Birding Hamden Slough NWR

HamdenSloughNWR&area-MN_LAH_6652

I hadn’t really planned to spend time birding in Minnesota. We were on a road trip around the Great Lakes, and we had finally turned toward home. But my high expectations for Whitefish Point, in northeastern Michigan, had been squelched by high winds, and we decided to cut and run, saving the time to spend someplace more accommodating and birdy. That someplace turned out to be Hamden Slough NWR.

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Birding the Sacramento Valley

SacramentoNWR-CA_LAH_2056Ducks a few feet from my lens. Snow Geese, Canada (and Cackling?) Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, all hanging out together. Beautiful weather. No crowds. And best of all, a new bird for my life list! The day I recently spent at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge complex was about as perfect as a bird photographer’s day can be.

The refuge complex has many locations along the Sacramento River and in the surrounding valley. I had time for two stops, at Colusa NWR and Sacramento NWR. (It took me a while to figure out that Sacramento NWR is part of the Sacramento NWR complex. Talk about confusing!)

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Birding the San Luis Valley

White-faced Ibis_AlamosaNWR-CO_LAH_2653With my recent weekend in the mountains still fresh in my mind, I was eager to return to the San Luis Valley, in south-central Colorado, to look for more birds. The conference field trips had been crowded, and I figured that ditching the entourage should help me get closer views, and hopefully photographs, of the birds we’d seen the previous weekend. And it just so happened that Pete and I had scheduled a date day. How convenient.

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“Ding” Darling Dreams

White Pelicans_DingDarlingNWR-FL_LAH_6696_filtered-001What do you do when you can’t go birding? After 21 years in the same house, my husband and I are moving. The goal is a smaller house, less upkeep, and more time for birds and photography. But in order to reach that goal, we have a lot of sorting and selling and donating to do. So, instead of strolling down the trail looking for winter songbirds, or driving across the prairies looking for raptors, I’m prowling around the house trying to find an object that will fit perfectly in that space left in the moving box I’m filling.

Trust me, it’s nowhere as much fun.

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National Wildlife (and people) Refuges

Cattle_Egrets_NoxubeeNWR-MS_20090618_LAH_3978A few years back I wrote an article about the Duck Stamp, formerly known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. (I like “duck stamp” a lot better!) Hunters need to buy the stamp to hunt ducks, and the money goes to purchase and maintain ducky sorts of habitats, with lots of water, good cover, and nice slimy plants to munch. You may know these places as National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs).

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Birder Heaven: Laguna Atascosa NWR

lagunaatascosanwr-tx_lah_3293Did you hear? There’s a Golden-crowned Warbler at Fontera! And there’s a Rose-throated Becard at Estero Llano… and an Anna’s Hummingbird at Sabal Palms, a Rufous Hummingbird at Estero… a Crimson-collared Grosbeak at Fontera… a Black-vented Oriole at Bentsen…

Birding the Rio Grande valley is like nowhere I’ve ever been. You could spend your entire trip chasing rarities from site to site. I overheard one man commenting that he’d seen four rare birds in one day. Where else can you do that?

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