Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 2015: Camas Wildlife Refuge-Part II

Looking across the Camas National Wildlife Refuge

I went back to Camas a few days after my first excursion for a number of reasons.  I wanted to take my younger boys to see it, I wanted to go back and I wanted to take photos using the RAW setting on the camera.  A friend of mine had told me about that setting and showed me what he has done with it. I needed to try it.

I ought to say a few words about the refuge.  The Camas National Wildlife Refuge is accessed by driving three miles north of Hamer, Idaho on the frontage road of I-15 and two miles west on the Refuge Access road.  Once you have entered the refuge, there is a driving route for wildlife viewing.  The driving route is an elevated road almost like a dike that makes a double loop past the major ponds, marshes and canals of the refuge.  The road also goes past quite a bit of sagebrush steppe land.
It takes about an hour to an hour and a half to drive through the whole of the wildlife preserve at Camas.  The speed limit is fifteen miles an hour and that is about ten miles an hour too fast.  If you attempt to drive the speed limit at Camas your wildlife viewing experience will be unsatisfying.  The birds really don't like it when you speed.  They fly away long before you get there.  Best to take it slow and let the birds settle.  Respect their environment.  It's better that way.

Because I was shooting in RAW, I decided to be a little parsimonious with my shots because RAW takes up so much more room on the memory card.  When I shoot in JPEG, I take many times more photos.  I need to find a happy medium where I shoot in RAW for animal closeups and JPEG for blogging.  When I first got my zoom lens, it seemed inconvenient to have to change lenses for different shots, but now I'm used to it and it is all part of normal.  I will have to get used to switching RAW and JPEG, strike a balance.

On this particular visit to Camas, the rockstars were the owls.  I got some really cool owl shots  I believe they were all short eared owls, but I am not an expert on owls, at least not yet.  We also saw a porcupine.  I didn't get a great shot of the porcupine but it was the first one I've ever seen alive and in the wild, not taxidermied and in a museum.  I didn't get a great shot, but I got an okay one so I'll include it.

My boys had a good time and both of them said they would go back again.  It was good to have some father/sons time with them.  They both found some of the birds first.  I have pretty good wildlife spotting skills, and it appears that they are both developing theirs.  Awesome.  Now to the rockstars.

Yellow-headed blackbird.  Still cool

Short eared owl hiding in the bulrushes

The porcupine

An owl staring us down

And another

Here's another

This guy was trying to be really small.  Maybe I wouldn't notice

Might be the best shot of the day.  Lot of good shots that day

Ever wonder if an owl blinks?

Oh, and we saw a deer at the end.

I'll go back to Camas many times this summer.  It's only about twenty minutes away and is quite rewarding.  I think I'll pay more attention to wildlife refuges wherever I see them and whenever I pass them.  I spent my thirties doing nothing but making money.  Never enough either.  Hand to mouth most of the time.  My thirties weren't much fun.  I took a job teaching at a university in southern Idaho in 2000.  Changed my life.  I emerged from my cocoon in my forties and my fifties, well they've been alot of fun.  When I changed my approach from making a living to making a life everything got better.  Stopping to smell the roses or watch the birds, man I can't emphasize how important that kind of stuff is.  Here's to happiness.

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