Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Adventures in Birding

We went to the wildlife refuge a few weeks ago and I haven’t had time to upload this post to my blog until now—which is actually a good thing because it means I’ve been busy writing!

Well, here are the details along with some photos from our trip…

There is something about the refuge that makes my soul extra happy. Every time I step out onto the trail I can feel a weight being lifted from my shoulders. As you walk down the path, tall reeds brush your arms, marsh grass tickles your ankles, and colorful dragonflies dart around your feet.

Every time we go, we see something different. One time we were fortunate to spot a bunch of river otters sunning themselves on the access road and once we even saw an American Avocet using its curved bill to search for insects. It’s all about timing because a bird can take one step and be camouflaged by the reeds never to be seen again.

This time, we were delighted to see some elegant Northern Pintails, a beautiful White-faced Ibis hidden among a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese, and a Northern Harrier scanning for prey on the top branch of a tree.

Mere hours after we left to head back home, a prescribed burn escaped a control line and burned 400 acres of the refuge and even part of the entrance sign. I can’t tell you how glad I was that we missed it. Seeing my sanctuary up in flames would have been quite unnerving to say the least.

A week later we returned to see the damage and it was even worse than I had imagined. The smell of burnt grass was overpowering and blackness snaked its way into part of the auto tour.

But it didn’t break the spirits of the birds! Even the burned areas didn’t deter a flock of Killdeer as they rummaged around the area. We drove up to the Colusa refuge and saw a Great Blue Heron fishing in the marsh, several Great Egrets surrounded by a group of noisy blackbirds, and a colony of Black-Crowned Night-Herons nestled in the trees on the riverbank. Nature’s perseverance and quest for survival is most inspiring. Inspiring enough for me to write a book (Wild Ice) about it!

I look forward to returning in a few weeks after the rain has had a chance to heal the charred earth and wash away the ashes. In case you’re in the area and want to experience its magic for yourself, the site for the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is HERE and they even have a Facebook page.

When you take your own venture out into the great outdoors let me know what you find…

Adventuringly yours,

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