Sandhill cranes with Ross's geese behind

Last week I went south and west to visit the coast. This week I headed south and east to visit Klamath Falls, Burns, and Ontario.

Part of my job is doing training around the state; a couple of times a year I go on a bit of a “tour” to areas where new employees have come on and need a bit of guidance around billing out their grants (which I then pay after review.)

I enjoy this, but I almost always come back with this same reaction: Oregon is a HECK of a big state.

Tuesday, I drove from Salem down to Klamath Falls. I didn’t grab any pictures, but I did see an American Dipper, Mountain Chickadee, and a White-headed woodpecker at a rest stop.

Wednesday, after the training, I turned east, driving first through the Klamath Marsh and then through the high desert / sagebrush steppes of Christmas Valley to arrive in Burns where spring was just a theory.

Thursday morning I wok up to an inch of snow over ice. Thankfully, the hotel was only a short distance from the training site.

By the afternoon, it has warmed up enough the snow and ice had melted. My trainees suggested a slight detour just outside of town and I was able to drive by part of the Malheur River and a wastewater treatment area. The Burns area is one of the best birding areas in the world, and I was able to add Ross’s geese, American Avocet, Long-billed Curlew, Willet, and Franklin’s Gull to my life list, as well as admire several sandhill cranes.

Once out of Burns, it was “just” a 2.5 hour drive to Ontario, Oregon’s gateway to Idaho. This leg of the journey was, again, all about the sky.

And a few pronghorn antelope.

And the occasional juniper, raptor, or interesting canyon.

Today I did a brief, individualized training, then headed back west to home. 420 miles and just over 7 hours of driving, today alone. In real world terms,  this week I went through three books on tape.

It’s a very big state.