"Late Summer & Early Fall: All Photos 17 Sept 2011" Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge Travelogue by glabah

I think the best wildlife sighting I had on my September of 2011 trip were the two Sandhill Cranes that were investigating the grasslands near the refuge office.

Unfortunately, they were very close to the Willard Springs Trail, and they took off when I got a little too close to them.

Their calls were amazing. I have heard Sandhill Cranes before. In this environment where there is no major highway traffic noise and other human caused interference with hearing their voices minimal, their calls echoed off the hills in a fashion I had never been able to hear before. This is definitely the place to come if you want to hear wildlife in the quiet - if the Sandhill Cranes happen to be around when you visit.

Eventually, the cranes settled out in a field not too far from the refuge headquarters. They were harder to see, and even my telephoto lens didn't pick them up that well at this distance.

But, oh those wonderful calls they were making! They could certainly still be heard in this wonderful place.

It was not raining exceptionally hard when I left the parking lot (it did rain later in the day) but it was wet.

Wet enough that the Pacific Tree Frogs decided that the collected water on the hand rails of the Observation Platform would make a good place to hang out for a few hours.

Thanks to the weather that kept many visitors away, they managed to survey their landscape in a relatively undisturbed state, except for our visit.

It took a little while to find another frog on the Observation Platform handrail. This one had decided to back himself into a corner - literally! Here, he hid as much as possible between the gaps in the wood.

Pacific Tree Frogs may appear in any number of colors, as they are a highly variable species.

However, they are almost universally tiny in size. Those shown here are little more than 1/2 of an inch in length.

(You may need to expand this photo to see the entire bird, due to the dimensions not being entirely compatible with VirtualTourist page format.)

Unfortunately, I can't tell you too much about this little guy. He is likely some sort of flycatcher. He was certainly acting like a flycatcher of some sort, as he was perched at the very highest point he could find.

However, flycatchers are quite a confusing group of birds to me. All the local ones are light grey on dark grey, with a very upright stance and always chasing insects from a prominent perch. The differences between the various types are quite subtle.

This is especially true if they are not making any noise. In late summer and early fall, they are generally silent - or so it seems to me.

While this flycatcher was perched on top of the highest point of the tree he could find, I should point out that he would not be easy to see by the average visitor. It was quite visible from the trail, but only if you looked at a gab between two other trees.

(You may need to expand this photo to see the entire bird, due to the dimensions not being entirely compatible with VirtualTourist page format.)

Here is another view of our little flycatcher friend, with his head slightly turned. Perhaps those who are good at identifying flycatchers can tell from this angle what he is?

Western Meadowlarks don't look like much in their molting plumage, but there was a pretty good sized group of them perched along the fence line near the ranch house off of Kreps Lane Road. The only real identifying marks on these guys was the two white tail feathers that appeared while they were flying.

Naturally, these were quite difficult to get photographs of, and I had to settle for the typical top-of-fence pose that seems to be stereotypical of Western Meadowlark photography.

Also right next to Kreps Road there is a large pine tree, and it so happened that on September 17, 2011 there was a Great Blue Heron perched at the top of this tree. This is the featured photograph in my Kreps Lane Road tip.

Birds are far from the only ones that scurry about looking for food as summer comes to a close, and fall starts.

There were not too many mammals that made themselves visible on September 17th, 2011 but this little guy was one of them. He decided the brush pile that has been placed near the public parking area, and is quite popular with the local dark-eyed junco population, was a great place to find snacks as well.

Of course, with the local owl and harrier population that was in evidence, he stands a good chance of being found as a snack himself.

  • Page Updated May 9, 2016
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