Thursday, October 25, 2012

Other Amazing Places

We recently spent a week or so in the Reno area for a family reunion. We haven't been there for two years. It had been long enough that the powerful beauty of the Great Basin hit me like a reunion of it's own, a reunion with something overwhelming that I had somehow forgotten I was missing. I have a few photos to share. : )

Looking west in the Sierra Valley from Dyson Lane.    

 Shortly before I took the picture above, we met a mink strolling down the road. It doesn't look like it here, but the Sierra Valley has extensive wetlands.

Looking north from Dyson Lane.

Three Ferruginous Hawks were dog-fighting overhead at this spot.  A few years ago, I found my one and only flock of Lawrence's Goldfinches playing around this green gate.

Looking west on Dyson Lane. 

Sierra Valley is famous for its raptors, and traveling Dyson Lane, which transects the valley, is a favorite route  to find them. We had around thirty Western Red-tails, including several dark phase birds, a few Northern Harriers, a few Ferruginous Hawks, and some Kestrels. Prairie Falcons, Golden and Bald Eagles, and Rough-legged Hawks are also regular here. Black-billed Magpies and Mountain Bluebirds are often perched on the fenceposts.
Irrigated hay fields are bird-rich.
 This field was full of White-crowned and Savannah Sparrows, hunting Ferruginous Hawks and Northern Harriers, and Western Meadowlarks.
Pyramid Lake is named for the triangular island on the left.
 Our trip is never complete without a visit to Pyramid Lake. It belongs to the Paiute tribe, despite many attempts by the state of Nevada to gain access to the water rights. Thousands of Western and Clark's Grebes are generally present. Unfortunately, they were actively feeding while we were there, and I got lots of pictures of lake water, but no grebes. There were also a few Common Loons and Eared Grebes.

This immature White-crowned Sparrow was more cooperative.

Trust me, it was a Savannah Sparrow. : )  

And I close with the only raptor picture I managed to get - a little Kestrel in the midst of lunch.

And so I got my Great Basin and Sierra Nevada fix at last. The stark beauty, the scent of the sagebrush and the feel of the wind got into my blood again, and for a few days after we came home, home seemed strange. But the jet lag has worn off, and the local scenes provide me with fixes of another sort - images like these reminding me of why home is the most amazing place of all.

Paw Paw Water Tower

Halloween House, Paw Paw

Briggs' Pond in Fall Dress

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Kind of Blossoming

This time of year it takes me forever to get anywhere. I am distracted by the color, the harvest, birds, farm stands, and just the beautiful light that it seems only happens in the fall. This morning was typical. I was on my way to the library for some research. It's about a fifteen minute drive. I left home at 10:00 AM. About a mile down the street I had to stop and take this picture.

The earth rests after the harvest.

I'll spare you the other four pictures I took. Then I made pretty good time for another 3 miles or so until I came upon these characters. I was able to roll down the window, get the camera out of the case, boot it up, zoom in and still catch them before they quite got away.
Sandhill crane family

And another look

Then I made it all the way to the bank, where I spent about five minutes. Now I was about .2 miles from the library, but somehow my car didn't turn in there - Briggs' Pond and Maple Lake are right down the road. Why not? 

Briggs' Pond from Red Arrow Highway

This female Peking Duck disturbed the serenity of the pond by quacking loudly at me until she realized I really DIDN'T have any bread for her! Her two following males just looked embarrrassed.

After this, I finally headed to the library - total elapsed time since I left home - one hour. I'm not sorry!