Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge 4-5-2018

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#1
I spent last weekend in Vancouver, WA. on family matters. On the way down I took a quick swing through the south unit of the Ridgefield NWR. It was dark and rainy throughout the tour, a good reason to stay in the pickup. You cannot leave your car anyway during migration season except for the area around the blind about halfway around the loop. The gloom & doom called for slow shutter speeds (1/500) to keep the ISO settings at sane levels. I made two laps around the loop for reasons I will get to later.

Lap 1:
My sightings of cackling geese (a subspecies of the Canada goose) have been limited to the single bird that has spent the winter at Sprague Pond/Mini Park in Lynnwood. There was a large flock at Ridgefield.

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A yellowlegs was in a ditch beside the road. Until I looked at my photos I did not relalize that a snipe was present as well.
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Farther along the loop I had to stop for a pair of yellowlegs that were foraging on the road in front of me. I could not take shots through the windshield and they flew off rather than just walk to the other side of the road where I could photograph them.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
My sightings of mammals were limited to two species. A pair of deer (doe & fawn?) were by the road at the same spot where I had seen deer on a previous trip to Ridgefield.

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One had been tagged. I was surprised that the numbers were not identical.

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The second species was a nutria, a large rodent native to South America that was introduced to the US for commercial purposes. It has become a pest, especially in the southeast where its burrows weaken levees used for flood control.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#3
My only eagle sighting at Ridgefield.
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Lots of waterfowl were present including northern shovelers.

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My pickup flushed many snipes present along ditches beside the road. Here is one that didn't fly away.

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My only sighting of a great egret.

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My only sighting of a snow goose, which was hanging out with a Canada goose.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
A pied-billed grebe.

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Lap 2:

I mentioned that I made two laps around the loop. My second lap was to get better photos using my 1.4x teleconverter of a hawk hanging out north of the rest area near the blind. Although it behaved much like a red-tailed hawk, I thought it might be an uncommon raptor due to the absence of an actual red tail. Examination of my Sibley's when I returned home showed in to be a juvie, light morph version of a red-trailed hawk.

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This raptor was in a tree by the road on the opposite of the lake from where I took photos of the juvie, light morph red-tailed hawk. I could not get photos good enought to ID the bird. It could have been another juvie red-tail or the same bird that beat me to the spot by flying across the lake.
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I hope you enjoyed the tour. Further info about Ridgefield NWR can be found at these links:

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Ridgefield/

https://www.ridgefieldfriends.org/RidgefieldNWRMain.html

https://ridgefieldfriends.org/
 
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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
#5
Nice series! Ridgefield is a cool place. I'd go there more often, but it's quite a drive from where I live. I like how the birds are pretty used to cars and don't pay much attention to you.

Kinda feel bad for the deer with the identity crisis.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
#7
I mentioned that I made two laps around the loop.
I do that a lot. The first one is more of a scouting trip, and we don't stop unless there's a really good photo opp. We'll stop for something unusual, or a really good job, but common birds and common poses get passed by or have a fairly brief stop on the first round depending on what they are. I'm fine with photographing the common species, as long as I am fairly certain I'm no missing a chance for something that I don't see often to get it.

Then, once we have a feel for what's there, we'll go around again. Of course by then, some stuff has left and some new stuff arrives, but we can at least get an idea of what's around and how much activity there is.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#9
A visit to the volunteer shack to read the white boards is handy to get an idea of what has been spotted over the past few days.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
#10
That's true. The main problem I have is that I get there at the wrong times. Morning and evening are best, mid day is a bit of a lull. But since the place is so far from where I live, by the time I get there it's usually mid day. I can stay later I suppose, but then it's a long drive late in the day, especially during the summer when the place is active.
 


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