With my Crater Lake exploration cut short I was a bit ahead of schedule on June 23rd. I had initially planned an evening visit to Klamath Marsh to listen for my lifer Yellow Rail, but at this pace I would get there early afternoon. According to my birding guide this expansive marshland hosts over 100 territorial Yellow Rails, in addition to an impressive list of other wetland birds. I therefore took my time and made multiple stops along the way. The landscape is very different on the eastern slope of the Cascades, and is dominated by deep river gorges, Ponderosa pine forest with Sage brush understory and open ranch land. Choosing a 20 mile detour on gravel roads instead of following Route 97 all the way to Klamath Marsh was a decision I will never regret. I got great views of Mountain Bluebirds, Townsend's Solitaires, Black-backed Woodpeckers, Green-tailed Towhees, one of the western sub-species of White-breasted Nuthatches, American Magpies, and a very photogenic Western Wood-pewee.
Flocks of Black Terns were foraging over the marsh and often made passes along the roadside canals. I hunkered down beside the road shoulder to get them in silhouette and nailed a few birds at close range. From the reeds sounded a chorus of Soras, Virginia Rails, Pied-billed Grebes, Marsh Wrens, Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds. The open water in the canals held Wood Ducks, Cinnemon Teals, Gadwalls, American Coots, and Great Blue Herons.
I arrived at Big Marsh around 7 PM and had to wait another couple of hours until darkness, so I put on my wellies and walked the edge of the marsh. As I was leaving the car, a cow Elk walked right past me heading out into the marsh to graze.
What a looooong day!!