie sitting in a willow tree roadside. They are usually easily spooked but this one hung around for a picture or two… then I turned my attention back to the eagle… took a few shots before it decided enough was enough.

Shortly after starting north on the Patrol road a coyote popped out of the sagebrush long enough to see me coming and then he hightailed it out into the sagebrush again. These critters can run at least 30 mph and this one was trying for the record. Ranchers dislike the coyotes and consider them fair game year around. Evidently this one had been shot at before and wasn’t willing to stand around and watch.

The Bald Eagle was back on his perch and even though I was ready he got away again… Oh, well… maybe tomorrow. Photo light was about done for the day so I returned to my quarters at the Malheur Field Station.


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