Lake Davis on the Plumas National Forest is one of 34 impoundments that make up the California Water Project that began in 1957. Located at almost 6,000 feet in the Sierras, it was created by damming Grizzly Creek in 1967 and has been designated a fishing lake with speed boats, jet skis or water skiing prohibited.
That’s why we like it…it’s QUIET and it’s only 2 ½ hours away! Most of the campers come to fish, not to party and since they get up at the crack of dawn to fish, they go to bed early. We try to spend a couple weeks each year there. I like the nesting ospreys, white pelicans, geese, and a lot of other critters to photograph; Kathy enjoys the quiet and feeding the campground birds and squirrels; and the dog loves the sagebrush patches adjacent to camp where lizards and chipmunks abound.
Lake Davis shoreline
View from our campsite
Home, sweet home
Mom at nest (2 young hidden)
Dad on guard
Western grebe on nest
With Pete returning from his 6 month long Pacific to Gulf photo tour, I headed north to Yellowstone to spend a week with him, primarily because I wanted to see wild wolves before I check out. Pete has been diligent in his photography of the wolves since their initial reintroduction and despite what the naysayers predicted (or still predict) the wolves haven’t (yet) eliminated all of God’s other creatures from the park and all the livestock from the 7 western states before moving into the cities to prey on school children). When one looks at the condition of the park and notes the high percentage of dead and dying trees in the unburned areas, an outcome of high occurrence of beetles resulting from global warming that allows them to survive over the winter months; or observes that at least ½ of the forests are in some level of recovery from recent wildfires; wolves seem as dangerous to the ecosystem as do the toy poodles peeking out of the thousands of Tour America RVs cruising through the park at 55mph. But who listens to those damn liberal sky-is-falling scientists anyway? Wolves are insatiable killers…right? (I find one of the primary differences between the political parties is that one side uses science to temper politics whereas the other uses politics to temper science.)
Pete didn’t disappoint me. The first day out we saw 10 wolves feeding on a carcass of a bison. Sure, they were a ½ mile away but they were real wild wolves. Up at 4:30 and back at 7:30 each day, I got photos of at least 25 species. Grizzlies, otters, badgers, pronghorn, bighorn, etc. Then on to Dillon for 2 days to photograph great gray owls and goshawks. Am now sorting through 6,000 images, here are a very few of the results:
Grizzly (a bit too close for comfort)
Bison watching wolves dine on a relative
Coyote, mom and pup
Red Fox-Just before he caught a ground squirrel
Great Gray Owl
Costa Rica was a bust photographically so other than my back yard, where was I going to try out the new lens? Pete’s blog this April indicated he’d been in SE AZ too early but thought it would be good later in May. Southwest Airline flights to Tucson were cheap so off I decided a “vacation” to Portal was in order (Kathy saw little excitement in visiting a one-horse town that primarily catered to birders so declined to accompany me). I had previously been an AZ resident (before the State went totally nuts politically, so I was pretty familiar with the area. I figured the current authorities would note my blue eyes and determine that if I was an alien, I was probably a Swedish one and was more likely smuggling in meat balls instead of marijuana. Still, I took my passport with me. My neighbor warned me that the drug cartel people would likely kill me, leaving my headless body in the desert (as has happened to “hundreds of tourists, but the government is covering it up”) and sell my camera (I later determined that since every other car you see in that area is a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle and there were 5 parked at the Portal Lodge, I probably had plenty of protection).
Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiracahua Mts. was my destination and my primary objective was to find an elegant trogon to photograph. This bird is pretty rare as there are only a very few that come up from the tropics to nest in holes in the sycamores in the southeastern AZ canyons bordering Mexico. When I worked down there in the 60’s I never found one. Cochise found this area an excellent retreat from the U.S. Cavalry and pretty much kept them at bay for a number of years.
The god of wild things must like aging photographers because I found a pair of trogons the first morning out. As I said, the area caters to birders so there were a lot of them scanning the vegetation with binoculars and the lodges and resorts provide lots of bird feeders to attract birds (and birders)…great for photography. I spent 4 days in the area and got photos of over 20 species. The one day it rained I actually got some of my best shots.
I think I’ll go back next year (if it’s still part of the U.S.)
One of the benefits of continuing my biological consulting activities (other than getting paid for things I like to do) is that it often puts me in the vicinity of great places for photography. Such was a recent assignment for a biological assessment in King City, CA that allowed me to take a couple days coming home and spend them in Moss Landing. It was a good time of year as a lot of shorebirds were still hanging around and there were large concentrations of sea otters in the bay. So, I checked into a Motel 6 in Watsonville and spent the next 2 days taking pictures.
With the exception of a pretty modern marina, Moss Landing hasn’t changed in the past 30 years. Relatively no new homes; old town still looks the same other than being dominated by Dynegy’s huge natural gas power plant, an unsightly landmark visible from Monterey 20 miles to the south and Santa Cruz 20 miles to the north. Lots of traffic on Hwy. 1 but it’s mostly going north or south, not stopping.
Sea otters have migrated north and several dozen now make their home in the bay. The coastal wetlands, including Elkhorn Slough, provide habitat for a large number of wintering shorebirds and water fowl, and resident marine species – cormorants, pelicans — are common. It’s a great place for experiencing much of the wildlife of the central California coast.
California Sea Lion
Southern Sea Otter