Flickr contact Garebear400 is my brother and he’s celebrating his birthday. He came to the refuge today to shoot so I know he was doing something he enjoys on his birthday. Happy birthday Gary, and keep capturing those wonderful shots!
Today I arrive at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge parking area much later than usual–about 11 a.m. I had not planned to come today but some other plans had changed so I decided to go out shooting. When I left Portland to come here, it was actually pretty bright outside even though there were still lots of clouds. So I was hoping it would stay that way throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately, it got darker as the afternoon progressed and the clouds thickened. But, I still tried to make the best of it even in substandard conditions.
I ran into Flickr friend, Stephen Parsons in the parking lot and we talked a little. He had been here since 6:45 this morning and said he got up close to a coyote, as well as seeing a Northern Shrike near the end of the auto tour, among other activity. I’m looking forward to seeing his shots (Wandering Sagebrush) on Flickr!
I start out the tour and come to post #2 where I see a Kingfisher out on one of the snags to the left. Certainly not close enough for a super shot (probably 60-70 feet out) but unobstructed with a decent background. I take a bunch of frames and come up with these poses.
[Larger versions of these thumbnails are available by clicking once on the thumbnail photos].
These are quite heavy crops as you can see.
I move on near to the forest entry area and see some kinglets and chickadees jumping around in the brush. Here’s a Black-capped Chickadee using flash.
Just prior to the Ducks Unlimited sign I stop for a shot of a Golden-crowned Sparrow on the left side of the road. I liked the vegetation around the bird on this one, which also used flash fill.
Further into the Ash tree forest, almost to post #10, I see a young Red-tailed Hawk perched on a mossy tree branch. Here, he or she gives me a little “hello” wave with the foot and the wings. This one was also augmented with flash and is not cropped.
I finish the first loop and head around again, this time stopping again at the Ducks Unlimited sign where these Sandhills seem to hang out all the time. There’s something about this spot they really like because I see them here quite often.
While watching the cranes I see a Great Blue Heron fly in almost straight for me. This was taken at ISO800 and 1/200 shutter speed, giving you an idea of how dark it was this day.
While driving through the Ash tree forest I spot a mature Great Horned Owl way up high and get a few shots with strong flash. The shot was not very good being so far away and in poor light. The flash caused major red eye on one eye of the owl and I decided it wasn’t a nice enough shot to take the time to try to fix that eye. If I would have attempted fixing it, my first try would have been to copy a good eye from another photo and see if I could make that look natural. This was my first sighting of a GHO in months at the refuge so it was still exciting.
This gull flew over Rest Lake as I was waiting for a Harlan’s Hawk to show up. Steve (who I had talked to in the parking lot earlier) had mentioned he had seen a Harlan’s in the three tree area–the same area where I had gotten some shots of that species in Oct. 2009. I never did see the Harlan’s today but will keep an eye out for it on future trips.
Recall that earlier, Steve had mentioned seeing the Northern Shrike. Well, as I approach the area about 100 yards from the main parking area of the refuge (as I drive in on the home stretch), there is a lone tree way out in the field, probably 80-100 yards out. I see a little white dot in that tree, so I grab my binoculars and sure enough it is the little shrike. I took some long shot pictures of it in the tree and hoped he might fly toward me and maybe do some hovering over the field–but it was not to be. He flew off in another direction. This is the EXACT same area I made my only other sighting of this species on April 9th of this year. Here’s one of the shots from April.
Here’s a long shot of the bird I saw today just to prove that I saw it! 🙂
Starting another loop of the auto tour, I see a couple of Ring-necked Ducks in the slough on the right as I approach post #2. Here’s a shot of one of them.
On this last time around the tour, not only are the low clouds making it dark but dusk is approaching as it is about 4:00 p.m. I took few pictures this time around. But when I came around the curve and passed post #14 on the home stretch, what did I see? Two mature Bald Eagles flew from right to left, down onto the field and landed there. Taking shots of them was really futile as it was super dark. But I still wanted to give you an idea of what I was looking at so here are a couple of the noisy, low light shots of the eagles. Note one of the eagles has an evening meal.
I took these last two shots at ISO2000, 1/250, f7.1, with flash at 1/3 flash comp, a full stop higher than I normally have it. The birds were about 120-130 feet out into the field and it was dusk. I should have opened the aperture all the way and cranked up the flash comp to +2. This still may not have helped from this distance but I did have to remove flash reflection in the eye of one of the birds, so some light did reach the birds. I also bumped up exposure in Lightroom which makes it look quite light outside when it’s not.
That finished up this dreary day at the refuge. It was still fun and I saw some interesting activity. I can always hope for better conditions next time out! In the mean time, thank you for your visit to The Blog! See you next time!