Category Archives: Wildlife Refuge

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is the Nation’s first waterfowl refuge. Established in 1908 under President Theodore Roosevelt it encompasses over 40,000 acres. The 10 mile drive around the refuge is a bird watcher’s paradise.  The species visible varies throughout the year, as some of the birds are migratory.

Take the Loop Drive – Slowly

The loop drive through the refuge is a bit puzzling on the first trip.  When I started the loop many of  the areas that would be flooded during the rainy season were pretty dry. The water in the roadside canals was stagnant and I was getting a bit disappointed. I was thinking ‘my gosh this drought in California is awful’. But I stuck it out. Dusty, oh my was it dusty.

I kept rolling through the park rolling and rolling and finally I came to a stand of cottonwood trees. The stand of trees is a sign for me to stop and be quiet and wait patiently. The payoff is coming. Then there was water and then there were birds and birds and birds and birds it was marvelous.

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Best Viewing Times

Best viewing is always early and late in the day, however there is always some degree of action throughout the day. On my last trip,  I came up on a raptor having lunch and he flew directly in front of my windshield to a tree on the opposite side of the road. Wonderful. Then as I was approaching the tree where he was dining, he flew back in front of me and flew off into the reeds. It was a falcon and I got such a beautiful view it was breathtaking.

This place is always worth the drive, and if it’s dry, or you get the wrong season there will always be some action. Most noteworthy are Bald Eagles in addition to the Golden Eagles, American White Pelicans and over 200 other bird types that are resident at various times of the year. The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is mind boggling today, and to think of it in in 1908, when it was founded, is indeed inspiring. Ah the imagination.  Where there’s water there will be life. Oh what an incredible slice of life.


San Ardo Swallows

The San Ardo Swallows can be found when driving the US 101 either north of Paso Robles or south of King City. Find the off ramp for San Ardo, take the ramp and park under the bridge. Now get out of the car and be patient for a couple of minutes.

San Ardo Swallows - US 101 California
Cliff Swallows Under the Bridge

Some people don’t know how long that is so, use a watch if you are uncertain. The reason I say wait, is that as you drive up, the San Ardo Swallows will all flee, and it takes a bit of time for them to get the courage to continue their day to day tasks with an invader (you) in the area. Anyway, if one patiently waits soon a few birds will appear, then more, and then even more. These are cliff swallows. You can see their nests on the bridges with the heaviest concentrations on the east side (closest to the river) At my house we always called them mud swallows, as they make their nests from mud. Well, cliff swallows is the real name so I guess we will stick with that for the San Ardo Swallows. Next, these birds are migratory. Continue reading San Ardo Swallows

Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge

While cruising along Interstate Highway 10 heading east, just past New Orleans and a bit beyond Biloxi, I noticed signs for the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.

Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge
Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge

Well for me there are two very important items in that title. First the word National tells me that this may be a whole lot more than a patch of swamp land with a few alligators and a flock of birds. Second the words Wildlife Refuge. I love wildlife, and I love refuge. So this is a must stop, that is all there is!  Easy to find and just a few miles off the highway is the Visitor Center. A good place to start, for sure.  Continue reading Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge