Reader Joe Dickinson sent some bird photos (and one reptile snap); his captions are indented.
Here are the best of my non-goose photos from the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. (Autocorrect tried to make that “sacrament”, not appropriate for this site.) This is, I believe, my first ever photo of an American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus).
This great egret (Ardea alba) stared intently into this shrub without moving for several minutes. I suspect he heard something rustling around in there. Approaching traffic forced us to move on before he did anything.
I did not know what these were when I snapped the picture, but consultation with my Sibley Guide convinces me that they are white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi). (Try to type that without autocorrect insisting on “chili”.) I’m surprised to see them flying in a flock of over twenty (some stragglers cropped out of the finished photo) because we saw them wading mostly solo and never more than two or three together.
I did not get a good shot of a wading ibis on this trip, so here is one from a couple of years ago.
Speaking of flocks, I initially took these to be starlings since I am used to seeing them in large flocks, but actually they are red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus).
Here is a blackbird close up. It seemed a bit early to me (late January), but some males seemed to be at least tentatively making territorial displays.
This bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) kindly stayed put while I maneuvered my car to get a clear shot. (Refuge rules require visitors to remain in their vehicles at all times.)
The most common raptors on the refuge were the northern harrier and the red-tailed hawk, both most easily identified in flight, at least for me, so I struggled with identifying this perched bird before settling on juvenile redtailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). I would be happy to be corrected by one of your many more competent readers.
Not a great photograph, but I need to share what for me was a remarkable concentration of black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax). I count over forty in this frame, and this is about one fourth of the contiguous strip of trees and shrubs that they occupied. They are sufficiently reliable that the printed map of the refuge actually shows where to find them.
One non-avian species: I’m pretty sure they are northwestern pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata).
There were plenty of ducks, mostly duplicating the species featured in a previous submission from the Merced NWR, but I think these ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) are different.
I did send northern pintails (Anas acuta) previously, but I think this is a particularly handsome male.