The Klamath Basin is known for its large population of Western and Clark’s grebes. They are not supposed to be here in the winter months but I did, in fact, take these December. People come from all over the US to see them do their mating rushes in the spring.
Ducks…yes we have them!!! Wigeons, Pintails, Green-winged Teals, Coots, Gadwalls, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Scaups, Canvasbacks, Redheads, Ring-necked ducks, Common and Barrows Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, Mergansers and more are common in December.
What has been so exciting about photographing birds in the Klamath Basin is the wide variety of colors and species there are to see.
I think Hooded Mergansers are some of the most beautiful birds that visit the Klamath Basin. There were dozens of them at Veteran’s Park this year.
Visit the Lower Klamath and Tulelake National Wildlife Refuges and expect to see thousands of a wide variety of birds. Bring your ID book and your life list!!!
December is one of the best months to see hawks. Red-tails, of course, are the most numerous, but those of you with sharp eyes could see Rough-legged, Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, Ferruginous, Red-shouldered, Northern Harrier Hawks, Kestrels, Merlins, Falcons and more.
Constantly moving Northern Harrier hawks are so difficult to photograph. This female and her mate were patrolling a canal filled with ducks and coots so I just sat and waited while they went back and forth, hunting for their next meal. The bottom right photo is of their killing field.
I often wonder how Great Blue Herons survive the colder months of the year here in the Klamath Basin. Especially when I see them huddled on the frozen waters of Tule Lake pecking hopefully at fish they see thru the ice.
I see herons year around. The migrating birds start getting more numerous in December, peaking later in January, February and March. See 100’s of 1000s of Snow and Ross’s Geese, White-fronted Geese, Canada Geese, Tundra Swans, and a wide variety of ducks.
This Northern Shoveler was enjoying a bath, splashing, drying his feathers by flapping his wings, then preening and smoothing a few feathers to get them back where he wanted them. One of the joyous moments of bird watching to look for.
In December the number of Bald and Golden Eagles begin to increase substantially. Drive the canal banks throughout the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge area, the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge and the Macdoel, CA farmlands to see them resting or hunting.
It’s magic. That is how I feel when I turn my head and see something totally unexpected. A bobcat just a few feet away. Swans right beside me in a clearing. Not every day, but often enough to make my trips out filled with anticipation!