I have just returned after a wonderfully busy four night vacation in the Klamath Falls area with two new friends. The plan was to travel to the refuge and wetland areas in search of wildlife and birds. My travel companions arrived a few days ahead of me and explored the familiar landscape of trips here from years past.
It’s an epic drought year near Klamath. Water is in short supply and it only takes a drive through the area to understand the “politics of water”. Parts of the refuge have run dry, as in cracked-earth dry. I saw a hand-lettered sign near one small farm desperate for a share of the limited water supply. It’s survival to the little guy.
As we neared the small resort where we rented a townhome for the week, you see lush green golf courses and sprinklers drenching lawn and sidewalks in the early hours. It’s truly a “shake your head” moment. As a household we did our best to conserve resources, but …
I arrived on Friday late in the afternoon. The temperature soared into the 90’s over the weekend. The fire season had an early start just as summer officially began. There were three major wildfires, one of which put us in Level 2 evacuation status (Be Ready). I never saw smoke or fire, but the hot winds down here can shift a fire’s direction without warning or any regard for what might lie in it’s path. I got my first hint of what it means to live in the area.
The remains of previous wildfires dotted the landscape as we drove to the different wildlife areas. My companions have traveled here annually and noted the huge difference in the number of shorebirds and the falling levels of water in the wetlands. 2020 was a devastating year with regard to bird loss. A changing climate and wildfires certainly contributed to the loss of these insect-eaters, as may have the loss of habitat as the water sources dry up.
It was an education to be in the area for sure. Despite less water in many wetland areas, I was able to add thirteen birds to my “lifer” list and capture photos of a few I had seen but was unable to photograph before. The shore and water-birds were stunning discoveries for me. Here is my list of new lifer birds for the list:
Black-crowned Night Heron
American White Pelican
I posted previously about many of the wetland areas. We spent a part of each day at Putnam’s Point near the Pelican Marina. It’s a tiny little cove and there are dozens of Western and Clark’s Grebes. Egrets and pelicans occasionally fly in, as does a night heron. This is close to where we stayed and was a short drive in the morning and early afternoon.
Monday morning, Keitha and I drove up to Crater Lake ahead of the swarms people likely to make it a destination later in the day. We got some great views along the rim, though the popular rim drive was not yet open.
Tuesday morning, Susan agreed to join me for a 3:30AM departure from the house to arrive at the rim of Crater Lake for sunrise. There were clouds in the forecast, but you know me, I always go on faith. We were not disappointed !
I left around 10 AM, exhausted already, for a 9 hour drive home. I made a river stop, one stop for a very tall cold brew and a pull-out at Diamond Peak. My plan had been to stop and visit one of my favorite creative friends on my drive home. Helvi’s home gallery is a feel good place and there is always something new happening on her work table. I came to pick up a couple paintings I bought this spring. I love this woman’s style !
I brought Thai food so we could enjoy a late afternoon early dinner on the porch. There’s a cool breeze and always a parade of people in the neighborhood that I so love. Check out Helvi’s work on Facebook (Helvi Smith Artist) or at her website ( helvismith.com ).
It’s lovely to get away but really nice to come home too. Thanks for indulging me again. Your visits and comments here and on Facebook keep me inspired to keep at it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart 💜
Sunrise Road at Mount Rainier opens July 2nd ! I can hardly wait ! May an epic season of summer hiking begin !