f8 and Be There
by Jim and Shirley White
It is another very hot summer day in the foothills of Placer Co. Not a cloud in the sky. The waterfowl have all gone north, the deer,bear and other critters in hidden in the "bush". What is a Outdoor/Wildlife type photographer to do? I have no idea where to get some satisfying wildlife/outdoor photos today. Our first rule....get off your ass, pack up the photo gear, and get out there. It ain't going to happen in my refrigerated living-room!
We have got to have a little pleasure first. Eggs and fixings at Katrina's at 0700. Where is there the most wildlife in this part of California? It is in the valley for sure. Where to go? I don't know. The refuges are barren, not much in the rice fields, a few Egrets and Ibises, but we don't need pictures of them. Hit the old familiar places and play it by ear I guess. We go to East Nicholas and I stop and think. During my Warden days where did I find the most pecker necks? The East Levee road just to the south-west. Up on the gravel levee road and the drain-ditch is full of Water Hyacinths. So full of plants waterfowl will not use it now. We turn east, cross the ditch and travel on a dirt farm road out into the thousands of acres of rice fields. The really green rice, without heads yet, is barren of wildlife. How about Coon Creek way to the north? I have not driven there in 40 years or more. One set of tire tracks in the road ahead tells me the rice rancher's water tender must travel this way. We cruise slowly along the creek road and thru a small opening I spy eyes watching me! I back up and there he is, a baby Black-Crowned Night Heron! He is standing in shallow water in a beautiful setting. I have never seen a BCNH baby out of it's nest before. This one is looking at me like I might be it's mother. Shirley and I fire our shutters at 6 frames per second while we have the chance. You can hunt the wildlife web sites and not find a shot like this one. A real prize for sure.
We move on and let the chick have it's peace. Nothing to fear from us for sure. I'm wondering where I am now out in the many rice field roads, when around the corner of the tule's up ahead appears this white pick-up. Time to play cool, like we belong here and it is just a real nice day. The driver smiles and has a slight frown that must be a question or two. I shove my 2 foot-long lens out the door and tell hem we are wildlife photographers, trying to make some bread today and having a tough time. He smiles and wonders out loud if we had seen all the white-herons on big tree along the creek? He called it a "roost". I said it must be a "rookery" and if he is going that way would he show us the way.
One mile back along the creek at least 100 Large White Egrets were in the trees with babies stuffed in the nests everywhere. They are at least 100 yards away and Shirley and I are ready to climb to fence and get closer, when our new friend mentions all the black Angus bulls he saw along there the last time he was here. I show him what the babies look like on my LCD and he is amazed.
When we figure out how to handle the bulls, we are going back. Just another case of f8 and be there!