A western painted turtle pokes its head out of the water
I’m back, baby, I’m back!
It’s been quiet the past month but hopefully that is about to change.
There were several themes running through May, starting with the rainy weather that allowed me to photograph at Ridgefield from when the gates opened to when they closed. All told I think I spent 63 hours in May at the refuge, keeping my spirits up despite long hours at work.
May is also a great time for watching birds as they court and nest and raise their young, and also to see birds that are migrating through and too soon pass on. I spent several thirteen and fourteen hour days at the refuge, much of it on foot, savoring each encounter as next time my subjects might be gone.
All of that time also highlighted some equipment problems, either outright failures like my teleconverter or issues like my tripod and ballhead, which aren’t up to the challenge of carrying the big lens for that many hours. I bought it to be my hiking tripod where it only needs to support my lighter lenses, or to handle the big lens in a pinch, but with that many hours with the big lens it just wasn’t up to the task.
I got to see many of my favorite species, such as this western painted turtle poking its head out of its pond of many colors near the Kiwa Trail. Painted turtles are one of only two freshwater turtles native to Washington, the other is the pond turtle which is so rare you’re unlikely ever to see one. The painted turtles seem to be doing fine, at least at Ridgefield, where on a sunny spring day I’ve seen a few dozen just along the auto tour.
There are lots more pictures from May to come, including some new species that haven’t been on my site before. There are a few house wren pictures, a pileated woodpecker, a male western tanager, several black-headed grosbeaks (male and female), at least a couple of great horned owl fledglings, and a white-breasted nuthatch bringing bugs to the nest.
Lots of updates to existing galleries too, most notably tree swallows, with both close-ups and environmental portraits. Also hungry cedar waxwings, a female yellowthroat, a red-winged fledgling, a couple of starling fledglings, the elusive sora, and a male ruddy duck resplendent in breeding plumage. Possibly a cormorant, white-crowned sparrow, kestrel, and cinnamon teal, I’ll have to see how they turned out.
And let’s not forget the mammals, including a new mink picture, several muskrats, a black-tailed doe, a nutria, and several new eastern cottontails. Also a Townsend’s mole, a new species for me, it was dead but the picture isn’t macabre.
And perhaps my favorite encounter of the month, a swarm of bees on a tree, I found them early in the morning when they were quiet and I could safely photograph the patterns of the colony.
I’m also going to put up a post of the pictures that got away, starting with a full-frame shot of a long-tailed weasel that is heartbreakingly out-of-focus. And there are still pictures from the winter I need to sort and edit, particularly of bitterns.