Monday, December 19, 2011

Merced National Wildlife Refuge

After spending the morning at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge we headed to the Merced Unit.
While Hubby napped, I took my camera up to the viewing platform.  It wasn't nap time in this pond, it was feeding time.  It can be hard to id birds with their heads in the water but I believe we have some Dunlin and a pair of Cinnamon Teals.
Another birder called my attention to this guy, saying it is a common snipe.  I'll take her word for it.  Even with all of my field guides I am often unsure of shore bird id.  To my eye many are quite similar and the field marks subtle.  Identification often falls to a single characteristic and juveniles may not display it.
From the viewing platform my attention was drawn to a very different sight.  This cowman had roped a calf, I think he was trying to tag it.  His well trained quarter horse kept the rope tight.
Back to birding, I spotted the Cinnamon Teal with his head out of the water.  I like that splash of color on his back and his red eye.
When nap time was over, we headed out on the auto tour.  There was an amazing variety.  The Northern Shoveler picked his head up out of the water just long enough for me to get a shot of his large bill and blue-green head.
We ran into a road block.  A flock of White Faced Ibis were reluctant to leave the road.  I know, they don't have a white face but the guides say they will in breeding season.  Nearby was a huge flock of Sandhill Cranes.  They were backlit,  though and the image I shared last week from San Luis was much better.
I spotted over a dozen birds in these tules and another flying by.  What were they?

Black Crowned Night Herons, both mature and immature.

The same pond was host to a flock of American White Pelicans.
I think Pintails are elegant looking birds and this one seems to agree.  Doesn't he look self satisfied?
We saw another one floating with a flock of Snow Geese.

It was a wonderful day of birding and wildlife viewing.  I hope to return before the season is over, but then, there are a lot more refuges in California to explore.

You can see more of our amazing world by going to Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us each week by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.
To see more birds, check out World Bird, Wednesday, hosted by Springman.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

I wonder why so many shorebirds look very similar. Say, how long did it take you to drive from San Luis to Merced NWRs? I'm thinking I'd like to go visit during the upcoming holiday.

Sylvia K said...

Oh, you did get some terrific, colorful shots of so many beautiful birds! I love them all, but particularly the Cinnamon Teal with his head out of the water! Glad he took a quick break from his meal!! Fun shot of the horse and calf -- brought back great memories of summers on my uncles farm and my horse! I thought I was such a great cowgirl back then!!


Gaelyn said...

You sure did see a lot of birds. Really like that preening pintail shot.

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I like the Ibis, a bird I have yet to photograph let alone see. What a nice assortment of wildfowl. My daughter has been sending me updates on a Falcated Duck at the Colusa NWR, an Asian species who made a wrong turn. I am not up for making the trip over there as there seems to be hoards of birders there everyday. Plus the Youtube videos show that he is hanging out around an island very far away from the viewing platform and I just do not have that expensive of a lens to reach out that far.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

You had a quite a time. I can believe the variety of birds you saw and "shot". A big shout out to wildlife refuges.

Tina´s PicStory said...

great shots! :)

Gary said...

Great sequence!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

eileeninmd said...

Wow, what a great birding place. I enjoyed all your photos, especially the snipe. Great photos. Happy Holidays!

Indrani said...

Interesting to see all heads down together in the first shot. Great series of shots.

diana said...

Very beautiful pics! I hope to visit Merced the week after Christmas. (yesterday was cold and foggy at Consumnes!)

Carolyn Ford said...

i love all of your feathered friends in the refuge! such superb photography! yes...we were in Australia for 3 weeks and loved every moment of it! we, too, were in animal preserves enjoying marsupial orphans of all sorts. we also saw many in the wild as well! slowly but surely many pics will be posted...i took at least a gazillion!
Happy Holidays, Martha, to you and yours!!!!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful place to visit! Enjoyed going through your photos. I'm getting to know more duck varieties found in your part of the world. A fun way to learn!:)

biebkriebels said...

What a beautiful photo's you made, that troup of pelicans is wonderful. A great place to visit.

Dan Huber said...

Wonderful photo series. Looks like a wonderful area. I love the shot of all the birds and the bittern flying by, timely shot.


aka Penelope said...

The “snipe” camouflages incredibly well, doesn't it? I almost didn’t notice it. Looking at the flocks you photographed reminds me that birds of a feather really do stick together. :)

heyBJK said...

Beautiful photos, Martha! I really like the Shoveler and the Night Heron. Nice job!

Springman said...

That was one fine rodeo Martha!
An excess of photographic riches to be sure.
I agree, shore birds are difficult to ID. At least we can agree on the differences between a cow and a bird most of the time.
Cheers to you!

Arija said...

What a wonderful day you had Martha and so many lovely photos to share. I just love those snow geese. I guess I'm a sucker when it comes to geese anyway. Great duck shots as well

Have a wonderful Christmas with your family.

mick said...

Great photos and a wonderful variety of birds to see in the one place. The pelicans would be my favorite.

Andrew said...

Wonderful images of your lovely wildlife.. So much to see it looks like a fantastic place to visit..

Hilke Breder said...

Love your shots of the waterfowl, Martha. Terrific images!

Anonymous said...

I love the shot of the Pintail admiring his reflection!

Kay L. Davies said...

Fabulous, Martha. I love photos of duck-butts, but I'm glad some of these guys lifted their heads so you could identify them.
The pintail posing for you is perfect!
I love the ibis standing on one leg on the road. One of them appears to be sleeping except its eye is open. The sun sure brings out beautiful jewel-like colors on them, doesn't it?
Hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, and wishing you all the best for the coming year.

Ann said...

these ibises didn't take a shower???? LOL, in Australia, they are grey to white.

Ginnymo said...

Great photos Martha!! Love the horse and calf one! Merry Christmas!!

holdingmoments said...

What an excellent selection, and great captures Martha.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble with shorebird ID's lol

Jedediah said...

There are all great birds. I like the shoveler in particular and the shot of the working horse. Very cool.

joo said...

All your photos are so great!
Happy Christmas to you and your loved:)

Rambling Woods said...

There is something about the word 'snipe' that has such a ring to it... Regarding special needs..I went into special education because a cousin of mine is and now my niece who is a adopted has special needs and it is impossible to find a group home type setting or an appropriate job situation for her because in Ohio where she lives, there have been so many cutbacks. It is heartbreaking....

Adam Tilt said...

It is indeed a Common Snipe Martha and one of my favourite birds. Great post with some very exotic birds that I wish were over here in the UK.

katney said...

That pintail makes me think of Narcissus. He seems to be gazing upon his reflection.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That was one amazing birding trip Martha. You answered a question I have had for years about the white-faced ibis. I guess I've never seen them in breeding plumage.

I hope the two of you have a wonderful Holiday weekend. Your beautiful blog posts (in both places) have been a gift all year long. Thank you.

Cildemer said...

Wonderful captures!
Thanks for sharing;o)
I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and all the best for the year to come

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…….. /……..\\………*>,”<
……. /_____\\\……*Silent Night,
…. {`______`}\\….* , + * Star Above,
…{………u….`-”}\\\..+ *.*.+.*.+ Blessed Gifts
… {………………}\…..*,+*.._/\_ * + . of hope
…. /{…………..}\\………*,..>,”< + * *+and love,
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..(_/\\\\\\\|\\\\\_/\\_)\..Have a Joyous Christmas Season!
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…………..MERRY CHRISTMAS……………..

icedgurl said...

trekking your amazing blog! keep blogging! happy holidays!


Larry said...

Great photos of all the birds Martha! My favorite would have to be the Cinnamon Teal showing its beautiful colors. The snipe is called a "Common Snipe" in Europe but here in the US we have the "Wilson's Snipe."

ros@dimaggio63 said...

We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas :)

Kay said...

Hello! I'm just dropping by from Linda's blog while I wait for the New Year in Hawaii. We're always last in the U.S. to celebrate.

Your nature photos are really spectacular. They're so clear and beautiful.

Happy New Year!

ros@dimaggio63 said...

Happy new days.
Happy new dreams.
Happy New Year 2012 :))

Linda Reeder said...

Oh, I'm so envious of your bird assortment! A night heron? WOW!