Home
Field Notes
 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER NWR: Refuge Provides Unique Wildlife Photography Opportunities
California-Nevada Offices , March 29, 2013
Print Friendly Version
A rare image of a red fox and a gray fox interacting at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge.  During the past ten years, over 2,500 acres of riparian woodland have been restored on this refuge which had been largely abandoned farmland.  This return of woodland habitat has attracted numerous wildlife species back to the area including the native gray fox.
A rare image of a red fox and a gray fox interacting at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. During the past ten years, over 2,500 acres of riparian woodland have been restored on this refuge which had been largely abandoned farmland. This return of woodland habitat has attracted numerous wildlife species back to the area including the native gray fox. - Photo Credit: Rick Kimble
A long-tailed weasel is one of several secretive mammals that patient photographers may encounter along the Pelican Nature Trail at the San Joaquin River NWR.
A long-tailed weasel is one of several secretive mammals that patient photographers may encounter along the Pelican Nature Trail at the San Joaquin River NWR. - Photo Credit: Rick Kimble
Hikers on the Pelican Nature Trail may be surprised by a river otter popping out of the San Joaquin River.
Hikers on the Pelican Nature Trail may be surprised by a river otter popping out of the San Joaquin River. - Photo Credit: Rick Kimble

By Madeline Yancey

Nature photography is just one of the six wildlife-dependent activities allowed on our national wildlife refuges. The Pelican Nature Trail at the San Joaquin River NWR offers outstanding opportunities for wildlife and nature photography for people of all skill levels. The Pelican Nature Trail is unique in that it is one of few trails in California’s Central Valley that winds through dense riparian habitat.

Riparian corridors are known to support the greatest diversity of wildlife species of any single habitat type in the Central Valley and the Pelican trail offers wildlife photographers an intimate view of that diversity. The Pelican trail is also a lengthy one – approximately a four-mile round trip laid out in a series of connected loops that allow the walker to travel as much, or as little, of the trail as desired. The farthest loop of the trail winds around the inside of an oxbow of the San Joaquin River giving one the unique perspective of being surrounded by the River.

In the few short years the Pelican Nature Trail has been open to the public, photographers have captured and shared amazing shots of the Valley’s native wildlife inhabitants making a living. They’ve caught river otters foraging and playing in the San Joaquin River. The native long-tailed weasel has been photographed scurrying across the open, trying to reach cover with a hard-won meal in its jaws. Raccoons have been caught patrolling the shoreline for tasty morsels and sleepy western screech owls have been photographed peeking out from a wood duck nest box before setting off on the night’s hunt.

The Pelican Nature Trail is just one venue at the San Joaquin River NWR that offers great photographic opportunities. The wildlife observation area at the end of Beckwith Road has an elevated platform and provides a great vantage point for wildlife photography. It is open seasonally, from October to March. From the platform one can capture outstanding shots of tens of thousands of the once-endangered Aleutian cackling goose, as well as other wintering residents of the San Joaquin Valley like the lesser sandhill crane and snow and Ross’ geese. The patient and well-prepared photographer may even be treated to a coyote “scaring up” a few thousand geese hoping to walk away with a meal.

The nature trails at San Joaquin River NWR and other refuges in the Central Valley offer photographers and other visitors the unique chance to witness nature on its own terms, sometimes just miles or a couple of hours away from bustling towns and cities. So, grab your camera, grab your binoculars and let’s get outdoors! You never know what’s in store for you there.

For more information, visit the refuge website: www.fws.gov/refuge/san_joaquin_river/ 

To download photos, visit Pacific Southwest Region's Flickr page.

Madeline Yancey is a Pathways Student Trainee at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Los Banos, Calif.


Contact Info: Jack Sparks, 209-826-3508, jack_sparks@fws.gov



Send to:
From:

Notes:
Find a Field Notes Entry

Search by keyword

Search by State




Search by Region


US Fish and Wildlife Service footer