April 21, 2014 Bridgeport Reservoir, California

Western grebe pair
Western grebe pair

More Waterfowl

I ran down to the Bridgeport Reservoir Dam early this morning and got a shot of a pair of western grebes fishing.

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

Western grebe pair
Western grebe pair

I then drove farther down the road along the Clark River, stopping a couple of times and stealthily walking down through the sagebrush to the river’s edge trying to capture some duck shots before, or as they flew off.

Common merganser pair
Common merganser pair
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair
Cinnamon Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Mallard drake in flight
Mallard drake in flight
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair

It is amazing the number and diversity of ducks on this small, gorgeous river. I was told that this is one of the three most famous trout streams in the west, but I am impressed as much by the number of ducks it attracts. This morning I have found several Cinnamon Teal, Buffleheads, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Wood Ducks, Widgeons, a pair of Redheads, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and Ring necked ducks all in just a half mile stretch of this 30 foot wide stream. Also present were several cormorants, grebes, and a white pelican. Quite a spot. Only issue is being able to sneak up on them with no trees to hide behind, and when they spook and take off, the camera finds it difficult to gain focus quick enough against the hillside brush on the far side of the stream.

Around 8:30, I took off for a return trip to Bodie. After driving all the way up there, I turned back at the start of the 3 mile dirt road in because of the white, overcast skies, no sun whatsoever. I figured there was no sense in beating the car up on the 3 miles of bad road when the resultant images would most likely not be all that good with the poor light.

So I returned home to process images and work on blog posts. I plan to head up to Carson City tomorrow but the weather calls for strong winds with a rain and snow mix, so I may extend my stay here another day. I have no desire to get caught on the road in that kind of weather, especially since I don’t know what kinds of elevations I may meet between here and Carson City.

Pinyon jays crowding the feeder
Pinyon jay
Mallard pair takeoff
Mallard pair
Mallard drake in flight
Mallard drake in flight

 

 

 

 

Mallard drake in flight
Mallard drake in flight
Cinnamon Teal
Cinnamon Teal

 

 

 

 

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