Birds Of A Feather…

You know the rest of the saying!

I never ever in my life imagined I would be so “into” photographing birds.

I am NOT a “birder“.

Not all birders are bad.

Definition of birder

1: a catcher or hunter of birds especially for market
2: a person who birds

 

I have met birders.

And I do not fit into the category of a birder.   For one I am considerate of others when driving (well, hubby is).  He goes slow, as not to raise dust, he pulls over to the shoulder as far as he can without freaking me out by thinking we’re headed into the marsh,  and we will close the dang truck door if we get out so if someone does drive by, they can get past.

Okay,  now that I have gotten that out of my system, shall we continue?

I have learned things this year while roaming the Refuge.  #1, you are never ever to old to learn! It keeps the mind growing!  I had absolutely no idea that Egrets and Herons nested in trees. Why did I think they were ground nesters? Because you always see them next to the bank of water right?  Ya, not so much!  The only thing I knew was Herons are bluish-gray and Egrets are white.  I know that both are skittish as all get out, when you try to photograph them on the bank, poof, they’re in the air.  Did you know that their wingspan can be up to 5.6 feet?  Pretty cool.  Egrets also fly at 25mph.

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Egrets nest in colonies.  The male is the nest builder, he tries to attract the female, so he builds her a nest for their young. (Pretty presumptuous I think)  Hey, wanna come to my nest?  Thats an opening line if I’ve ever heard one!  Mr. Egret likes to get to the colony first so he can get the best spot.  However, they also nest with other birds. Herons and Cormorants and more.  At this location Mr. Heron was at the top of the tree, so I think Mr. Egret wasn’t the first this year.

The colony

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Egrets are monogamous during the season.  It is not known if they are for life or not.

So, here is the reason of why I know these things.  Google haha…  well, hubby and I were out taking pictures, (okay I was) and we saw a Heron in the top of the tree.  So I had to partake in the moment!  When I got home I noticed a little tiny Heron head peeking out of the nest.  I was hooked.  So, that said, it became our weekend ritual!  Since we head that way every Saturday anyway, we made it a point to go through the Refuge and see what we could find to shoot.

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Yep, I was totally hooked.

Back to more fun facts.  During breeding season, long feathery plumes grow from it’s back.  They are called aigrettes, which they hold up during courtship displays.  The sad thing is, they were almost pushed to extinction because people in the “olden” days, wanted the plumes.  Boo Hiss for those people. Now I know where those feathers came from on those silly looking hats!

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Both parents feed their young.  The babies climb out of the nest around 3 weeks old and begin to fly at 6-7 weeks. And when this happens, I will become sad, because shortly there after I will have an empty nest until next year.  I am already sad thinking about it.

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My advice for you all is this; find a road along a marsh or a wetland.  Something with some tall trees perhaps.  And visit it often.  You never know what might show up.  I really enjoyed learning about these beauties this year!  And I totally loved capturing them in their natural state!

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Enjoy the rest of your summer!  It’s gotten to the hot part of the year on our mountain in the Southern Pacific Northwest, and I am not a fan.  However, I have many fans going in my house!

Empty Nest

 

 

 

Be Nice Humans!!

Happy Shooting

Tracy Lynn

 

 

Explore and Experience Your Local Wildlife Refuge

When we first learned that we were moving to the Southern Pacific Northwest, we naturally started to research the area in which we were going to move to. The Klamath “Basin”, Klamath Falls Oregon.

One thing we have learned or I learned since I moved up here first, was this is not a valley.  Unlike Southern California, where you have San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, Antelope Valley, etc … you get the picture. They’re all surrounded by mountains. So therefore it’s a valley.  I totally get that. I lived there for many years. Even in my home state of Montana, I lived in the Bitterroot Valley. But… Klamath Falls is the “Basin”
Here is the difference according to the search I did and we all know everything is true on the internet.

A basin is a depression or hollow on the earth’s surface, which is surrounded by higher land. A valley is also a depression or hollow between hills, mountains and uplands. A basin, which is also called a watershed, is the part of land that is drained by a river and its various tributaries.

So, I will go with the Basin idea, now that I know what the difference is. Kind of. It dates back to lots of history about the Klamath Watershed, and all the other shenanigans dealing with water in this area.

All that said, in doing the research of this area, it was learned that Klamath Falls is located on 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.

You can bet that once I learned that, I was all about what kinds of birds migrated to this area.

A large number of bald eagles winter in Bear Valley, located 10 miles (16 km) west of Klamath Falls, near Keno.

Yay!  Bald Eagles!  Last time I saw them in a large number was in 1981 when they followed the spawning habits of the Kokanee Salmon.  Which sadly, I learned a few years ago, they no longer converge on the waters of Glacier Park for this yearly event.

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Bear Valley, is close to where we live. It is part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The complex consists of several refuges;

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge    https://www.fws.gov/refuge/lower_klamath/

Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge    https://www.fws.gov/refuge/tule_lake/

Clearlake National Wildlife Refuge   https://www.fws.gov/refuge/clear_lake/

Upper Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge    https://www.fws.gov/klamathbasinrefuges/upperklamath/upperklamath.html

Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge    https://www.fws.gov/refuge/bear_valley/

Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge   hyperlink not available.

The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was  Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 as the Nation’s First Waterfowl Refuge.  

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The Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge was Established in 1928 by President Calvin Coolidge “as a preserve and breeding ground for wild birds and animals“.

Clear Lake Refuge in northeastern California consists of approximately 20,000 acres of open water surrounded by over 26,000 acres of upland bunchgrass, low sagebrush, and juniper habitat. Small, rocky islands in the lake provide nesting sites for American white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, and other colonial nesting birds.  Clear Lake is not open to public access.

Upper Klamath Refuge was established in 1928 and is comprised of 15,000 acres of mostly freshwater marsh and open water. These habitats serve as excellent nesting and brood rearing areas for waterfowl and colonial nesting birds including American white pelican and several heron species. Bald eagle and osprey nest nearby and can sometimes be seen fishing in Refuge waters. A boat is a must for those who wish to explore this refuge. A marked canoe trail is open year round and canoes may be rented nearby. 

Bear Valley Refuge was established in 1978 to protect a vital night roost site for wintering bald eagles. The refuge consists of 4,200 acres, primarily of old growth ponderosa pine, incense cedar, white and Douglas fir.  Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge also serves as a nesting habitat for several bald eagle pairs. Bear Valley is also closed to public access.

Now that you’ve had your history lesson….
As I mentioned I live near Bear Valley. It is an amazing sight to see Bald Eagles flying over the top of the house, either coming into the area or flying away from. Most likely they’re flying to the Lower Klamath Refuge which is about a ½ hour drive from where we live.
My husband and I are learning the roads in and out of the Lower Klamath Refuge.

Along the state-line highway (Oregon and California) you can make a turn onto the “Willows” road. This road is a line of willow trees that the Eagles nest in. Why they chose this row of trees I will never know. You can see Eagles, both Golden and Bald, Hawks and Owls in these trees. It is a really cool spot to photograph. The trees just by themselves without the awesome Eagles are interesting. They would make for some awesome scary tree collages in Photoshop. (another story for another time)willow for blog 01

This is really my “first” year photographing the birds in this area.  I mean, I’ve walked around Discovery Marsh, which is located at the Tulelake NWR, and have photographed Egrets, Pelicans and Ducks.  But these past few months have been about the Eagles and Hawks.

The beginning of February, we were able to see the Bald Eagles on Township road, which is a way I go to and from work, and we use it to come home from town.  Sometimes along our route to town or to breakfast in Malin, we would count Hawks and Eagles and our numbers would be in the 20’s  for hawks and the Teens for the Eagles.  Now that it’s nesting season, they aren’t around as much. I also imagine it has a lot to do with the farmers flooding the fields, so the mice and whatever hang out in the fields, have moved to higher ground.

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On our weekly trek to Malin for breakfast, we pass the Willows Road and we wind through the Refuge on the gravel roads.

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I have mentioned Malin Oregon before, but if I haven’t done so here, it is a farming community about 45 minutes from where we live.  My husband and I have been known to take a 6 hour round trip to and from Malin, via the way of the Refuge and Lava Beds National Monument.  All for the perfect “shot of the day”.   I never would have imagined we would spend such fun times most every weekend (weather depending) touring around. It’s awesome.  And I discovered that is makes sense to take two cameras out instead of one. We can both shoot to our hearts content.

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I was saddened when we were headed out one weekend day and were getting ready to turn down the “Willows” road and it was CLOSED

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I totally understand though.  The eagles are nesting and the Refuge does this to reduce disturbances for the Eagles and other nesting birds.  I did so love that drive to see them all. In hopes of a great photo op!  The best were when the eagles were on the closer side of the road.

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Bald and Goldens in Tree blog

If you haven’t experienced your local Wildlife Refuge, I encourage you to do so.  Take a little time away from the rat race of the city noise and your electronic devices,  find a refuge, or even a park,  just to unplug. Listen to the sounds of the nature.

Eagle and Shasta Blog

There is more to see on our  refuge than Eagles.  We have many migrating birds, Snow Geese, Tundra Swans,  Canada Geese, Greater White Fronted and lots of ducks. Right now the Coots are abundant and not so bright, but you can see  Northern Shovelers that look like a Mallard but they’re bills are black and shaped different, Buffleheads, Golden Eye, Ruddy Ducks, Pintail Ducks and a host of other ducks!  We were lucky enough to see Sandhill Cranes, a bit off the Refuge, but they are here as well. Soon we’ll have the White Pelicans, and other summer type birds, more Herons, Egrets, and Raptors.

Tundra Swans blog

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I am learning a lot more than I ever thought I would about birds.   It’s fun to ID a bird once you’ve seen it.  I am fortunate to work where most of the men hunt, so they can ID a duck or goose for me.

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I hope to visit a couple different Wildlife Refuges while the husband and I explore different areas this summer.

Even if you don’t have a camera, take a day trip.  Use your cell phone camera,  find a path to hike, a dirt road to drive down, something that gets you out of the house after a long winter!

Best of all.. Record your trips, and Have Fun.

The End Blog

Be Good Humans

T Lynn