Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Klamath Basin in Winter

The lakes are frozen, plastered with snow, seams of ice stitched together with winter thread. Snow blankets the hills and higher peaks; the agricultural fields are somewhat snow-free but solid. Waterfowl exists where there is open water - the Link River, Wood River, Williamson River - but the rest is solid, deep in winter slumber.

The birding was OK, not great. Bald eagles, rough-legged hawks, red-tailed hawks and northern harriers were out hunting, preying on winter kill or small mammals. The Link River had its usual nice collection of goldeneyes, buffleheads, mergansers and even a couple of mallards. Black-crowned night herons roosted in the willows along the river, their numbers around 100 but difficult to count during the brief snowstorms.

Our best sighting for the weekend? A pair of bobcats hunting along the edge of a marsh, their movements slow and deliberate. Too far off for a good photograph, we watched them hunt until they decided to run for cover, back into the trees.

I look forward to next month's visit back to Klamath, to see the changes and the return of migrants as the lakes and waterways open up and provide them safe refuge.
A solitary coyote hunts in Klamath Marsh NWR.