A wonderful birding adventure punctuated the work week Tuesday as a dozen of us headed north, through Sacramento to visit two National Wildlife Refuges and Gray Lodge Reserve north of the Sutter Buttes. I wasn't happy with the noisy and bumpy bus ride and my short telephoto lens capability, but being with the folks and seeing God's creation made those minor distractions.
Quoting from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brochure: "Today, over 90% of California's wetlands are gone, along with the grizzly bear. The ability of the valley rivers to create new wetlands naturally is largely prevented by levees that have been constructed to confine flows for irrigation and flood control. However, the birds continue to fly their ancient routes along the Pacific Flyway, and crowd into the remaining wintering habitat. The Refuges provide a significant amount of the wintering habitat for waterfowl in the Sacramento Valley. . . In 1937, with the establishment of Sacramento NWR, managers and biologists worked to transform the Refuge's dry, alkaline lands into productive marshes. The Civilian Conservation Corps, using bulldozers and tractors, began creating marshes and ponds."
Each of the areas we visited had vehicle tour routes, so you really didn't have to get out of the bus to enjoy seeing the waterfowl and scenery. But taking so many pictures from inside the bus was a real pain. Thankfully, I was able to get a few good ones and able to get out and use my wide-angle lens for a number of them, including the last group of pictures at Gray Lodge. Yes, the photo of the great egret was taken from a moving bus, as were the sunset shots.
Amazing what you can do when you improvise. You can see it all chronicled here: Dave Skinner Photography