Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge

One of the main reasons I went to Eastern Washington last week was to explore some of the National Wildlife Refuges in Northern Oregon. Unfortunately, the main one I wanted to visit closes all roads between October and February, which just happens to coincide with the hunting season — Shades of Nisqually. Still, I did get a chance to explore the Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge for about four hours.

Though a little disappointed at how few different pictures I got there, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day. I hiked in nearly a mile with my 500mm lens and tripod and set up above the wetlands and waited for birds to show, and they did, at least some did. Generally they started quite far away and then gradually moved closer as they got accustomed to my presence. Equally important, the fog began to clear and the sun shine through more and more as they moved closer.

I have dozens of shots of this Lesser Yellowlegs since I could get better and better shots as the morning wore on.

Lesser Yellowlegs

These Short-Billed Dowitchers started even farther away but had moved relatively close after three hours.

Short-Billed Dowitchers

I’m not positive, but I think by their behavior that these are Long-Billed Dowitchers. They seemed slightly larger with longer bills, spent most of their time in deeper water, and seemed like a much smaller flock than the Short-Billed Dowitchers — all characteristics of Long-Billed Dowitchers according to the book.

Long-Billed Dowitcher

Needless to say, the real action seemed to be taking place on the other side of the pond, the side closed to admittance. There were certainly thousands of Canada Geese (in the background), and hundreds, if not thousands, of Cormorants, with a few large Pelicans thrown in for good measure.

Birds on Far Shore of Lake

Most of the birds I saw at the refuge were the very same birds I’ve seen at the ocean, about an hour and half away from my house. It’s surprising to find “sea” birds in the middle of the desert, but I’m new at this birding thing, and even newer at watching migrations so it’s all rather exciting to me. The INTP in me loves discovering how much I don’t know — and that sometimes seems infinite.

What do you think?