Sacramento NWR in the Fog – Day 2

January 15, 2018 at 7:06 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

Tundra Swans

Even though the thick fog kept me inside until noon and persisted all day, it lent a beautiful background with muted palette to the photographs. There were perhaps thousands of tundra swans in the wet fields enroute to the Llano Seco unit northwest of the main refuge, and the above image is by far my favorite of the day.

Tundra Swan Taking Off

In many areas they were the only type of waterfowl in a particular pond. They were not present at the main refuge, though.

Snow and Ross’s Geese

There were also huge flocks of snow geese, with quite a few Ross’s mixed in.

Ross’s Geese

The Ross’s are smaller and more petite looking than the snow geese, and even if they weren’t side-by-side you could tell them apart. The Ross’s have a more dove-like head with smaller bills, giving them a cuteness their bigger cousins lack.

Bald Eagle

Another pleasant surprise was a bald eagle, which decided after a few frames that the intruder (me) just wasn’t to be tolerated. (This, like most of the images here, is a highly cropped portion of the digital image.)

Bald Eagle Taking Flight

Bald Eagle Taking Flight

Marsh Wren

Over at the main Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, the fog had thinned, and I concentrated on getting at least one good image of the ubiquitous marsh wrens. Many of the males were singing as they patrolled the reeds for bugs, but were rarely in good view and were constantly on the move.

Marsh Wren

I parked and waited. And waited. And waited.

Marsh Wren

As you can see, it paid off.

Marsh Wren

They are great acrobats,  straddling reeds as they survey their kingdoms.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker

While waiting for the little wrens to cooperate, I saw a Nuttall’s woodpecker inching its way up a tree. I think this is a life bird. (I need to check my list at home.)

Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon was quite a distance away.

Bald Eagle Juvenile

The young bald eagle, however, was almost too close.

White-faced Ibis

I only saw a handful of white-faced ibis here, although there was a flock of about 25 in one of the ponds outside the refuge.

Black Phoebe

Black phoebes were plentiful, but I’m not sure the bugs were flying much.

Ruddy Duck Male

Ruddy ducks were more abundant on the east side of the Auto Tour, and I just love their big-headed shoe-billed look.

Gadwall Drake

The gadwall drake has some of the most beautiful, delicate plumage, but you don’t really notice it unless you see them close up.

Gadwall Drake

Bufflehead Drake

By the time I saw a handful of buffleheads, the light was too dim to try for one more visit to the nearby ponds. It was supposed to be a sunrise-to-sunset birding day, but the images and the birds seen made the short hours worth it.

Pintails in flight

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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  1. Jet Eliot said,

    You had the fortune of visiting my favorite winter refuge, Cindy. I’m smiling because I wrote my recent post about this same spot, too. You have done great justice to this marvelous place with spectacular findings and photos. Your images of the marsh wren must’ve taken a very long time, because they are nearly impossible to catch still. Impressive photos, as always. My wife and I have visited the Calif. Central Valley every winter for 27 years, and it is always, without fail, a complete joy. If you are still in the area, another favorite is an hour or so south of the Sac. Complex, called Consumnes, and this boasts the added delight of sandhill cranes. You can also spot the cranes on Staten Island, nearby. Have fun. I’m heading to your Day 1 right now.

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Hi Jet – I saw your post and commented on Facebook that it was already on my travel list for this weekend! Thanks for the tips – it’s VERY foggy so not sure if I’ll have a chance to see more before I have to head home. Drive safely!

  2. Robert said,

    Hi Cindy:

    Great images with good copy. We enjoy and admire Your postings. Continue with the excellent work.

    Best to you,

    Rob Olson

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Thanks Rob! You haven’t posted many closeups in awhile, or have I missed them?

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