Monday, July 3, 2017

Change of Scenery!!

After four months at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, we decided that it was time to move on. We'd completed our major projects and had a couple of minor misunderstandings with the management there. We felt like we were looking mostly at emptying garbage cans and sorting through recycling for the next couple of months. We've never left a volunteer gig early, but neither of us was looking forward to more time there so we "gave our notice" and headed south.

We had spoken with Oregon Fish and Wildlife a couple of summers ago about their opportunities, so we reached out to them again to see what they had available for July and August. We received a couple of different offers, and selected Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in northeastern Oregon.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is just over 6000 acres in size, and protects one of the largest remaining wetlands in NE Oregon. While much of the area is wet meadow and marsh, the refuge also includes prairie grasslands, upland shrub, and conifer habitats. It is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) it is also home to many mammals include elk herds.

Our job is a simple one. Get the RV volunteer area cleaned up and fixed up. It has been a few years since they had an RV volunteer, and the manager would like to make the site more attractive to future volunteers.

The RV pad is on an old homestead site. We are in a grove of large trees (Black Locust and Walnut) planted by the former residents. They provide welcome shade and lots of habitat for birds. We are completely surrounded by nesting Tree Swallows along with many other species of birds.
Tree Swallow in Nesting Box

Bullock's Oriole

Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker

Our view is our over a huge marsh, with the Blue Mountains in the background. We're told that herds of elk will be coming down from the mountains and will feed in this meadow in August.

There are two outbuildings on the site that are pretty run down. This one is supposed to house a washer and dryer, but we haven't found the key yet to check it out!  Hopefully those appliances will be working when we get in there, but it sounds like the building hasn't been open in several years. We'll get a chance to spruce those buildings up and get things working.

Compared to Washington's Olympic Peninsula this is a warmer, drier, and sunnier area. We are running the A/C to keep cool in the afternoon, but with the low humidity it is always comfortable in the shade. 

We look forward to our first workday on Monday morning, where we will find out what exactly we've gotten ourselves into for the next couple of months.

Mark