Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge 9-6&9-2018

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#1
I once again made use of my season pass to the Ridgefield NWR to and from a trip to Vancouver, WA. The refuge was pretty quiet as many of the summer residents have departed and the winter residents have yet to arrive.

Thursday, 9-6-18
This lone great blue heron is in a dried out, low lying area that will be part of a pond or marsh come winter.

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After I departed the check-in station, some great egrets north of the long, straight section of two-way road attracted my attention.

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I also noticed some gray birds near the egrets. Examination of my photos later that night showed they were sandhill cranes. I heard that they had arrived early this year. Although sandhills are not uncommon to the PNW, these were "lifers" for me.

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A pied-billed grebe was swimming in the waterway beside the road.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
I thought there were only two turtles in this photo when I snapped it. Later viewing showed there were three.

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A resident great horned owl has been spotted in the trees along the Kiwa Trail this year. I thought it best my son and I walk it a little ways as we may not be back down before it closes at the end of the month.

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Just past the parking lot I spotted the legendary "albino" nutria of Ridgefield in a small waterway. I had photographed a similar white nutria over five years ago on 3-2-13. I had to shoot at -2 exposure compensation to keep its bright white coat from over exposing the photos.

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I wanted to get a close up of the eyes to determine if the nutria is a true albino (pink eyes) or a leucistic animal (normal eyes). I think this photo clearly shows that the nutria has dark eyes, which makes it leucistic, not albino.

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For comparison, a non-leucistic nutria was conveniently walking on a nearby trail.

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On my return trip Sunday (9-9-18) I explained what I had seen to the volunteer at the ranger shack. She said that even though the white nutria may not be an albino, she believes it still has vision problems as its has reportedly bumped into people along the trail. Talking to her and others, there may be a recessive gene for leucistic traits in the nutria population at Ridgefield.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#3
More birds in the waterways alongside the road.

Wood duck.

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Coots.

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Ruddy duck.

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Not many raptors were present. One of two or three northern harriers I spotted.

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Light morphed red-tailed hawk.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
A kestrel was perched on this sign by the road.

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It flew out ahead of the pickup and searched the fields for prey.

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No easy dinner here as I'm sure the purple martins have vacated their summer condos.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#5
Sunday 9-9-18
We did a quick drive around the loop Sunday morning on our way back home.

This bird was very high. I believe it was a male northern harrier.
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Someone at the ranger shack had reported seeing a tree full of vultures, but I only saw this one bird.

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The kestrel was back at the sign.

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This time it did not fly off as I drove slowly past, enabling my son to get a series of closeup shots. Judging from the droppings and blood on the sign and the bee hovering above, it appears this sign is a regular perch where the kestrel both scans for and eats prey.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#7
Update: One person has said that they believe the high flying bird I thought was a male northern harrier is a peregrine falcon. Looking at the photo more closely, it may be a peregrine or it may be a kestrel that I thought was a larger, higher flying bird due to poor size perspective.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#9
I sent a link to these photos to the contact person listed on the Friends of Ridgefield website. He replied, stating that a strain of white nutria has been at Ridgefield for over 25 years. They are not the same animal, for babies have been seen swimming along with the mother throughout the years.

One of the days I was there someone else told me that white babies have been seen with normal colored mothers.
 


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