View Full Version : Sacramento NWR complex...

D. Robert Franz
01-09-2009, 11:14 AM

I'm looking to do some waterfowl photography in a few weeks and from what I read the Sacramento NWR complex seems promising. Any first had experience with the area. Any information would be helpful. It would be a long drive for me and I want to make sure its worthwhile...


Chris Hansen
01-12-2009, 07:02 PM
The auto tour is one of the ways to photograph the refuge. Use a window mount or bean bag. Personally i set up my tripod with ballhead right over my body. Best times are early in the morning and late evening. There are only two places where they allow you to get out of our car. The observation deck is good for flying gees in the am. The parking area on the far end is good for flight shots in the pm. Those are my favored spots anyway.

I also like Greylodge Refuge to the east near Sutter Buttes. They have a walking trail across the refuge. If you walk about half way across before sunset it can be a great spot to get the big lift off that occurs when the snow geese go out to feed for the night. i'll PM you with some more info about SNWR

God bless,


Chris Hansen
01-12-2009, 07:33 PM

I don't know your itinerary but some photographers like to shoot at Klamath.


God's blessings on whatever you decide and have fun,


D. Robert Franz
01-12-2009, 11:12 PM
thanks Chris some great information... Looking forward to even more...

Chris Hansen
01-13-2009, 01:27 AM

I hope some of the "Valley Folk" from BPN chime in here like Dan Brown. Winter weather in the Sacramento Valley can be really iffy due to the fog. Your best bet is to try and hit the refuge the day after a rain. After that the ground fog usually forms and it can be really thick. Your best bet is to keep in constant contact with the refuge personnel and track the weather channel.
As far as places to stay I usually stay in Williams. I stay at the motel 6 and eat at Granzellas. They have a good deli and mounts of an incredible amount of wildlife on the walls. It is 40 minutes from Williams to the viewing platform in the middle of the refuge.

My most common birds photographed are Snow geese, White fronted geese, Pintail,Shoveler(Spoonie), Gadwall,Green wing Teal,Mallard. I have also shot images of Ring Neck Pheasant, Cinnamon teal, Cackling geese, Ross geese,
Peregrine, Marsh harrier, Redtail and White faced Ibis. Mammal wise i have only gotten images of Blacktail deer and Black tailed Jack rabbits.

Lens wise if you are going to be restricted to the auto tour you need a minnimum of a 500mm. if you snag a place at a blind a 300 with 1.4 TC or 400 will do. They have logs placed at a distance that are well set for a 400 mm lens.Pic of one of the blinds attached. Hope this helps some more.

God's precious light and love to all,


Chris Knight
01-14-2009, 12:21 AM
Chris has given you good info, I am just adding a bit more. Sacramento NWR is tops for waterfowl but it all depends on weather ( fog) which we have had a lot of lately. Auto tour routes at Sac,Colusa NWR and Graylodge let you cover a lot of ground. I have a blind sceduled for next week I am hoping for some clear weather. If the weather is clear you can find where the Geese are feeding around Sac NWR and drive to areas where you can catch them trading back and forth between fields.

Sometimes when it is foggy to the north it will clear to the south or vice versa. Here is a link for a southern area that is good.
http://www.cosumnes.org/ Consumnes River Preserve geese, ducks, swans, sandhill cranes, raptors good access by car and walking trails. Walking trail is good for AM shoots and the road access is better for the PM.
Road Map

Yolo Bypass Wildlife area is another I find better in the AM it is west of the city of Sacramento. McKinley Park in Sacramento has Wood Ducks when all else fails.
If the Central valley is foggy you can always go towards the coast where it is usually clear when the valley is socked in. Suisun/Napa marshes, Morro Bay, Bodega Bay

Right now the birds are seem to be restless we have not had any good weather systems. They will be there one day and gone the next. Some say the birds have gone back up north to say the Klamath basin until a new storm drives them back down to the Central valley. Still plenty of birds around just some days are better then others

When do you plan on coming out? I will try and get you some GPS coordinates of the areas mentioned to use if you are using one to get here.
Happy Hunting
another Chris