Malheur Wildlife Refuge Trip

June 10-12, 1977

Even though the migratory birds had already passed through Malheur Wildlife Refuge by June 10th, the 14 Obsidians and friends had an exceptionally good trip and listed 87 species. Dr. Ernest Lund, our bird-watching geologist added greatly too the trip.

The group left Eugene Friday morning and after several roadside stops reached Tumalo State Park for lunch. Later, in Bend we drove to the top of Pilot Butte for some interesting “arm-waving” geology. Rest, bird, geology and/or rock-gathering stops were common all the way to the Malheur Environmental Field Station. In places the road-sides were colorful with wild flowers.

At the field station we moved into our rooms, looked the place over, ate a delicious dinner and took the self-guided nature trail to the top of South Coyote Butte before attending a showing of the British-made Steens Mountain film.

Saturday morning, via schoolbus, we visited the museum and holding pond at headquarters. Then we headed down Center Patrol Road to see the shore and water birds (sandhill cranes, egrets, curlews, avocets, etc.) around the many ponds, ditches, river and marshes that border this road. By noon we reached Buena Vista where we ate our lunches on the view point overlooking the lush, green valley.

After lunch we drove to Diamond Craters for a lesson on the formation of craters, lava tubes, lava eaves and related geology. Rock wrens provided the background music. Here we had a chance to collect rattle rocks. These rocks have hollow places with gravel in them so they will rattle when shaken.

Peter Fench’s historic round barn was our last scheduled stop before returning to the field station. Cottontails, Jackrabbits, nighthawks, yellow-headed black-birds, meadowlarks and other types and sounds of wildlife made the place delightful. It was pleasant to sit or walk in the soft, balmy, clear air. Sunsets and sunrises from the top of North or South, Coyote Butte were something to experience. Paula found some mushrooms (Agaricus augustus) the Prince.

Sunday morning after a good breakfast featuring eggs-in-a-hole, we began our homeward trip. Until we reached heavier traffic, we went slowly and stopped frequently to better see the birds, deer, pronghorns, beaver and muskrats. Our lunch stop was at Brothers where we had some good looks at horned larks and sage thrashers. Our last stop before Eugene was at Indian Ford for birds and wildflowers. The wild peonies were in bud.

Those on the trip: Bertha and Rolfe Anderson, Jane Hilt, Ernest Lund, Julie Nichols, Sue and Frank Riemer, Grace Smith, Paula Vehrs, Thelma Watson, Helen Weiser and leaders Irene Flynn, Margaret Markley and Ruth Nichols.

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