Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

July 7, 2014 – East side of Mt. Hood, OR & Ridgefield NWR – 25 Images

Several factors made me decide to try something different for today’s (July 7, 2014) photo shoot.  One, Ridgefield NWR is relatively quiet this time of year and the grass is very high, making shots that I could easily take in winter, very difficult now.  Two, I am in need of photographing some new species and the likelihood of finding one now at the refuge is low.  Three, I recently acquired a new gimbal-type head for my tripod–one that will safely hold my big lens.  I want to try it out and I could do that at the refuge but would probably end up shooting primarily blackbirds and herons.  So I decided to take a drive over Mt. Hood to the east side to see what I could find.  The spot I went to is in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

The area I visited has many dead snags and dead stumps from an earlier timber sale.  It also has some new tree growth.  All these attributes make for perfect habitat for bluebirds, woodpeckers, and the like.  I arrived there about 8 a.m. on a sunny day.  Luckily, I remembered to bring a very important item — my bug shirt.  Not long after I set up my gear for shooting, swarms of flies decided they really liked my face, hands, and my camera.  It was worse than any mosquito attack I had endured at the wildlife refuge.  It didn’t take long and I realized that these guys had it out for me and that they bite (literally)!  I had to put up my full defense at that time and zip up my face screen on my bug shirt.  It did degrade my vision some but I could still see well enough to find birds and look through the viewfinder.  The shirt also covered my arms but my hands were not protected.  I failed to wear my gloves.  I ended up with three bites on my hands, one of which was pretty painful, red, itchy and had swelled up.  The other two bites basically itched some.  This is a whole new world from driving around in my truck at Ridgefield.

I decided to put on my Canon 1.4x III extender, making my set up 700mm.  My new gimbal head is known as the ‘poor man’s’ gimbal head–the Manfrotto model 393.  It’s big and bulky but it does the job, especially for a shooter like me who shoots from his vehicle most of the year at a venue that requires me to stay in my vehicle from Oct. thru April.  And the price for the Manfrotto is less than a third of that for the Wimberly gimbal head.  Here’s a shot of my 700mm set up at the Mt. Hood site with the Manfrotto head.  Note Mt. Hood in the background.

[The first 4 shots below are partially covered by the sidebar.  Please click once on these pictures to see the shots unobstructed, then hit your browser back button to return to the blog post.  Thanks!]

20140707_10351620140707MHNF  my gear set up at Mt. Hood

I walked into the cleared timber area and the first bird I saw that was relatively close, and predictable, was this House Wren.  The bird would repeatedly come back to the same snag after catching an insect.  Its nest was very likely in that snag.  Here’s a set of shots of this House Wren.

 

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 640, 700mm.     (8:14 a.m.)

_15A9365-Edit20140707MHNF  house wren

 

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 640, 700mm.     (8:14 a.m.)

_15A9368-Edit20140707MHNF  house wren

 

I noticed this Cassin’s Finch in the distance while I was shooting the wren.  While the bird is a little soft, I liked the overall shot, and it’s a lifer.

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (8:16 a.m.)

_15A9391-Edit20140707MHNF  Cassin's Finch

 

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (8:16 a.m.)

_15A9409-Edit20140707MHNF   house wren

 

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (8:21 a.m.)

_15A9424-Edit20140707MHNF  house wren

 

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (8:21 a.m.)

_15A9435-Edit20140707MHNF  house wren

 

One of the reasons I came to this location was to see the woodpeckers, but, as I was warned by my photographer friend, the chicks would probably have fledged if I waited too long to make the trip.  I got here as soon as I could but it was too late.  There were no woodpeckers in sight at a reasonable distance.  The only woodpecker shot I got was this far away attempt at a Williamson’s Sapsucker (female).  A documentary shot of a lifer for me.

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (8:30 a.m.)

_15A9444-Edit20140707MHNF  Williamson's Sapsucker female

 

Another long distance shot was this Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (8:55 a.m.)

_15A9447-Edit20140707MHNF  Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

And, a Chipmunk on one of the rotting stumps.   Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (9:17 a.m.)

_15A9496-Edit20140707MHNF  chipmunk

 

I walked up the logging road a short distance and found a Mountain Bluebird nest in a pine snag just where my friend told me it would be.  Another lifer, this is the female Mountain Bluebird.     Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (9:25 a.m.)

_15A9529-Edit20140707MHNF  Mountain Bluebird female

 

Another shot of the Cassin’s Finch.     Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (9:27 a.m.)

_15A9540-Edit20140707MHNF  Cassin's Finch  female

 

This is the male Mountain Bluebird on top of the snag where its nest is located.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (9:29 a.m.)

_15A9558-Edit20140707MHNF  Mountain Bluebird male

 

The female bluebird at the nest hole.   Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (9:40 a.m.)

_15A9574-Edit20140707MHNF  Mountain Bluebird female

 

And again, at the top of the snag.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (9:52 a.m.)

_15A9627-Edit20140707MHNF  Mountain Bluebird - female

 

This is the view of the mountain that I had at 700mm.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (10:22 a.m.)

_15A9634-Edit20140707MHNF  east side of Mt. Hood

 

This little White-crowned Sparrow sang for me.  You can tell the sun is getting higher in the sky because a shadow is covering part of the top of the bird’s eye.   Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (10:25 a.m.)

_15A9646-Edit-Edit20140707MHNF   white-crowned sparrow

 

My final bird at Mt. Hood today is a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird.  (Thanks to Scott Carpenter for the bird’s ID.)   Another long distance (soft) shot for documentary purposes.   Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 400, 700mm.     (10:29 a.m.)

_15A9664-Edit20140707MHNF  unknown

 

I got back into my truck and drove over to the Ridgefield NWR, my “home base.”  The wind was unusually strong but I decided to drive around the loop a couple time anyway.  Here’s a Great Blue Heron that just landed in the shallow water.

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 640, 700mm.     (3:52 p.m.)

_15A9671-Edit20140707RNWR  great blue heron

 

A Great Blue Heron in flight and squawking about something.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (4:51 p.m.)

_15A9817-Edit20140707RNWR  great blue heron flight

 

And, a Great Blue Heron just taking it easy.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 500, 700mm.     (5:00 p.m.)

_15A984520140707RNWR   great blue heron

 

This is a tight crop of the above photo.

_15A9845-Edit20140707RNWR-2  great blue heron

 

I got out of the truck and put my camera back on the tripod with the idea of attempting some small bird flight shots.  While slightly soft, this Tree Swallow shot came out fairly well.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 800, 700mm.     (5:22 p.m.)

_15A9857-Edit20140707RNWR  swallow flight

 

And even softer, this Red-winged Blackbird.   Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 1000, 700mm.     (5:42 p.m.)

_15A9902-Edit20140707RNWR  red-winged blackbird  flight

 

A shot of the moon.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 1000, 700mm.     (5:50 p.m.)

_15A9923-Edit20140707RNWR  moon

 

Here’s a rocketing Cedar Waxwing to close today’s blog post.    Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f5.6, ISO 1000, 700mm.     (5:59 p.m.)

_15A9946-Edit20140707RNWR  cedar waxwing  flight

Until next time, take care and good shooting!

 

 

 

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