August 7, 2016 Last Day at Lake George

Sam Checking the Fishing at Spinney Reservoir
Sam Checking the Fishing at Spinney Reservoir

This is my last day in Lake George and tomorrow I backtrack a bit on Route 24 , then head north to the Lakeview Campground, a National Forest campground about 20 miles south of Leadville. I don’t have any images of my campsite at the Travel Port Campground here in Lake George, because there is nothing terribly memorable about the particular spot I have am staying in. This campground is primarily for seasonal stays, but has been a nice spot from which to explore the surrounding area. The campground has a few level spots with full hookups for transients and the folks here could not be any nicer, plus the price of $25 a night for a full hookup site is hard to beat.

High Plains
High Plains

The vast, flat spaces between the mountain ranges seem kind of odd to me, not something I thought I would see as I explored the Rockies. These plains are at an elevation of around 7000-8000 feet and stretch for many miles, interesting, sparsely inhabited, with what must be relatively poor soils, suited mostly to grazing land, though I haven’t seen that many head of cattle, just a few small herds here and there.

Spinney Reservoir in the Distance
Spinney Reservoir in the Distance

Spinney Reservoir

That is Spinney Reservoir in the distance in the image above. This is a man made body of water that apparently holds some nice fish, judging by the number of fisherman out on the water and fishing from shore.

White Pelicans on Spinney Reservoir
White Pelicans on Spinney Reservoir
Not So Wild Bison
Not So Wild Bison

Once again, I am frustrated by the lack of wildlife I am encountering along the way in my explorations. Only things I saw today were these two white pelicans and a small herd of bison, ranch type, not wild.

Spinney Reservoir
Spinney Reservoir

However, the clouds and the deep blue Colorado skies do not disappoint.

Sam Exploring Spinney Reservoir
Sam Exploring Spinney Reservoir

Sam enjoyed the place, sniffing out several ground squirrels and chipmunks along the shore of the reservoir.

One of the Campgrounds at Eleven Mile Lake
One of the Campgrounds at Eleven Mile Lake

Eleven Mile State Park

Eleven Mile State Park on Eleven Mile canyon Reservoir is a very popular weekend spot with several State Park Campgrounds on both sides of the reservoir.

Waterfront Campsite at Eleven Mile Lake
Waterfront Campsite at Eleven Mile Lake

Some wonderful lakeside campsites, all primitive, but with great views and waterfront access. However, as is the problem with most, if not all, Colorado State Park Campgrounds, these are overpriced, sites are way too close to one another, and are unavailable on weekends without reservations. Great campsites for midweek stays however, as long as you don’t mind the price. The campsites on the far side of the lake offer the most in privacy, but the gravel road in to the campgrounds is one of the absolute worst teeth jarring, washboarded roads I have ever experienced, and I am not sure I would want to subject my motorhome and it’s contents to this ride, it was bad enough in the Prius.

Exploring the Shore at Eleven Mile Lake
Exploring the Shore at Eleven Mile Lake

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October 10, 2014 Willard Bay State Park, Utah

Bear River NWR
Bear River NWR

Bear River National Wildlife Refuge ???

I took a drive out to explore the Bear River NWR first thing this morning.

Peregrin falcon and breakfast
Peregrin falcon and breakfast

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

On the 12 mile road into the loop road around the refuge wetlands, I encountered a peregrine falcon on a fresh kill,

Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant

 

 

 

 

 

Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant

as well as several pair of ring necked pheasants and a few Northern Harriers. As with the falcon, I just couldn’t get close enough to get a decent shot of these colorful introduced game birds. I was told that these pheasants, though not native here, do breed on the refuge. I really hope to be able to figure out a way to get close enough to these very wary birds to get a nice shot of them.

Unfortunately, duck hunting season opened on October 4th and hunting is allowed on this refuge. Not real clear to me how “hunting” and “wildlife refuge” are compatible uses. I would like to make it clear that I am not anti-hunting, just think that a wildlife refuge should be just that, a refuge for wildlife, not a plot of land designed and maintained to attract birds to hunt, that would be the function of a hunting club or organization.

Needless to say, there were no ducks to be seen anywhere on the refuge, and this refuge looks like it would normally be a gold mine for photographing ducks and other wetland species. One of the best loop roads of any of the NWR’s I have been to.

Western Grebe pair
Western Grebe pair

Love those red eyes !

Western Grebe pair
Western Grebe pair

I did manage to get a couple of decent shots of a pair of western grebes who were paddling around in the reeds,

White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans

but, other than one small group of white pelicans and a gazillion coots, in the face of shotgun blasts going off every few moments, no other wildlife dared show its face out there today.

I have a 3 PM appointment in Riverdale to have the 30,000 mile service done for the Prius, so that pretty much shot the afternoon.

A Very Rare Two Headed Western Grebe
A Very Rare Two Headed Western Grebe

Forgot about my shot of the day, a very rare two headed western grebe, obviously struggling with deciding in which direction it wanted to go. 😉

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April 20, 2014 Bridgeport Reservoir, California

California quail
California quail

Yet More Birds and a Trip Up the Mountain

The feeding platform I put out on the birch tree on my site was overrun with a flock of 30 or so Pinyon Jays this morning.

Pinyon jays crowding the feeder
Pinyon jays crowding the feeder

This was my first time encountering these guys as they crowded the platform and cleaned it out and were gone in about 5 minutes.

White pelicans
White pelicans

I drove down the reservoir to the dam and got a shot of a couple of white pelicans, one of whom had one of the brightest beaks I have ever seen on one of these huge birds.

Buffleheads
Buffleheads

Farther down the Clark River, I encountered a great variety of ducks, but was only able to get a shot of these buffleheads. I’m going to have to think some about how to get close enough to these river ducks to get some decent shots because there is an incredible amount of all kinds of different ducks on this short stretch of the river.

Today was the day I was going to do Mono Lake, but once there I really could find very little to shoot. I have seen so many images of the tufa mounds on Mono Lake that I assumed they were scattered all around the lake. Turns out, all the shots I have seen were apparently taken on just one very short portion of the shore, most of the lake shore is just flat, barren, and boring. Really was a little disappointed in Mono Lake.

So, I decided to drive the 12 miles of Route 120 that were open. This road is the “back” way into Yosemite National Park, and not recommended for large vehicles because of the long climb up and over the mountains. The drive was truly enjoyable in the Prius, but there is no way I would want to attempt it with the RV. The road was gated 8 miles short of Tuolumne Meadows and the snow banks were still 3 or 4 feet high on the side of the road at that point. Spectacular scenery all along the way! ( I downloaded and somehow lost my shots so no images, I don’t know how I did that but hope I don’t make a habit of it ) The lakes up there were still completely frozen over and the old lodge buildings were still covered with several feet of snow. Kind of nice to be able to make a short hour long trip into the beauty of winter and then quickly reverse direction and return to spring!

California quail
California quail

 

California quail
California quail

Back home I noticed a pair of California Quail feeding around the campground, and, using my car as a blind, was able to follow them along for a few hundred feet as they did their thing and got some nice shots. I had no idea when I decided to stop at this campground that I would have so many opportunities to shoot birds, I had thought this was just going to be a stopover for Bodie and Mono Lake, what a pleasant surprise!

Yellow headed blackbird eating midges
All you can eat Midge buffet
Buffleheads
Buffleheads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2014 2nd Post from Goose Island, Texas

Brown pelican
Brown pelican

Spring Must Be Here!

As I drove wandered about the campground this evening, I couldn’t help but notice all the signs of spring in the air around here.

Brown pelican
Brown pelican

Brown pelican
Brown pelican

The back of the Atlantic brown pelican’s neck turns a reddish brown during mating season and these shots show that that change has now started. In the Pacific brown pelican, the throat pouch turns a bright red, so it appears that both versions of the brown pelican inhabit Goose Island this spring!

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

White pelican
White pelican
Extra horny white pelican
Extra horny white pelican

The white pelican grows a “horn” on it’s upper beak during breeding season that drops off after mating. The fellow in the 2nd image obviously must be extra horny!

Reddish egret
Reddish egret
Reddish egret
Reddish egret

I apologize for the quality of these shots of the reddish egret, it was late in the day and I was forced to shoot into the bright light coming from the west, behind the bird. This is the first reddish egret I have encountered here so I wanted to get some shots of it’s unusual feeding behavior. Unlike other egrets that stealthily stalk their prey and often remain motionless for minutes at a time, this egret dashes around madly with it’s wings outspread, looking like he is having some kind of manic fit. It is a very unique style, quite amusing to observe. During breeding season, part of the beak turns pink and his legs a bright blue.

Laughing gull
Laughing gull

Laughing gulls
Laughing gulls