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Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Today reminded me…

…why I volunteer on our nation’s National Wildlife Refuges.  It was a spectacular day for me.

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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. 

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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?

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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.  Winking smile 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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…

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                                                               I’m out of here for tonight!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

32 comments:

  1. Thank you for showing us these pictures. This is so cool!

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  2. More excellent pics, no wonder you love it there.

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  3. Your fans say, "Get the lens!"

    The world will be a better place if you do!

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  4. You are lucky to have the opportunity to use the lens of your dreams and not buy it blind..... That would be the clincher for me. We used to volunteer at refuges only once but after a couple of duds, lots of "ok"s, we found a couple of outstandings. The oustandings won out ;-). We go back again and again

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  5. I sold my heavy equipment because I couldn't handhold my lens and I couldn't take the big stuff everywhere. So I missed a LOT of pictures and could not document my daily life. I love my Canon 50X because it is light enough to almost always be around my neck, or at least in a backpack, it zooms to 1200 meters, and it is cheap enough that I can afford to replace it if I drop in while paddling. And if you use a smaller lens most of the time, you will ALWAYS have the wrong lens on the camera and then will need two backs. I can also take raw pictures, which would allow me to produce better pictures. But since I only use them for the blog or my personal enjoyment, I just take them as jpegs. These might also be considerations in your lifestyle.

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  6. I agree with you. You enjoy a wonderful lifestyle, and it will be hard to give it up. Hopefully, you'll have many more years to enjoy it, so buy that lens.:-)

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  7. Buy the lens. The worse thing that can happen is that you find that it was a mistake and can then sell it at not a huge loss of money.

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  8. Spectacular. I can't see you 100% retired. I hope you come back to this refuge...it seems perfect.

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  9. Get the camera. Do it now. That golden eagle is so beautiful. I sure don't want you to retire. What would I do without your pictures?

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  10. Oh man, your outta here picture is just amazing! For sure, you can't take it with you. Go for the lens. Enjoy your winter rest but I'm definitely betting you'll be restless by then and ready to get back to our NWRs who are so happy to have you.

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  11. Some amazing head gear on those bucks. For many years that would have gotten my blood pressure up:)

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  12. What a beautiful buck! I say buy the lens...which one is it the one for a thousand? or the one for five thousand? Check ebay Tamron makes a nice 600mm for about 900 $ http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tamron-SP-150-600mm-f-5-6-3-Di-VC-USD-Lens-for-Canon-EF-Lens-Mounts-Brand-NEW-/111631408237?hash=item19fdc01c6d
    Yes you are worth it:)

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  13. Go for it - definitely get the lens. I don't buy much for myself, but if I really want something, I get it. We worked hard for our retirement, and what's the point if we can't have some fun? Besides, if we die, the kids will get the "stuff" and maybe enjoy using the things that meant so much to us. Right? :)

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  14. I'm glad you had a special day. I spent the day painting picnic tables. Please remind me why I volunteer... :cD

    Go and buy that lens, you'll never regret it with all those amazing pictures you've taken with the borrowed one. Loved the Golden Eagle shot, never seen one up close like that.

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  15. Beautiful! I can certainly see why you don't want to retire!

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  16. I have never seen a golden eagle in the wild. Gorgeous!
    All your photos are terrific today! Buy that lens...you will never forget!

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  17. All the pictues were so great but the last one left my mouth hanging open. You had quite a day

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  18. Wow, what a day! A Golden Eagle to boot!!! Well, as much as that swanky new California RV pad will delight you, I'm certain you will need to keep volunteering at NWRs at least a few months a year to keep the fires stoked! I just agreed to extend my time at Bosque until February. I know I'll be freezing my buns off, but I'm paired up with their senior naturalist who is teaching me volumes each day, and I'll get the chance to lead some naturalist events this winter too -- just can't get that kind of opportunity at very many places!

    As for the lens--- that's one that pro photogs dream about for a lifetime! If you've got the spare cash, and don't find it too cumbersome to haul around, might as well treat yourself. Canon pro lenses hold their value exceptionally well-- especially the big guns in the 500mm & up range. But, on the other hand, you might want to try renting the new Canon 100-400 II lens first (or buy it from Amazon who will allow a return if you don't like it). I've got the 1st gen lens (as does the other volunteer at Bosque, John Olson, whose work is featured often on their FB page), but the version II lens is much sharper and easier to use from the reviews I've read. While, it's true that you'll give up a bit at the longer end, that really is only an issue if you intend to make large prints and need all the megapixels you can get. If you'll mainly just be shooting for JPG/online and/or up to about 13 x 19" prints, then cropping your images to make them equivalent to the 600 will work just as well, and you'll save yourself $5K! While out West, you'll likely always shoot at the longest length due to larger distances between you and the wildlife, the beauty of the 100-400 is that when you get back to the East and wish to capture birds much closer, you won't be stuck with a lens that is too long. While you might not think the 100-400 is much different than the 75-300 you have now, believe me, there is no comparison--sharpness, color saturation, and auto-focus are all way better! That goes for Tamron vs. Canon L series too. I bought a handful of cheap lenses before finally realizing I got what I paid for! The only possible contender to Canon L in terms of quality might be the Sigma Sport 150-600mm, but it's a bigger, heavier lens compared to the 100-400. Good luck with your decision!

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  19. Go for the big lens. You're right in that you can't take it with you. I don't think you should ever retire. The refuges need people like you who are devoted, enthusiastic, and appreciative. I doubt there are many as good as you are! If you come back next season I'm sure I can get up that way for a visit.

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  20. I'm with some of the folks. Buy the lens. Think about Erin's photos using her big lens. There is nothing like it. I am so glad that you are having good days at the refuge. I so love the Klamath Basin, I had hoped that the magic would find you. We are home from Ireland, recuperating, with more company coming for Melody's show this weekend, but maybe next week we can get down to see the migration. Here on Upper Klamath Lake the ducks are thick and yesterday I saw a gazillion geese, specs I guess they were. I hope to go slowly and enjoy soon instead of having to run to town for groceries and just waving at the birds as I pass by. Take care, Judy

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  21. Yep, I think that might be a good refuge for you--love your header shot and the buck's tongue. Buy the lens.

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  22. Somebody else had the same idea I have. Look at it like this: you are doing mankind a favor by buying that lens. At least the part of mankind that follows your blog and loves your pictures. Also, the refuges will be the poorer if you are absent from them. Thank you, Bird Lady.

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  23. Love the pictures no matter what you chose.

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  24. Super pics with that 600 mm lens, I would be tempted too! Loved the Golden Eagle shots, you can see that hook in his yellow beak! I think he's smiling!! Glad you are having a better time !! Enjoy!

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  25. All photos are amazing, but the last one is insane! Incredible shot!

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  26. Your volunteering service have you a golden opportunity to see and capture the beautiful creations under your lenses. Thanks for sharing these amazing photos with us. Got to see the wildlife so closely with the help of your realistic photographs.

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