Today I went to the refuge at 4 p.m. instead of early in the morning. It was a stark departure from the norm for me. I stayed until just before the gates closed at 8 p.m. So I didn’t get the shooting time in that I’m accustomed to (6+ hours) but it was an interesting change for me. It’s a whole new world when the light is coming from the opposite direction of that which I’m used to in the morning hours.
The refuge wasn’t bursting with a huge amount of activity that I could see, but as I got to the stretch between posts 11 & 12, this pretty Red-winged Blackbird posed for me.
[Be sure to click on these thumbnails for larger views of the images].
In addition–to my surprise, now I see where everyone has been getting great shots of a Yellow-headed Blackbird (YHBB). Most of the time, these birds are seen between posts 3 & 4 at the beginning of the auto tour. And, at that location, you are very fortunate to get within 50 feet of them as they stay way out in the cattails.
I spot a beautiful male YHBB here between posts 11 & 12 and the bird rarely flies far from the road, which is great for folks with cameras. Here are some of the shots I got. The bird was at this location each of the three times I drove around the loop so these shots are a combination of all three loops.
Along the canal between posts 12 & 13, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks were apparently protecting a nest nearby as they did not fly off as I would expect under normal circumstances. Here is the male giving me the evil eye.
Just a few feet down the road from the Ring-necks, here’s an unphased Red-wing Blackbird who just about filled up the frame, I was SO close.
Across from the Kiwa Trail I saw this Scrub Jay on one of the signs which was was also so close I could not get the whole bird in the frame. This is cropped somewhat, however.
I’ve been trying to get a decent shot of a Yellow-rumped Warbler(YRW) and still have yet to do so. I saw them all over the place at the refuge today but they remind me of kinglets and just won’t hold still on the right branch! Here’s a shot I did get but I will be looking for better ones.
This little Bewick’s Wren showed up when I was looking for butter butts (YRW’s).
I made three loops around the tour today and the first two times I saw nothing at the owl’s nest. The third time around this Great Horned Owlet came out onto a branch to the left of the snag. Not the best light but he’s a cute little bugger.
I believe one of the two owlets have fledged as of this writing, as others have gotten some shots of one of them out of the nest on nearby branches. This one that I took shots of appears very close to leaving the nest, too. It’s a good feeling to see the owlets survive and make a successful transition into their new home. Even with the nest so close to the road, the parents have done a wonderful job rearing their young for the last 2 or 3 years at this location.
That does it for my latest photo shoot at the refuge. Over the next several weeks, I’m looking forward to attempting to get decent shots of several spring birds such as the orange-crowned warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, western tanager, yellow warbler, cedar waxwing, lazuli bunting, black-headed grosbeak and the western bluebird. A challenging list for sure!