February 26, 2017 Ogilby Road BLM Area, California

Burrowing Owl Portrait
Burrowing Owl Portrait

Finally Some Opportunities to Shoot a Few Birds

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

I drove north from my campsite on Ogilby Road to check out the Cibola NWR, a refuge I have visited twice before. The fields were green but the birdlife pretty sparse at the refuge, perhaps because the migrants have already taken wing to begin their northward migration.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

However, the Burrowing Owls were here as they usually are, and I can never resist spending some time with these diminutive ( about the size of a pigeon )  little raptors.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

Back home at the campsite, the feeders I have put out are finally attracting some action, such as this male Anna’s Hummingbird,

Male Costa's Hummingbird
Male Costa’s Hummingbird

this male Costa’s Hummingbird,

Gathering Nest Material
Gathering Nest Material

this female ??? hummingbird, with spider’s silk wrapped on it’s beak,

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Male Rufous Hummingbird

and this male Rufous Hummingbird.

Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

The female hummingbirds coming to the feeders far outnumber the more colorful males, although this female Rufous is fairly colorful herself.

Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

My tray feeders have attracted White-crowned Sparrows,

??? Sparrow
??? Sparrow
??? Sparrow
??? Sparrow

along with these unidentified sparrows,

??? Sparrow
??? Sparrow

plus a few House Finches and one solitary Verdin, drawn in by the oranges I put out in the tree. Unfortunately, the little Verdin has been completely uncooperative in allowing me to catch him in action.

With my dental work complete, I hope to now be able to spend some serious time attempting to get some decent Hummingbird shots.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

April 23, 2015 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Pintail
Pintail

Grouse Lek in the Morning, Meadows Near Burns in the Afternoon

Once again I got out really early to get to the Sage Grouse Lek before sunrise.

Sage Grouse Display
Sage Grouse Display

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

Sage Grouse Display
Sage Grouse Display

Thankfully, the birds were there and doing their dance, unfortunately, the harsh lighting conditions were very similar to my last visit.

Sage Grouse Display
Sage Grouse Display
Sage Grouse Display
Sage Grouse Display
Sage Grouse Display
Sage Grouse Display

The forecast calls for rain in the next few days, so I shall return when there is a little better light, and will hope the grouse are still into doing this bizarre dance.

Pintail
Pintail
Pintail
Pintail
Pintail
Pintail

After leaving the lek, I drove north on Route 205 to explore the farm roads around the town of Burns. Managed to catch a Pintail Duck taking off from a portion of a small roadside wet area.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

These fields or meadows around Burns are usually flooded in the spring and attract all kinds of birds. This year, a flooded field is hard to find, but Jim Palmer had given me some suggestions for areas to check on, and I did find some productive spots.

A Willet in a Hurry
A Willet in a Hurry

The water I did find off Double Zero Road yielded the above shots of pintail duck, greater yellowlegs, and willet, but the drought has left precious little standing water in the area and there simply weren’t that many birds around.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

Acting on another tip from Jim, I drove out Ruh Red Road to pole #132 to check on some burrowing owls, and they were actually there. One of the pair actually was kind enough to almost completely show himself instead of remaining below ground, with just the top of his head showing, as is usually the case with these tiny birds.

Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier

I have driven the northern portion of the main refuge road pretty much every morning since I have been here, trying to get a good shot of one of the many male Northern Harriers here.

Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier
Male Northern Harrier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, i just can’t sneak up on them as the road is made with fairly large crushed rock and therefore produces quite a loud crunching sound as you drive over it. As a result, by the time I am close enough to get off a shot, I am usually shooting at a bird’s butt, or they drop down in the bunch grass or cat tails and are hidden from view. I’m starting to think I’m just not going to get that one great ” Gray Ghost ” shot I initially really thought I would get here.

Tree Swallows
Tree Swallows

These tree swallows aren’t put off by the road noise though.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

And speaking of bird butts and frustration, there is this guy, a beautiful Short-eared Owl who I meet up with every day at the same place on the refuge road, yet just can’t get a shot of him. This is one of the few owls who hunt by day, but he too, always hears me coming and heads off before I can get close enough for a good shot.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

 

 

 

 

 

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

Every morning, and some afternoons, he is sitting on the same bush, just taunting me, and I now must admit, I believe he has gotten the better of me. At least I have some painting reference shots.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

February 3, 2015 Yuma, Arizona

Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails

Motorhome Service Day and a Trip to Cibola NWR

Appointment at Fisher Chevy in Yuma for drive belt replacement, front brake job, transmission flush, rear differential service, power steering flush, air and gas filter replacement, plus a few other minor items, all preventative measures for my Alaska trip this summer. With the solar upgrade, the jack replacement and frig and generator work yesterday, and today’s major expenditure, I feel like I am hemorrhaging cash, but it all did have to be done, and I am living in an eleven year old motorhome and maintenance expense is to be expected. But boy, does this hurt.

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

The gathering
The gathering

Cibola NWR

Since I knew I was going to have to find a way to kill at least 8 hours while my home was being worked on, I had decided earlier to head up to Cibola NWR and check the place out. So, I backtracked to Ogilby Road and headed north to Route 78 East hoping to find a some signs directing me to the refuge. This refuge is indicated on Google Maps, but nowhere does it show the refuge headquarters or Visitors Center. The Refuges own web page map doesn’t show anything either. So I drove up Route 78 all the way to I-10, checking out a couple of dirt roads off of 78 to see if I could luck into finding the refuge, but no such luck. Only after turning around at I-10 and retracing my steps south on Route 78, did I encounter a sign for the refuge. Just one sign, and visible only if traveling south ( west ) on 78, nothing if coming from the other direction.

Without a doubt, one of the hardest NWR to find. But I certainly was glad I persisted, because it was well worth the trouble finding.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

I finally got some shots of a burrowing owl,

Northern Harrier male, the " Grey Ghost "
Northern Harrier male, the ” Grey Ghost “
Northern Harrier male, the " Grey Ghost "
Northern Harrier male, the ” Grey Ghost “

I almost got some useable shots of one of my greatest nemesis, the “ grey ghost “, a raptor I see now and then, but can never digitally capture, the elusive male Northern Harrier,

Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails

and I got some nice flight shots of Northern Pintails.

Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails
Northern Pintails circling for a landing
Northern Pintails circling for a landing

In case you couldn’t guess from these shots, one of my absolute favorite ways of passing time on a gorgeous day is to sit in a blind on the edge of a pond and shoot flight shots of ducks. Here in Cibola NWR, they request that you stay in your car, so as not to unduly disturb the birds, so my blind today was the Prius. Actually a car is one of the better blinds for wildlife photography anyhow, but I prefer my camp rocking chair inside my Doghouse Blind, just couldn’t use it today.

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail
Canada Geese landing
Canada Geese landing

On my way back to Yuma, I had to drive right past my campsite off Ogilby Road, so went in to make sure my perfect spot was still unoccupied, and was very, very disappointed to find that not one, but three RVs had moved in right on top of this previously perfect boon docking site, so very disappointing. I had told RV Sue last night that I was definitely returning here after the work was done on my motorhome, for where would I ever find a better spot, but now I will have to relocate.

So after picking up my motorhome, paying my $1728 bill ( Ouch! ), and loading the toad, I headed back to I-8 west, but instead of going back to my previously perfect spot, took the Algodones Exit and squeezed in to a spot along the All American Canal, just south of the Casino, quite a change of pace from my previous spot, but close to the cross border town where I hope to investigate finding a place to have some dental work done.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !