In mid-December I took another day trip out to the Merced area refuges and visited Merced NWR and San Luis NWR. It was a cloudy day with hints that the tule fog wasn’t far away, but it left the area with some intermittently fascinating and glorious light. Because of that, I found myself doing more landscape-oriented work than normal, which is always part of my plan but I tend to get a bit focussed on the birds for some reason.

The birds were in good numbers, although the Sandhill Cranes stayed out of sight — I could hear them, but they never came to a place where I could see them, much less photograph them. That’s how it works some days.

Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Lots of Greater White-Fronted Geese, huge flocks of Snow and Ross’s Geese mixing in with each other, good numbers of ducks, and multiple chances to photograph American Pipits highlighted the day.

Greater White-fronted Geese

This is perhaps my favorite image that I’ve taken to explain the joy of visiting the refuges. And yes, I’m playing with the Velvia rendering intent of the Fuji here.

Merced National Wildlife Refuge

San Luis NWR was simply beautiful.

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

It’s also where Tundra Swans hang out, although they rarely come close to the refuse tour roads. So when you can get some good photography time with them, it always caps off a good day.

Tundra Swan

I’ll be heading back out there soon, depending on the weather. It’s been a good year out on the refuges, and I’m hoping it continues.