I got up at sunrise this morning and had to make the classic decision: to go or not to go. To Ridgefield that is, one of my favorite places to visit. The weather was supposed to be variable with fog in the morning, so I wasn’t sure if the trip would be worth it.
Ridgefield has rewarded me well the past few weeks with a number of wildlife watching opportunities and the visits have helped keep my spirits up, so I decided to pass up the sleep and head out.
It was definitely foggy this morning but it did lift a little as the morning wore on. The red-winged blackbirds were actively singing, including two males who were displaying and chasing one another at the edge of one of the marshes (one of the males is pictured here).
Most of the ponds were still frozen from the cold snap we’ve had recently, so I’ve been trying to incorporate ice into my pictures. The coots and shovelers were co-operating this morning and I got some nice pictures of them on the ice.
Some of the coots were being pretty territorial, chasing each other off a little spot of open water in the ice. They were feeding by going underwater and bringing up plants, so I got a chance to watch both behaviors from my front row seat — one of my favorite things about the refuge is that you have to stay in your car on the auto tour during the winter months. While I normally like to hike, the wildlife will often tolerate a close approach if you stay in your car, so not only do you get some great views, but you get to spend a lot of time watching their behavior in a natural setting.
Some young bald eagles were pretty active this morning. A couple were sitting out on the ice early on watching the ducks, and later one was sitting in a tree close to the road. I’d have loved to have a blue sky for the picture, but maybe next time.
A small group of sandhill cranes were feeding in the fields at the end of the auto tour, along with the great blue herons and a small army of Canada geese. I also got to watch bufflehead, scaup, a ruddy duck, and a ring-necked duck from up close on some of the ponds and channels on the tour.
Just a fantastic morning and several nice pictures for whenever I get around to editing them all, I still haven’t finished editing my pictures from my Yellowstone trip in the fall, not to mention the past 5 months of pictures I took in the meantime.
Definitely glad I went and a nice start to the day, I left shortly after noon and came home to watch some football and play with the cats. But at least I didn’t start today’s post with another shot of the cats in their new bed …