Greetings! I’m getting a wee bit closer to catching up with my blog posts. Today’s post is about a month late but my last few were closer to two months late so I’m doing a little better. Today’s weather was comfortable and I actually saw some blue sky mixed in there with the clouds–a nice change from the gray drizzly days we’re used to around here.
I arrived before 8:00 a.m. and my first shot is of a Northern Harrier on a post. (7:56 a.m.) I know I’ve posted almost this exact shot in the past but these birds are so awesome I couldn’t resist posting it. This is also a different wooden post–the one on the east side of Rest Lake about 500 feet before the three trees.
For some reason, birds don’t perch on this particular post very often (at least in my experience). But it brings back memories of the day I saw my first Short-eared Owl perched on this same post. Click the link to see the Short-eared Owl I photographed in Feb. 2009. The owl had just taken flight in the shot.
Like the owl, this Harrier also took flight and I was ready. Here’s the perched bird shown above, in flight. Note her feet are not even raised up to “cruising” position yet. (7:56)
Here’s a bad picture of a coyote that was running in the field near post #14. (8:04)
Post #8, near the Kiwa Trail entrance seems to be a favorite spot for Killdeer to nest and raise a family. Last year I caught this ‘scraping ceremony’ on video at the exact same spot where the Killdeer below was shot. Here’s the video from last year in case you didn’t see it.
And here’s the shot from this year. Heck, it might even be the same bird. (8:56)
I’m on my second loop of the auto tour now and again, approaching post #8. A pair of Hooded Mergansers start paddling away from me as I snap their picture. (9:39)
Here’s a “double-take” of a Song Sparrow on a partially submerged branch. (11:25)
I’ve now driven into the Ash tree forest between posts #9 & 10, and spot a few House Finches removing these small leaves and using their beaks and tongues to extract something (seeds?) from the leaves before dropping the leaves. I should know the name of these leaves but I don’t! I also have a ‘not-so-well-lit’ video of the birds below displaying this eating behavior. (11:42)
I’m now at post #11 and I swear this Song Sparrow lives on this post. On the days I’m here, he has been there most if not all day long. Just had to get this shot of him singing. (12:04 p.m.)
I zip down the road to the three tree area and find this Immature Bald Eagle just minding his own business. (12:14)
A few minutes later I’m almost back to the main parking lot when this Red-tailed Hawk gives me lots of opportunities as it circles very near my truck. (12:21)
Just entering the Ash tree forest again there’s one of a gazillion European Starlings perched just off the road to my right. (12:50)
Another immature Bald Eagle! Always a treat to see! (12:54)
Many local folks already know that Ridgefield’s Great Horned Owls are back again in the same spot as previous years raising a family. For those who aren’t familiar with Ridgefield, the nest is in a snag at the right edge of the road visitors are allowed to drive on. It’s so close to the road that if you stopped your car, got out and climbed on the hood, you could practically see down into the nest. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some visitors have actually tried to do this.
From October thru April, visitors are to remain inside their vehicles to avoid stressing wildlife. There are signs posted all along the auto tour that remind visitors of this rule. Here is one of the signs.
I’m embarrassed to say that most of the folks I see breaking these rules are photographers. On today’s shoot, I captured two photos of people ignoring the rules just so they could get close to the owl nest. The people in these photos are probably within about 30 feet of the nest. What are these people thinking? Especially so close to this nest?
The sign says to stay in the vehicle and it says to keep sliding doors on vans closed; no popping up through sun roofs or partially climbing out of vehicle windows. I’ve witnessed so many violations of these rules. I’ve also heard that there are law enforcement personnel patrolling the refuge in unmarked cars–especially while the owls are in the nest. People, please follow the rules of the refuge. We would ALL love to get ultra close up shots of wild Great Horned Owls and their owlets but it has to be done from within your vehicle and without disturbing the birds.
I hate to leave on a couple of downer pictures such as these but that is it for today! Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you next time on The Blog!