Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Eight Points in Camp by David Scott.

The last moment I shared with you, Fossils, Beehives, and Pronghorns, had us arriving at Page Springs Recreation Area which is located at the south end of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, near Frenchglen.

On our drive south along Oregon205, we saw a herd of elk, some coyotes, and lots of mule deer. Late October, early November seems to be the time to view the deer.

Arriving at Page Springs Campground, we were greeted by a herd of mule deer. They were all over the place. They were roaming about like they owned the place – which they basically do.

The doe was standing on the far side of the creek by our campsite, no more than 40 feet away.

Because there were so many deer, I was concerned for Liddy’s safety so if she wasn’t in the car, she was on leash, tethered to me.

This wasn’t a problem, just something I had not experienced before.

Liddy’s behavior was excellent by the way. She did not feel a need to round up and herd the deer. She was quite happy to curl up in bed as I fixed my dinner.

In the morning we drove north along East Canal Road. These two deer were grazing just north of the campsite. I love the way the morning sun lights them up with this fantastic warm color.

The big buck at the top of this post, was captured in the morning also, but we were in the shadow of the mountain that rises on the east side of the camp. No warming sun.

Malheur NWR is not a landscape artist’s dream. The area is flat scrubland. I did catch this bit of mist before it was burned off by the sun.

I had an errand to do that required an Internet connection, so we drove 70 miles north to Burns (one of those times when I’m glad I’m driving a Prius). On the way back we stopped at the refuge headquarters unit where we ran into a group of birders. They were kind enough to point out this Great Horned Owl which was chilling in one of the bigger willows in the compound.

From the headquarters compound, we picked some pamphlets and headed south along the auto tour road. The road follows the course of the Donner Und Blitzen River down the center of the refuge.

The maps provided by the Fish & Wildlife Service show the distance from the Refuge Headquarters to Frenchglen as 40 miles. I’m sure we did more than that on this long gravel road.

In addition to the river otter, we were entertained by many Red Tailed Hawks like this one who was hanging out in a tree overlooking Benson Pond.

And of course, there were Coyotes…

This one happened to be trotting along the side of East Canal Road in the late afternoon. Its coat was beautiful, and we enjoyed watching it through the windows of Princess Prius. I kept us entertained for at least half an hour. Liddy is quiet whenever we encounter wildlife, but I’m sure this coyote caught a whiff of her scent which helped to keep its curiosity.

As I said earlier, Malheur would probably not be on a landscape artist’s bucket list. This panorama was taken from a pullout on Oregon 205, just above Frenchglen. The Blitzen Valley spreads wide in front of us. You can see the green streak of the river in the right of the frame as it wanders north towards Malheur Lake somewhere on the horizon.

We didn’t spend enough time wandering about, searching out the many animals that make Malheur their home. This year I plan to return, maybe in the spring. Apparently, the tour road could be named Bobolink Alley in late May as they flock to the area to breed.

There are also wild horses in the area – coming up in our next moment – along with lava beds and craters. Lots of opportunity for somebody who enjoys exploring, watching nature and carries a camera.

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