White ibis

White ibis
Ibis

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Blind Experience

Last Wednesday a new friend, Shelia, who works at the refuge, invited me to share her reserved photography blind. The refuge complex has 4 photography blinds on three different refuges. The blind we went to was blind 3 on the Colusa NWR.  The rules are that you have to get to the blind one hour before sunrise.  You can remain there as long as you like but once you come out, you may not go back. This is to minimize disturbance to the birds.

This blind can only be reached by wading through thigh-high water so we had to wear waders - rubber boots that are built into neoprene overalls. The day was expected to start in the mid-thirties so we also had to dress warmly. Shelia told me to be ready with camera, tripod, water, snacks and plenty of warm clothes at 5:00A.M.  We drove about a half hour to Colusa NWR and stopped at the restrooms to change into our waders.  We were screeched at by a couple of barn owls as we got out of the car. 

Then we drove down to the place to park the car, gathered up our gear and walked by flashlight down the path and found the turn to the blind along with a sled/boat in which to put our gear. We pulled the sled behind us as we walked about thirty yards through the water to the tiny blind sitting in a clump of tule (bulrush).

It was still several minutes to first light as we took out some of the little short boards to make places to point our cameras. The blind has two layers of boards that can be removed and then two or three layers of strips of screening and shade cloth. We can shoot from two levels.  The lowest is at just above the bird's heads.

We had to move quietly and be careful as we stuck our cameras out through all the layers of screening in order to not alarm the birds. In a few minutes, we had our gear stored, cameras ready and were sitting and eating our cereal bars and listening to the geese come back to the refuge from their nightly foraging. Then, as it got lighter, we started to see the dark forms of coots and then mallards. By 7:30, the birds were getting active and feeding and grooming. I think I must have taken about 1000 pictures. 

Shelia took pictures of me for my blog but declined to star in it. 

On a little break while waiting for more birds

Coots appeared first
What big yellow feet you have



Mallards and coots were the most numerous in our photography area
I'm SOO handsome
We had two male and one female cinnamon teal. They breed here and are the most common teal.
This pie-billed grebe swam through the blind area and was gone in about three shots
Morning stretch
A female ringed-neck duck swam through our field a couple of times
Gadwell pair
Greater white-fronted geese
Gotta polish my image

Mallard and cinnamon teal pair
Ahhhhhhhh
Leaving
Car bound
Finished with the blind  but the birding never stops