Sunday, 8 July 2012

Malheur County, Oregon

Three white pelicans and four coot are using this old snag as a place to perch and rest.  I've watched this snag grow older for several years.  The tree grew along the eastern shore of Harney Lake.  Last year had unusually high precipitation which flooded its base and finally toppled the tree.  Its gnarly branches will probably reach upwards for several more years.

The unusually high precipitation doubled the size of the shallow lakes in Malheur County.  Since there is no outlet it can take years for the water to lower.  Malheur is a fabulous place to see a variety of waterbirds:  grebes, stilts, ibis, avocets, cranes, pelicans, ducks, etc.  It was an even better place 80 years ago before carp were inadvertently introduced.  The carp have eliminated much of the original marsh vegetation.  It is hard to imagine was it was like in its original state.
This golden eagle's nest is tucked high on the cliffs that look out onto Harney Lake.  I've been told the first record of an eagle's nest at this site dates back to the late 1800s!  There were at least two eaglets in the nest.  Their head were still downy, but their flight feathers where about half grown.

The adults don't like to come in when people are parked down on the road near its base so we didn't stay long ... just long enough for a quick sketch.  Note that there are cliff swallows using the rocky cliff and a starling was darting in and out of the branches at the base of the nest.  One of the crevices held a Say's phoebe nest too.

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