I have not been to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge for several months and was feeling that a return trip was needed. I knew that the bird population would be limited, that the water would likely be low and that people can still get out of their cars to roam around. None of these conditions really line up as favorites for me. None the less, I went.
I arrived early but not in time to get the first rays of light on the area. Still, the light was pretty sweet being directional but bright. My first stop was for a single red-winged blackbird that posed for a short period, moved a few cattails over and posed again…repeating several time.
Then it was time for a great blue heron to entertain me. Herons are notorious for being able to stand still for long periods as they stalk food. Many are the times that I’ve sat and waited for action only to get worn down by the bird and, patience lost, moved on. This heron seemed to be setting up for another disappointment as it posed beautifully in the light while it stood by an unattractive metal fence post. If I could encourage the Ridgefield managers I’d sure suggest that they reomove the unused fence posts from the pond. Nice picture but I didn’t want to have to remove the post in Photoshop. Some would cheer that decision, others would shake their head and wonder “why not?” I was content to just sit and watch with hopes that the bird would wander away from the post and, in a perfect world, closer to me. The coffee I brought along helped pass the time. Finally, the bird moved to a new area and almost immediately caught a frog for breakfast. Heron 1, frog zero.
I moved on and found a bunch of tree swallows busily foraging on bugs. It’s always fun to watch these birds hunt and their frantic swoops, dives and corners are entertaining but darn hard to photograph… at least for me. To my surprise many of the swallows took a break and landed on a couple of wires strung across a couple of nearby roads. They tolerated my movement into position to catch a few shots.
As I moved around the refuge I saw a red tail hawk sitting on a sign post. It was a bit wary of me but sat long enough to get a few marginal shots and then took off. I moved on down to the Three Trees area and found it sitting in the snag portion of the backside of the tree group. As I moved the car into position the bird showed signs of departure. I hurried along and was about to shoot when it took off. To my surprise it circled and came back. While it didn’t land again it made a couple of passes by the snag and then flew off. Amazingly, I got about 8 shots of the bird with good light on it. Simple things really tickle me and getting sharp shots of a pretty bird in good light absolutely made my day. The following composite shows 4 of the frames assemble to show a progression of wing patterns.
As always, Ridgefield did not disappoint. I found no bugs to bother me and enjoyed a few great moments with spectacular birds and few people. Fall is in the air and soon the water will return to the ponds and the migrants will appear. I hope to be ready.