Four in a row: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and 3 more!

Honestly, I’m not much of a birder, that is a photographer who loves to photograph birds. But I do like to get out during the season and do my best to capture some of our feathered friends. A great birding day, for me, is when I can photograph our amazing bald eagle. I recently went on an all day outing with Laura, who is an amazing nature photographer, to four wildlife areas within 2 hours from home.

First stop was the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows. Wow, just one drive around and we saw eagles, hawks, and sandhill cranes. Here are some of my images:

From there we went to Llano Seco Wildlife Area near Chico. We had never been there and were surprised to see just one viewing platform. I took the opportunity to do some landscape photography:

From here things get blurry in my brain. I should post these blogs when I’m fresh from the activity! We were out on January 11! I think these birds are from Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. It’s much smaller than Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, but there were photographic opportunities:

Our final stop was Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley. The sun was beginning to set and we caught a golden glow on the birds and landscapes. The mountains in some of the landscapes are the Sutter Buttes. For sunset, we went to our favorite spot in the area to photograph a spectacular sunset:

So this was the beautiful end to our fantastic day! Could it get any better?

You never know what you’ll find: The Sutter Buttes

Tuesdays may be a designated day, but you never know where we’ll end up. We decided to drive around the Sutter Buttes. Formerly known as the Marysville Buttes, this small mountain range is a small circular complex of eroded volcanic lava domes that reside in the flat plains of Sutter County. And, you never know what you’ll come across when you journey around them.

The first stop was Mary’s Chapel. This is a sweet, small chapel and cemetery in Yolo County. It was interesting to walk through and read the head stones. The chapel was closed, but is still used sometimes.

I did this drive a couple of years ago with Laura and we found a farm with unique animals. That farm is still there. This time two other women were amazed. The most curious animal was one that looked like a donkey/zebra! We didn’t know what to call it!

More driving. We found the almond trees had almost lost their blooms and color. The hillsides were deep green and the sky partly cloudy. We took a tour of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, but didn’t open a window. The mosquitoes were so thick; but, fortunately, Karen’s car window on the passenger side was fairly clean. We did end up catching a sunset near an almond orchard–the perfect end to a fun, adventurous day.

 

 

 

Leaving the clouds behind: Shooting the blood moon at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge

We decided to escape from Sacramento. We didn’t know where we’d end up, but just wanted to get out from under the cloud cover that would prevent us from shooting the blood moon eclipse. Laura was our navigator while Linda and I gave suggestions.

We ended up at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge a little over 100 miles when you don’t take the direct route. We knew there was a viewing area that would give us a perfect view of the moon rise over the Sutter Buttes (a low mountain range). However, smoke from the recent fire was still hanging low on the horizon as if mocking us for traveling so far to shoot the moon! I was hoping to still catch some of the moon rise through the smoke haze.

While waiting I shot some pictures of the wetlands and at sundown, turned my camera around to shoot the sunset. Not a cloud visible. Then I turned my attention to the moon rise. There were five of us with cameras and tripods set to shoot, but we couldn’t find the moon! Finally as it rose slightly above the haze, one of the photographers found it and helped the rest of us hone in on the red sphere.

I went in with the realization that I was only shooting with a 300 mm and I wouldn’t get professional images. But, I was still a little disappointed with what I did get. This morning when I looked at some other photographers’ images, I saw similar quality. So maybe I didn’t do so bad. My lens did what it could. Hindsight, rent a longer lens and use your heavier tripod! But am I into it that much?–I don’t know.

Oh, we really didn’t have to travel out of Sacramento. The clouds dissipated after dark! But, we had fun!  The next morning I iced my foot again! Foot surgery is a bummer.