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Birds

Four More from Merced

The few shots I’ve posted on this post and the previous ones don’t do justice to the number of birds we saw at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, but magical places like this remind us what life must have been in these areas before we drained the wetlands and covered the lands in concrete.

I was a little surprised to see Snow Geese this far south, but I would have been disappointed by how far away they were

if I hadn’t known that I would see a lot more at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge that afternoon.

I was much happier with this close-up shot of a Black-Necked Stilt.

I had a hard time catching a shot of the numerous Ground Squirrels 

perhaps because they knew that if they stayed in the same spot too long that they would become dinner for the raptors we kept seeing circling overhead.

Categories
Blogging

Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Although we didn’t get to see the Sand Hill Cranes we were hoping to see at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, it was a great start to our trip home from Fresno.  Best of all, the rain predicted held off until we finished our visit.

Birding, like fishing, is unpredictable.  Although I saw shots of Sand Hill Cranes taken a few days before we visited, we didn’t see a single crane on our visit.  Luckily, other birds tried to compensate for their absence.  We were greeted near the entrance by a large flock of White Pelicans

that cooperated by flying in a giant circle around us.

There must have been hundreds, if not thousands, of American Coots at the refuge.  It was tough getting a shot with just one coot in it.

I don’t think I ever realized just how small a Spotted Sandpiper is until I got this shot of one standing in front of a pair of Gadwalls.

As I focused on a small flock of Northern Shovelers, I noticed two small birds in the middle of the flock.  Apparently my camera had as much trouble focusing on them as I did seeing them because no matter how hard I tried to focus on them and not the Northern Shovelers or the reeds on the bank, I only got two out a dozen or so shots where they were in focus.

I think I love seeing Wilson Snipes so much because I looked for them for nearly four years before I ever saw one (though I later discovered two in the background of a shot of Dowitchers I had taken two years before I officially noted them).  When you actually see a snipe, you definitely know you’re paying attention to what’s in front of you.  

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Blogging

Southern California

When we started our Thanksgiving trip we planned to visit Jeff and Debbie, though we hadn’t planned our route to their house.  When Leslie sent Jeff pictures of the Painted Desert and told him how much we had enjoyed it, he insisted we should stop at Red Rock Canyon State Park, which was forty or fifty miles from our route, a mere pittance compared to the 4,000 miles we ended up covering on our trip.  
Despite the fact that it overcast and dark, the cliffs were quite spectacular,

though not as spectacular as some shots I saw online.  I’ll have to return on our next trip to see for myself if the rocks are really as red as some of those shots portray.

We spent two nights and a part of two days in Fresno. Surprisingly,  it was my first time birding in nearly three weeks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my birding lens and camera with me, but the Sony RX10 IV managed to get some pretty good shots, like this one of a Bushtit, 

a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, 

and a Say’s Phoebe, which may even have been a first for me.

The highlight of the short visit, though, was getting a chance to see Jeff Hallock play his harmonica with Kornbred, one of several bands he plays with regularly.  

I purposely didn’t have a camera with me that night, but my iPhone 11 managed some pretty good shots.

Categories
Blogging

Route 66 to Oatman

The biggest disappointment of our Thanksgiving trip was that it was so cloudy and threatening that we decided to skip Grand Canyon this trip.  On the other hand, because we had an extra half-day we decided to drive sections of Route 66 rather than staying on the much faster Interstate 40.

I’ll have to admit I was surprised that “Route 66” attracted so many tourists.  A lot of the small towns we drove through would probably disappear without the tourist trade. We began our morning with a stop at the Route 66 Bakery.  

Probably not surprisingly, I took a lot more landscape shots than I did shots of old buildings. The plants were quite different from the vegetation I remember in the Mojave Desert around Ft. Irwin,

and the vegetation changed dramatically as we climbed the mountain range.

As we climbed even higher, what little vegetation there was gave way to rock gardens.

Route 66 to Oatman was quite the challenge.  The road was narrow and the drop off so extreme that Leslie refused to look out the window until we stopped at a pullout at the summit.  Looking out from the top of the pass, it was hard to believe that anyone would ever have chosen this as the main route from Los Angeles to Chicago.  

Oatman seemed like a tourist trap, but the rocky cliffs provided a dramatic backdrop for the town.

I did stop at the edge of Oatman to take a shot of an original gas station that has been restored, though the pumps no longer pump gas,

but I refused to pay $2.00 to park so that we could feed the burros carrots or visit the shops selling Indian crafts to tourists. Still, it was pretty clear that lots of people were more than happy to do so.  I don’t know where all the people came from since we didn’t see a single car on the highway, but the town itself was bustling with tourists.

Our Thanksgiving trip covered nearly 4,000 miles.  When you cover that many miles you’re grateful to have anything that detracts you,  reading about and seeing landmarks from the original Route 66 certainly helped make the trip more interesting than it would have been if we had just remained on Interstate 40 the whole way.