Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thoughts on my time at Tule Lake NWR

As I’ll be leaving Tule Lake and Lower Klamath NWRs in five days, I spent some time today reviewing my time volunteering here.  Overall it’s been a good experience.  Good enough, in fact, that I’m thinking of returning next year.  But, of course, nothing is perfect.


One of the assignments I was given here was to evaluate the six photo blinds that are available for public use.  I visited the last one on Thursday and took the above and below photos from that blind.


This one appeared to be a good loafing location for white pelicans.  All those little black dots in the background water are other waterfowl that almost cover Tule Lake.  I made notes on all of the blinds with my opinions of their needs and usefulness.  When I went to hand them in to my supervisor, I was told that wasn’t necessary.  Nothing was going to be done in the foreseeable future, so I could just keep them.  What??  Then why was I given this assignment?  Same thing happened about my assignment to evaluate the numbered Auto Tour pamphlet.  I got the impression that the time I spent on these endeavors was to keep me out of his hair.  I don’t think this guy knows what he’s doing.  I won’t go into his other short comings, but I’ll just say that had he been one of my employees back before I retired, he wouldn’t have lasted a school year.


Thankfully, I’ve also been able to make myself available to the biologists on the refuge.  That’s the work I’m most interested in.  Plenty of opportunities doing things for Stacy, the biologist in charge of the hunt, to work outside and test out my new lens.


                                                                    Wait for me, Oliver!


                                                                    Oh, alright Stanley…

This year, I’m doing the stats for how many birds of what species are taken on the blinds that are up for a lottery each morning.  Working with numbers is right up my alley, and I also get to chat with the hunters.  The biologists here have never had a volunteer (there have only been VC volunteers before), so Stacy and I have talked about my returning to help them.  She also agrees that improvements need to be made to the RV site.


For the first time since I’ve been here, it rained all morning.  One of the results was to find this frog outside the VC.  The rain also did a wonderful job of knocking down all the dust that has been in the air the last few weeks.  All creatures, human and other, were joyful for this respite from the drought. 


One of the young temporary employees moved this guy off of the rocks to a better location.  Fascinating toes.

IMG_1165 IMG_1160

On my way to the hunter check station this afternoon, I found this dark morph red-tailed hawk trying to dry out from the rains.  (I’m loving this new lens)  This happened just as an alarm went off in the vehicle with that flat tire signal.  Nuts!  I had to drive back to the VC to exchange vehicles as I do a lot of driving on rough roads each day.  VC supervisor said he’d just drive it anyway and ignore the signal.  Yeah, well, not me.  I don’t want a flat out in the middle of nowhere on a weekend when no help is available…


When I returned, the hawk had moved to a different perch so I could get a front view.  Isn’t it a beauty?  I spent several hours doing the stats and collecting bag check tallies from hunters that go out in boats on Tule Lake.  I’ve got to drive quite a bit of the refuge to collect those tallies.  That’s when I get the chance to keep updated on what’s happening bird wise on the refuge.  I know it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.  Winking smile


Snow geese are the favorites of my friend Sue, so this and the following pic are for her.  The rain clouds provided a different view of the refuge for me from the seemingly perpetual blue skies.


I estimated the flock in the first pic at 500 geese, and more are on their way.  The scenery today kind of reminded me of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Like Sue, I have found that the Klamath Basin speaks to my soul.  If I can solidify volunteering for the biology department, I will surely return next year.

Well, this post is pretty long for me, but I wanted to put some closure on something I posted a while back.


I asked readers to guess what this was a photo of.  Some people guessed an irrigation system, and they were correct.IMG_1189This type of system is used for irrigating potatoes around here.  This is a close up of the heads.  The big pipes are put down in between rows of potatoes with these ‘heads’ sprouting up every twenty feet or so along the line spurting out water.  The red ones are located at the end of a row so that water isn’t wasted by watering the roads.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


  1. Your new lens is doing a fantastic job. I don't think I have ever seen such a dark Red Tail before and yes he is a beauty/

  2. A thought since math is right up your alley, give the jerk the results in either octal, Hexadecimal or binary and let him figure it out!!! LOL

    Please be careful on the road

  3. You could always submit your reports to someone higher in the chain of command or through the biologist. It;s probably the supervisor himself that doesn't want the report because then he'd have more work to do.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  4. Your header picture, is that a photo of your prince who has finally come? :cD

    I can understand your feelings on some "make work" jobs that have no real value, we've had a few of those jobs too while volunteering. But then, it's nice to get out and about in nature, so we take them in stride.

  5. What an idiot having you do the evaluations and then not wanting them. Seems like valuable info to me...IF you care about the refuge and your job.
    At least the biologist's have fun stuff for you to do. Your photos are wonderful:)

  6. Really sorry to hear about such a supervisor. Those seemed like very good evaluations to do and I know you did a great job. Is there someone "higher up" that you could send them to with an explanation that you spent the time and think they are worth doing but that after being assigned to do it Mr. Bigshot didn't want your efforts? Hope you get it straightened out for next year. I really want to see this spot if it "speaks to your soul" I truly believe landscapes do that. Mr. Frog and Mr. Hawk seem to have the same rather disgusted looks on their faces in the straight on shots. Fabulous pictures!

  7. At least he could have thanked you a filed them for future reference. Knowing what improvements are needed is the first step to getting funding.

  8. I agree with Marikay, - why tell you the reports are not needed when you already did the work and completed it? That's kind of rude - maybe they really don't need the information (it was just busy work because you completed other tasks faster than predicted), so file it away in case they DO need it in the future. Why in the world would you need to "keep them?" That's just silly. Love these photos, especially the frog with the dirt on his face and the leaves stuck to him. So cute.

  9. I love the photos with that new lens, are you able to hand hold it for any length of timez?

  10. Don't you just want to slap them sometimes??? I'm rally hoping the biologists and you can work things out. I love your picture of the hawk. Saw a lot of hawks in flight today while we were driving but I had trouble getting the airplane in the picture - there's no way I'm getting a bird in flight.

  11. I think in the Park Service, Forest Svc, and probably Wildlife, most supervisors are there to punch their tickets to get a job higher in the chain. It happens in business as well as in govt., and there isn't much you can do, except in your case, work with the biologists when you can, knowing they appreciate your work. I came through that refuge a few years ago and immediately thought of you and how it seemed to be your kind of place.

    1. well, Gypsy, since I was a supervisor/project leader for the government in National Resources Conservation Service, Soil Survey, I might beg to differ with you. There are some of course, we all know them, but there are many many more who are dedicated and actually care about what happens right up to the last day of their working life, and afterward. I know a lot of them. I am one of them actually.

  12. Look at these photos...beautiful.
    When I was teaching, I hated when we were given some stupid assignment to have ready for the next meeting, and then they ran out of time before we could discuss our assignment. By the next meeting, they had forgotten about it.

  13. Your photos are beautiful...so glad you have the new lens! The hawk is a beauty!

  14. As for your supervisor.."I'm from the government and I'm here to help" pretty much says it all...Love that Morph Hawk...beautiful..Tule Lake NWR is very lucky to have someone as knowledgeable as you...You need to work for the biologist..you are wasted at the VC...You have way more smarts than that...just sayin'...PS..I love that new lens of yours too!

  15. Your supervisor sounds like model for the wrong kind of government employee:(

  16. Oh Judy, I hadn't seen this blog post before our lunch with you today, you knew how I loved the snow geese, and you know how much I love these photos. Made me teary to realize that in one short season you have been able to sense that something that is here in the Basin. I am so glad that there is a possibility that you will return. I have full confidence that your presence at this refuge could actually make it a better place, eventually, someone will listen to you and the improvements will come to the little things. Who knows, maybe someday you will even get to do bird tours for people officially! Wouldn't that be great?!? Now I have to get back out there again to find those snow geese and this time I'll go far enough on the road tour to see them.

  17. Great, great shots. I am thinking you were given "busy" work. The sign of a supervisor who has no clue.

  18. So many beautiful pictures and very inspiring posts! I like your blog and will for sure stop by regularly. As I only started to write my own travel blog (www.4itchy-feet.com) I'm always happy to find new readers as well.

    Wishing you all the best,

  19. Not a fan of your cover picture. Yikes.