This is actually Part 2 of my Dec. 16, 2011, photo shoot since earlier I posted some raccoon/coyote photos (along with an accompanying story) from the same day’s shoot. If you missed it, be sure to catch it here.
I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and that 2012 finds you all healthy and happy!
Let’s get right to the shots I took while driving the 4-mile auto tour five times around (mostly in fog) during my visit to the Ridgefield NWR in southwest Washington State.
[Reminder to click on the thumbnails below to see a larger, more detailed view of the shots].
A lovely Red-tailed Hawk greets me against a dreary, gray sky. This one needed flash for light at a little past 9:00 a.m.
Just past the three-tree area I see a small group of Western Meadowlarks (Oregon State bird) working the grass on top of the dike at Rest Lake. Here are some of the best poses.
I’m just beginning another loop of the refuge between posts # 2 and 3 when I see an American Wigeon in the canal to my right. What’s surprising is that the bird doesn’t flush when I stop the truck within about 25 feet. In fact, another driver in front of me is also stopped taking shots of the bird. These, and most duck species (other than Mallards) usually fly, by the time I get within 50 feet of them. So I was real lucky to get a fairly close portrait of this beautiful drake.
For the life of me, I can’t remember exactly where I saw the coyote pictured in the next set of shots. I suppose it really doesn’t matter as these guys are seen all over the place at the refuge. This animal came walking straight at me and right on by my truck. The 3rd shot is full frame–no crop.
Now I’m just between post #9 and the left turn in the Ash tree forest. A gorgeously colored Red-tailed Hawk has perched on a mossy branch about 30 feet away. I can’t get over the fantastic colors on this bird!
The bird flies to another perch so I capture him there, too.
Coyotes have been quite plentiful at the refuge during the past 6 months. Here’s another shot of one.
On this next bird, I wasn’t sure whether it is a Red-shouldered Hawk or a Red-tailed Hawk. I’m leaning toward the Red-shouldered due to its lack of a breast band and more uniform breast feathers. Here’s the shot–what do you think?
I got a couple of opportunities at a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. These next two shots were taken over an hour apart. I like the visible ruby crown on this first shot.
This next photo is of a Bufflehead. I got a little bit of the iridescent colors on the neck and head.
It’s just past noon and I am just passing the outhouse at the main parking lot when a bird in the tree closest to the outhouse building catches my eye. It appears about the size of a Kestrel but the coloring clearly tells me it’s not. I grab the camera, aim and fire a short burst–and in another second the bird flies off. Checking the LCD on the back of the camera I see I have a bird that I haven’t captured before but I’m not sure what it is. When I got home I narrowed it down to either a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I posted the spotting to Projectnoah.com and received a reply that the bird is most likely a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk (Sharpie for short). The tail is more squared off and the eye is more centered on the head, than is the case with the Cooper’s Hawk. I was elated with the spotting and even happier that I got a shot of the bird.
Another Red-tailed Hawk prepares to take flight just prior to the post #7 parking area.
Golden-crowned Sparrows are all over the refuge in the winter. You can usually spot them foraging for food on the road until your vehicle flushes them out to safety in sticker bushes on the side of the road. As soon as you drive past them, they jump back on the road for more.
My last shot of the day is a real strange ‘bird.’ I’m stopped between posts # 11 and 12 and am looking diagonally across the SE corner of Rest Lake and see this fellow on a bike riding the refuge road in the wrong direction. “Uh Sir, refuge rules state that bicycles are not allowed on the auto tour route. You also disobeyed the big sign that says, WRONG WAY, when you entered the route going backwards. I’d also bet dollars to donuts you did not pay the required $3 user fee.” I guess he just wanted somewhere new to explore with his bike. Turns out that I passed him on the road home about 30 minutes later. Here’s the shot! (Note how the fog is still hanging around and it’s 1:15 p.m.! A tough day for action shots!).
That’s a wrap and I believe these are my last shots of 2011. The Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, I’ll be back in 2012 continuing to cover my photo shoots on The Blog. I’m hoping you will be back, too!
I also wanted to mention that I have started a new category on my website called ‘Articles.’ So far I have only one article posted but will work to get more up soon. The first article is titled, “Moving the Auto-focus Button Away from the Shutter Button in Bird Photography.” Please take a look if you might be interested in reprogramming your camera to use back-button focus. I outline many of the reasons I use back-button focus in the article. It never hurts to give it a try to see if you like it. You can always go back if you don’t.
See you next time on The Blog!