There are big changes underway at Fernhill Wetlands. The main lake has been drained, and the two impoundments to the south are completely gone. This is all to make way for large emergent wetlands that will replace the ponds. This should greatly increase the bird diversity at the site when work is completed.
There weren’t any shorebirds on these newly exposed flats, but I would imagine this area would be pretty appealing to a passing plover or Baird’s Sandpiper.
This American Goldfinch was enjoying the water.
Eurasian Collared Dove
At Jackson Bottom, swallows were everywhere, with young birds out of the nest and waiting around for parents to feed them. Tree and Barn were the two species I noticed.
Baby Barn Swallows
There were lots of Least Sandpipers about. These are birds that either didn’t make it all the way to the Arctic, or had failed nesting attempts and headed back south. Shorebird migration will really pick up in about two weeks.
This male Wilson’s Phalarope was reported with three downy chicks earlier in the week, but I did not see any young when I was there. Hopefully the little ones were off hiding somewhere.
Just north of the little town of Plush, OR, is Hart Bar, a small interpretive site at the southern end of the Warner Wetlands Area of Critical Environmental Concern (Birding Oregon p. 21). A short trail leads through the marsh, providing views of shorebirds and waterfowl. The parking area has a primitive toilet and several interpretive signs. On the day of my recent visit, the wind was quite strong, making it difficult to hold optics steady but also protecting me from the clouds of mosquitoes that can be a problem here.
White-faced Ibis feed in the grassy areas near the water. I think the tall grasses provided them with shelter from the wind.
American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts are two common nesting species in this area. Willets are also common, but proved to be a little shy.
Blue-winged Teal is always a good find in Oregon. Gadwall and Cinnamon Teal are more plentiful here.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds share the marsh with Brewer’s Blackbirds.
There are gravel roads running through the Warner Valley. But Hart Bar is easily accessed from paved Hogback Road, and provides a nice variety of wetland species. It is definitely worth a stop on your way to Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.