Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Today, as is customary, Michelle and I went out for our New Year's Birding Trip. We decided (late last night) that we would go to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington State. It's about a 30-40 minute drive from our house and we have heard a lot about it from other birders. I want to warn you, it was very dark so the photos are not great but you can still ID most of them.

So, off we went this morning. The rain was coming down in sheets and the wind was howling. We almost turned around a couple of times. It was incredibly nasty. But, after getting to our destination, the storm subsided some and we were eventually grateful that we went.

Picture this, we drive 40 minutes from our home, to another state, to one of a dozen Wildlife Refuges in the area and, who should we run into? Mr. and Mrs. Nut from and the Dynamic Duo from It’s really is a small world!

A 3rd year Bald Eagle (we believe), just perched in the middle of a field. He didn’t seem to have any prey, but who knows what he was hiding under those claws of his (or hers).

3rd year Baldy

2 adult Bald Eagles near the blind. We saw Bald Eagles everywhere.

Bald eagles1

It was the most Eagles that we have ever seen at one time.

Bald eagles2

An Adult and 1st year Bald Eagles surveying the land.

Bald Eagles3

Cinnamon Teals. We saw quite a few of the Teals, as well.

Cinnamon Teals2

They are an unusual sight for us. We have only seen them a few times in our birding career.

Cinnamon Teals

A friendly Fox Sparrow.

Fox Sparrow

The Great Blue Herons were out in force, too. We were able to get fairly close to some of them.


We took the auto route and stayed in the car the whole time. Normally, the herons wouldn’t let us get so close.


But, I think that they are used to vehicles and so they don’t spook as easily.


An American Kestrel. We saw 4 of them while we were out and about.


This male was soaking wet and so he looked a little different. He kept his feathers spread the whole time he was flying. Fun to watch!


This was our best find! A Western Meadowlark. This was a Life List bird for us.


there were actually 2 of them. Thanks to Michelle’s eagle eyes, we were able to get a great start to our 2009 List!


A Northern Harrier. See the white band at the base of the tail? That’s a great identifying field mark. We saw at least 5 Harriers today.

Northern Harrier

Northern Pintails. There were about 25 of them mixed in with the other waterfowl.


They are such great looking birds.


Another of the many, many Red-Tailed Hawks that were out and about.


And another.


Here is a photo we snapped of our blogger buddies Mr. and Mrs. Nut and Mr. and Mrs. Birdnerd (better known as the Fantastic Four) as they were traveling ahead of us on the auto route.

This was another great find for us. A Rufous Morph Red-tailed Hawk. We actually posted a couple of photos on line and asked for some help to ID it because we couldn’t be sure. A lot of local birders assisted us in the ID. Thanks to all!

Rufous Morph

Just a couple of photos from around the refuge.

Scenery1 Scenery2

Tundra Swans. There were hundreds and hundreds of both species (Tundra and Trumpeter) around the area. We have seen these guys from afar (very afar!) but we got some good looks at them today.

Trumpeter Swans2

Here is a small portion of all the Swans that were present. What a fun start to the New Year!

Trumpeter Swans

Cackling Goose - 100+
Canada Goose - 1000+ (including flyovers)
Tundra/Trumpeter Swan - 500+ (again, both species)
Gadwall - 8
American Wigeon - 14
Mallard - 100+
Cinnamon Teal - 12
Northern Shoveler - 60
Northern Pintail - 15
Green-Winged Teal - 15
Ring-Necked Duck - 8
Bufflehead - 7
Hooded Merganser - 12
Great Blue Heron - 20
Bald Eagle - 8
Northern Harrier - 6
Red-Tailed Hawk - 10 (plus the Red Morph)
Rough-Legged Hawk - 1
American Kestrel - 4
Coot - 60
Killdeer - 1
Northern Flicker - 2
Scrub-Jay - 20
Crow - 10
Black-Capped Chickadee - 3
Red-Breasted Nuthatch - Heard
Brown Creeper - 3
Bewick's Wren - 2
Winter Wren - Heard
Robin - 12
Starling - 6
Spotted Towhee - 3
Fox Sparrow - 1
Song Sparrow - 8
Junco - 15
Red-Winged Blackbird - Heard
Western Meadowlark - 2
Brewer's Blackbird - 50

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linda said...

What a delightful photo tour.

I've never been, but will make the trip soon, perhaps after the waters recede, or maybe going sooner when the water is up is the way to go, not sure~

NW Nature Nut said...

How, oh how did we miss the Western Meadowlarks!?? Dang it!! Great list, it was a nice day even though it was dark and drizzly. Nice to see you. I'll send you the photo soon!

Birdnerd said...

Yeah, dang it! Michele doesn't want to bird with me anymore now since we didn't see Meadowlarks.
Yes, fun to see you, too!

Birdnerd said...

I forgot to say Great Shots of the Kestrel!

Sandy said...

Great photos. Loved those eagles.

happy new to you two!

Heather said...

Wow, wonderful photos. I especially like the pics of the Heron. That's quite a lot of birds you saw! Unfortunately I spent most of New Year's day sleeping off some 24-hour stomach bug, but I did get to watch a few birds at our feeders. That's funny that you guys ran into NWNature Nut AND Birdnerd while you were there. Small world, indeed.

mailing list said...
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Anonymous said...

just found your blog. new to portland. i love the RNWR! great pics! i like the kestrel ones. the refuge is where i saw my first kestrel, but my camera is not that good. did you see the great horned owl that hangs out at marker 10?

Diana said...

This refuge is the best place. In the years I have been going there, we always see something new each time. Great blog!