For some reason I have been dragging my feet about getting this trip report done. Maybe because in spite of spending three days in the basin I did not find many birds, certainly not many new birds. I did take the time to explore around Klamath Marsh which is very beautiful but not many birds near the roads and I think I saw more cattle trucks than birds and almost got flattened by one on a narrow stretch of unpaved road.
Ah well, I did have a couple of goals for the month. One was to find a grebe with young ones riding on its back. This was accomplished though it looked like Mom might be kicking the kids off any day now. I also saw some eared grebes with riders but it prove challenging to photograph the dark birds against the bright water. Still plenty of grebes around without chicks.
There were also still plenty of Mama ducks with broods. Some were starting to look more like ducks and less like fluffy toys.
Another goals was to work on birds in flight. I got a couple of shots of Great Egrets but still no prize winners. I followed one group of egrets all the way up the canal at Lower Klamath but for the most part they were too fast for me given the need to drive the car and juggle the camera at the same time.
I also took the time to head into Lava Beds National Monument where I learned that if you aren’t into caving it is really not worth the price of admission. But there are some nice views into Tule Lake outside the admission booth. I also did a few practice shots of Mt Shasta which is always hard to resist.
I did get one nice shot of a Cormorant stretching its wings.
And somewhat surprisingly at this time of year, a flock of geese practicing flying in formation. Perhaps the parents were getting the youngsters ready for a trip south in the fall.
Finally in the eleventh hour I decided to check out the viewing kiosk where I found shore birds aplenty. Killdeer, American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts and some long billed dowitchers all offering previews of coming attractions as the shorebird migration starts to heat up next month.
I stopped off at Lower Klamath and Tule Lake on my way to a bird photography workshop in Burns but came away with little to show for my efforts. These eared grebes being about the only thing worth sharing. Then I got busy editing the many great photos from Harney County (virtual gallery show coming soon!) and the next thing I knew June was about over. So when June 30th rolled around I knew I had two choices: abandon the project or get myself over to the Klamath Basin. I grabbed my gear and a Subway sandwich and headed out for a day trip and as always I was not sorry I went and, for a mid-day shoot, the pictures were not too bad.
Speaking of grebes, I had hoped to find a mama with her babies riding on her back but no such luck. I was either too early or too late (most likely) or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I did get a nice shot of this Western Grebe along with my first sighting of a pied-billed grebe which was cuteness personified as it stretched its wings in the midst of its afternoon bath.
Overall it was another quiet month in the Basin with no large flocks of migrants and only the resident Canada Geese showing up in numbers. But I did see quite a few White Faced Ibis, including this one who stopped to pose.
This large antlered mammal also seemed keen on having his portrait made so I had no choice but to oblige.
I was surprised to see my first bald eagle since March, just in time for 4th of July. Though the eagle population swells in the winter there are always a few that choose to stay and breed in the Klamath Basin.
These two double-crested Cormorants seemed intent on something but I never figured out what.
All-in-all, though, the stars of the show this month were the mama ducks shepherding their little ones around the lake. I’ve studied the heck out of my bird guides, which like to feature adult males, and I’ve come to the conclusion these must be Mallards based on the orange beak and eye stripes but I’m open to other suggestions.
July may be one of the least eventful months with all the families mostly grown and ready to fly on their own and the migrants not due to arrive for another month or so. But I am planning a three day trip to include some parts of the Basin I haven’t visited before so I’m sure to turn up something interesting. I’m also anxious to get in a little more practice on birds in flight. I’m getting better, really.