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The Observer paper 04/29/16

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Boy Scout builds large public bird blind

A birder looks out at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area from its new bird blind. - CATHY NOWAK photo
Stepping into the avian kingdom at the La Grande Marsh Wildlife Area is now almost as easy as picking up a pair of binoculars.

One of the largest public bird blinds in Northeast Oregon has been built by La Grande Boy Scout John Chadwick for his Eagle project. The bird blind, about five by 12 feet, is 230 yards south of the restroom at the Tule Lake Public Access Area. The blind is one of the only public bird blinds in Union County.

Silhouettes in the crosshairs

Sunday’s event at the La Grande Rifle and Pistol Club drew 14 shooters. - DICK MASON / Observer photos
Silhouettes date back to the stone age.

Moviegoers, though, did not see animated versions until the 1920s when producer Lotte Reiniger added them to her silent films.

The metallic silhouettes set up at the La Grande Rifle and Pistol Club Sunday were not animated. Their “voices,’’ though, gave shooters reason for animated reactions.

Black-capped chickadee ranks swell

JOSEPH — I have already featured the mountain chickadee as a bird of the month, but now that winter has arrived, there has been a change in the chickadee population in our backyard.

Apparently, there has been a large migration of black-capped chickadees from more northern climates, so they now outnumber the mountain types about three to one, so they are my choice for bird of the month. The one in the photo has a sunflower in his beak.

Dedicated group of volunteers flock together for Christmas Bird Count

A Canada goose settles into a pond at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in 2009. A total of 373 Canada geese were spotted during last winter’s Union County Christmas Bird Count. CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer
Trent Bray, coordinator of the annual Union County Christmas Bird Count, hopes 2010 begins in record-breaking fashion.

Bray and other members of the Grande Ronde Bird Club will be taking aim at a

noteworthy mark when this winter’s annual count is conducted Sunday. The birders will be seeking to spot at least 77 bird species. To do so would break the record of 76 set in 2004 and tied in 2005 and 2007.

Viewing opportunities elevated at wetlands

Mounted on concrete pillars, the platform and walkway stand over a portion of Ladd Marsh at the Tule Lake Public Access area. DICK MASON/The Observer
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area bird watchers are in for a treat.

A new wooden viewing platform and walkway is giving visitors a bird’s-eye view of the Tule Lake Public Access Area of Ladd Marsh, 1.25 miles north of Highway 203 on Peach Road.

The platform and walkway, mounted on concrete pillars, stand over a over a portion of Ladd Marsh, which is now an expansive sheet of ice. The area under the platform and walkway is almost impossible to walk through without ice skates or cleats. It is equally difficult to get through in the spring and summer when people have to slosh through thick mud and vegetation.

Red-tails are farmers’ friend

I have chosen the red-tailed hawk as my bird of the month.

This abundant species belongs to a group called “buteos,” which are large, soaring birds of prey that feed mostly on mice, gophers and ground squirrels.

Their main hunting tactic is to hover over the fields or to perch on a dead tree or power pole, and when a rodent is spotted, they swoop down to grasp their prey in their talons to be eaten or taken to their nestlings.

Trail added to Anthony Lakes Nordic ski area

Six of the 16 Nordic trails at Anthony Lakes are open for cross country skiing. They are Anthony Lake Loop, 1.1 miles; Lily Pad trail, 1.7 miles; College trail, 1.3 miles; College Extension trail, 1.8 miles; Gunsight Trail, 1.2 miles and Campground Loop, .4 miles.
The Black Lake area is among many scenic jewels in the Anthony Lakes area, one offering breathtaking vistas of the Elkhorns.

Nordic skiers will find Black Lake a little less breathtaking this winter, however.

The Black Lake area’s beauty is not dimming but a new trail to it from Black Meadow is now in place. Fewer cross country skiers will find themselves gasping for air after reaching Black Lake this winter because of a new trail. The trail, at least a mile long, will make it easier for skiers to reach the scenic site.

Images of Ladd Marsh grace annual calendar

The 2010 calendar features 14 photos of wildlife and plant species at Ladd Marsh.
Looking through a viewing blind is not the only way to get a good look at the wonders of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

A new, full-color Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area calendar is another option. The 2010 calendar features 14 photos of wildlife and plant species at Ladd Marsh. Each was taken by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff member.

The calendar’s highlights include a striking photo of a black-crowned night heron, a common summer resident of Ladd Marsh. The calendar’s text notes that adult black-crowned night herons are unmistakable in appearance. Juveniles are less distinctive and may be confused with American bitterns due to their dull coloration and heavily streaked breast.

Teen's hunt of a Lifetime

Brooke Hanson and her dad pose with Brooke’s bull – taken near North Powder through the Hunt of a Lifetime program. RAY FOSTER
In many ways Brooke Hanson is like most teenagers — she enjoys sports like softball and basketball, likes riding horses and has been involved with 4-H for much of her life. She likes spending time in the outdoors and keeps her cell phone hot — calling and texting her boyfriend, David.

Growing up in a family of hunters, Brooke learned how to shoot a rifle at age 11 and took her first whitetail buck at age 12. White-tailed deer are the primary target for hunters near her home in Baudette, Minn. — a land of bogs and swamps surrounded by heavy timber.

Dry conditions will greet opening day duck hunters at Ladd Marsh

Duck hunting season opens at 6:35 a.m. Saturday. Observer file photo
A coffee and donut vendor could earn a tidy profit Saturday between 1 and 4 a.m. in the parking area of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area headquarters.

So might anyone selling duck calls and decoys.

The Ladd Marsh parking lot will be percolating as hunters await the opening of duck season Saturday.

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