I got up around 5:30 this morning and headed out with the dog to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. It was in the 50’s when we left the house, and got up to about 81° by the late afternoon; so it was a nice day. I also had the whole refuge to myself; didn’t see another car or person all the while I was out there which was double-nice.
This is one of the last weekends the refuge will have its extension loop open, so I wanted to make sure to be able to see that. It was nice to see that the refuge is already pumping water into the seasonal wetland areas (which is kind of unusual for August): the more water there is, the more birds there are to see. Some of the ducks, especially Pintails, were moving in already. I also saw a few Widgeons, Ruddy Ducks, and Northern Shovelers.
I saw three sets of mule deer. One was a male with two females (which may have been his mom and sibling), another set was a mama with her two fawns (that were just growing out of their spots, and the third set was a mama and her yearling. What struck me about these deer was that their coats were a lot lighter than the coats of the deer near the American River. They were almost a bright straw color rather than tan…
There were all sorts of grebes out on the water: Pied-Billed Grebes, Clark’s Grebes and Western Grebes. The little white fuzzy babies are now fledglings; still paler than their parents but getting big. I got a video snippet of one parent feeding a fish to its baby, er, teenager…
I saw a family of otters around the permanent wetland area, but they moved so fast, I couldn’t get any decent photos of them. Once I saw them running across the road, and at another spot, they poked their heads out of the water right down from my driver’s side door. Each time, I pulled my camera up to get photos of them, they whisked away out of sight. Rrrg! That’s nature photography for you.
Sergeant Margie and I lunched in the car halfway through the auto-tour route by the viewing platform: ham and cheese with crackers. Then we went on…
At one point along the route, a mother raccoon and her four babies came waddling down the road right toward me. I didn’t want to startle them, so I put the car in park and watched them through the windshield. Filming and photographing through the windshield sucks, but it was still fun to see them.
There were a lot of American White Pelicans around, flying, swimming, fishing, standing around – including some juveniles with pink bills. It’s so fun to watch them when they’re fishing together; like synchronized swimming.
There weren’t as many dragonflies out and about as during previous visits, but I still got photos pf Variegated Meadowhawks, Black Saddlebags, Blue-Eyed Darners, Green Darners, and some Pondhawks.
The best photo I got for the day was of a hawk. It was one of the last photos of the day; the bird was just sitting in a tree on the side of the road, looking handsome. It was a nice day. The drive back to Sacramento was without incident and we made it home a little after 2:00 pm.