…why I volunteer on our nation’s National Wildlife Refuges. It was a spectacular day for me.
My assignment for today was to return to the Oregon Straits area of the Lower Klamath NWR to survey the eastern half. Each of the squares on the right is about a half mile by a half mile. I had to report which areas had their grains harvested, or were under water, or were both, or were fallow sections. This is the hunt area that hunters registered for to win a lottery to see who would be allowed in there for the opening hunt weekend coming up in two days. I scoured the area and also added a ‘*’ to those blocks that actually had ducks and geese in them.
As you know, an assignment like this is so much better than sitting in the VC for me. This area is also known as the place to see raptors. It’s hard to believe the number of hawks that can be seen along these tracts. Young red-tailed hawks were on almost every post and pillar.
Any time I go out on the refuge for work, I have borrowed the refuge’s 600mm lens, and I must admit that I’m just about ready to pull the trigger on ordering one of these lens’ from Amazon for myself. They’re not cheap, and I’ve been waiting to find out how much the bill is going to be for my recent dental work. But, you know what? You can’t take it with you, and I’ve been thinking I would really enjoy not having to turn in the lens each afternoon. What do you think?
At the end of my survey this morning, I was thrilled to find a golden eagle willing to pose for me. It was sitting on one of the water structures, and I guess it figured it was authorized to do so.
Can you see those golden feathers on its head that give it its name? Can you believe I said “Cool Beans!” as I clicked away? Just one of those reasons I’m so enamored with our refuges.
I came back to the rig for lunch and to let Emma out before I headed over to the hunter check station to see if I could find Stacy, the refuge biologist in charge of the hunt. On the way there, I finally got a good glimpse of a young pheasant. Guess this guy’s going to be a gorgeous cock pretty soon. I’m always amazed at the intricacy of the coloring of each feather of these birds.
Stacy wasn’t there, so I took the long way home, and came upon this buck. There were actually two of them. I took several photos, but neither of them blinked an eye or twitched or anything. They were so still for so long that I began to think they were stuffed animals. I even got out of the car and walked across the road towards them. Still, no movement. It was crazy. I thought I might be on Candid Camera or something being suckered in by decoys. I was there for ten minutes before one of them finally moved.
At first I thought it was a buck and a doe, but after looking at my photos I’m not so sure. Maybe the smaller one is a button buck? See that knob on the smaller one’s head?
The bigger buck still has some velvet on the far antler tine if you look closely, but his neck is sure swelling up. I guess rutting season will be coming soon. Watching them was one of those special moments; another reminder. When they finally decided to move, they gingerly and slowly high stepped through the brush for a hundred feet before bounding away.
With experiences and scenes like these, I’m just not sure I can ever truly retire. I know I’ll enjoy my five months off at my home base this winter, but I think I just may come back here for more volunteering…
I’m out of here for tonight!
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy