2019-01-21 Sacramento and Colusa Refuges

Snow Goose - Anser caerulescensDriving to see my family in Oregon, I took a little timeout to visit the reserves between Williams and Willows California (USA). The long interstate drive wore me down, especially the southern portion. I tried avoiding LA by skirting via the I-15 and Cajon Pass and crossing the high desert through Palmdale, but the plan backfired when every other traveler on the road had the same idea.

I use Google Maps for my primary navigational guidance system. The system looks ahead trying to find problems on the road, then provides ‘suggestions’ for alternative routes. Google *REALLY* didn’t want me to take the route I planned, but I *REALLY* didn’t want to drag myself through the length of Greater Los Angeles, so I pushed ahead with my planned route. Nine miles before the exit to my route-of-choice the interstate devolved to a slow moving parking lot. Yet I pushed on, hoping I’d be free of the crush on leaving I-15. It was not to be. When I reached the exit for State Route 138, most vehicles I’d been sharing the road with had the same idea. I knew of other routes to carry me to my destination, so I stayed on I-15 for a few more miles and reached State Route 18, which later joined up with my previous planned route.

The route I took put me on I-5 at the northern end of the ‘Grapevine’, where the crush had a much faster pace. I neither like fast-paced nor interstate driving, but there was a 900 mile journey to accomplish and I let myself be persuaded to match the speed with the rest of the road. I found a place to pull over and rest south of Sacramento and resumed the drive at 6am. I found no relief from the hustle until I reached Yolo, an hour past Sacramento. A couple hours further north and I was ready for a vacation from the interstate.

It had been raining for days. The sunny skies this morning were a welcome sight. I visited Colusa NWR and the tour route was closed, but at Sacramento NWR the road was open. There was a wealth of Greater White-Fronted Geese at both sights, but the white geese were there as well. I saw both Ross’s and Snows. At the Sacramento NWR most of the geese were at a distance. After reviewing my images I could see Ross’s Geese in nearly every frame of Snow Geese. A nice treat for me were four Snow Geese, well away from their many pals and feeding next to the tour road. I tried not to disturb them as I drove past, stopping several times to take pictures. Even when I passed at the closest, the birds held their ground, letting me get nice headshots.

While photographing the GWF Geese near the end of the tour road at Sacramento NWR, a young Bald Eagle flew over the pond and picked up every goose on the water. It’s breathtaking to experience an explosion of several thousand large birds lifting off the water at once.

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