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…

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Life in the Garden

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

#1 Grandson, Diva Dog, and I weren’t the only ones in the backyard soaking up the warm rays of the sun after the rain.

Life in the Garden

It was on the brick flower border sunbathing until I scared it with my camera. It sought the shelter of the AC unit. I crept as closely as I could to make this image of it, but I pushed my luck moving too close, and off he ran under the unit, and out of sight.

Nikon Df| AF Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D micro lens @f8| 1/1000s| ISO 400| Hand-held

More to come…

Sanderlings

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sanderlings

Taken last Saturday morning in Carmel by the Sea, CA. It was still overcast, and a bit cloudy which provided a lovely soft light  on these two Sanderlings that were foraging up a little higher on the beach.

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 w/Nikkor 14eII Teleconverter

More to come…

Life in the Garden

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Life in the Garden

Most the flowers in my yard have been long gone, but the Lantana continues to grow and bloom! The Fritillary still comes by to sip on the Lantana, and yesterday I had a Skipper of some sort stop by.

Growing under, and around the Lantana I have some wild Scarlet Pimpernel. Most consider this a weed and pull it out, but I let it grow. I like its tiny flowers. They’re only as big as my little finger’s nail.

Scarlet Pimpernel

Change is definitely in the air around here. There are fewer and fewer Finches coming to the Feeder this week. I think they’re beginning to move on. Here’s a male House Finch perched on the feeder. I really like this feeder. It really is Squirrel proof! ( This was shot  through a double glass window so it’s a bit soft).

House Finch Male

The Anna’s Hummingbirds are still around, but I haven’t been able to get a decent image of them from my window. 
I’m going to get myself a blind during the off season so I’m ready for them next Spring.

 It’s a Holiday week-end ( Labor Day on Monday) here in the States I hope to get over to the coast, or to some favorite birding places to see if any of the winter birds are starting to arrive. It’s also He-Man’s birthday tomorrow so, I’ll be in the kitchen baking the cake he’s requested: Chocolate cake with custard filling and vanilla frosting. 

I hope you all have a great week-end.

Images made with:

Nikon D700 w/ Nikkor 105mm Micro lens, and

Nikon D300s w/ AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 w/Nikkor 14eII Teleconverter

more to come…

Ring-necked Pheasant

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Ring-necked Pheasant MaleThis one is from my Archives. I made this image in late May this year.  This was a really neat and thrilling experience seeing this male Pheasant. I see them so rarely, and most the time they’re on the run the instant they spot me. This male was so busy eating, and I think used to people being around so, he didn’t pay much attention to my presence or the sound of my clicking shutter button.

I really liked the light on his back and face.

Nikon D3oos| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4| Hand-held

All Dressed Up

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

All Dressed Up

Nikon Df| AF-D Nikkor 105mm micro @ f3.2| 1/500s| ISO 500| Manual Priority| Matrix Metering| Hand-held| Developed in CS6 and OnOne Color Efex Pro 4

San Jose, Ca. USA

“I hate the words ‘handicapped’ and ‘disabled’. They imply that you are less than whole. I don’t see myself that way at all.”~ Aimee Mullins

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

"I hate the words 'handicapped' and 'disabled'. They imply thatTaken last month while out birding with friends Rainey, and Rene. He looks like he could overcome anything!

Nikon D300s| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4 @ f8| 1/1000s| ISO 500| Manual Priority| Hand-held