A super day, weather-wise, greeted me at the Ridgefield NWR this morning as I arrived around sun up (about 8 a.m.). Surprisingly, there was little fog and more blue sky than I’ve seen at the refuge in a long time.
I had received an email and a call yesterday (Dec. 8 ) from some friends letting me know that a Snowy Owl had been spotted at the Ridgefield Refuge. How cool is that? I was not able to head over to the refuge on the 8th but did plan to go on the 9th in hopes that the bird might still be there. As much as I wish I had some Snowy Owl shots to post I have to say that the bird was nowhere to be seen today. A big disappointment for me but who knows, maybe there will be another opportunity this winter. I’ve heard of these owls being spotted in several spots in Oregon and southwest Washington this fall.
My first shots of the day were near Rest Lake where Tundra Swans were frequently arriving and taking off. Here are some of these shots.
As the swans fly lower, I noticed that they use their feet in different orientations to create drag and to help them steer as they approach for a landing. Normally, at higher altitudes, they have their feet tucked up neatly toward the rear.
Mixed in with the swans were some Greater White-fronted Geese.
And joining the others were some Snow Geese. (Thanks Jen for correcting the ID here!).
Here are some Northern Pintails taking to the sky.
And, a Red-tailed Hawk makes a fly-by.
As I was approaching the parking lot on my way toward the end of the loop I noticed two mature Bald Eagles to my left (about 150 yards out into the field) continuously swooping down and back up over some water that was hidden from my view by some sticker bushes. They did this for at least 15 minutes as I was watching but didn’t see them bring up anything that they had caught. I would have loved to have known what they were swooping at. The action was too far away for a decent picture but here’s a shot to give you an idea of what I was looking at (this is well cropped).
As I entered the parking lot and started my next loop, there is a large tree at the left turn corner of the parking area where this Red-tailed Hawk was perched. I made a few of my patented hawk noises to get him to turn his head.
As I drove to the culvert between posts #6 & 7, off to the right was this Albino Nutria. I had seen this creature a couple of weeks earlier way out in the field. This has to be the closest and least obstructed shot I have gotten of an Albino Nutria that wasn’t trying to run away from me.
So today I ended up with a “Snowy Nutria” instead of a Snowy Owl–you win some and you lose some! No matter what, it’s fun hunting for these fascinating creatures at the refuge and taking their pictures. Thanks for joining me this time on The Blog! See you next time!