How many times had I passed the sign on Interstate 5 that read Kern National Wildlife Refuge - Sixteen Miles over the years? I did a quick calculation. Figure a minimum of three trips to San Francisco a year for the last twenty five years, by my poor math that makes, let's see, roughly 150 times there and back.
But I had never visited the 11,249 acre reserve before, the San Joaquin Valley refuge once part of the largest freshwater marsh system in the United States. I decided to take the road to McFarland east towards Wasco and have a looksee. Part of what makes me tick, exploring new places I have never visited before. Besides I was early, had an afternoon to kill.
I stopped at the lonely ranger station and talked to the young lady behind the desk. She was wearing a long solid color dress, the kind favored by fundamentalist LDS sects. She suggested auto route #1, a six and a half mile gravel loop.
But I am easily amused, liked having the place to myself. And there were certainly plenty of other birds around.
Like taking this picture of a pretty killdeer on the shoreline.
|white faced ibis|
|dark morph Red tailed or Harlan|
The next morning I left early and made my way through the Pacheco Pass, with my eyes on a sharp lookout for raptors.
Two of our national birds perched near each other in an old dead tree.
Saw more red tailed hawks perched on telephone poles and what have you than I have ever seen in my life. Almost one per pole.
(to be continued...)