My April visit to the Klamath Basin took place on the 16th and 17th. Again I focused my time on Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuges. I arrive about noon and the 16th and spent most of the afternoon driving around photographing. I had thought to go into town for dinner and come back out for sunset but I had so much success I decided the late afternoon light was good enough and I stayed until about 6pm before heading in for the night.
There were the usual assortment of ducks, grebes, and pelicans on the lake. The grebes were not yet doing any mating dances but this Western Grebe was starting to show a little attitude and this Clark’s Grebe was just plain handsome in his (or her?) mating plumage.
A new bird for me was the American Avocet. Also looking fine in their peachy breeding feathers, these birds liked to hang out on the road but would fly or run away as my car approached, ending up in the lake. I would like to have gotten a shot of one standing or flying but it was not to be.
I had seen one or two egrets on my previous visits but this time they were abundant. All along the ditches at Lower Klamath and also quite common at Tule Lake. This one I caught fishing for lunch.
As I was driving past the marshy area at the south end of the lake I saw a big grey lump off in the rushes. I lifted the binoculars to check it out and saw what looked to be a black crowned night heron. When I got the telephoto lens in focus there proved to be not one but two and I was thrilled to get this shot.
The next morning I got my wires crossed between the time of that day’s sunrise and the previous days sunset so I arrived at 6:30 am, just after a sunrise that I thought would occur at 6:50. Oh, well, there weren’t many clouds so it was a boring sunrise anyway. And not many snow geese so not a lot of activity either. But the light was good and there were a lot more pelicans than I had seen previously. This one I caught flying away from me. They are so graceful in flight for such a big bird. I just started taking a class from a local master birder and learned that the white pelican has the second longest wingspan of any bird in North America at nearly 9 feet, just a few inches less than the California Condor.
There were more yellow headed black birds this time around and I got a few good shots. I saw California quail at Tule Lake but they were too fast for me. I also saw pheasants at Tule Lake for the first time and got at least a head shot of one before he scurried off into the sagebrush.
I also got close enough to catch this double crested Cormorant taking off. I was fascinated to see that the Cormorants and grebes were hanging out with the pelicans as they did their fish roundup. I’m sure they were looking to take part in the feast.
Another great thrill came when I saw my first baby birds. Mama and Papa Canada Goose were being very protective and hurrying them along and the light was not in my favor. But I did get this shot of Mama hunkered down with the babes as she tried to hide them in the tules away from the big bad photographer.
The one that got away was the racoon that I saw lumbering across the road at lower Klamath. I caught him peeking back at me from the ditch but couldn’t get him in the frame before he disappeared.
So, that was it for April. Looking forward to more migrants and more breeding plumage in May. And hoping against hope to catch those grebes doing their mating dance!