Harney Co., Oregon
This map shows the location where the photos in this section were taken. Like all photos on this website, clicking on it will bring up a bigger photo in an overlay. Clicking the X in the upper right hand corner of the overlay will collapse it.
Harney Co., Oregon is a big county. It is most known as the location of Malheur NWR but the refuge is only the central attraction in an area full of various kinds of wildlife and scenery. From the Alvord Desert to Steens Mtn. to the high desert sagebrush to the wetlands surrounding Malheur Lake to the fields outside of Burns to the small oasis here and there, it abounds in subjects to capture with camera and lens, a true photographers paradise.
I have marked the two areas where most of the photos here are from. Some of the photos are from other spots, though. I have passed through much of the county but these two areas are the ones I found the most productive and spent the most time at. This would not necessarily be the same situation in different years. The weather and water table play a large part of what is. In wet and rain soaked years, the lek can be almost inaccessible. In dry times the viewing from Ruh Red Rd is not as good.
Two websites I find enjoyable and useful for this area are Harney Birder and the Harney Co. section of Birding Oregon. The Harney Birder has photos and notes of recent sightings and Birding Oregon has descriptions of places such sightings might be had.
Birding was what took me there but I would like to have time to visit the waterholes and hot springs in the Alvord, photograph the wild horses in action and take the drive up Steens Mtn.. I haven't been able to do any of these things on the four trips I have made but maybe next time.
The first trip I made was in 2001 right after I retired. My focus was the Greater Sage Grouse and my equipment consisted of an inexpensive Minolta 35mm camera with an inexpensive 75-300mm lens. I pulled up to the lek late, not knowing where it was until another car went to it, and parked facing into the sunrise. On the plus side, some grouse came within 25' of the truck. The first photo here is the best of that trip. The rest of the grouse photos are from my third trip in 2009.
In 2007 my wife was with me and we intended to get some photos on the lek. It was one of those wet years I mentioned above and we got snowed in overnight at the lek. The grouse had more sense and didn't show up. The next two days were nicer down in the valley and we had a good time.
In 2012 I went to Cabin Lake with Dan Logen and when he had to return home, I decided to go over to Harney Co. again. At Malheur HQ they said the water table was high and Ruh Red Rd was teaming with birds. 'Twas true!
And then there were the babies!
Here are a few from various times at other places in the county. I hope I can go again before my time runs out and, if possible, I would like to go with my wife at a time when the young ones are in evidence. That would be a wonderful thing to share.