It looks like a partly sunny day at the refuge today so I get my gear together and head out around the 4.2 mile auto tour at the Ridgefield NWR. I start out just after sun up and I’m hoping to catch some of that nice, low, morning light early on.
Yellowthroats are heard in many places around the refuge and I try to photograph them at every opportunity. Here’s one located between posts 5&6.
[Click on thumbnails to see a large view of each shot.]
A Song Sparrow shows up in the same area.
I drive around to the Great Horned Owl nest between posts 9&10. One of the owlets has made his way out a tree cavity on the left side of the snag making this the first time I’ve seen one actually outside the trunk of the snag.
You’re getting sleeeeeepy…..
Count from 100, backwards…..
Pulling around to the cattails just prior to post #11, I again hear the delightful sound of the Common Yellowthroat. At this time of the day, you’re looking at the cattails out your driver’s window, looking west, and the sun is to your right, making this a great place to shoot any bird that likes cattails. Here is a series of shots I was really happy with.
Update 17 Nov. 2013: This next photo was awarded “Honorable Mention” in the 2013 Ridgefield NWR photo contest.
I round the corner at post #11 and there is a Canada Goose pair and their new family walking alongside the road. They were so close to me I could barely frame just one of the goslings.
I finish the first loop and start a second noticing the haunting sound of the Yellow-headed Blackbird in the reeds off to the left by post #3. As usual, they keep their distance and am unable to get any decent shots today. However, here is a spectacular shot of the bird by my brother, Gary, on Apr. 20: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shotsbygary/5639333945/in/photostream. Fantastic capture!
Since the Yellow Heads wouldn’t cooperate with me, I resorted to taking a few shots of the Red-winged Blackbird, which is much more comfortable near the edge of the road.
As I approach the Ducks Unlimited sign I notice a Wood Duck pair in the calm water off to my right. They’re paddling away from me now but I pull up to the edge of the road and wait. After a few minutes, they decide to turn around and head in my direction. Here is the male.
I see an Osprey circling over the water near the Kiwa Trail entrance but with the backlit sun, no shots were successful.
Just past the Kiwa Trail parking area, I see some Goldfinches in the brush to my right. Too far away but I wait to see if they will come to the teasels near the road.
At the post #9 corner, two immature bald eagles were circling across the water on the right and low to the ground. One landed on a branch across the water then took off almost as quickly. I like the action shown in this series of shots.
Back to just past post #11 and on my right, a Cinnamon Teal peeks out from the grass at the shore of the water just below my passenger’s side window. He’s too close to get the whole bird in the frame so here’s a close up.
I’m now at the sticker bushes just past post #12 and I see what is likely the same Song Sparrow I posted a shot of in my Apr. 12 blog post. I guess this guy likes his picture taken!
While down at the three tree area I spot an Osprey and was not impressed with my shots. But here’s one anyway.
During this loop I also spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Bittern but they either didn’t want to pose for me or they were in crummy light.
As I was taking shots of the Osprey I noticed a group of large birds circling (far away and pretty high) over Rest Lake. They turned out to be Sandhill Cranes but they were acting like soaring eagles or vultures.
In another shot I got two of them flying wingtip to wingtip.
On my next loop around the refuge, I come to the Kiwa Trail entrance again and notice 6 Bald Eagles circling high above. The light for flight shots was not good as the sun was very high in the sky but I did see and capture this exchange by two of the eagles. Again, the shots are not technically good but it’s always fun to witness the “dance.”
Over the last couple of weeks there has been a ‘resident’ Ring-necked male duck off to the right at post #9. He’s a little far away but he poses nicely.
Here he is showing off.
I drive further into the Ash tree forest and take a look to see what the owlets are up to. Still a bit shy.
Again, I come across one of my favorite warblers, the Common Yellowthroat.
On my last loop I again see how the owlets are doing.
This Merganser was looking pretty.
And trying to reach an itch!
Off to the left as I’m looking north at post #11, there’s a Mallard drake taking a refreshing bath. He repeatedly dove into the water and immediately surfaced so that a sheet of water would run over his head and back.
And at the same location but further out in the water, three Canada Geese are taking it easy among the green grass protruding from the water.
That brings to a close another day of shooting for me at the Ridgefield NWR in Ridgefield, Washington. I hope you saw something you liked and I thank you for stopping by The Blog. See you next time!