Can a Wildlife Refuge Become A Ghost Town?



  1. 1. a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a shortage of water

And lack of snow pack in our neck of the world.

Drought is never a good thing anytime. Not good for the mountains, not good for the farmers and ranchers, not good for the wildlife and waterfowl. It is downright depressing.

In our area, we are in an extreme drought once again. However this year, this early it seems so much different than in the past since I have lived here. Maybe I am just seeing it though the lens differently.

Water is not being released to where it normally goes in the Klamath Basin. One major downfall for this, is the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. The first migratory waterfowl refuge established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. What he must have been able to see back then I bet was amazing.

My post is just a stark look at reality. Yes politics are involved in water always. It is just not something that goes away. And that is sad. What if the Refuge really doesn’t get any more water? Will that affect the migratory route along the Pacific Flyway?

The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every year, migratory birds travel some or all of this distance both in spring and in fall, following food sources, heading to breeding grounds, or travelling to overwintering sites.

We know first hand what migrates through here yearly. And we know the numbers are low. Also when water is low in the winter, if there is not enough open water for the passing through birds, that brings disease. And we know what happens with that. We lose even more birds. It’s a vicious circle.

We have seen first hand this year the difference with minimal or no water.

The Bald Eagles we used to see everywhere are decreased in numbers, there are only a few places that have water on the refuge. Fortunately those places can’t be accessed by people, it is a sanctuary area for the birds. There are still a few eagles, but not the numbers we have seen in the past. Let me be clear, I am not a biologist or an expert in any means on this subject. I am only writing what I have seen. It is just so different.

The husband and I went for our weekly drive yesterday to the refuge. I went for the sole purpose of not looking for eagles and other birds, I went to take pictures of the difference between this spring and last spring. Soon there should be goslings. This year I seriously doubt we will see many or if any at all. The canals are ghost towns, with tumbleweeds laying in the mucky water.

This is not a happy canal.

This is a very happy canal!!!

It is devastating from a photographers point of view. This refuge gets hundreds of visitors, we have still seen people out and about, but they are probably wondering where the water is.

We have our favorite place to visit. Full of water and life and sounds. Beautiful bird sounds from geese, coots, wrens, blackbirds and more. I always say I am going to get there at sunrise and film the sun coming up over the water and listen to the sounds. Below are the last few years in our favorite area.

Do I dare show you what it is like now?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it one bit.

As you drive around we have other places to see different things. When we drive to the willows road, we shoot the eagles, herons and egrets. Across from where the eagles are there is a huge area that has a ton of water and you can get an amazing video of sounds from all the birds behind you.

Across the road from the willows in 2019
Across the road from the willows in 2021.

Quite a difference eh? Can you imagine what the birds must feel as they know they were getting close to their favorite winter resting ground? They are flying around and all of a sudden their path has been disrupted.

I totally know the feeling little buddy!!!

Deep on the south end of the refuge is an amazing area that the birds like to hang out with the view of Mount Shasta in the background. What an amazing reflection in the water as they swim eat and rest.

Beautiful Mt Shasta Reflection
Although Mt Shasta is still beautiful… We have no beautiful reflection.

I think you get the picture of what I am saying. A picture is worth a thousand words. At this point, I have no more words.

We will still go to the refuge, maybe if we get some spring rain. I know you can’t control the weather and the snow pack, but on the other side, one entity holding the strings (or water valves) isn’t right. Once again that is taking you back to politics. And I don’t want those on my page.

We will savor the pictures we have, and enjoy the time we had during spring and summer and maybe this year we will find another route to take.

I don’t know how you feel about this post, but it was just something I needed to get off my chest. I am sad. I don’t like being sad.

Get out there and shoot something new this season! Enjoy the fact that spring is around the corner!!!

Happier Times!!!

Be Nice Humans

Tracy Lynn

Spring Green


Spring Green

I am almost afraid to say it out loud.  But I can see it everywhere!  The leaves are on the trees, the blossoms are on the trees, the bees are buzzing around the blossoms on the trees. I think it might be spring!

Spring Leaves

However, looking ahead to the weather report, I fear we will have one week of spring, and go straight into summer.  Lovely wonderful summer heat that no one is ready for.

Just last week we were still running our pellet stove.  Hubby and I were commenting on the fact that we only had 3 bags of pellets left and we needed a couple more.  Winter just did not want to give up!  I might add that in the western part of my home state of Montana, in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley, they just had close to a foot of snow a few days ago, mid May.   Also last weekend, we had a dusting of snow on our back deck.   This is why I am afraid to think of spring.

Driving along our favorite State Line road with our favorite trees, I captured some trees, with leaves.  It rarely happens.  These trees are more  dramatic with out the leaves.  But I still like them… a lot!

Tree along stateline 1

On the way to where I work, I pass wonderful trees.  I had noticed something in one of these trees for about two weeks and finally told the hubby we should drive to the trees and see what was in it.  I knew there were nests close in other trees but I was surprised to see what was there!

GH Owl Fledling and Parent

My favorite of all owls and an owlet.  I love the word owlet, I had to look it up to see if it was even proper.

There were 3 owls in the tree when we pulled up.  I got out of the truck and one flew away.  I am thinking dad wanted to watch for any shenanigans from the next tree.  No worries dad, I am not going to hurt your precious owlet and the mother of your child! Nope, that’s not how I shoot!  I respect all signs.  And owls.

Adult Great Horned Owl

Besides, I really don’t want you or mama to come after me, I have seen your talons!

It was a challenge to shoot between the branches and leaves, but I was quite satisfied with the results.  And trust me, I had a lot of pictures of leaves!

How many people drive by these trees daily and haven’t even noticed? How sad for them.  They are missing out on nature at its finest time.

I think the Good Lord above has a favorite color, and it is indeed Green.  It might be blue, there are some awesome shades of blues in the mountains.

Have you ever driven through farm country or even a mountain canyon and noticed how many different shades of green there are?  Way to many to count!  I sometimes wish I could take my color picker out of photoshop and sample them all and have every color of green!  Is it even possible?

Spring Morning

Weeds are green, and there are plenty of those.  The alfalfa fields are growing green, and in the morning with the sun coming up and the sprinklers misting, it makes for an awesome relaxing sight to see so early.  It’s serenity at its finest.

Sprinklers in Spring

Don’t close your eyes to spring green! There is so much to see!  All different shades!

Before you know it, the browns of summer will be upon us and you’ll have missed the glory of spring.   Because after brown comes the beautiful fall colors and then it turns white and I refuse to think about that for another 6 months!

Cows in Spring

Take a drive this weekend, in the early morning, in the afternoon, anytime your heart desires.   Get out of the house!  Go see things!

You won’t be sorry, well, unless you have allergies.  Don’t forget your allergy pill!

Mt Shasta Spring

Happy Shooting

T Lynn


Following Along

A couple of weeks ago the husband and I started seeing the goslings on the refuge.  It’s almost as fun as photographing the eagles when they started migrating in.

Follow us Kids

The tiny little yellow “fluff balls” are just so stinking cute!Mom Dad and Kids!

We went out to the refuge this past weekend in search of more cute adorable  fluffy goslings.  Boy were we in for a surprise!  They grow fast!  It is amazing to see what a difference a week has made.  No, I do not know if they were the same goslings as the week before, but we can sure see the difference!

The Goslings are getting bigger

3 Older Goslings

One thing we have noticed and learned is they have very protective parents.  The geese were across the canal from us, so we weren’t causing any real harm, other than disturbing their day and perhaps the swimming lesson and other lessons.

Mom and Dad put their heads and bodies down very flat and they remain very still.

Protective Parents

Older Goslings and Protective Parent

As with any youngster, the babies weren’t as still as they probably should have been. I am sure they have a short attention span as do most little ones.

Protective Mama

This mama, kind of resembles a snake that I would not want to mess with!

A couple facts about the newly hatched balls of fluff.

The newly hatched babies are able to swim immediately.  After the babies have hatched, the family moves away from the nesting site on foot toward more favorable feeding areas.  Five weeks after the goslings hatch, the females begin moulting (the males begin right after mating).  During this time, the adults are unable to fly.  The adults regrow their flight feathers and are ready to fly at about the same time as the goslings are able to learn – at nine weeks old.”

Nine Weeks?  Really?  That means before the end of May!  Then what will we photograph?

We’ve only seen goslings, and no ducklings yet.  Hubby and I are really looking forward to seeing little baby ducks! There are so many different species on the refuge right now so I am curious to see what the babies will look like!

I think I should pack a picnic lunch and a couple lawn chairs and find a “good spot” to sit and watch and photograph all of these cute babies!

Maybe next weekend!

Family All in A Row

One thing about where we live and what we get to photograph, is it gives us a chance to not only see some cool birds, but it also gives us the opportunity to do a little research and find out interesting facts about the birds.  It is true, we are never to old to learn.

Never in my life would I imagine that I would be going to a wildlife refuge on a weekly basis, find a bird I haven’t seen before, take a picture of it, and go home and break out the bird book.  I’m not addicted, so I can’t be classified as a true “Birder” but it is fun to try and identify what you saw while you were out for the day!

One thing I will say is this.  Take some time to “unplug” go outside and stop and listen.  There are so many different sounding birds that it is really kind of cool to listen to how many different birds are out there!

Small Goslings on the Marsh

Set up the video camera, find a great spot on the bank of the water that has a lot of birds  turn on the camera, sit back and let the video listen for you.  You can even use your smart phone to capture the sounds!  You won’t be sorry.  Unless the wind is blowing right into the microphone!

Best of all, have fun!  You will fall in love with the sounds of nature.

Until Next Time!

Happy Shooting and Happy “Birding”

T Lynn

Nice day for a swim

Find Your Shot for the Seasons

Happy New Year!

Wishing you an amazing 2017!

Every Saturday the hubby and I go to breakfast to a small town called Malin. It’s about a 45 minute drive. Sometimes longer if I find something to shoot along the way.

I take my camera every time we go because you just never know what you might see along the way.

The route is along the California/Oregon border and it goes along side the Lower Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge.  Hawks, Owls, Falcons, Ducks, Geese, Pheasants and Eagles are abundant, depending on the time of year.

Along this route are awesome trees along the waters edge.  With water, comes canals, bridges, and culverts.

I have my favorite trees and favorite culvert.  Don’t ask why.  It just calls to me!

Years ago I read an article about getting out of a “funk” if you are having no inspiration while shooting with your camera. One of the things that stayed with me in this article, is find a place that you can shoot for all four seasons. Mark that same spot and shoot it 4 times a year. It’s different for all seasons.

Obviously on public land you can’t really mark your spot with spray paint, but you can do so on your own land, or find a landmark that you can only shoot from one such spot.


This is the culvert that calls to me.  This was taken in March.  Spring wasn’t quite here yet, but patches of green gave hope that spring wasn’t to far behind and winter was long gone!


This is the culvert at a different angle taken in May. The water was low, but the skies were blue and the grasses were green and the clouds were perfect for HDR!

I missed Fall.  I missed the canal when it was drained. But I will of course get the shot this fall.  The culvert isn’t going anywhere!


Hello Winter.  A beauty in it’s own little cold way.  It makes the rocks and weeds stand out.  It’s not quite 100% winter.  But a light dusting lets you know it’s on its way.


Let’s not forget the back side of this soon to be famous culvert.  I feel it needed to be represented as well.  I will admit, I have not shot this view very many times.  Usually the sun is in the right spot on the way to Malin to shoot from the other side.

This is my Shot for the Seasons.

In posts to come, I will share with you the trees along the banks of the refuge waters.  They’re great in the fall and winter once the leaves have fallen off.  The hawks are much easier to spot in the trees!  But all seasons, the trees are a beauty of their own.

Find a place you want to shoot for your seasons!  I know that even a city has some beauty of its own. I just prefer small town rural America for mine!

Grab your camera, your best shooting buddy (mine is my husband) and go have some fun!

Happy Shooting!

Be Good Humans

T Lynn