Twenty-three new photos and a couple of Great Horned Owlet videos in this episode!
I arrived at the refuge at about 7:00 a.m. with partly cloudy weather and some fog. But not nearly the fog I encountered driving north on I-5. As I start the 4.2 mile auto tour I make a pass along the left side of the road between posts 3&4 to see if I can spot the Virginia Rails or Soras that are often seen here. I actually see two rails and get a few shots in the grass. Due to the fog and the lack of light at this time of the day, I’m using flash on these which is quite evident and not nearly as appealing as similar shots would be using mostly ambient light. Still, I’m happy I spotted this elusive bird.
[Be sure to click on these thumbnails to see the large view of each shot!]
Around post #11, I witness a skirmish between Cinnamon Teals off to the left, but here, the fog was particularly bad so the shots were unsatisfactory.
As I approach the three tree area (between posts 12&13), I recall that I got some of my best Yellowthroat shots here last April. So I stop near the sticker bushes and again, hear the familiar song of these warblers. A couple of males were quite active here and as usual, wouldn’t hold still very long. I did get a few shots off, though nothing really comparable to last year’s.
Moving on a couple hundred feet I see a Savannah Sparrow on a post.
On my next loop around, I stop just past the Ducks Unlimited sign and notice a Killdeer at the shore of the water on the left.
I’m in the Ash tree forest now taking a look at the Great Horned Owl nest between posts 9&10. I’m fortunate to see this owlet peeking out through the cavity walls of the snag he calls home.
A bit further up the road, I see what appears to be a young Golden-crowned Sparrow perched on a bed of moss. The pose isn’t the greatest but I’m intrigued by the bird’s perch in this shot.
Making my way out of the forest and on to post #12. Just past the post is an area of the road where a culvert passes underneath and there is a stand of berry bushes on the left. I again hear the sound of the Common Yellowthroat. I wait and see if any will make an appearance. They made it tough for me but here is one shot.
On the third loop, I’m between posts 6&7, and see this Scrub Jay to the right side of the road, apparently gathering nesting materials.
If I recall correctly, this Song Sparrow was near post #9 and posed for me.
As I move on through the woods, I drive up next to another photographer friend who is out trying to capture some of the smaller spring birds such as yellowthroats and kinglets. We talk a couple minutes about what we’ve spotted so far this morning when a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flies into a bush on the right side of my truck. I quickly say goodbyes to the friend I’m talking with and turn my attention to the bird in the bush that is within 15 feet of my camera.
The kinglet spends the next 10 minutes jumping, hopping, and fluttering about in the bush. My eye, camera, and flash are trained on it, waiting for it to land on an unobstructed perch. There were some fleeting seconds where it did land and there were a few times where the bird would hover and move forward toward food that apparently wasn’t accessible by landing on a branch to get it. It reminded me of a hummingbird but much more clumsy. I was able to catch a few of these instances where the bird was hovering.
Notice on this next shot, the green morsel of food at the end of the bird’s tongue. A lot of work for such a small payoff!
Here are some of the perched frames.
I stop again to check out the owl nest.
A little further down the road I spot this cute little Song Sparrow.
And a Golden-crowned Sparrow.
I go around another loop and come to the owl nest again to see what position the youngsters are in. Here is what I saw. There are a couple of short videos below, too. In the first, one of the owlets seem disgusted with me. In the second video, you get a glimpse of the second owlet in addition to the first.
Video: Owlet Video #1
Video: Owlet Video #2
And, to end my adventures for today, I drive by the sticker bushes just past post#12 and see (and hear) another Song Sparrow with its familiar reminder of Spring.
Hope you enjoyed some of the shots this time out! Thanks for visiting and taking time to read about my adventures in bird (and critter) photography!