Today I took my friend Carol and her Mom out to Ridgefield. It was Mom’s first time to the place and I always enjoy introducing a person to the variety and wonders of the refuge. We saw that the sky was clearing and felt fortunate – it’s been awhile since I’ve seen sun at Ridgefield. My spirits picked up almost immediately.
We headed around our first loop and I was surprised when we saw some hooded mergansers in the slough just before the remote “comfort station”. They were being elusive and I hoped that other cars in the area would spook them into reversing their path and coming back into a clearing where we were set up. It worked. A female came by first and it was the first time I’ve ever been able to photograph a hooded merganser. Bingo. Then the male and another female swam past. I’ve looked at the images and will find a couple to post in another blog entry but they need some work. The white breast of the male is blown out and probably will not be recoverable… did I say it was sunny? Anyway, those will come (probably) soon.
We went almost an entire loop before we saw a heron. Mom sure enjoyed seeing the bigger birds. A red tail hawk, a harrier, a couple of buffle heads, lots of geese, swans, a distant kestrel and a few red-winged blackbirds entertained us as we drove slowly around and enjoyed the day.
As we approached the blind/bathroom area on our second lap I saw what I thought was another hawk in the trees on the right side of the road. It was low in the tree and I was trying to figure out if it was worth trying to get positioned to get a shot. I knew it would be against a blue sky or maybe against some light clouds to the north. There were a few cars behind us to think about as well. Then I saw that it wasn’t a hawk at all. It was a mature Bald Eagle. Holy cow… great light on a mature bald eagle. I couldn’t get into position quickly enough. After I few (dozen) shots I moved the car to allow others to pass. One old couple kind of gave us a glare… so sorry Chap. I re-positioned the car and we set about taking more photos. One more move to allow another car by and then a third session with the eagle. What a magnificent bird. I’ve always wanted a shot of an eagle that was (a) sharp and (b) exposed properly so the white feathers in the neck and cap were detailed. I now have about 50 of those files and I’m thrilled. Here are three of my favorites.
The last time I went to Ridgefield with Carol we got to see a mature Bald Eagle take a duck home for dinner. Today I get to see and photograph this majestic bird like never before. I have to think that Carol is a good luck charm for eagles. Whatever or who ever is behind this, thanks. T’was another great trip to Ridgefield.