Love the One You’re With

We stayed three days at Jeff and Debbie’s so we only had two days before we needed to be home.  Originally I had planned on visiting four different national wildlife refuges on the way home: Merced, Colusa, Sacramento and Ridgefield, We started at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge where I hoped to see Sandhill Cranes as we had in the past. Unfortunately, there were none to be seen anywhere as they had apparently already left for Oregon and Washington.

The fields surrounding the refuge were flooded and full of birds, like these White-Faced ibises and Egrets.           

flooded fields near Merced Wildlife Refuge

I even briefly stopped on the highway to get this shot of a Black-necked Stilt,

Black-necked Stilt

a shot I liked a lot until I got even better shots later on the refuge. 

Black-necked Stilts tend to be shy so it’s unusual to get nearly as close as I did in this shot —and the others that follow.

Closeup of Black-necked Stilt

I was almost too close because I had difficulty keeping it within the frame.  It was even harder to keep it within the frame when it took off

Black-necked Stilt flying

and flew a short distance away.

Black-necked Stilt landing

I ended up with several shots of the stilt flying, but these were my favorites, particularly the first one.  

I usually go to a specific birding area expecting, or, at least, hoping, to see certain birds, but I’ve birded long enough to know that you may not see what you have seen in the past. Though I was disappointed that there weren’t any Sandhill Cranes to be seen, I loved the shots that I got of this Black-necked Stilt and several other birds and certainly didn’t leave feeling disappointed.