adventures in nature

Klamath Basin report VI – Butte Valley Finale

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Cowboy boots ‘n mountain buttes
Pick-up trucks ‘n luckless ducks
Hungry hawks ‘n too-thin socks
Saw eagle with coyote, like I was on peyote
So comes to a close, my trip to the Klamath Basin

Ha!! Ah jeez. Not my best work there.

Regardless, some of the best action on my trip was saved for last. As I left the area, I stopped off in an spot that was reported to have large numbers of ferruginous hawks, a species that I had seen scant sign of in the Klamath Basin just to the north.

Initially I wasn’t seeing any raptors at all as I drove along some of the roads in the snowy flat lands that consisted primarily of ag fields or open, high desert ecosystems. Thee wild areas featured primarily rabbit brush and desert sage, with the occasional juniper tree. There were jack rabbit and coyote tracks all over the place.

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Butte Valley CA

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Butte Valley CA

I was shocked that there didn’t seem to be ANY raptors around an area that seemed like it would be full of prey. The reason? They were all in one spot. Literally. When I finally found the raptor swarm, there must have been over 100 birds of prey in the 360 degree view around me – and two coyotes! They were in a number of adjacent ag fields that hadn’t been plowed. The mice/vole/ground squirrels populations there must be outrageous. Everyone was there for lunch!

There was a line of telephone poles along the country road, and on almost every other pole there was at least one raptor – but sometimes as many as five on one pole! And sometimes multiple species! I had never seen anything like this.

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Five! raptors on one telephone pole – (from left): 2 juvenile red-tailed hawks, 1 juvenile ferruginous hawk, one adult red-tailed hawk, and one dark morph ferruginous hawk) / Butte Valley CA

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same crew as the above picture, but with an adult ferruginous hawk doing a fly-by! / Butte Valley CA

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immature bald eagle on the front pole, and raptors on almost every pole thereafter down the road / Butte Valley CA

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and more …

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“If I ignore him maybe he won’t see me …” – juvenile FEHA (ferruginous hawk) on left, juvenile RTHA (red-tailed hawk) on right / Butte Valley CA

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“Wait, does he know I’m here?”

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“Well hello there” (juv RTHA on left, juv FEHA on right)

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immature bald eagle (Basic I?) with juvenile RTHA / Butte Valley CA

There was an irrigation wheel line with eight segments on it, and I counted 19 raptors on it (including bald eagles, ferruginous hawks, rough-legged hawks, and red-tails)! In the immediate area were a lot of red-tailed hawks mostly perched on something, and all over the ground in the fields there were ferruginous hawks everywhere (probably 50+ of that species alone)!! There were also a good number of Northern harriers, bald eagles, rough-legged hawks, and at least one golden eagle. Plus the two coyotes. It was unbelievable.

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dark morph FEHA / Butte Valley CA

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dark morph FEHA / Butte Valley CA

What an incredible finale to my trip. It often happens that way – as if the Spirits of the Land are trying to get me to stay. I will certainly be back there soon.

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red-tailed hawk on juniper / Butte Valley CA

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red-tailed hawk on doug fir (?) / Butte Valley CA

Thank you Klamath Basin!

Links to more information on Klamath Basin:

KS Wild

Winter Wings Festival – being held this Feb 11-14th 2016!

Klamath Audobon

Klamath Birding

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Complex

One response

  1. maria

    happy for You
    happy for Them

    January 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

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