This was the weekend of the annual fish-out, an event created and fostered by my brother, Rob. Despite significant rain, the event went off without a hitch and we had a great time.
The libations were liberal and masculinity was evident.
When I departed yesterday, the largest fish honor was held by John Frydendahl – a striped bass of about 15 pounds.
John also told us that he’d been “spooled” by another fish before the rest of us arrived. We could only wonder about the size of that one.
The white-front geese appeared to be staging for a flight north. They will leave any time now.
Pheasants and mallards were displaying and chasing each other around. Managed to photograph one rooster in full bloom.
Hunted Webb this weekend. Had a hard time getting a good shot at white-fronts, but Aleutians, snows and cacklers were plentiful. My friend Bob and I passed up tons of shots and came home with nine dark geese.
Here’s a link to a video taken shortly after sunrise this morning.
Mayberry Farms is not what it once was. There was a day when we had a duck club with about 150-200 acres of shallow-flooded seasonal marsh. At times we had mud flats covered with dowitchers, stilts and avocets.
When the shallow ponds were converted to deep perenial ponds, the shore birds disappeared from our hunting territory. But occasionally they return to wade the shallow water in the fields adjacent to Mayberry.
Here are a few that were present on Sunday.
Dowitchers always hang together.
The black-necked stilt in the center stands tall.
Snowy egrets posed.
There were a few other birds around as well.
Kites on a snag.
Yesterday was a moving day. At the Kerry Club, near Gustine, waterfowl were stacking up in areas not hunted.
The Volta closed zone was loaded with mallards and teal. Pintail were rafting up on the open water.
A week of relatively cold weather and approaching stormy weather was having it’s affect.
Around a pond at the Wente golf course, south of Livermore, wigeon numbers were up.
On Arroyo Del Valle creek below the dam at Del Valle Reservoir, more than 50 mallards were packed in at the bridge crossing where generally there are only one or two pairs.
Aleutian Geese, usually the first to arrive, are stacked up on Delta islands.
On the way back from the ranch this morning, I noticed that some of the stock ponds were loaded with waterfowl. It’s that time of year. Hunting should be good – at least for a while.
It was quiet in the grasslands as kickoff of the Super Bowl football game approached.
Click on the photos and they will enlarge.
This harrier was resting while the ducks and shorebirds fed.
Egrets were approachable, but the great blue herons were not.
Curlews are beautiful birds, especially in flight.
These ibis were acting like the Blue Angels
These spoonies stayed calm for a photo.
Silence, except for the chattter of birds.
January has been a good month for waterfowl hunting in the grasslands and the delta. With ten days left, I hope to get in three more hunts. God willing, I’ll be in the delta this weekend and the grasslands on Wednesday.
During the middle of the day. Rafts of ducks draw pintail away from our decoys.
At the Kerry Duck Club the game has been numbers of ducks. Teal and pintail have been my primary target. Some hunters are adding widgeon and spoonies. Last Saturday, while hunting with my friend Fred, we limited, but expended quite a few shells in the effort.
Water levels have remained shallow which is very attractive to wading birds and dabblers. These black-necked stilts are standing tall.
An immature bald eagle passes over. Click to enlarge.
Ducks and geese are plentiful in the delta as well, but not as accessible. Large rafts of pintail and white-front geese are visible, but they tend to stay in their safe havens and avoid our blinds. But, we are bringing home specs and pintails with regularity.
Specs are the goose of choice in the delta, but snows are found along side them in pasture land. These geese were resting at Sherman Island last week.
Our hunting area is sand hills and ponds. The white-fronts are using the seasonal ponds, which makes them vulnerable while snows are hanging in the pasture land. On Wednesday, my partner Tom and I brought home a pair of specs apiece.
At the KDC, shovellers tempt us as we wait patiently for pintails to make a mistake.