This past spring I traveled to Arcata California for some birdwatching in the Pacific Northwest. In Arcata, they have a bird festival in April called Godwit Days that I could not attend. Nonetheless, I thought it might be an interesting time and place for birding. The local Audubon Society says birding is at its best from winter through early May. You’ll find songbirds in spring through fall, shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl in the cooler months of October through April, and raptors year round. As predicted, April was not a particularly good time for water birds, although there were songbirds and plenty of spring flowers. Nearly 500 species of birds have been found in Humboldt County; many of these species are unique to Humboldt County. Fortunately I was able to secure Rob Fowler as a guide to the birding areas around Arcata. He knew when and where to look and made most of the following pictures possible. I suspect I will return in a different season to see a different set of birds and of course to see the beautiful scenery in a different light.
This past spring I decided to visit Arcata California a week after their annual Godwit Festival in April since I could not make the sanctuary festival.. The Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the City of Arcata’s innovative wastewater treatment facility. The sanctuary is 307 acres, including freshwater marshes, salt marsh, tidal sloughs, grassy uplands, mudflats, brackish marsh, approximately 5 miles of walking and biking paths and an Interpretive Center. Located at the north end of Humboldt Bay, the sanctuary is situated along the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory route for thousands of birds that breed in the far north and winter in California, Mexico and Central and South America. The Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary is touted as the highest bird populated coastal site between Bodega Harbor and Washington. While I had visions of masses of migrating birds the reality was somewhat more quiet. I did find a collection of Godwits, and some local ducks, egrets and shorebirds.
Since I visited Denver recently to visit my mother, I decided to indulge in a bit of winter birding to get her out of the house. Although many people like to look for birds in the summer, when the weather is nice, winter allows you a unique opportunity to actually see the birds without the cover of leaves. As winter snows fall many mountain dwelling species of birds will come down into the valleys and even into cities in the winter. Moreover, species from north of the US/Canada border fly down into the areas where winter is milder, even to Denver as it turns out. The purpose of this post is not to be inclusive, just the the birds I found in a few favorite places. I grew up in Colorado and learned about nature from my late father who was an avid outdoorsman. He would have enjoyed getting out and viewing the birds on display in the nearby parks.
Over the years, I have used Panasonic cameras almost exclusively, due to their small size, reasonable cast and good image quality. Since I travel often, lightweight and small gear is a big positive for me. Last year, I decided to venture into wildlife photography, I visited Botswana and Madagascar on a safari and all the other travelers had full frame cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV. While my Africa photos turned out well, I found myself wondering if I could get better quality with a full sensor camera and I chose the Sony A7RIII probably mostly due to the intense advertising by Sony and the fact that I love my Sony RX100MV. I expected the camera to be expensive but the real sticker shock came when I bought lenses and accessories. I used it for one birding trip to Arizona and returned everything as soon as I returned. The lenses were too big and heavy and surprisingly, with the Sony 100–400mm lens and a 1.4x teleconvertor, the photo quality just was not there. I bought the new Lumix G9 and I have been happy ever since. Consider this post a journal of my foray into the world of Sony full frame cameras, specifically the Sony A7RIII.