Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

Nov. 29, 2010 – Mon. – Ridgefield NWR, Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of my Nov. 29 photo shoot at Ridgefield.  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I’m getting withdrawal pains from not getting out to shoot since 11/29.  I definitely plan to go out again this coming week.

Continued from Part 1….Driving forward towards post #11, on the left is some great light to capture this duck showing me her wings.  [Please be sure to click on these small thumbnails for a larger more detailed view].

I turn the corner at post #11 and see a female Northern Harrier land on the stump that is about 80 feet off the road on the left side, before the water starts.  For larger birds, this is one of my favorite perches as the background is awesome.  I take 224 shots of this bird over about a 20 minute period.

She arrived at the perch with a kill and makes quick work of her meal.  Here’s a photo and a video of this activity.

http://www.vimeo.com/17724286 A video (29 sec.) of the bird with kill.

After eating the meal, the harrier seemed antsy and jumps down off the stump several times to check out the brush in front of the stump.  She may have done this to clean up.  She would then jump back up on the stump.  This next shot shows her landing on the stump after climbing back up from the brush.

At this point in time the bird begins looking around and calling out.  Here’s a photo and a video of the bird vocalizing.

Video (sorry about the airplane flying overhead on this one, messing up the sound). http://www.vimeo.com/17724682 (54 sec.)

Then she suddenly takes flight to my direct right and I get only a couple of frames, none of which are presentable.  I was still happy with the show she put on for me!

I head for Rest Lake and pull around between posts #12 & 13.  There are scads of swans out in the lake and a group of three decide to take flight and land again in a new location in the lake.  Here is a shot of the group taking off.

I drive over to the big curve prior to #14 and spot a coyote way out near the barbed wire fence south of the gate to the Dairy Unit.  I estimate she is 200-300 yards away making any shots difficult.  She pounces and I take the shot.  With only 1/800 shutter speed, I don’t stop the action as well as I would like but here is a glimpse of the shot.

Concluding my 3rd loop around the auto tour, I shot 284 frames this time around–about 90% of them on the female harrier.  Time for one more loop.

The final loop starts off with a surprise.  I pass post #3 on the straightaway and go a couple hundred feet when out of the corner of my eye I see a bird sitting on a reed down low, just above the surface of the water to my left.  I drive past, then realize that was no Song Sparrow or Blackbird!  I stop and back up–the bird is still there and it’s the Black Phoebe I shot for the first time a couple weeks earlier.

I quickly assess the situation–hardly any light on the bird and bright white reflection off the water behind the bird.  Reeds frame the bird on all but its top.  If I boost exposure comp I’ll end up with too slow of a shutter speed for my taste, so I go to the flash and start it up at -2/3 flash comp, making sure my camera is on M mode and set to 1/250, the fastest sync speed without going to high-speed sync.  I fire away getting a dozen shots off before the phoebe decides to take flight.  This is my only sighting of this bird today.  Here is the best of the dozen frames.

So I head on around the route until I approach the Kiwa Trail parking area.  I’ll be darned!  Again I see that male kestrel–this time on the sign in the parking area.  And again he lets me drive up to withing 15 feet.  I still have the flash ready in the on position and decide to leave it on as the cloud cover is effectively making non-flash photography difficult.  I get about 7 shots off before he flies.  Here’s a (somewhat soft) shot from this third encounter, making this an official “Crazy Kestrel Day.” 

Shooting only 24 frames this last time around, I conclude my photo shoot and head home at about 2:15 p.m.  Total frames shot today was about 540, give or take.  I’m pretty satisfied with the activity today and the opportunities.  Light could have been brighter but I’m not going to complain.  It was quite an improvement over Nov. 22’s rain!

Thanks for tuning in this week for part 2 of my Nov. 29 shoot!   Hope you saw something you liked!

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 12th, 2010 at 2:21 am 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.

4 Responses to “Nov. 29, 2010 – Mon. – Ridgefield NWR, Part 2”

  1. Arman says:

    The video of the harrier vocalizing was great! I got some shots of one vocalizing yesterday, but it was just a little too far out of reach of my lens, I am seriously thinking about getting the 1.4x teleconverter for a little more zoom power

    • Dennis says:

      Arman, I have the 1.4x TC by Canon and I had it when I used the 100-400. It really does a nice job. The trick is to be able to focus manually with the 1.6x crop factor body. I’ve also heard that changing focusing screens can help with manual focus but I haven’t yet tried that. Glad you liked the video! Thanks!

  2. jen says:

    This is a great series of photos… The harrier photos are so impressive… The phoebe came out well too!

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks much Jen! Every once in a while I come across a cooperative harrier–but not often. I was happy with the opportunities this bird gave me! And I’m always looking for a better shot of that Phoebe!

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