Thomas Wolfe wrote an interesting story back in 1940, called “You can never go home again”. While I am no writer, and have not penned any stories about my home town, there certainly was some trepidation in my return last week for my 40th High School Class reunion. Lakeview Oregon is located in central Oregon, just north of the California border, and is the highest altitude city in the state. The terrain is actually quite varied, with sage desert, Ponderosa Pine forest, large areas of watered agricultural ground, and thousands of acres of swampy, cat-tailed marsh land. This is the area that fostered my lifelong interest in birds.

For those of you that have been following along on the news for the US, things are a real mess up there, and I do not mean in the political arena. Half the country is flooded, or going to be hit by another hurricane, and the other half is on fire. It was to latter area that I was traveling. During the weekend that I was there, it was announced that there were over 1300 fires burning just within the state of Oregon, not to mention California, Washington, Montana and British Columbia, Canada. The smoke that had settled everywhere within the state was incredible. The EPA has established a rating for air quality that is on a 0 to 500 scale, with the higher the number the less safe it is to be outside. Many areas of the state were well above the highest number, 500, for several days. I imagine I have a pretty good idea of what this does to the human inhabitants of the area, but what does it do to the birds?

This was taken at 8:30 in the morning, just south of La Pine Oregon, and yes that is the sun, not a full moon at night!

I will provide some much greater coverage of my trip, and the species that I was able to photograph in the next couple of weeks, but one of the most exciting birds for me, was found during my stop-over at Summer Lake Wildlife Refuge. I was attempting to photograph some Yellow-headed Blackbirds, resting in the cat-tails, when much to my surprise, this Sora, Porzana carolina, just swam right out, and milled around in from of me. These secretive little marsh birds are rarely found out in the open, like most of the rail family. At one point a fuzzy little back juvenile Sora stuck it’s head out, and quickly disappeared before I could capture it with the camera.

The images below were taken at the height of the smoke, and are a bit hazy, but it is still so much fun just to see this amazing little bird.



Written by Tom Brown
Tom Brown grew up in the high desert area of central Oregon. His love for birds and photography started at a young age. Thru the course of time, travel, and a lot of different occupations, he ended up living in Seattle, and met a girl with a sailboat. When he is not scouring whatever area they are in, looking for the next great bird photo, he can be found trying to earn enough money for the next adventure, and of course, a new lens or camera body! Having been nick-named “The Bird Nerd” by his last remaining friends and family, Tom continues search for that next lifer, and the accompanying photo that goes with it. Find his continuing adventures, photographs, and guiding opportunities at Focus on Feathers.