On April 9, Katie and I arrived in Harney County, OR and setup camp at Page Springs Campground near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. We had good weather, with only a few rainy periods, but some pretty cold nights (dropping into the teens at one point). The great open expanse of high desert was only challenged by the great open expanse of clear dark skies at night and watching the space station streak across the sparkling dome brighter than anything except the sliver moon. Being serenaded by great horned owls after dark was special as well. Though, the 3am chorus got to be a bit old at times.
We were a bit early for many migrants, but we had a good time watching curlews fishing worms out of fields, cranes and swans by the sides of the roads, as well as seeing some of the first white-faced ibis that had arrived. A definite highlight was sitting on the bank of the Donner und Blitzen River in the canyon south of Page Springs looking across to a cliff face where a pair of ravens, a pair of canyon wrens, and a pair of American kestrels all had nests within 50 yards of each other. Listening to the wren's song echo through the canyon was quite magical.
We mostly spent our time in the south part of the refuge, but we did take a day to drive around the northern sections such as the Double-O Ranch and out Red-Rue road where we saw American white pelicans, black-necked stilts, and a burrowing owl (thanks to Tim Blount of harneybirder.com).
All-in-all a very good trip. Next time, we might try for a May trip to catch more migrants, though the one mosquito hatch we endured made us glad for the cold nights and wind.