Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wild in the Park

by Jim&Shirley White

It was 5 AM when I looked out our bedroom window. The cloud deck looked low, it was really grungy. Not raining yet, but the sky promised it would not be long. I really felt like doing our early morning walk. The temp gauge outside said 39f. So I made the coffee and did my morning chores.
And then I got the idea! If it looked that bad to everyone else, maybe no one but Shirley and I would show up at the park this early morning. We have been a little concerned about safety wandering around the early morning in the park with expensive camera gear, a known gang headquartered nearby and the homeless person we meet upon occasion. With this kind of weather will they will stay under cover too? Let's go to the park and photograph wildlife! Shirley thought it was a dumb idea.

We started walking toward to lake at about 20 minutes before sunrise.What sunrise? The overcast was grim. But how thick were the clouds? We started out using our little fold out canvas stools and set up near the big island. We knew there were 4 river otters in the lake but as dark as they are how to capture the image in this poor light. Shirley let out a gasp and whispered " at your feet"! All I remember is little brown heads, long whiskers and big brown eyes starring right at me. Too close, camera won't focus. They were a wild and rowdy bunch. They played together constantly. They were all over the pond. Our only hope was to get them on the island. We did but most of the shots were throwaways.
I checked my LCD screen and I could not believe the color. A slight improvement in the light.
First the Golden Eyes swam past us and then the Buffleheads. These diving ducks from the far north are our notice that the northern birds have really made it back!
Only one person approached us, wanting to know where he could find our pictures. Seemed like a nice guy, a banker or perhaps a local Judge? The bad guys just don't get out of bed very early I guess.





Saturday, November 1, 2014


by Jim and Shirley White

The large brown bird dropped out of the sky like a bombshell, exploding in a sea of Mud Hens (American Coots) like a grenade going off. The Rough-legged hawk nailed one of the Mud Hens on some dead tules about 50 feet from our road, in the Colusa National Wildlife
Refuge, near Colusa. Ca. A bite to the back of the head of the Mud Hen and the flopping bird was soon dead. Shirley and I stopped on the edge of the road and started firing the Nikon's in high-speed mode. Welcome back to some of the best wildlife photo shooting in the west.
A few minutes after, an SUV with a sun-roof pulled up in front of us, out of the roof popped a girl with a red parka on and the hawk flushed carrying part of the Mud Hen in his claws, and our hawk shoot for this day was over.
We had had a good shooting day. Earlier while chatting with the refuge manager, he had pointed out an area where some Sandhill Cranes had landed in a shallow pond. The Cranes had flown off before we could get there but we were rewarded by a dozen Curlews playing grab-ass and we were able to shoot some action shots of this un-common northern bird.
Yep....the game is on! Another great season of chasing waterfowl up and down the Sacramento Valley, always looking for the unusual but always interesting waterfowl from the far north.