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Posts tagged ‘Gray Lodge Wildlife Area’


The first time I visited Gray Lodge Wildlife Area north of Sacramento was in February 2019.  It was a great day with lots of birds:  geese, ducks, herons, egrets and even sandhill cranes and swans.  Since the area is a wetlands that supports birds all year long, I figured the best way to really know the area is to visit it several times throughout the year.

This time, I visited in early October.  The area showed the beginnings of fall colors across the landscape.  There were some birds, but nothing like the numbers from my earlier visit.

Still, it was a great leisurely afternoon! I saw a few others out at the site, but mainly I was on my own on the dirt road scenic drive.

Birds were around, but most were either overhead or out on the water.

Sometimes, my closeup lens would let me get some birds in focus, even though the colors often stayed muted.

Northern Pintail

Common Egret

Great Blue Heron

I did not notice the spider until later

Snow Geese Dark Phase (I think)

Black Necked Stilt

This green algae was all over one of the waterways

This Great Blue Heron was hard to spot even with a closeup.

American Coots

A Common Egret playing hide and seek.

Lesser Yellowlegs

I don’t know what there are, but they sure are pretty!

I dropped by Sutter National Wildlife Refuge thinking I might see some more birds, but the road at this access point was roped off.  The area did have pretty golden fields.

It was a great afternoon.  I’ll have to visit again, maybe in winter–or early spring.


As my friend and I continued our Winter Trip, we planned our second stop to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.  We were hoping to see some birds as we headed north from Sacramento, California, heading to Medford, Oregon.  The wet weather expected in the area was not due until the evening, so we were confident we would have pretty weather for the drive.

The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is located a little more than an hour from Sacramento, off Highway 99.  In some marshy fields a bit before reaching the wildlife area, we saw our first birds for the day.  Big birds.  In great numbers.  Not the expected red-winged black birds, but swans, geese and cranes.

I was ecstatic.  It has been a long time since I first started birding and keeping a life list.  But today’s sightings were all new birds for that list.  Yeah.

TUNDRA SWAN:  45 to 59 inch length, 5.5 to 6.9 foot wingspan

SNOW GOOSE, (Dark or Blue Phase):  25 to 32 inch height, 4.4 to 5.4 foot wingspan

SANDHILL CRANE: 31 to 54 inch height, 5.5 to 7.6 foot wingspan

RED-TAIL HAWK:  18-26 inch length, 3.6 to 4.7 foot wingspan

Feeling that we had already had a great day out in Nature, we continued our drive, still looking for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.  We found it within a few minutes and were delighted by even more birds.

The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, located about 60 miles north of Sacramento, is situated along the Pacific Flyway.  The Area provides a haven to over 300 species of birds year-round.  Its roughly 9,100 acres include reflective ponds, grassy fields, and wooded areas, offering water and shelter for birds and animals.  Seeing and hearing all the birds in the area was majestic.  I could have spent a lot of time there, just enjoying the experience.

As abundant as the water birds were today, quite a few were not very cooperative about being photographed.  For example, we saw Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, and Black-Necked Stilts that would not let us snap an individual photo.  But lots of other birds were cooperative!

Actually, the broad, open expanses with so many birds was fascinating, engaging.  I could just watch them all for hours!

SNOW GOOSE, (White and Dark Phase):  25 to 32 inch height, 4.4 to 5.4 foot wingspan

GREAT (or COMMON) EGRET:  up to 3.7 feet tall, 31 to 41 inch length, 4.3 to 5.6 foot wingspan

LITTLE EGRET:  22 to 26 inch length, 2.9 to 3.5 foot wingspan; black legs and beak, yellow feet

GREAT BLUE HERON:  36 to 54 inch length, 45 to 54 inch height, 5.5 to 6.6 foot wingspan

We saw smaller birds as well.  I think these names are correct, but if anyone notices a problem, let me know.

Northern Pintail

Bufflehead Duck

American Wigeon

Ruddy Duck

American Coot

Northern Shoveler

Ring-Necked Pheasant

What can I say?  This place was incredible!  I am already making plans to visit Gray Lodge Wildlife Area again in the Spring to see what birds visit at that time of year.



I love landscapes.

Most of my posts are about my travels out into nature—and those trips give me many opportunities to admire vast and beautiful landscapes.  This past week, I was out traveling but not to any well known, impressive locations.  The landscapes I saw were nothing like my favorite views from places like Yosemite, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon or even Bryce Canyon National Park.

But last week’s landscapes were glorious, even if they were more muted, subtle.  My trip took me into Northern California and a bit into Southern Oregon.  The plan was to scout out some birds and travel some scenic routes.  I will share more details about my trip over the next several weeks.  But here are some landscapes that show the desolation and splendor of some of the mountain roads and open marsh lands I traveled along.

Not living in the mountains, I always enjoy a snowy landscape.

Anytime of year, Lake Tahoe is a wondrous sight.

This marsh was near Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

Along I-5, I was able to see Priscilla, Dragon Queen of the Sierras.  I’ve shared about her and the talented artist who created her before.  On this trip—although still a bit cloudy and dreary—Mt. Shasta can be seen in the distance.

A better view of the top of Mt. Shasta.

The Tulelake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges offered views of some great marshland.

This is my entry for the Lens Artist Photo Challenge 31 Landscape.

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