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.

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February 5, 2014 Last Day in Iowa, Louisiana

Green winged teal pair
Green winged teal pair

Cameron NWR and Lacassine NWR

With a little sun peeking through, though still very chilly, I decided to do one last trip this morning to Cameron NWR and then on to Lacassine NWR.

Gadwall takeoff
Gadwall takeoff

Click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

 

Northern shoveler take off
Northern shoveler take off

 

Northern shoveler take off
Northern shoveler take off

I did have some nice early AM light at Cameron and got a couple of duck shots before it turned too harsh, but the stiff wind is keeping most of the birds up against the reed beds and out of my reach. Same situation at Lacassine and, if anything, the wind is getting stronger.

Satellite Woes Continue

Back home and up on the roof I go to replace the temporary coax fix from the turret to the LNB head with the new coax from Winegard. Did not solve the problem, so once again called Winegard for the next possible solution. They have decided now to send me a new turret that I am expected to install, we shall see how that goes.

 

February 3, 2014 Cameron NWR, Louisiana

Northern Shovelers in flight
Northern Shoveler

My appointment at Toyota was a wasted trip as they found the left sensor was not what was needed, right front speed sensor ordered and will be in for tomorrow appointment. Walked 1 mile up to WalMart and something popped in my right calf, very sharp pain, limped back to Toyota dealer. This getting old sucks, no matter what anyone else says, though still better than the alternative.

With sun forecasted this afternoon, I headed back down to the Cameron NWR in hopes of some better light for flight shots. The skies remained socked in for most of my time there with just a few openings in the cloud cover every now and then.

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

Northern Shovelers in flight
Northern Shoveler

 

Northern Shovelers in flight
Northern Shoveler
Northern Shovelers in flight
Northern Shoveler

 

 

 

 

 

 

Had some nice opportunities with ducks lifting off the water, but there just wasn’t enough light to get anything great. A lot of “ almost but not quite “ shots.

Rear view of a pintail
Rear view of a pintail

I am always getting hundreds of ” bird butt” shots since they do tend to want to flee, and normally discard them, but this rear view of a Northern pintail I found interesting.

Northern Shovelers in flight
Northern Shoveler

And this just missed shot of a Northern Shoveler  shows why so much water flows off a duck’s feathers at liftoff. You can still see a solid film of water attached to the head and underside of this duck as he exits the water on takeoff. Would have made a nice shot if I had gotten his wing tips.

Turned the TV on early evening and had a message that the box couldn’t communicate with the satellite, here we go again, followed the DirecTv suggestions for a cure but that produced nothing, so I hit the power button on the dish interface box to reset the dish and once again got the dreaded “ no LNB voltage “ message, so back to square one with Winegard. Too late to call in to Winegard tonight, so will wait until tomorrow.

 

December 23, 2013 Port Aransas, Texas

A variety of ducks hiding in the reeds
A variety of ducks hiding in the reeds

Played around with the frig a little more this morning and got it to manually light on gas when using a match to light and bypassing the electronic ignition. When I take out the sparking device, I can hear it “clicking” so some juice is getting to it but apparently not enough to ignite. Of course, once the thermostat shuts the gas down, it won’t come back on later unless I light with a match again, and that is not something that happens on a first try. Guess I have no choice but to move up to Rockport and get this fixed before boondocking again.

Wind was rocking the RV last night and it got down into the 30’s. The car is completely coated with a fine film of sand, sure that will do wonders for the paint job.

Black bellied whistling ducks
Black bellied whistling ducks
Northern shovelers
Northern shovelers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green winged teal
Green winged teal

Drove back out to the water treatment plant and walked out the boardwalk to where a lone photographer was set up. Turns out he is a native and says that if the ducks aren’t here in November, they aren’t here at all for the rest of the winter, and they weren’t there this morning, for sure. Also checked out Charlie’s Pasture and the little in town sanctuary, both held nothing, so much as I hate to leave the beach because of the frig, at least I am not missing anything as far as my bird photography goes. All four of these images come from last year’s visit to the water treatment plant where I spent many a day doing flight shots and closeups of a wide variety of waterfowl. These shots were all taken with my Nikon D300 and as I found out at High Island last year, my new D800 does a much, much better job on this type of image, but now I guess I will just have to wait until next year ( gee, I sound like a Red Sox fan, the old Red Sox, that is ).