Red-tailed Hawk 2

Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This Red-tail is from a couple of weeks back.  My friend and I were birding in San Luis National Wildlife Refuge and nearing the end of one of the auto-routes when we spotted it high in the tree.  I was driving and didn’t think I’d get a decent photograph of it because it was on the passenger side of the car/road, and climbing over the console and gear box wasn’t something I wanted to do.

Red-tail Hawk

We had the route nearly to ourselves so I thought I’d pull the car caddy-whompus across the road and shoot leaning into the passenger seat.  I was able to get several images of it before another car came up and I had to move.

It is striking isn’t it with its white cap and that gaze?

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 200-500mm VR| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2015

Loggerhead Shrike

Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I have only seen this bird a handful of times, and managed to get an image even less.

This Loggerhead Shrike was on the fence bordering the Tule Elk Paddock as you enter the Refuge. This one was pretty accommodating and let me take its photo for a couple of minutes.

Loggerhead Shrike

Coming around to the end of the auto-route in the Refuge was this Loggerhead Shrike perched on a dried plant in the Tule Elk paddock. It was pretty far away and behind a wire fence. This is cropped in a bit. I wondered if it wasn’t the same Shrike I’d seen when I first entered the Refuge? I’ll never know but am thrilled to have seen it!

Loggerhead Shrike

This was an exciting start to my day of birding.

Nikon D300s| Nikon 200-500mm VR| Lexar Digital Film| PS CC 2016

More to come…



A day in the Wild

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I spent Saturday at two Wildlife Refuges: Merced National Wildlife Refuge, and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s takes just about 2 hours to get there from my house even with a stop for coffee along the way. It’s a fairly easy drive, and the only worrisome part of the drive is crossing Pacheco Pass, and only in the two lane windy section. Fortunately traffic was light going, and not much worse on the way home.

I was hoping to see Sandhill Cranes which my friend Judi shared were starting to return for the Winter.

With the drought being pretty severe here the Refuges have had their water allotments cut way back so, there’s not much water there. I suspect that will influence the number of birds that winter there, and the numbers will be a lot fewer than in past years.

At Merced National Wildlife Refuge there are a couple of observation decks, and a large auto-route with quite a few pull-outs. I arrived not long after the gate opened, and only saw one other car ahead of me. For two hours we were the only people in the refuge. It was really nice not having cars pass me and frighten the birds.

Here are the only Sandhill Cranes I saw. They were in the last field, and as always very skittish. They started moving deeper into the field when I stopped. While I was imaging the group I had the good luck to see two more fly in.

Sandhill Crane Fly-in

There was a flock of White-faced Ibis here, and they were so hungry they didn’t worry about me at all. There were a few quite close to the road. This one just yawned when I crept up. I love the colors in their feathers.

White-faced Ibis: Adult Winter

The White Crowned Sparrows are returning everywhere, even here.

White Crowned Sparrow

It was foggy when I left home, and there was haze around the countryside, and Refuge. I had hoped to meet my friend Judi here, but the air quality was really bad. There had been a report the night before that the air quality would be bad and people should not go out. I got Judi’s message about that too late; after I arrived at the Refuge. She’s on bottled air and didn’t dare leave the house. You can see the haze in several of the images, but especially in this image of a Great Egret I saw. He didn’t bat an eyelash at my presence! Their stillness and concentration are amazing. I liked the back lighting, and the haze gave the image a soft, dreamy look.

Backlit Great Egret

The Coots are back, as are the Shovelers, Mallards, and some Greater Yellowlegs.  While photographing the Greater Yellowlegs I put down my camera to take in the pond. You can see how much the water has already receded/evaporated.

Pond at MErced NWR

…a Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

I have a lot of images to go through and can’t share them all in this post. I haven’t even got to the second refuge images yet.

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4| AF-S Nikkor 14eII Teleconverter| braced with this beanbag.

More to come…

American Kestrel- Female

American Kestrel- Female, originally uploaded by dmzajac2004-.

Via Flickr:
Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

“Not on a wire, not on a pole, it’s a tree for me!” This is the little mantra I said today as I saw a Kestrel on a wire. Later in the morning while we were driving through an Auto-tour in San Luis National Wildlife Refuge I spotted this kestrel in a tree! I was so excited, and thrilled when I uploaded this photo. It’s the first Kestrel I’ve shot that wasn’t on a pole or wire, and the first I’ve posted I believe.
We (Rainy, Dali, Judi, and I) saw so many neat birds and photographed quite a few of them.
We saw, this Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, Black Phoebe’s, Sparrow’s a new one for me I need to ID, my first Merlin!, Ross Geese, Coots, Blue Herons, Egrets: mostly Great Egrets, a Kingfisher, an American Bluebird, a Burrowing Owl, Mallards, Northern Pintails, Shrike, Meadow Larks, Plovers, Ibis, Sandhill Cranes, White fronted Geese, Red-winged Blackbirds, Shovelers, and White-tail Kites. In addition we saw a Coyote,  I saw a raccoon, and  we saw a dear friend Judi. It was an amazing, fantastic, sunny, everything going our way, very good day!

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 80-200 @200mm + Tamron 1.4TC|f7.1| 1/800 sec| ISO 640| Manual Priority| Hand-held