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Part 3: Tule Lake NWR

Headed up to Klamath Falls for the night to hit the eastern side of Tule Lake and Clear Lake the next day, although I was concerned that that might get cut short as well: one tire was way down, so I made plans to make a detour to Les Schwabb... When I got there I initially wanted them to just replace the tire, since it was the old one, but the guy wouldn’t do that because of the AWD and said he had to sell me a whole set or none at all! I didn’t buy that for a minute (both literally and figuratively), but thankfully they were able to repair it (Jip did pick up a broken nail), and they didn’t even charge me! Thankfully that didn't take long, so we were at Tule Lake by 8:30.  (Picked up magpie for Oregon on the way down, too!) 

The map showed some portions of the refuge (plus Lava Beds) that scootched into Modoc Co., so I wanted to check them out.  At first the Tule Lake portion seemed rather sterile (except for a mom Gadwall with her fuzzy ducklings in a canal) as the road went through a lot of grasslands and the water was way out there (a night heron flew over and landed in it), but picked up Savannah Sparrow for the trip (Songs were all over), and at the county line (where there was a convenient road), the best bird of the day flew off a post: a Peregrine!  He also very nicely flew into Siskiyou Co.! 

                                          

The canals were good places for ducks to hide, and this Peregrine Falcon (a rare bird for Modoc County) conveniently flew into Siskiyou as well for a double whammy!      

These sterile-looking grasslands had the only Savannah Sparrows of the trip! 

Further down was a paved road that went into both the refuge and the national monument, and this was a little more productive: a pond close to the road had Green (apparently rare for the county) and Great Blue Herons (plus the night heron that had flown in earlier, I'm assuming), and a wetland further out had Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-necked Stilts, a few Wilson's Phalaropes, and a single Greater Yellowlegs along with Canada Geese.  A single Yellow-headed Blackbird flew by as I scanned, which turned out to be the only one of the day.  Further down was the entrance to the wildlife drive, so I took that to the county line (as best I could  figure); they had a boardwalk to a blind, but I didn't get very far on that as some plant had totally taken over the last half of it!  Again, the water was way out there, so could only discern some ibis and White Pelicans.

      

Wetland going into the wildlife drive, with attending Great Blue Heron (shows you how good the zoom is on that little Olympus, too!)

   

Scene along the wildlife drive

  

Mt Shasta and the sage

             

This boardwalk to the blind looked inviting until I ran into whatever it was that had taken over the thing; I found the sign on the blind ("Your Fee Dollars at Work") rather ironic for that reason...

Retracing my route to Lava Beds, they immediately had a "Wildlife Overlook" that was more like it!  Here you got a great view of the wetland and easily added Caspian and Forster's Terns, Mallard, Avocets, and Great Egrets.  Poking along the main road to Hospital Rock (which was just past the county line, according to the map I had) added several Sage Thrashers singing, plus a beenting Common Nighthawk!  That was pretty cool for the middle of the morning!

  

View of Tule Lake from Lava Beds NM

   

The little mound towards the right is the petroglyph site

     

From there headed over to the Petroglyphs, where White-throated Swifts chattered overhead and a pair of Rock Pigeons cooed in their "native habitat"!  Found the nature trail, which went straight up the hill, but I figured I needed my exercise and the view would probably be worth it, so up I went.  And it was worth it; cresting the hill a fabulous flock of White Pelicans was turning lazy circles in the sky!  Also picked up Rock Wren and Loggerhead Shrike for the county here.

                      

 Petroglyph rock from the side; it was actually too big to photograph from the front parking area!  Rock Pigeons have a natural home here!

               

Killer trail to the top of the bluff and view from the top

                    

Rock Wren and view looking the other way

The plan was to head down County Road 136 towards Clear Lake NWR as far as I could (ideally I would have liked to had taken that whole 50-mile scenic loop), but Jip started making a funny noise every time I turned off the motor, so I figured it was time to head into Alturas (we did manage to add Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and what I'm assuming were Juniper Titmice in here—they sounded different than ours, anyway...).  Picked up Swainson's Hawk on the way down, so I was happy about that!  However, there was no Subaru place to be had in Alturas, so since I had booked three nights there, I went ahead and checked in then set to work finding the closest dealership, which was ironically back in Klamath Falls!

  

Scenes along Clear Lake Road (CR 136) before we had to turn back...

   

   

    

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