Friday, September 22, 2017

Birds of Prey on the SNWR Auto Tour

Happy 1st Day of Fall!
Here are the hawks I promised from yesterday that we saw on the auto tour at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge...

 This next photo might be the best bird of prey pic of the day! (I dare you to say that three times fast!)

I've saved the red-shouldered hawk for tomorrow's post...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

SNWR Auto Tour

Good morning! On today's post, we're continuing our drive through the auto tour at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge with a couple of my favorite pics of the day...
Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge California
The grass might still be brown from all that summer heat, but the blue skies and patchy clouds provide enough color for some great photos of the refuge!

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge California
Eurasian Collared Dove

I saw this little group of Least Sandpipers fly in, skim the water of this pond and land to forage for food...
least sandpipers

least sandpipers

Stay tuned tomorrow for some birds of prey...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Back in the saddle...

After three and a half months, it has finally cooled down enough to go birding at the refuge again!

We've been escaping up to Lassen where that cool mountain air helps us forget how excruciatingly hot it is here in the valley. I know, I know, you probably think I'm exaggerating when I complain about the heat, but in fact, our city actually broke a record this summer by having 72 days where the temperature surpassed 100 degrees. 72 days!? Phew! Now, that's HOT!

Anywho, now that we're having some days in the 90's (must be time to break out the sweaters and hot cocoa!), we were so excited to return to our old stomping grounds, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. There wasn't much water, but that'll change in the next few weeks as the refuge prepares for the influx of migrating birds.

Okay, here we go on the auto tour...
I finally remembered to take a picture of the sign!

No matter how many Great Egrets I see, their beauty always amazes me.
 They have an interesting mixture of elegance and fierceness...
 ...and I love how easy they are to spot out in the wild!

great egret
 Most of the grass at the refuge is dead and crispy, but once it rains once or twice that'll all change.
 Greater White-fronted Goose

 I love to go birding on cloudy days! All those clouds make for a gorgeous backdrop...
Tomorrow I'll be posting lots more photos from our drive through the auto tour!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mountain Birding: Elevation 5890 Feet - Part 6

Manzanita Lake
We would have been perfectly happy with seeing just the one White-headed Woodpecker during our walk around Manzanita Lake, but we also spotted this Hairy Woodpecker pecking away at a tree!
How wonderful it was to get finally get some clear, close-up photos of one!

They have such beautiful markings on their feathers...

The hike around the lake is an easy one and so worth it! You can find more info about the Manzanita Lake Trail here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mountain Birding: Elevation 5890 Feet - Part 5

We sure had a lot of birding luck during our visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park!
Usually, the birds are so skittish that I have a tough time getting any clear photos. But this time they were extra cooperative and we went home happy birders!
Manzanita Lake

Pied-billed Grebe

I can't get over how beautiful the feathers on a Steller's Jay are! They might be a common bird to most, but we have to drive an hour into the mountains from the valley to see them.

Does anyone else ever thank the birds for taking time to pose for the camera? I do! :D

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mountain Birding: Elevation 5890 Feet - Part 4

About halfway around Manzanita Lake, we came to a spot where the birding activity was in full swing. Finally, we were able to get some photos of Brown Creepers!
They are extremely acrobatic and seem to spend most of their time upside down on the tree branches.
They are so camouflaged (and much smaller than I'd originally thought) that it's a wonder that we were able to get any pictures at all!
 Such a pretty view from the trail around the lake...
 A half moon among the pine trees...
Some tourists we saw on the trail were super excited by the many squirrels and chipmunks, but we couldn't take our eyes off the Creepers! They didn't speak English (the tourists, not the Creepers!), but luckily smiling and nodding is a universal language :)
Tomorrow's post: What is blue and black and has a triangular crest?