2019-08-18 Klamath Basin

Red-Tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
I was lucky to catch this bird just after defending his catch from a sibling in a field of alfalfa near Merrill Oregon. I missed catching the confrontation, but was in a good position to capture him on the perch where he consumed his prize.

The drive from Oregon to San Diego prevented me from a timely presentation of this day’s events, and of the final episode of this odyssey at Mono Lake. (Stay tuned)

I started my day with a breakfast at the Starv’n Marv’n cafe just down the street from my motel, then headed to Veteran’s park to reinspect the bird-life there. The same players I met yesterday were still on the stage, but it was the gulls I hoped to capture snatching flying insects from the air.

After spending 45 minutes there, I moved on to explore the Lower Klamath Lake region. I drove south on the road to Dorris and Weed California and then east on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. This section of the route begins with a straight-as-an-arrow road a few feet into California and follows the border with Oregon, then turns south at Tule Lake and meanders through the volcanic terrain towards Mount Lassen.

As with the Klamath Wildlife Area I found the previous day, there wasn’t an abundance of waterfowl. We would expect a dramatic increase in a month or so. I stopped at Lower Klamath NWR and drove the Autotour route, but where I met worthwhile birds, the bright morning sun was behind the subjects, making good image captures unlikely. I found a bridge over a water channel that hosted a clan of Barn Swallows. I spent a few minutes there before continuing through the reserve.

I chose a route back to Klamath Falls via rural farm roads near Merrill Oregon. Then I had a lucky meeting with a juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk. I spotted two raptors squabbling in the middle of an alfalfa field, and while I was too slow to get stopped and set up a shot, the victorious bird flew to a perch on irrigation equipment next to the road. I took several shots and slowly drove ahead. After a few stops and short moves forward, I reached the perfect distance without disturbing the bird consuming the small rodent that was its prize. I continued shooting until the bird finished its meal. The hawk and I lingered a while surveying the scene before us. After a few minutes, the raptor launched itself in flight to parts unknown.

When I arrived back at the motel I resolved to get busy organizing images and words to tell the story of my time here around Klamath Falls. My plan for the next morning was to hit the road south and follow the route by the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. If I do not produce the story of my stay while my memories are fresh, there is a risk I might get buried under the weight of unprocessed images and untold stories.

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