Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

Feb. 10, 2011 – Thur. – Ridgefield NWR

Well, I thought I was in for a nice sunny day at the refuge andwhen I arrived, it actually looked quite promising.  But by my first loop around the auto tour, the fog had moved in and plastered itself everywhere.  Up until noon, visibility was no more than 200 feet, if that.  The temperature was just a tad under freezing and frost was prevalent on foliage and branches.

At just past noon, the sun started to show itself and color finally took the place of the “grayish” scenes.  So, from 7:30 a.m. until noon, I was pretty much limited to close in shots and certainly no flight shots–even though I tried a few for the heck of it.

Not too far into the tour, I see a common Golden-crowned Sparrow that I flushed from the road in front of me where she was feeding with about a dozen other birds.  I liked this pose as it shows the crown, the eye, and the material on the beak.

[If you prefer, please click on the photos to see a larger version]

As I approach the large tree by the plaque I see a beautiful mature Bald Eagle up fairly high and behind some of the branches.  I snap a few shots but the branches and fog prevent capturing any feather detail, especially on the dark feathers.  Good trash bin fillers!

I’m in the ash tree forest now and a male American Robin flies over to a branch off to my left.  Activity so far has not been too good so I decide to take some shots of this poser.  I removed a huge branch from this photo that went across the center of the bird’s body.

Starting the 2nd loop, I notice a Killdeer walking around off the right shoulder of the road.  I pull up to within 20 feet of him, and there’s another car there, too, taking shots.  The bird just looked at us and got back to business hunting for grub.  Here’s a shot.

A little ways up the road at post #2, in the snag area off to the left, I see a mature Bald Eagle perched on one of the taller snags that is pretty far out in the water.  Unfortunately, it is too foggy for a decent shot and it just gets foggier as I wait.

Up near post #3, a harrier flies by but again, the fog is so thick, there are no details in the shots.

Around post #5, off to the right, a Ring-necked Duck gives me a shot in the fog and not much to write home about!

As I enter the woods, I again pass the beginning of the water on the right where the pink algae has formed.  This one heron seems to like this area as he is almost always near this spot.  This may be the same bird that likes to perch on the culvert directly across the road on the left side.  It is also likely that it is the same bird in a couple of shots I posted on the blog post prior to this one.  Here’s the full-frame shot.

In the woods, another Robin hops up on a mossy branch and turns back at me.  I refrained from using flash due to the fog.

At post #11, a Song Sparrow gives me a pose against a white sky.

Heading down the straightaway toward post #12, there’s a Pintail in the water to my left, near the far shore.  I end up taking about a hundred shots, making selecting a couple of them a real pain!  🙂

A little ways farther down the waterway, there’s a goose floating on the water in a group of about six.

Off around the corner at post #12 and approaching the three tree area, good ol’ ‘Mr. Harlan’ is sitting in the tree on the right.  I know it’s foggy but I have to try to get a flight shot–I know he’s going to fly as soon as I stop the truck.  So I prepare to shoot out of either window.  I stop, and he flies to my right, over the marsh and to that small tree out in the middle of the marsh.  I shoot but nothing comes out well at all.  Too foggy, too far away, and too dark!  Oh well, it’s only noon, right?  There may be another chance later.

I round the corner approaching post #14 and see a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk fly out of the tree on my right, cross in front of me, and catching a vole in the field at my left.  He stays on the ground only a few seconds and is off to consume his prey that he most skillfully caught.

Beginning another loop around the tour and it’s still foggy but there are signs now of it lifting and some sun peering through.  In the canal to my right is a Great Egret searching for prey.  Too close to get him all in the frame.

As I drive between posts 5 & 6, there’s another RTH on a fairly low branch, again, too close to get him all in the frame.  This one has a little bit of side lighting which can be nice but I don’t really like that the most visible eye is not well lit.

In the woods but far away is a nuthatch doing his thing on a tree trunk.  Just for kicks.

A little further into the woods and I see and hear a group of small birds.  One of the sounds is distinctly a Chickadee sound.  There’s a moss-covered branch right outside my truck window, positioned parallel to the road.  Dang!  If I could just get a little bird to landon that branch–the background is a nice, light, tan color.  I pull out my G2 phone (which I don’t do very often–call birds, that is) and start Ibird Pro up.  Selecting Black-capped Chickadee and turning on the call.  Within 30 seconds I have two Chickadees on the branch–one faces right at me.  I take all the flash shots I can get off as it’s quite dark in these woods.  It rarely happens this smoothly in the wild–here are a couple shots of the Black-capped Chickadee.

Ok, it’s about 1 p.m. and the sun is now out and the sky mostly all blue!  Just what I’ve been waiting all day for.  Approaching the three tree area again and the Harlan’s Hawk is sitting there just like last time around.  He flies, just like last time in exactly the same direction but I fail to get a decent shot–not that he was very close –THAT’s my excuse!  🙂

On around near post #14 and this is what a Northern Harrier looks like flying away!

Beginning my final loop and I see this Golden-crowned Sparrow with a side light. No flash.

Between posts 7 & 8, I see for the first time in months, a “butter butt” (Yellow-rumped Warbler).  Not the greatest perch but here’s what I ended up with.  I decided to post this shot with some branches crossing in front of the bird, as well as the same shot with the branches removed.  To remove the unwanted branches I used a combination of the Spot Healing Brush Tool with Content-Aware turned on, the Clone Tool, and the Blur Tool. 

Original with branches.

Here’s the same shot with branches and shadows removed.

What do you think?

I’m now between posts #9 & 10 and I peek across the water to my right and a coyote is standing on the bank, above the shore of the water.

Again, I’ve passed post #12 and heading for the three tree area.  It’s amazing to see Rest Lake with not one duck, swan, etc. in it.  Wow!

Now, this is my final run by the three trees and a chance to see ‘Mr. Harlan.’  I stop the truck about a hundred feet from the three trees and wait for a while.  Using my binoculars, I can see the Harlan’s Hawk perched in the huge oak tree all the way across the marsh (eastward) near the river.  After a while, I call it good and realize that the bird will not likely fly over to me while it sees me parked here.  I start up the truck and pull forward just past the 3 trees and all of a sudden I see the big dark Harlan’s Hawk flying directly toward the front of my truck.  That bird must have seen me move the truck and immediately took off from the oak tree.  I grab my camera and hope for the best.  Here are some shots of the Harlan’s Hawk.

Well, I stuck around the refuge for almost eight hours today–about three of them in sunshine.  I’m tired and I think I’ll pack it up for the day.  It’s been nice having you along for the ride!  See you next time on The Blog.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 9:51 pm and is filed under The Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Feb. 10, 2011 – Thur. – Ridgefield NWR”

  1. Jen says:

    Great post… I think my favorite shots are the Killdeer and the hawk with the prey. I am pretty impressed with your patience with the fog! It always drives me nuts when it’s sunny in Portland and I get to Ridgefield and I can’t see a thing.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks Jen! I’d love to get a Killdeer on a perch rather than the ground but I’ve never seen them anywhere else but the ground. Once I get to the refuge, I generally try to make the most of whatever the weather is and hope it changes as the day goes on. I appreciate your visit!

Leave a Reply