2018? Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

A crashed computer is not the way to begin the new year. Neither is having to cancel two Toastmaster Club meetings because of illness! The computer crashed last week after a Microsoft Windows update, slowing down my ability to post this blog. Fortunately, a friend came over and fixed it.

The computer wasn’t the only thing sick. I belong to two Toastmaster Clubs and we had to cancel a meeting in each because of illness! So, I’m wondering just where 2018 is taking us. We’re also below normal rain fall. But, it’s supposed to rain this weekend and next.

We need the rain and more water brings more waterfowl to the wildlife areas. Laura and I went up to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR) and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area recently and spotted three bald eagles, lots of hawks and other birds. We had a great day. In this post I’ll show you most of SWR and continue in my next post with the remainder and some of Gray Lodge.

It’s only midway through January, so thinks could get better. The computer could continue working and it may rain a lot through January and February.

Going after a big bird: Sandhill Cranes

It’s a yearly expedition–shooting the Sandhill Cranes. They are found in and around the Sacramento Delta. This trip, Laura and I started out at Consumnes River Preserve.  Right away, I learned another valuable lesson: have your camera ready before you leave home! I was going to put the big F/4, 300 mm lens on the D7100 once we got to Consumnes, but as soon as we got off the freeway we saw a flock of Sandhills near the fence. They usually like to be deep in the fields. By the time I got my camera ready–they were deep in the field.

I’m always learning lessons! For me, experience is the best teacher. I’m not crying over not having my camera ready for the best shot of the day. I did manage to get some good images as we went from preserve to preserve.

I was amazed at how many Sandhills there were this year. They were everywhere. In past years they were scarce. The drought may have contributed to that.

It was a fun day, chasing the big birds, finding other wildlife and shooting landscapes. Here are the results.

 

Restoration: UC Davis Arboretum, Davis, part 2

She’s getting gussied up–well is an arboretum a female? The UC Davis Arboretum, in Davis, is a rambling 3.5 mile, 100 acre, garden along the banks of the old north channel of Putah Creek. It’s open to the public 24/7 at no charge (except for parking). As I mentioned in the previous post, half of the arboretum is being restored after our winter rains.

Even as we walked the west side, we saw benches being sanded and re-stained. The low water level was the only noticeable detraction during our visit. As we strolled, there were snowy egrets to entertain us. We found out they do get aggressive when it comes to one thinking another’s rock is a better fishing spot!

There were still some landscape opportunities also. In today’s photos, you can see how low the water level is. Although they did clean out all the algae that covered the water last year, making the creek look like it was carpeted in green.

I also like to people watch when I’m there. In this post, you’ll see the birds, landscapes and people. I’m hoping the restoration doesn’t take all summer. It is a nice place to go and relax.

 

Best therapy, photography: UC Davis Arboretum, Davis, California

I wasn’t feeling well. In fact, I told myself that I probably shouldn’t go. But, I knew I wasn’t contagious, wanted to go, so off I went with my Camera Totin’ Tuesday group to the UC Davis Arboretum. Located on the UC Davis campus, the arboretum draws people of all ages to walk, ride their bikes, picnic, study and take pictures.

I was warned by my friend Laura that they were in the process of restoring half the rambling arboretum and the water was low, but we decided we would go anyway. We knew the flower garden would be there. I took the majority of my images there in the small garden. The flowers were beautiful.

Laura was right, in some areas the water level was so low that you could see the ground beneath. There were less birds, no turtles, but it was still pretty in some areas. At least the red buds were blooming, adding their rich pink color to the landscape.

Because I wasn’t feeling well, I turned back earlier than others. Karen A. (We now have two members named Karen and both were on the outing.) walked back with me. The others came back in two’s. We were probably shooting for two hours.

The next stop was lunch–isn’t it always. So, I’m wondering whether it was the photography or the people that made me so anxious to go when I knew I should have stayed home?

In this post, I’ll show you some of the flowers. In part two I’ll show you some of the birds, landscape and people I was able to photograph.

 

January, for the birds? Chasing wildlife

The wildlife areas were full with water, the weather was cool, but there were few birds. I went to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge twice, Grey Lodge Wildlife Area once and the Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area once, and was amazed at the lack of birds.

I experienced this during the dry years when there was little water to be found in these areas, but we have water this year! Where did the birds go? To make matters worse, at all but one of these outings, we were in overcast skies and strong wind.

Yes, chasing birds was frustrating and difficult this year. The Yolo Bypass trip was a dismal effort. We went to get the first sunrise of the new year and ended up with nothing worthwhile. It was a dark morning.

Our first trip to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge was also difficult. The wind was blowing so hard that the small birds had difficulty flying. I did manage to get this sequence of a Snowy Egret fishing and eating its catch.

 

 

During our second trip, a week later, I was able to photograph a Red Tail Hawk, rabbit and deer.

At Grey Lodge, we found a Bald Eagle, Blue Heron and a show off Great Egret.

So there went January–for the birds!