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Part 4: Modoc NWR

So up we went again the next day; the guy had booked me for 10:00, but I wanted to get in there ASAP, so we headed up as soon as I finished QT. Got lost trying to find the place (the guy told me to take the South Bypass, but there was no road labeled as such), but after a phone call they got me straightened out (thank God for the cell phone), and the guy who helped me (Dennis) was as nice as he could be! He took a look right then and there and spotted the problem right away: the fan was hitting the radiator hose! When I asked why it would suddenly start doing that he asked me if I had had the car worked on recently, which I had, of course, and that answered that question: evidently when they reinstalled the hose they just got it too close to the fan, and when the thing would swell from the heat it just made contact. They ended up replacing the hose because the fan had started to eat through it, which would have been disastrous had I not gotten it fixed! While I was waiting had an interesting chat with a lady from Tulelake who was frustrated trying to find an exterminator in Oregon who would do work in California; evidently most Oregon businesses are refusing to cross the state line because of tax problems! That makes it pretty hard for the poor people who live near the state line and the closest services happen to be in Klamath Falls!

We got out of there about lunch time, so I was able to hit Modoc NWR after all (albeit at the worst part of the day)!  But despite the heat it was still a great place, and added several species to the trip and county lists. Heading in the entrance road the first pond had three trip birds in one pop: Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, and Lesser Scaup!  Families of Canada Geese, Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, Gadwalls, Cinnamon Teal, and Mallards were all over the place as well.  A lone Double-crested Cormorant was hanging out with one group, and a Western Grebe called from somewhere. 

      

Entrance road and wetland going in

    

Headed onto the wildlife drive and shortly came upon a paved nature trail, which at first I thought was just an overlook of the marsh, so I dragged my scope with me.  Turned out to be a bit longer (it actually joined the back side of the wildlife drive), but I'm glad I took the scope, as it came in handy for digiscoping!  A young Harrier was sailing around at the first overlook, while Virginia Rails called unseen periodically.  I saw a Great Blue Heron fly by, but I was hearing Sandhill Cranes; finally one lifted off and showed how easily they hid in the tall grass!  The one lifted his "bustle" as he bugled; that was a neat sight! A pair of Ruddy Ducks was very cooperative, the male doing his little "bubbling" thing, finally enticing his mate to come closer (she was keeping a wary eye on me, it seemed)!  An offshoot trail went to an observation deck where several White-faced Ibis were feeding unconcernedly, while several Canada Geese tried to make themselves invisible on the opposite bank.  At one spot I noticed a Killdeer close to the trail, but while I was setting up the scope for him, a female Cinnamon Teal suddenly burst from the shore, shortly joined by her mate!  They stayed close for pictures (the Killdeer was long gone), as they probably had a nest nearby, but their ruckus also caused a pair of Wilson's Snipes to flush!  The trail was also lined with this really odd plant; it reminded me of the Mullein that I saw in Montana, a long, stalk-like thing with broad leaves at the base, and sure enough, another Calbirder wrote to say that that was indeed what it was (and that it was non-native)!

      

Northern Harrier along the paved nature trail

                       

Ruddy Ducks (male left, female right)

                       

The invasive mullein plant lined the path (detail in center), with White-faced Ibis

                             

L-R:  Female Mallard; Canada Geese; nesting geese try to hide on the bank...

                         

Most male ducks go into "eclipse" plumage in summer; this dad Cinnamon Teal (below) looks very much like his mate!   

 

More Ruddy Ducks

    

Lesser Scaup family

Was pretty beat when I made it back to the car, and in fact I was feeling a little icky as I continued on the drive (a can of diet coke settled the stomach pretty well, though), but added a handful of new birds at another pond including a calling Eared Grebe and a small group of Least Sandpipers.  A huge flock of White Pelicans was close to the road but unfortunately didn't stick around for pictures; you wonder how something so huge and ungainly can lift off and land so effortlessly!

  

More wetlands

                    

Distant White Pelicans

I debated about checking out Dorris Reservoir, but they were doing road work and the wait was long, so I decided to head on back to the motel and crash. 

Continue to Jess Valley

Go back to Tule Lake NWR

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