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Southeast Zone weekly wildlife viewing report

SOUTHEAST ZONE VIEWING

Harney County

Waterfowl spring migration is nearly over and most white geese and white-fronted geese have headed migrated north. Pintail, shoveler, wigeon, mallard, gadwall, green-winged teal, cinnamon teal and a variety of diver species can still be viewed in good numbers. Sandhill cranes can be found in agricultural fields throughout the Harney Basin.

Breeding shorebirds have arrived in good numbers. Lesser yellow legs, killdeer, avocets, black-necked stilts, white-faced ibis, curlews, willets, pelicans, great egrets and western grebes are some species that have arrived. A large number of franklins, ring-billed and California gulls can also be found.

The best viewing opportunities are near Burns/Hines, where flood irrigation of wet meadows is occurring. Viewing at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will continue to improve as migration continues to develop and many species of migrant passerines will be moving through the region.

Raptors continue to be found throughout the area. You should be able to view golden eagles, bald eagles and a variety of hawks perching on telephone poles and fence posts throughout the district. Resident raptors such as northern harriers and red-tailed hawks are very easily observed in open agricultural areas along with rough-legged hawks and an occasional ferruginous.

Bighorn sheep have moved up into the steeper country they will be widely scattered and secretive this time of year as they prepare for lambing. Sheep can be viewed with a good pair of binoculars or spotting scope along rocky outcroppings south of Frenchglen and along the east side of the Steens. 5/7/13.

KLAMATH COUNTY

Klamath Falls Area

Recent arrivals to the basin include American white pelicans, killdeer, western grebes, Clark’s grebes and several swallow species as they begin mating and nesting seasons in the basin. The courtship rituals of both western and Clark’s grebes are both distinct and visually stunning and should not be missed by those with an appreciation of such things. Upper Klamath Lake is currently home to thousands of grebes, and viewing opportunities exist along the shore as well as from boat.

The first Canada goose broods of the year have been spotted! Look to wetland areas for pairs of adult geese with small yellow fuzz balls in tow.

Greater sandhill cranes have returning from southern wintering areas and can be found foraging in agricultural lands in the basin.

Yellow-bellied marmots have emerged from their winter dens as the days become longer and warmer. Look to rock piles and rocky bluffs to find these large, ground dwelling creatures.

For those with a keen eye for migrating songbirds, the Klamath Basin is within the migratory paths of thousands of neotropical migrants and other passerines at this time of year as they journey to nesting areas from here to the arctic north. Binoculars will help greatly in spotting these tiny migrants as they pass through. Many passerine migrants are also identifiable by song for those who listen.

Excellent viewing opportunities exist as close as downtown Klamath Falls at Veteran’s Park. Be sure to check for bald eagles using the perch snag along Lake Ewuana.

Another close viewing opportunity is the Link River Trail where viewers will see many species of passerines as well as a few mammals including deer, gray fox and mink. 5/14/13.

Klamath Wildlife Area

Effective Jan.1, 2013, a Wildlife Area Parking Permit is required to park on the Wildlife Area. Cost is $7 daily or $22 annually. Free with purchase of hunting license. Buy online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more.

Waterfowl

Great Basin Canada geese are evident with goslings in tow. Mallard, gadwall and teal can be seen with ducklings as well. White pelicans can be seen foraging for fish in many of the ponds and waterways.

Sandhill cranes have returned to the basin. They can be seen foraging in the open fields and are occasionally accompanied by their young (colts).

Klamath Basin waterfowl numbers are available on the US Fish and Wildlife website at http://www.fws.gov/klamathbasinrefuges/cenfindex.html

Running and training of dogs is allowed only in the Dog Training Area by the boat ramp on Klamath River until August 1, 2013.

Overnight camping is not allowed on the Miller Island Unit. Discharge of firearms is prohibited except by permit. If you have any questions, please contact Klamath Wildlife Area at (541) 883-5734 or lanny.a.fujishin@state.or.us. 5/14/13.

LAKE COUNTY

Spring migration continues. All of the arctic nesting geese and lesser Sandhill Cranes have moved north. Resident nesting duck species are fairly abundant but the northern migrants have left the county. All of the shore bird species that nest in Lake County have arrived and many of the arctic nesters are moving through. Lake Abert and the Warner Valley lakes are the best viewing areas. Bald eagle numbers have declined as the waterfowl migration moved north.

Bighorn sheep have moved to the steep cliffs for lambing. On Fish Creek and Abert rims they can still be seen on open slopes feeding early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Binoculars or a spotting scope will improve your viewing experience. 5/7/13.

SUMMER LAKE WILDLIFE AREA

This section was updated on May 7, 2013

Summer Lake Wildlife Area requires a $7 daily parking permit or a $22 annual parking permit. Parking permits can be purchased at any ODFW license agent or through the ODFW website. Locally, parking permits can be purchased at the Summer Lake Store, 1.3 miles north of Headquarters.

Vehicle access to the Wildlife Viewing Loop is now open. The Wildlife Viewing Loop will remain open until early fall. Major dike roads (Bullgate, Gold and Windbreak dikes and the Work Road) are closed to motor vehicles, other forms of non-motorized access are allowed.

All secondary roads and dikes continue to remain closed and cross-country travel is prohibited. Non-motorized travel is permitted.

Waterfowl migration in nearly over and breeding season is underway. Ducks are Canada widely scattered across the entire wildlife area. Arctic nesting geese have largely departed the area.

Breeding season is underway for early nesting species and viewers are reminded that running or training of dogs is prohibited. Please keep dogs on leash or under very close control during this critical time of the year.

Waterfowl

Many duck pairs have dispersed to breeding territories across the entire wildlife area. Mallard, gadwall and cinnamon teal pairs were very numerous. A few lingering migrants are still present, Am. green-winged, bufflehead, Northern shoveler and ruddy duck remain in fairly high numbers. Sixteen species of ducks were present during the weekly count.

Canada goose nesting is underway, pairs and attending ganders are scattered across the entire wildlife area. Many Canada geese are on nests, and broods are being observed with greater frequency. Viewers are urged to minimize disturbance and move away quickly if birds are flushed off nests or if broods are encountered.

Tundra swans have moved out of the area en-route to more northerly staging and nesting areas. A few non-breeding trumpeters can be found scattered across the wildlife area. All of the restoration birds will be neck-banded with green collars and white alphanumeric symbols. Viewers are encouraged to “read” the collars and report them to wildlife area personnel. Collars will have the Greek letter Theta (Ѳ) and two side-ways laying numerals that are read from the body toward the head.

Shorebirds, waders and other waterbirds

Shorebirds continue to increase in number and diversity. American avocet, black-necked stilts, long-billed curlews, long-billed dowitchers, Wilson’s phalarope, dunlin, western willet and several other species continued to increase in numbers over the week. Spring arrival of black-bellied plover, snowy plover and marbled godwit and were noted over this past week.

American coot numbers remain good and are found in open water areas across the entire wildlife area―more than 1,500 were found on the weekly count.

Sandhill crane numbers continue to increase as nesting pairs return to traditional territories; about 20 indicated pairs were observed during the weekly count. Non-breeders and migrants continue to stage especially in the Foster Place and along the north shore of Summer Lake. Cranes are very vocal now, proclaiming territories to adjacent pairs especially during early morning and evening hours. Many single birds were noted during the survey indicating that nesting is well underway.

Grebe (eared, pied-billed, Western and Clark’s) numbers continued to increase over the past week and can be found scattered throughout the area.

A few American bittern, the occasional black-crowned night-heron and a few great blue herons are present in low numbers and are widely scattered across the entire wildlife area. These species should increase in number in the next several weeks. American white pelican and double-crested cormorant numbers continued to increase over the last week.

Several hundred ring-billed, a few California gulls and Caspian terns are occupying the nesting island in the East Link Unit. Forster’s terns were observed across the entire area.

Around fifty Franklin’s gulls were observed during this last week.

Raptors and Others

Resident and migrant raptors, especially red-tailed hawks are scattered throughout the Wildlife Area as well as on private lands along Hwy. 31.

Rough-legged hawks were not detected during the weekly count; nearly all have departed the area en route to arctic breeding areas.

Northern harriers are commonly observed over marsh and hay meadows but in low numbers indicating females are incubating clutches at this time.

Ospreys have returned and are occupying the nest platforms at Ana Reservoir and Turner Place.

Bald and golden eagle numbers remain low due to the declining numbers of waterfowl. Nearby nesting pairs are occasionally observed on the wildlife area.

Prairie falcons are fairly common residents of the area and are frequently seen during this time of the year. Migrant accipiters continue to be observed, primarily at Headquarters.

Great horned owl and the occasional common-barn and short-eared owl can be found scattered across the entire wildlife area, especially in the trees at campgrounds. Great horned owls are hatching chicks at this time.

Upland game birds

California quail and ring-necked pheasants are widely scattered across the north end of the wildlife area. The feeder at Headquarters allows for excellent viewing of California quail.

Passerines

Spring migrants continue to arrive, almost daily. Cliff and tree swallows continue to increase in number, and are active in searching out nesting sites.

Eurasian collared doves remain very numerous at Headquarters Complex; more than 25 are present. Mourning doves can be found scattered throughout the area. American and lesser goldfinches and several species of sparrows are fairly numerous at Headquarters/old homesteads and other tree and shrub sites.

A large influx of white-crowned sparrows occurred over the past week. Golden-crowned sparrows, Cassin’s and house finches were also observed. Occasionally, evening grosbeaks and cedar waxwings can be observed. Last week brown creeper and ruby-crowned kinglets were detected. Brewer’s, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds can be found scattered across wetland areas and homestead site. They are becoming very vocal, especially during sunny days. Brown-headed cowbirds have arrived and are increasing in number.

Migrant yellow-rumped warblers arrived last week and are increasing in number and distribution across the entire area. Orange-crowned warblers were observed last week, and other species are expected to arrive soon.

European starlings are active in searching out nesting cavities.

Facilities and Access

As of Jan. 1, 2012, Summer Lake Wildlife Area requires a $7 daily parking permit or a $22 annual parking permit. Parking permits can be purchased at any Point of Sale Agent or through the ODFW website. Please remember: New 2013 parking permits are now required!

Locally, parking permits can be purchased at the Summer Lake Store, 1.3 miles north of Headquarters.

The Wildlife Viewing Loop is open and provides excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. It will remain open until early fall. The major dike roads (Bullgate, Windbreak and Work Road) are now closed to motor vehicle traffic. Non-motorized travel is allowed.

All secondary roads and dikes continue to remain closed and cross-country travel is prohibited. Non-motorized travel is permitted.

Camping is permitted at four sites on the Wildlife Area. Campgrounds are primitive but each has vault toilets, trash barrels and a few picnic tables.

Habitat

Nearly all wetland units are well flooded at this time. Bullgate Refuge is being drawdown and will be held dry in preparation for wetland restoration later this summer. Receding water levels and areas exposed by controlled burning will provide increased foraging opportunities to a wide variety of wildlife.

Emergent wetland vegetation is mostly lodged over allowing for good viewing conditions. New growth cattail is vigorously growing in many canals and ditches.

Upland habitat remains in excellent condition with considerable residual vegetation that is providing high quality food and cover for many wildlife species. Green-up of early growing forbs and grasses is very extensive at this time.

Planted tree and shrub plots are providing excellent sheltered sites for many wildlife species and most plants are leafed-out and some species are in blossom.

Please contact Summer Lake Wildlife Area at (541) 943-3152 or e-mail martin.j.stlouis@state.or.us for additional information.

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