Thursday, December 11, 2014

Klamath Basin: October - Part I

We made two trips to the Klamath Basin this fall, one in early October and the second in early November .  This post will be snippets from the first part of the October trip.  More to come!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014:  This morning we were loading up the car, preparing to drive to the Klamath Basin when my neighbor called out, "Did you see the eclipse last night?"  Last night!  I thought it was tonight.  Yes, the eclipse is on October 8, but in the wee hours of the morning, not the night of October 8 - 9th.  What a dumb mistake.  Ah well, we'll enjoy the moon rising tonight instead, and at sensible hour of the evening, not at 3 AM in the morning.  Watching the moon rise is always a treat, especially when I'm prepared and we can take our time.  The moon is closer to earth than usual, so the will be extra large.  

Early evening:  We're sitting on the western side of Klamath Lake, just finishing our cold supper of chicken and potato salad and waiting for the moon to rise.  It should be a big, beautiful, full moon.  When we arrived an hour ago this shoreline was in full shadow.  The far shore picked up plum and golds from the setting sun.  Then the far shore went into shadow, but the wisps of clouds above glowed with golden orange.  Finally that too left.  Evening has come.  The gulls have gone to roost; a great blue heron strokes by near to shore and to me; one bat flies his zigzag course. 

7 PM:  Technically we are five minutes past moonrise, but the moon still has to climb from behind the distant hills.

7:03 PM:  A far off ridge is bright in one spot.  Clouds are blurring the horizon, making it look like a far off forest fire. 

7:08 PM:  There it is!  Suddenly I can see half the moon breaking the ridge.

7:15 PM:  The moon is throwing sparkles of moonshine onto the water.  It has started its night-long trek across a virtually clear sky. Burnt gold moon; deep blue sky.  Dark hills and dark water except for the shining path of light reflected on the water.  The moon always looks oversized when it rises ... and this is a bigger one than usual.
Eared grebe with a leach
Thursday:  First day in the Basin we usually scout -- where do we want to concentrate our few days in the Basin? Lots of ducks are in the Basin, but not many geese.  There isn't as much water in the Basin as usual.  The drought is taking its toll.  Many of the geese are moving on to the rice fields in California.  The big sump across from Sheepy Ridge (Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge) still has acres and acres of water.  Off in the distance I see hundreds of ducks.  A few are nearby along with eared grebes eating leeches and a few western grebes.  Western grebe chicks are full sized but still beg incessantly for food from their harried parents. 
A quick sketch, drawn while Dale was driving along Sheepy Ridge:  "Evening is coming to the Klamath Basin.  Sheepy Ridge is dark.  The darkening sky glows with the last bits of color.  It's a clear night.  It'll be a chilly one.  Eight owls tonight!"

I like the shorter days of fall.  We can get out early and come back to town at dusk.  During the day we have to look hard to find a great horned owl, but in the deeping gloam,  they appear as if by magic.  Eight owls tonight!  I spot most of them on the telephone poles that parallel Sheepy Ridge. 


  1. Hi, Elva, your very beautiful sketches and a fascinating post are wonderful!! Cheers, Sadami

  2. I love the tales of your adventures in the wilds and that owl painting is gorgeous. I've never seen a wild one.

  3. Owls, owls....I want to see them in the wild, too! But seeing them through your stories and artwork is a treat. Wonder where they spend the daylight hours. Nearer to the ground? Love the sunset owl especially!

  4. Your posts are always fun to read. The full moons always remind me of your moms book you illustrated. I too would love to see an owl.

  5. Delightful image! I love the oranges that you captured. And loved reading your reflection.