Sun up at the Ridgefield NWR in Ridgefield, WA, USA. Some sun is actually peaking through the clouds which is an awesome sight here in the Pacific Northwest and helps photographers like me who use a slow f5.6 bird lens. I’m not really complaining because I’m very happy with the gear I have and thankful my health allows me to get out most every week to shoot. My Canon 400mm f5.6L lens does require a little extra light especially if I am looking at shooting birds in flight where fast shutter speeds are needed.
I go out and take pictures of birds and wildlife. Some shots aren’t the greatest but every now and then one stands out from the crowd. On my blog, I try to bring you the shots that represent my day of shooting–some not bad and some not the greatest but pictures that at least document the day for me and my readers. So please sit back and take a look at the photos I’m bringing you on this Nov. 26, 2012.
[Remember, you can click once on these thumbnails to see a larger, more detailed view of the image.]
I started the day with some sweet morning light and here’s just a sampling of the thousands of Canada/Cackling geese on the refuge right now. (7:34 a.m.)
Another plentiful bird this time of year is the Golden-crowned Sparrow. These birds can often be found foraging for food on the gravel road. As I approach in my vehicle they all fly up to the side of the road where they think they are hiding. Here’s a handsome male. (7:36)
Coyotes were all over the place today. This one was near marker #12 and after enough cars came by, it got a little spooked and took off across the field. It encountered a creek it wanted to cross and jumped into the water to get across. I didn’t get a shot of the water crossing.
Checking out the cars. (7:58)
On the road. (8:00)
Just before crossing the water. (8:02)
An excellent spot to catch the morning sun on geese and swans is on the east bank of Rest Lake. Here a Canada Goose approaches for a landing. (8:17)
A pair of immature Bald Eagles fly by near marker #12. (9:23)
Again, parked right in front of marker #12 after making the sharp left and looking back on the road behind me. This Red-tailed Hawk made this post his/her home. The car approaching flushed the bird and I was in perfect position to get some takeoff flight shots. (9:29)
After the exciting hawk flight sequence, I headed down the road toward the three tree area. From a distance, I first thought a large gull was coming at me across Rest Lake. I wasn’t sure but I picked up the camera and fired a burst sequence from quite a distance. When I checked the LCD screen I saw the awesome yellow eye and realized it was a male Northern Harrier which are far rarer on the refuge than the females. Here is the best shot of the bunch and it really isn’t sharp enough. I give you: the Gray Ghost! (9:41)
I’m around the loop again and stop near marker #11. I’d heard that a Northern Shrike likes to hang around here sometimes, so I decided to spend a few minutes to see what develops. While waiting, this Song Sparrow lands on marker #11. (10:18)
Then, it flies over to a post about 30 feet from the marker, giving me this shot. (10:27)
The bird didn’t stay long and here I catch the bird taking off toward the ground. There’s a little motion blur on the bird’s head but I thought the pose made it interesting enough to post. (10:27)
Shortly thereafter, I was treated to an opportunity with a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a bird I wasn’t expecting to be around this area of the refuge. I believe this is a female. (10:28)
And then the Song Sparrow jumps back up on the gate wire just outside my minimum focusing distance of 11 1/2 feet. (10:32)
I never did see the Shrike!
I approach the three tree area again and find this very dark-colored Red-tailed Hawk perched there behind some small branches and up high. At first I thought it could be a Harlan’s Hawk but I noticed (from another frame) that the top of its tail was not whitish at all. Also, this bird’s color is not nearly as dark as the Harlan’s Hawks I have previously photographed. There actually is some banding on this bird’s breast although it is not very noticeable from a distance. This image shows the breast and undersides of the bird. (10:59)
Another Red-tailed Hawk on a post. “I’ve got to do something about these nails!” (11:43)
Just past marker #13 was a great place to watch an American Kestrel do its hovering. It didn’t really hover close enough for a great shot though but here are some heavy crops. (11:55)
A Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret crossed my line of sight as they were hunting the field. (12:10 p.m.)
The Kestrel came a little bit closer here but still too far for such a small bird. (12:13)
Here’s a distance shot and a close up shot of a female Northern Harrier working the fields near marker #13. (12:18)
I’m still at marker #13 shooting Harriers, all of a sudden, 4 mature Bald Eagles came flying into the area at the same time. It was one of those rare situations where I have several birds to choose from at the same instant. Some of the birds were making quite a bit of noise! This series of eagle shots will bring today’s shoot to a close. (12:44)
Flying very close to the ground with some nesting material.
I had a great time today and was treated to some great action and beautiful wildlife. I hope you saw something you liked! See you next time on The Blog!
2 thoughts on “Nov. 26, 2012 – Ridgefield NWR – 37 Photos”
I was searching images of Song Sparrows and came across one of your images on marker # 11. I happened to read that it was just outside your minimum focus distance. Now, because I have a lens, that gives me an error code when I try to shoot with any aperture but wide open, I utilize the minimum focus distance as a tool. I watch where birds perch on a regular basis, I mean, I watch where they perch and I pre-focus using auto-focus, on the spot where they land. Then I switch to manual focus. I do this so that my camera doesn’t have to focus each time. I use a tripod and 20′ cable release which allows me to hide quite well, and lets me shoot multiple shots without focusing on each bird. Like you, I don’t always get the best shot, but occasionally I get those jaw-dropping beauties. I had to comment on your post because you’re the first one I’ve seen that mentioned the Minimum Focus Distance. Keep up the good work.
Hi, Roger, thanks for your interest in my site and photos! And thanks for the comment. Your method of shooting can be very successful. Our situation at the refuge I shoot at doesn’t lend itself to that type of shooting. I do wonder though, about a lens that gives an error code at all apertures other than wide open. Isn’t that kind of limiting for you? If it works for you, that’s the main thing! Happy shooting!