Red-necked Phalarope, Lower Klamath NWR

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Spud city

I don’t think I’m alone when I have always thought of Idaho as the nation’s potato producer.  I never thought of potatoes coming from California, but they sure do. 


Many of the fields that are leased by farmers on the refuge are planted with potatoes, and the potato harvest began a little over a week ago.  The road in front of my RV site has had all kinds of huge trucks full of spuds blasting past from morning until almost sunset.  I’ve been tempted to pick up some of the potatoes that fall out of the trucks along the roadways.


Yesterday, I spent the day giving new volunteers, Heather and Cliff, a tour of the refuge on their first day.  I mentioned about the potatoes, and Cliff got out of the car at one of our stops.  He went over to talk to the farmers in the tractor in the first pic to ask if he could pick a hill or two.  They said help yourself.  I now have enough fresh picked potatoes to last me several months.  I just had to have fresh hash browns for breakfast today.  Winking smile

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Today I went out to do the bird survey, and check water levels at Lower Klamath.  Some water has been released into the refuge, but contrary to recent hunter rumors, the hunt sections are still dry as a bone.

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In the Oregon Straits area of Lower Klamath Refuge, one of the fields that had water a couple of weeks ago doesn’t any more.  Instead, a big flock of sheep has been moved in to graze.  This is the first time I’ve seen sheep around here.

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This afternoon I did the Tule Lake NWR auto tour route to see how many more waterfowl have arrived from the north.  On the last aerial bird survey there were close to 200,000 ducks and geese on Tule Lake.  These two button buck mule deer probably know this is a safe place for them.


Lots of greater white-fronted geese have arrived.  Hunters down in Texas call them speckle bellies, and around here they’re just known as specs.  Can you see those spots on their bellies?


                                              And, yes, the snow geese have begun to arrive.


In three weeks or so, there will be three to four times the number of waterfowl than there are now.  Numbers over a million on the refuge are hard for me to wrap my mind around.  Not sure I’ll still be here to see that.  It all depends on the weather forecast.

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I leave you tonight with one of this year’s young eared grebes.  They’re divers, and lots of them were raised on the refuge this season.  By next year, those eyes will be a brilliant red.


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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Youth hunt, visitors, and goat heads

Last Saturday I accompanied Stacy, the person in charge of the hunts on the refuge, on her rounds for the first Youth Hunt weekend of the season.  Young hunters, both boys and girls, under the age of 16 get the first crack at bagging some waterfowl.  They all must be accompanied by an adult that is not allowed to hunt.


It was an interesting day.  I only got one picture of a happily successful young hunter.  He harvested two mallards.  Why is it that young boys always seem to have such big feet in proportion to the rest of their bodies?  I guess they’re like puppies; they’ll grow into them.  Winking smile

We only found one father and son that were hunting in a closed area.  They were not from this area, and got a little turned around in the dark at 4:00 a.m. as they tried to find their ‘spot’.  While I am not a hunter, I can appreciate the contributions that hunters have made to preserving our wild places.

It appeared that most, if not all, of the young hunters were successful.  A big cookout is provided by a local hunt group for everyone, and I believe every youth hunter went home with a great prize.  Many tables held all kinds of prizes like cartridges, gun cases, duck call thingies, camouflage apparel, decoys, and even four guns. 

Today, after a dentist appointment in Klamath Falls, I had to hurry back to the rig to get ready for some visitors. 

_MG_2425Loree and Luci drove down from around Bend, OR, to visit Emma and me.  We have been reading each others blogs for years, and missed a chance to meet quite a few years ago down in New Orleans when I was not feeling well.  Finally, we got to meet each other.  Little Luci was not thrilled with exuberant Emma, so she spent most of the time in the car or on Loree’s lap.  I fixed New York BBQ chicken and Waldorf salad for lunch, and Loree brought a bag of home grown cherry tomatoes and some delicious pumpkin muffins.  We just ‘chewed the fat’ for about three hours before they had to be on their way back home.  It’s always great to spend some time with someone you’ve known so long in blogland.


Now for the goat heads…  This sure looks like a goat’s head to me.  I don’t know for sure if that’s what they’re called, but they are a real pain in the foot!  The area outside of my rig has a million of them.  They’re only about 1/8-1/4” wide, but those spikes get caught in my shoes and Emma’s feet daily.  I can’t even figure out what plant they’re coming from.  There isn’t much growing around the rig or around the picnic table, but I remove about twenty of them daily from my Crocs and Emma’s pads.  Nasty little devils!

I Googled ‘2015 government shutdown’ a little while ago, and it seems that it has been postponed until early December.  I guess that means I’ll be here a couple of more weeks before I head south.  I hope the weather holds out.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, September 25, 2015

Signs are all down

Yesterday I was back out on the refuge with a power drill to take down all the signs Katie and I put up three weeks ago.


All of the signs were located at access points to the Lower Klamath NWR in an area that is known as the Oregon Straits.  Most of the refuge is located in California, except this area across the border in Oregon.


As usual, I couldn’t pass up the chance to snap a picture of the view with Mt Shasta in the background on such a beautiful blue sky day. 


                            With the windows wide open, I could sure smell I was in cattle country.  Sick smile

_MG_2418After finishing up the signs, I headed to the hunter check station in the afternoon.  This is on Tule Lake NWR.  I had to post the hunt area map and install a box on the outside of the station with the hunt regulations.  This place won’t really be busy until the general hunt opens on Oct. 10, but the information needs to be there now because of the youth hunt this coming weekend. 

The biologist in charge of the hunt, Stacy, won’t have hunter check station people on board until Oct. 18.  With the hunt starting on Oct. 10, she’s thinking of stealing me out of the VC to help her at the check station.  You know my opinion on that… anything to get out of the VC.  I do enjoy dealing with the hunters.

Of course all of that depends on whether or not there is a government shutdown on Oct. 1.  Here we go again!  The last time there was a shutdown, I was stuck on Tamarac NWR awaiting refrigerator parts before I could leave.  All alone on 40,000 acres in northern Minnesota.  Thankfully, I was allowed to stay that time around.  I’m not sure that would be the case here.  Staff is preparing for the possibility here, and I’m thinking I’ll just head for Jojoba if that happens.


On my way back from the check station, I took a couple of shots along the way for a challenge to you readers.  Can you guess what the pic above and the one below are of?


Tomorrow I’ll be spending the day with Stacy helping with the youth hunt.  I hope to get some pictures of the next generation of hunters/conservationists.  Tomorrow is also National Public Lands Day.  Get out there and help us keep these lands wonderful!


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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Driving some back roads

Fall migration has begun, and for the next two months more and more waterfowl will be making their way to the Klamath Basin.  The other day, I took a ride on some of the back roads of the refuge to see what I could see.


Many acres of Tule Lake NWR are leased by farmers for organic grain production.  After harvest some of those fields are flooded.


                                       A flooded grain field is like a magnet for ducks and geese.


                                   There were literally thousands of waterfowl in this flooded field.


The regular hunt season doesn’t begin until Oct. 10 on the refuge, but there is a special youth hunt coming up this weekend.  The youngsters will get the first crack at filling their limit.


                I, of course, only hunt with my camera.  It was simply a gorgeous day to be out and about.


A large flock of about a hundred sandhill cranes was also taking advantage of the fields.  It made me wonder if these birds were on their way to Bosque del Apache NWR.  Maybe they’ll see Lynne down there if that’s where they’re headed.

DSC_0010It won’t be too long before the black-crowned night herons are also on their way south.  With all these comings and goings, I’m also getting anxious to be on my way.  I’ve got about three weeks left before I make my way down to my new home base at Jojoba Hills. 

DSC_0047Perhaps you remember when intern Katie and I put up all of those area closed signs a couple of weeks ago?  Well, tomorrow I have to go back and take all those signs down.  That area, with Mt. Shasta in the background will be open for the youth hunt on Saturday.  I’m not sure why those signs had to go up for two weeks only to be taken down again.  Mine is not to reason why…


I’m a sucker for hay bales, and who could pass up a chance for a picture with the snow capped mountain in the distance?  I will certainly remember the beautiful sights I’ve seen while at this refuge.

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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, September 18, 2015

Starting on a new project

I’ve been assigned a couple of other projects during my time here at Tule Lake NWR in addition to work in the VC and doing a weekly bird survey.  I got started on one of them the other day. 

82 Tule Lake NWR, CA

There are six photo blinds that can be reserved by photographers at the VC.  All of these blinds have been built by a local volunteer over the years.  Five are located on Tule Lake NWR, and one is located on Lower Klamath NWR.  My job is to inventory them; make suggestions for needed repairs; and make sure the written directions to get to each blind are correct.


I had to chuckle when I finally found this upland bird blind.  I just thought it was a porta-pottie out in the middle of nowhere.  Not so.  There is a stool inside, and a bucket of bird seed.  When I visited it, there was not a bird to be found anywhere.  The directions were not correct, and there was no water feature as mentioned in the description.  A fire went through this area a couple of years ago, so I’m sure that has lessened the usefulness of this blind.

There’s a little bit of interesting history about these blinds.  It seems that hunters were complaining about the $25 yearly recreation pass that they had to buy in order to hunt on the refuge, while ‘birders’ didn’t have to pay a cent to enjoy the birds.  So, if you want to use the photo blinds, you have to pay a $25 recreation pass also.  (half price for folks with the old farts pass)  Of course, I pointed out that we ‘birders’ didn’t eat the birds, but only took pictures and left footprints.Winking smile


Since all the blinds are located along the auto tour routes, I could also enjoy all the wildlife along the way while checking them out.  I guess you could say I was ‘killing’ two birds with one stone.


Besides all the waterfowl on Tule Lake, I’m really enjoying seeing American Avocets.  They look so graceful to me.


                      They’re all pretty busy bulking up on food for their coming migration to Mexico.

DSC_0037                             They use that curved bill to sweep under water to capture tasty morsels.

It got pretty chilly here last night, and the heat pump switched over to the propane furnace.  Possible freeze tonight too before another warm up.  I’m watching the weather pretty closely.  I’m thinking that as soon as it’s cold enough to freeze the water hose it’ll be time for me to head south too.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, September 14, 2015

Back in the land of the living?

When a person has a total hip replacement, they are doomed to have to take a mega dose of antibiotics any time they have a dental appointment after that.  About six months after my surgery, it was time to have my teeth cleaned.  I told the dentist about the hip replacement, and I was given four huge Amoxicillin capsules of 500 MG each an hour before the appointment.  Afterwards I met my daughter and a good friend for lunch at a local restaurant.  Everything seemed fine until that afternoon.  I suddenly became horribly ill, and was laid up for three days.

Upon notifying the dentist, he said he had never heard of such a violent reaction to Amoxicillin, and suggested that it sounded more like food poisoning from the restaurant.  The next couple of appointments, I took a different antibiotic with no adverse reactions.  I figured it must have been food poisoning.

Last Thursday, I went to a dentist in Klamath Falls.  I became lax about mentioning the Amoxicillin, and downed four more pills.  I did not go out for lunch afterwards.  Everything was fine until that afternoon when I once again became violently ill.  I spent the last four days and nights sitting in the bathroom with a bucket in my hands.  You can figure out why.  It took until late Saturday night before I was even able to keep down a small sip of water. 

Poor Emma.  I could barely get her out the door twice a day before I had to try to make it back inside in time.  She was a real trooper, and unlike her owner, had no ‘accidents’.  This is when traveling alone really sucks.

It is now indelibly etched in my mind to never again take Amoxicillin.  This reaction was much worse than the first time.  Lesson learned!  I kept the TV on 24/7 to help keep me from going over the edge.  I’ve never tried to watch so much TV in my life.  I couldn’t even read blogs during this time, but today it appears I’m finally recuperating.  Thank goodness.  I never want to go through this again.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I’ve been feeling pretty lazy

I haven’t posted in a week, and I spent the last three days off just taking care of personal business and chilling out.  Not very exciting.  The big news in Medford, OR, (that’s where my local channels come from) is the opening of the first In-and-Out Burger joint.  I’ve never been to one, and I don’t eat out much, so all the excitement is beyond me.

Greater YellowlegsTonight’s photos are from last Thursday’s bird survey. DSC_0004 (2)

                                                             Greater Yellowlegs

We did have an interesting visitor to the refuge from the Netherlands last weekend.  She came in and insisted that she be given a private canoe tour by a refuge ranger.  Really?  She had missed the scheduled canoe paddle the day before.  Her response was, “But I’m here today, and want a tour!”  She wanted the VC to be shut down so her wish could be granted. 


                                                                       Long-billed Curlews

That didn’t happen, but she called again the next day, and believe it or not, was given a private tour with the refuge providing the canoe and transportation.  I haven’t even been offered one of those tours. 

DSC_0075                                                                           Northern Shoveler

She was staying at a rather ritzy ranch up in Oregon, and I suspect she thought private tours were expected as a service at the ranch.  She just didn’t seem to get the idea of a National Wildlife Refuge.  She seemed a bit disappointed in the tour, and put not one penny in the donation box for her excursion.  Go figure.

DSC_0157                                                                              Eared Grebe 

The temps dipped down last week, and I think every fly in the county was trying (and succeeding) to find a way into my rig.  I just about wore out my flyswatter!  Temps have risen again, so I’m having a bit of a reprieve this week.


                                                                  Yellow-headed Blackbird

I read a post by Kevin and Ruth today about photos that folks include in their blogs.  He likes to click on photos for a closer look, and sometimes that doesn’t happen.  I’ve always thought that if you click on one of my photos, you get a larger version, but I really don’t know for sure.  Can one of you let me know if that’s what happens if you click on one?


                                                                  Red-necked Phalarope

Last night I decided to update the maps on my Garmin GPS.  Little did I know that I would have some problems.  I updated about a year and a half ago, and things went just fine.  Not last night.  First of all, I had to buy this latest update.  I thought I had a unit with free updates, but apparently not.  Then there were problems with the download.  I had to restart it three times before it finally took with the result of it using over 3 GBs of my limited data.  That meant I had gone over my limit for the month and had to purchase more GBs so I could make it until the 13th of the month.  Uf-dah!  Turned out to be a rather expensive evening.

I’ll be working on two new projects tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Then on Thursday I have a dentist appointment. Sad smile It’s not my favorite thing, but another chunk of a filling has fallen out.  I always dread going to the dentist.  Reminds me of the torture I went through as a kid…


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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy