Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cold weather is for the birds

It was nineteen degrees this morning when my car crunched its way down frozen gravel roads in the Vancouver hills, on my way to grab a cup of coffee. There are so many errands to run on a Saturday.
So how I got to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge with my steaming cup of joe and a blueberry muffin is a mystery. I had so many things to accomplish, but instead the Red-winged Blackbird beckoned.
It was his siren's song that drew me in, made me pay the "honor system" fee and go in.
But rolling down windows to get a great view of the wildlife when it is twenty degrees is just plain crazy. Even the Great Egret was hunkered down, his neck tucked in and wings covering his thin legs.
The same with the Great Blue Heron. All hunkered down to keep warm.
It is still too early for most of the birds I saw last year, but there were a few. Some in pairs.
Some were alone.
And in one area, there was a red film over the water. What is that?
And the horrid pest, the Nutria scurried along the river bank.
There were bald eagles in trees.
And the few cars out jumbled up to get pictures. (They must not have them near their house.)
And no one stopped to take the Red-tailed Hawk's picture. They all wanted the eagle's pictures. Some had camera lenses as long as my arm. I felt bad for the hawk, so I opened my sunroof, snapped his picture and thanked him for the lovely photo op.
By the time I got to this Great Blue Heron, it had warmed up to a toasty twenty-three degrees. I snapped his picture and then looked up to see what he was watching.
I think it might have been this.
Further along the Canada Geese rested in shallow water.
And Northern Pintails hunted.
Several Killdeer ran along beside the car, but they were so fast I couldn't focus on them. I finally took this through the windshield.
Just before I left, the Great Egret unfurled himself and began to stroll.
And this Great Blue Heron posed for this beautiful photo opportunity.
I gasped when I looked at my watch, rolled up my window, cranked up the heat and motored to the store before meeting my daughter for coffee in Portland.
By the time I got home, this evening, snow was falling.


  1. Beautiful pictures. I'll have to go visit Ridgefield early this spring! I am more of a "fair weather friend" unfortunately. I love the birds, but if it's colder than 32, I'm not leaving the house. LOL. Okay, not true. I did leave the house yesterday but I had to go grocery shopping. Something about people expecting to eat around here. Still don't know what that was all about! LOL

  2. Katie,

    May I suggest the first two weekends in March. It seems a great time for migration and there are all sorts of birds on their way to somewhere else.

    But I'm with you. If it weren't for wanting to test out my camera, I would have stayed at Starbucks far too long. Like maybe until spring.

  3. Great shots. So much beauty in nature if we just slow down and look. :O)

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your unexpected journey...I am in envious awe of the wildlife so near to you. Your words capture the beauty and magic as vividly as your photos.

  5. Thanks for the advice. I think we'll try and visit around the second weekend. Then maybe another trip once the warm weather hits.

  6. Diane,

    Thanks so much. The camera is still a pretty cheap one, but it the best there is before going into the more expensive, larger cameras.


    You are awesome. I'll give you 140 more characters to stop complimenting me.


    I'll keep my fingers crossed that we have a warm, sunny weekend during March, for you.

  7. Love your photo story! Great pictures and wonderful, simple words that capture the moment perfectly.
    Also, Good luck with your novel!

  8. Sylvia,

    You are very sweet. Thanks for looking. You'll probably see these same birds up there in a few weeks.

  9. wow, Mel! Nice photo journey. We'll have to make it to Ridgefield on one of my visits to the PNW.

  10. Dale,

    You'd need to come in March for their migration. Well, probably in autumn, too. I don't know when the best autumn time is. It is like a motel on a busy highway. You never know what you'll see. I saw a flock of snow geese one year and have never seen them again.

  11. I love the GBH shots! Nice work! Can't wait to see your research vacation photos.

  12. Well, I'm going to leave the really nice shots to the people with the really nice cameras. But, at least I have a fighting chance to get a few good pictures.

  13. Such beautiful photos! I'm just learning some photography. I took some shots at the zoo the other day. So much fun.

  14. Love your bird photos!

  15. Rhiannon,

    I could profit from a photography class. But, until then, I enjoy my point and shoot.


    Thanks so much. I'm still thinking of taking up the clarient. So many hobbies I'd like to do, so little time.


Comments are great fun. Really. I love them. Except from the bots that have found my blog. I'm enabling the word verification to block them. Sorry.