Day 11- Visiting Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Saturday, August 16 (Allan)

As banal and almost boring Thursday was, Friday was in contrast a true delight. We spent the morning at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. We got an early start both because that is the best way to see birds and also because the weather was really hot with highs from 98-106 and the mornings stayed below 75 until about 11.

The Malheur Refuge is 100 years old this year having been designated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908.

Lake Malheur is a sometime thing since this whole area is in a basin without outlets to the sea so that in wet years there are largish lakes and in drier years-such as the current one—they become ponds. In geologic times this was all a large inland lake and one can see remnants in various salt flats. The exciting thing for birders and naturalists is that, even in dry times, the presence of numerous wet and marsh areas in an otherwise dry environment creates significant concentration of wildlife.

A Malheur Pond in its Unusual Geologic Setting

A Malheur Pond in its Unusual Geologic Setting

Malheur in French means misfortune and was the name applied by an early explorer who came upon the place in hot muggy weather, found no furs or food but lots of biting bugs.

The birding and the setting were wonderful with numerous ponds along the road, a wonderful visitor center, and fascinating surrounding topography with long level buttes and mesas with occasional anomalous peaks. Special birds included Sandhill Cranes and White Faced Ibis.

Sandhill Cranes and Ibis

Sandhill Cranes and IbisA Parting Panorama View of Lake Malheur

By noon, temperatures were approaching 100 and we had a long drive to Hood River before we slept. So after an unexpectedly pleasant lunch at the local diner/RV park with my first and delightful taste of Buffalo Chili, we set out across much of Oregon to get to the Columbia Gorge.

Malheur is clearly a place to which we plan to return.

The road to the town of Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge was very scenic with mountain views and river crossings.


1 Response to “Day 11- Visiting Malheur National Wildlife Refuge”

  1. 1 Linda Jones August 20, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    I’m enjoying your trip thus far. Thanks for the great documentation. The size difference between the Sandhill Cranes and the Ibises is remarkable. I can’t remember seeing these two species so close together like that. I suppose I saw them together at Salton Sea but they came in in species-segregated waves of several hundred every few minutes at dusk.

    Have fun,


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