I knew that I wanted to spend a day birding on my way home from Santa Rosa, but I didn’t think I wanted to just return to the Sacramento NWR when there were so many other possibilities. I remembered seeing large flocks of shorebirds when I drove from Barstow to Santa Rosa in November so I got out the maps before we left to see what was available there. I discovered that the San Pablo Bay NWR was just south of Santa Rosa, right on the way home.
Although much of the refuge was difficult to reach, one pull-out provided a good opportunity to photograph large flocks of birds. It was here that I found a bird that I’ve been trying to photograph unsuccessfully for the last two years, an Avocet.
There were hundreds of them feeding in shallow water and it was easy once I set up my tripod up to get a number of good shots.
Unfortunately, most of them were not in breeding color; in fact, very few had even started to change colors like this one.
The only bird I saw in full breeding colors was further out and was standing with his beak tucked under his feathers sleeping the whole time I was there.
In the distance, beyond the Avocets, I could see huge flocks of Canvasback ducks. If I hadn’t gotten such a good shot at Nisqually the week before I left I would’ve dragged my camera and tripod down the highway until I could’ve gotten one. Considering that I was unlikely to get a better shot than I already had, I felt such dire actions probably weren’t justified.
Still, it was interesting to read that 44% of all Canvasbacks in the United States winter here.