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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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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Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Visitor Center_BearLakeMigratoryBirdRefuge-UT_LAH_3884Want some great birding in northern Utah? I recently discovered a real gem—the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. It’s located on the northeast corner of the Great Salt Lake, just northwest of Ogden off I-15/I-84. The day I visited—midweek in early April—I almost had the place to myself. It was just me and plenty of birds! (Don’t confuse this place with Bear Lake NWR, in Idaho, which is also well worth a visit.) Continue reading “Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge”

Bosque Birding, Part 2

(Be sure to see Bosque Birding, Part 1.)

Snow Geese_BosquedelApacheNWR-NM_LAH_6273It was pitch black, and our motel room was uncomfortably cold, despite the noisy heater that had run all night. I groped my way out of bed, half asleep but excited about the coming day. We were in Socorro, New Mexico, just north of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. In less than an hour, I’d be taking pictures of some 30,000 Snow Geese flying into the dawn sky.

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Bosque Birding, Part 1

Question: I’m a birder and nature photographer living in Colorado, with a limited budget for travel. Where can I go for fun and photos at this time of year?

Answer: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge!

Geese and Cranes_BosquedelApacheNWR - NM_LAH_7495Just a day’s drive south of Colorado Springs, Bosque del Apache is the place to go for anyone interested in birds and/or photography. The week we visited, right after New Year’s, the refuge was home to 8,100 Sandhill Cranes, over 32,000 “light” geese, and a whopping 57,000 ducks! With such numbers, spectacular photos are pretty much guaranteed.

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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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