I’ve been to the Ridgefield NWR many times in the past. I’ve driven around the loop alone and with friends. I’ve been there at sunrise, sunset and midday. You never really know what to expect but it rarely disappoints. Yesterday I went mainly to get familiar with a new lens in preparation for a trip to the Bosque del Apache in mid-December. Even though you are restricted to your car while touring the Ridgefield NWR you frequently get closer to birds than I’ve ever experienced before. At this time of year I expect more birds than I saw. Maybe it was that the ponds had been drained or there were hunters shooting nearby but the few birds that were seen were clearly more wary than I’ve seen before… faster to fly away and generally at a greater distance from the road.
Herons seem to be a fixture at Ridgefield. I’ve never been there that I have not seen at least 3…. more often than not there are dozens, give or take. This trip brought me 4 herons and bunch of red winged blackbirds along with a red tail hawk and a harrier. Pretty slim pickings but fun none the less.
This heron was on the job early in the morning. I’m not sure if it was really hunting already or just waking up. It was about 50 yards from the road and I knew that it would be small in the frame. I shot a few horizontal images and a few vertical and then proceeded on my way. As I started my second circuit of the drive through the refuge the heron was still there and had not moved as far as I could tell. I always marvel at the patience these birds exhibit.
When I got home and processed the pictures from the day I kept coming back to this one. Maybe it’s the foggy feel. Maybe it is the geometric design in the trees around the perimeter of the scene. I knew that putting the bird in the lower right third was a good thing but I didn’t realize how the image would inherit a “painterly” feel from the soft light and shallow depth of field. I enjoy the image and will probably print it out for critique at the camera club next month. Until then I’ll be practicing panning birds with a lens that ‘s larger than anything I’ve ever owned before. Much to learn… throw me in the briar patch!