Water spills from a gadwall’s bill after she took a drink from Horse Lake. Similar to the picture I recently posted of a gadwall drinking from Horse Lake, but taken a year earlier (almost to the day).
My favorite coyote picture, taken over a year ago in January of 2012.
Coyotes have a complicated and controversial relationship with our modern world, and I’m not sure how this pack will fare now that subdivisions have replaced the meadows on the hills above the refuge. I seen them near the road sometimes as I drive into town before sunrise, but I see them as roadkill too. And there will be conflicts with barbed-wire fences and dogs and cats.
But on this morning, as it hunted for voles with its mate, and as a few snowflakes began to fall, all was peaceful. Only the three of us were around, and since I stayed quiet in my car, they let me watch at my leisure as they worked the the length of the dike.
A peaceful morning for me, if not for the voles.
Ridgefield presents me with a conundrum, which is I spend so much time there that I don’t visit the other parts of the Pacific Northwest as often as I’d like. But I enjoy my time there, and know that if we were to move away, it’s Ridgefield I’d miss the most.
But I don’t have to move away to lose the refuge in some sense. There was a possibility a while back they were going to reduce the auto tour length by half, which would drastically reduce my desire to go. Thankfully for me that didn’t happen and they only took out a very small section.
But my bigger worry has been an increase in the population of the town of Ridgefield itself, as the former farmer’s town is fast growing into a bedroom community for nearby Vancouver and Portland. Since I first started visiting a decade ago, several fields have turned into big subdivisions, greatly increasing the population of the town to what I think is now around 4,000. But I read an article recently that the town leaders are planning on an increase in the next decade to 24,000.
The way I like to work the refuge is to find a favorite spot and wait there for a while, and since a passing car can spook a subject whose trust I’ve gained, even a small increase in traffic can make the experience much less enjoyable for me. I already don’t tend to stay when the weather is nice because of the increase in visitors — that and my crazy love of photographing in the rain.
And then there are places like where I photographed this great blue heron, where the road is so narrow there isn’t room for someone to get past if I stop. Thankfully on this morning traffic was light, even as late as 10 a.m., and I was able to stop on my own for a while before another car came up and I moved on.
I’ll never stop going to the refuge completely, but I suspect over the coming years I’ll start going less and visiting other places more. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. I haven’t gone up this year apart from a few days at the start of the year, I wasn’t in the mood after our cat Scout died in early February, and I’ve been battling a cold the past couple of weeks. But I’ll be back soon.
I just got a new computer at work, replacing one that was six years old, and got two 24″ Dell LCD monitors as well. The new monitors aren’t as nice as my 27″ Apple monitor at home, but they are a big improvement over what I had before, and this picture is currently my desktop picture. I was going to put a picture of Scout up at first, but apparently even six weeks after her death I’m not quite ready for that. Most of the time her picture made me smile, but occasionally it would bring tears to my eyes, so I’m holding off for now.
Scout is on the lock screen of my iPhone, so it may not be long before she takes over my desktop as well. Although I have to say, the heron makes for a great background image.