Saturday, August 26, 2017

Steens Mountain and Catlow Valley

The deserts of southeastern Oregon inspire a sense of awe and wonder in their remoteness and rugged beauty. I spent several days at the foothills of Steens Mountain over Memorial Day weekend earlier this year. Due to the heavy snowfall this winter, the Steens Mountain Loop Road was still partly closed, but my parents and I explored the southern segment and saw many butterflies, wild horses, birds and a few pronghorn antelope. The majority of butterflies we saw were Boisduval's Blues (Icaricia icarioides), Queen Alexandra's Sulphurs (Colias alexandra) and Juniper Hairstreaks (Callophrys gryneus). Because this was a new area for me, I concentrated more on collecting butterflies rather than photography (nearly everything were new subspecies to me and one new species, the Bauer's Blue!) so most of these photos are iPhone pics I managed to snap between running around with a net.

Boisduval's Blues (Icaricia icarioides) puddling on mud around a seasonal pool southwest of Steens Mountain.
Seasonal pool southwest of Steens Mountain; a herd of wild horses came through here earlier in the morning.
Boisduval's Blues (Icaricia icarioides) puddling on mud around a seasonal pool southwest of Steens Mountain.
Boisduval's Blues (Icaricia icarioides) puddling on mud around a seasonal pool southwest of Steens Mountain.
Phlox and other wildflowers southwest of Steens Mountain, looking east.
Phlox and other wildflowers southwest of Steens Mountain, looking west towards Catlow Valley.
Two wild horses near a large pond south of Steens Mountain.
Bull snake on the Steens Mountain Loop Road.
South end of Steens Mountain, looking east.
South end of Steens Mountain, looking east.
Juba Skipper (Hesperia juba) on phlox at Steens Mountain.
Steens Mountain, looking northeast. 
Large valley southwest of Steens Mountain, looking north/northwest.
Steens Mountain (left) and landscape to the southeast.


Another day we explored the Catlow Valley, a large basin west of Steens Mountain and east of Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge. The majority of butterflies in this area were Desert Marbles (Euchloe lotta), Queen Alexandra's Sulphurs (Colias alexandra), Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) and Common Checkered Skippers (Pyrgus communis).
Bull and Yellow-headed Blackbird on a ranch in the Catlow Valley.
Rock Creek Reservoir on the western edge of Catlow Valley, where I saw thousands of Bauer's Blues.
Mom photographing swallows nesting in the large culvert at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Cushion Buckwheat (Eriogonum ovalifolium), host plant of Bauer's Blue.
Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Bauer's Blues (Euphilotes baueri) at Rock Creek Reservoir.
Hart Mountain in the distance, from the eastern edge of Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.
Panorama of Warner Lakes on the western edge of Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, looking west.
Anicia Checkerspot (Euphydryas anicia) at Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.
Pronghorn antelope at Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.
Pronghorn antelope with two babies (center right) at Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge


On our way home we took a slight detour to the Painted Hills, my first time there and the first time my parents had been since they were kids!
Sheep Rock (pointed mountain) and John Day Fossil Beds visitor center (left).
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center.
Entrance to the Painted Hills.
Painted Hills! 
Painted Hills 
Painted Hills
Painted Hills
Painted Hills

1 comment:

  1. Nice photos! That was a great trip. Beautiful area.

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