Each of my past three trips to do presentations in Portland I have used as a means to stop in at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, west of the Battle Ground area in the community of (surprise) Ridgefield, Washington. Yesterday as I headed south to get ready for my evening presentation to The Mazamas club in Portland yet again I took the detour off the freeway. Each time there, things start off with "well, looks like I'm not seeing much here. Oh well....". Each time there, how wrong I am and end up spending a long time there photographing different birds and other things than any previous visit!
This trip I thought it would be pouring, but rains stopped just south of Kelso and I proceeded in to the refuge. The wind was blowing very hard and I figured that was the reason I'd see virtually nothing. The first marsh I went by where I photographed my first ever seen Great Egret last year? Not even a duck in the howling winds and almost white-caps! I kept going and then about 1/2 way around the long loop, things changed dramatically. I was pleased to photograph a Western Painted Turtle enjoying a sun break on a log, even sitting there with a freshly fallen yellow leaf on its back - fun! Right after that the fun really began as I notice far off through the trees in a field a flock of 75-80 Sandhill Cranes feeding and coming in for landings. What a joy it was to watch them for the next 30 minutes as they fuel up for their journey south! Once I was out in the open ponds and prairie lands I was entertained for well more than an hour with numerous female Northern Harriers seemingly having a soaring party in the warm winds. Sometimes they would be gliding...and not moving as they just paused in mid-air against the wind. Very enjoyable!
And of course, the throngs of Great Blue Herons
are assured here every visit and each time I have returned with very different heron photos than previous visits. I'm already eager to stop in again at yet another month of the year - I'm 3-for-3 with different months, different experiences!