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Category Archives: National Wildlife Refuges in California

Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Nikon D810; Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm | hand-held| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The American Kestrel is the littlest Falcon in North America and the most colorful.  They’re quite fierce for the size. They often perch on wires, or poles to watch and wait for unsuspecting prey. ” Hunting for insects and other small prey in open territory, kestrels perch on wires or poles, or hover facing into the wind, flapping and adjusting their long tails to stay in place.”~AllAboutBirds.com

Gordon and I stopped at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday morning before joining a Meet-Up group we’re in at another National Wildlife Refuge and while on the auto route where the Tulle Elk are we spotted this Kestrel on a post.  It was just after a heavy rain storm so there was Tulle Fog all over the valley hence the white sky.  I love the rain drops or dew drops on his breast feathers.

American Kestrel Male

 

 

We didn’t see any Tulle Elk in the paddock. Not one! They must have been deep in the trees until it warmed up.  Thankfully for us this Kestrel was out and about looking for breakfast!

Nikon D700|Nikkor 200-500mm @ 460mm| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Meadowlark Western – Male

Meadowlark Western Male

Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm| Lexar Professional Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I spent the day  with friends in Merced County birding in the wildlife refuges near there. It was a great day of birding, and I’ll be sharing the birds I photographed in the near future, but today I wanted to share the lovely sunset we had on the pond.

Sunset on the Pond

Nikon Df| Nikkor 20mm f/1.8g @f/16| Delkin Digital Film| PS CC 2017 & On1 Photo 10.5

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Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Look at that eye!  Really not liking me and my camera clicking away.  They are characters Northern Mockingbirds.

They mimic other birds. There’s one in my neighborhood that mimics a car alarm.  Really!

They’re fiercely  territorial.  I’ve witnessed a Northern Mockingbird dive-bombing a cat trying to nap in the sun more times than I care to count. The cat just flinched and went back to its nap. REALLY? Why didn’t the cat strike out and eat that bird? Cats eat birds! The Northern Mockingbird must have more power than a cat!

Northern Mockingbird

When this one grew tired of my clicking it flew away. Leaving me nothing to photograph. Sigh.  It’s a cunning bird for sure!

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm| Lexar Professional Digital Film| PS CC 2017

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Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post here that photographing November’s Super Moon was N° 1 on my photography list of things to do this past week-end.

Quite awhile back I made plans to shoot it with with friends, and a photography group we’re in in central California at a Sandhill Crane Refuge called Woodbridge Ecological Reserve aka Isenberg Crane Reserve.    The Sandhill Cranes Winter here, and in November both Greater and Lesser Sandhill Cranes are on the Reserve.

The goal was to photograph the Sandhill Crane’s evening Fly-in and rising Super Moon.

Here is a series of images I made.

It was hazy and a little cloudy, but here is the Moon just rising above the mountains. You can barely see the mountains.

Rising Super Moon

…some Sandhill Cranes making their way into the Marsh.

Sandhill Cranes and the Super Moon November 2016

super-moon-and-reflection

Two Sandhill Cranes flying in high in front of the Moon.

Sandhill Cranes and the Super Moon

Once the sun went down it was pretty tough shooting. I really pushed the ISO to keep my shutter speed up so the Sandhill Cranes wouldn’t be too blurry, but I failed for the most part. I also focused on the Moon and not the Cranes which didn’t help keep the Cranes sharp.  Still. I would do it all over again. It was an amazing evening hearing and seeing the Cranes coming in with this year’s special Super Moon, and the company was the best.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2017 & On1 Photo 10.5

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Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

My original Photography plans for last week-end fell apart mid-week when one of the friends I was going with fell ill.  Rather than go anyway which didn’t sit well with me or my friend Theresa we two switched gears and decided to go birding in the Central Valley to see what birds if any had arrived early.

I had read a few reports of early migrants in the area; we hoped to find one or two, and spend some time catching up with each other.

I left for T’s house early (6:30am) so we’d get to the Refuge in the morning when the birds are more active.

We found the first pond completely sans water. Fish and Wildlife have just started filling the ponds we discovered. Many of the ponds we’re used to seeing full of water were bone dry, but it is early in the season!

Just as we were starting the auto-route we spied a Doe and her Fawn in the tall grass. I didn’t get an image of them together. Mom decided her male Fawn was too close to the road and moved to higher grass.  Honestly, I think she looks young!

Doe  Deer Female

The Fawn has two little adorable antler nubs.Fawn Male

Early arrivals: There were quite a few White-fronted Geese on the little islands in the ponds that had water.

White-fronted Goose

Northern Pintails, and Shovelers are showing up, but I didn’t make any images of the Shovelers they were too far out. You see a Northern Pintail in image above giving me a one wing salute. 🙂

Among the usual suspects here were thousands of Dragonflies,

Dragon Fly

Pied-billed Grebes

Pied-billed Grebe

Night Herons; most were deep in the foliage, but one was on Sentry duty,

Night Heron

We saw a female Harrier flying low in the distance hunting, a few Red-tail Hawks, and as we approached the tree the Bald Eagles hang out in there we saw there was a Peregrine Falcon perched on a snag surveying the land.

Copyright © 2016 Deborah M. Zajac ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Once the Eagles return I doubt we’ll be seeing this Falcon in this tree. 🙂

Plan B turned out to be a great day, and it was lovely  hanging out with Theresa. You can find her images on flickr here.

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm VR| Lexar Professional Digital Film| PS CC 2015.5

More to come…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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