Unexpected Pleasures

I went to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge expecting to see Sandhill Cranes and would have been disappointed not to have seen them, but I saw other species that I didn’t expect to see and those sightings were more exciting than seeing the cranes.

I was nearing the end of the morning, mile-long walk on the refuge when I encountered a couple of experienced birders intensely staring at a tree.  They told me they had been watching two different birds.  I never did see one, but a few minutes after standing there a Brown Creeper emerged from the back of the tree and went about its business of catching a meal, totally ignoring us.  He was so close that I had to photo-merge two shots to keep him in the frame.

The other big treat of the morning was sighting this American Bittern, a large bird that is remarkably hard to spot.  I was looking across the pond to see if there were birds along the edge of the pond when I spotted it right next to the road, so close I couldn’t see the lower part of his body and had to take two close-ups to make this shot.

I used to see American Bittern regularly at Nisqually before they removed the dikes, but I haven’t seen one in several years now.  So, it, too, was even more of a treat than seeing the Sandhill Cranes.

I had to wait until my afternoon walk to see this American Kestrel, a bird I see semi-regularly, though they’re considered an “uncommon resident” in the Puget Sound area.  I’m most apt to see them in Colorado, but I didn’t see one on our last visit.  This one was a long way away, so far away that I didn’t realize it was eating a Dragonfly until I saw it on my computer screen.

I sighted another (or the same one) Kestrel further down the trail and was able to get a much closer shot, though the clouds were getting thicker and the light was quickly fading.

Sometimes small, unexpected pleasures can make a day memorable.

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