DAY 7 OF MY VACATION. I go up around 5:00 this morning and headed out to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge again. It was another beautiful day as far as the weather went: 48º when I headed out; 73º by the late afternoon with a slight breeze all day.
I got to the refuge around 7:30 am… and it was a kind of frustrating, disappointing day. It was like the Universe was playing “keep away” all the while I was out there. You know, that horrible “game” wherein someone takes your hat, dangles it out in front of you, and then snatches it away just as you reach for it. It was like that. Oooo, there’s an otter in the water… but as soon as I trained my camera on it, it was gone. Oooo, there are two Bitterns… but they’re in the tall grass and the camera refuses to focus on them. Oooo, there’s a Yellow-Headed blackbird… and it flies away. Oooo, there’s a Bullock;s Oriole… and won’t sit still. Oooo, listen! You can hear the calls of a Great-Tailed Grackle… but it never comes out where you can see it long enough to get a photo… Even the ground squirrels wouldn’t pose for me.
Guh! It was like that ALL DAY. It seemed like I was “fighting” with nature and the camera every minute. It was the most unproductive photo day I’ve ever had out on the refuge. So frustrating. I was getting more and more pissed off as the day went on… And, of course, that kind of negativity broadcasts out, and then none of the critters want to come anywhere near you… *Sigh*
There were a couple of “yay” moments, however. I was hoping to see at least one White-Striped Sphinx Moth flitting around the blooming thistles and teasel; it’s the right time of the year for them to wake up and start flying. Well, as soon as the sun started warming up the air, I saw about a dozen of them at different points along the auto tour; sometimes two or three at a time. That was cool!
And on my way out of the refuge, I came across a Black-Crowned Night Heron fishing in a slough… and he was close enough and cooperative enough that I was able to get photos and video of him… While I was filming him, a pair of American Bitterns landed onto the side of the slough: one with its white shoulder feathers extended. They lighted on the ground for a moment and then took off again… That white-shoulder display is part of their courtship ritual, but they went by so fast, I only barely got a few frames of the male’s display (and no images of the female). At another spot, I also saw a male Common Gallinule fan his tail for a female… So, the day wasn’t a total waste.
Oh, and the little Killdeer I saw the last time I was there who had built her nest close to the road on the auto-tour route, was still there. And she had 4 eggs now instead of the two I saw the last time. So, that was nice.