Today was my first bout with mosquitoes this season and they kind of snuck up on me near the end of today’s photo shoot at Ridgefield NWR (Apr. 9). I didn’t notice them until I was driving through the wooded area of the auto tour between 6 and 7 pm. This was one of the rare times I began shooting in the afternoon (instead of early morning). Due to the warmth of the afternoon, I wasn’t wearing my short-fingered gloves that I normally wear. The little buggers got me on my little finger of my right hand and also about 3 inches up from my right wrist. Within a few days my little finger had swollen so much I couldn’t bend it and the arm bite had a swollen circle almost 2 inches across! These guys are potent! Now– I was wearing my “super duper” long-sleeved bug shirt that I bought a couple years ago and I want to know how one of these guys got me on my arm?!? Are these bug shirts all they are cracked up to be? The shirt is supposed to prevent insects from piercing its microfibre material. This has really got me wondering. Anyway, on to the photo shoot!
I arrived at the refuge around noon and was greeted by a mostly cloudy day. Immediately I took a quick shot of a Savannah Sparrow that was perched on a post just past the first turn. I cropped the post off (which was hiding the rest of the bird) and came up with this shot. (12:52 p.m.)
[As always, be sure to click on these pictures to see a larger view of the shots. These small thumbnails don’t display them properly].
My next shots came while I was in the woods and momentarily parked on the far side of the temporary fencing constructed to keep too many cars from gathering at the Great Horned Owl nest site. I make it a point not to stay longer than just a few minutes at a time so as not to disturb the nest any more than necessary. (1:13)
Here’s mom and one of the owlets.
One of the owlet’s profile.
Something caught his attention in the trees or sky.
The Marsh Wrens are really out in force this time of year. I found this one in the reeds near post #10. (1:20)
I’ve begun another loop of the auto tour and I come to the Kiwa Trail entrance. On my left I hear the unmistakable call of the Wilson’s Snipe. I see the bird on the ground with a slight opening in the grass for a shot. I used a slight fill flash here. (1:58)
Two minutes later, I approach an opening in the brush on the right side of the road and spot a raccoon on the far shore of the water taking a drink with his buddy–his reflection. (2:00)
I’m now back at the owl nest for a little closer crop on an owlet. Mom is standing right behind! (2:08)
Next, I stopped at a point on the road where I had a decent view of the Bald Eagles’ nest. The nest is over a hundred yards from the road and a 400mm lens has a tough time reaching it. This heavily cropped shot at least shows the mom and one of the chicks while she was feeding it. (2:32)
Here also is a jerky video showing 35 seconds of the feeding and what my frame looked like uncropped. The video looks best when viewed full screen at 720p or 1080p. In a future post I hope to include more video of these birds in the nest.
It’s the first part of April and the Common Yellowthroats can be heard almost everywhere I go on the refuge. Getting them to come close enough to photograph is another story. The previous two years, I was fairly successful photographing these guys but so far this year, it’s been tough going. Here are a couple of so-so shots of a male. These are beautiful birds and these shots don’t really do them justice. (3:06)
Here’s the back end of another Marsh Wren–I just can’t resist shooting these little guys! (3:52)
Beginning another loop, I decide to take a shot of a Red-winged Blackbird on a cattail just off the side of the road. Again, I used a little fill flash to illuminate the shadowy areas. (4:15)
While I’m in the woods, a Belted Kingfisher lands about 25 feet away in some challenging light. There’s a fine line between reducing noise and retaining detail in these kinds of shots. Fill flash helped out a little here, though. (4:52)
One more brief moment at the owl nest where I hoped to catch the little one stretching its wing. He stuck his wing out but kept his head inside the nest cavity. You gotta admit–it’s a cute wing! 🙂 (5:03)
I had heard that there was a rare visitor to the refuge in the form of a Surf Scoter, between posts #2 & 3. On my final trip around the loop, I decide to stop and see if I can spot him. Fortunately, I did spot him but not nearly as close as I would like. Nevertheless, here are some severely cropped (and poorly lit) shots of this awesome creature–a lifer for me. (6:08- not too long before I was attacked by mosquitoes!)
This third shot (and the first shot) shows what appears to be an injury to its right wing. Let’s hope he’s okay and is still able to fly.
Here’s a short video I shot of this remarkable bird—my first sighting! Try 720p or 1080p and view full screen if possible.
That’s it for this April 9th! Stay tuned next time for some shots from April 23–including some Yellow-headed Blackbird shots and that of a Wood Duck in a tree, among others. Thanks for visiting my site and The Blog!