Trust me on this one…..it is hard to keep the pickup on the canal bank when also trying to see birds out in the wetlands and wild critters like these on the banks. Aren’t they cute! (Haven’t seen the otters yet, but they are out there.)
I have hundreds of photos of fields full of birds on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and on the lake at the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge in January… along with hungry eagles and hawks patrolling the edges of these big groups.
Some of my best photos have been on stormy days, so I recommend not letting wind, snow or rain keep you home. Unless the roads are covered with deep snow and ice, refuge roads are generally passable and safe.
Township Road ( Just past the grain elevators going south on Hwy. 97) is one of my favorite haunts. One day at the start I photographed this magnificant Bald Eagle. At the other end of the flat was this busy little Kingfisher.
The eagles are beautiful for sure but they are killers of swans, ducks, geese, and field animals. Their presence is an indicator of a life and death drama that plays out from morning to night everyday. You can feel the tension.
I still need lessons on the complicated business of raptor ID. These I know: a Red-tail hawk (top left) a Golden Eagle (top right) a male Harrier hawk (bottom left) and a Rough-legged hawk bottom center). There are so many more that I don’t know though, and then there are all the variations to learn….arrgh!
The hardest task for wild bird photographers is getting sharp flight photos. You will have plenty of opportunities to practice on these refuges as there are constant takeoffs and landings wherever you find big gatherings of birds.
Every once in awhile I get so discouraged getting tack sharp photos of the really wild ones, I console myself at Veterans Park photographing the beautiful domestic ducks who don’t fly off.
Bird watchers and bird photographers alike will enjoy the resident crew of gulls, pigeons, and domestic ducks and geese at Veterans Park. They are full of personality and always on alert for a (hopefully healthy) handout.
It’s an exciting scenerio to come across a feeding frenzy that is close enough to the road to photograph. Eagles come and go, grabbing a bite, and then leaving briefly before returning in a constant struggle to be the bird that gets the most to eat.