Even on the worst day, and my recent trip to Vancouver for my semi-annual dental checkup seemed like a “worst day,” we can find something to make our day a little better. Usually when I visit Vancouver I meet up with fellow teachers, but that wasn’t possible with Covid-19 restrictions, the second time that has happened this year.  To make matters worse, it poured most of the 120 mile I drove; there were cars off the road and rescue vehicles blocking lanes, not to mention idiot drivers who didn’t seem to believe you don’t have to drive the speed limit on flooded roads, though it was clear to me after the RAV hydroplaned twice.

Thankfully, by the time I got to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge the rain had slowed to a drizzle, and I was able to get in a three mile walk before sitting in the dentist’s chair for an hour and another three hours to drive home.

Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of birds on the refuge because they hadn’t flooded most of the fields yet.  I did manage to see some birds I don’t see in Tacoma.  In fact, I was greeted at the entrance by a Great White Egret.

I probably wouldn’t have taken a picture of it since it refused to pose for me and if I had been in California where they are as common as crows,  but, since I haven’t been to California much this year,  I took several shots.

I also managed to get several shots of White Pelicans flying overhead, another bird I seldom see in the Puget Sound area.

Red-Shafted Flickers are common in Tacoma, but this was still my favorite shot of the day.


He may have been posing for me because he knew I was having a tough day.

Birding Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

On our recent visit to Ridgefield NWR, we saw two small flocks of Ring-Necked Ducks, a duck I used to see a lot at the pond at Nisqually NWR but haven’t seen often since I quit visiting there regularly.

For some reason, it’s one of those ducks that I always have trouble identifying, perhaps because the male Ring-Necked

looks an awful lot like a Scaup and because it seems misnamed. Shouldn’t that be a Ringed-Beak duck? I’ve never been able to see the ring around it’s neck.

Luckily, the female Ring-Necked duck

is quite distinctive and is not easily mistaken for other female ducks.

We also saw several Gadwall, like this male.

Though the male is an easily recognizable duck I often struggle to remember its name because I seldom see them and I have a tendency to confuse its name with Gander.

Back to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

I am seeing my dentist too often lately, but a small consolation is I get to visit the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, a place I used to walk regularly when I taught at Battle Ground. Sometimes I visit in the morning AND in the evening before returning home if birding is good in the morning.

This visit I was greeted by large flocks of American Goldfinches, though I was only able to capture shots of a few intrepid individuals that didn’t fly off as my car slowly crept up the road. I’m so used to getting shots looking UP at Goldfinches I like this shot of a female


and male Goldfinch.


Even though I didn’t see many birds in the first half of the auto tour, I decided to walk the loop trail that’s closed most of the year. I ended up seeing lots and lots of very tall grass


that should make good feed for the ducks once it’s flooded. Right now, though, it makes it difficult to see and identify all the small birds hiding there.

Luckily, Great Blue Herons


never make any pretense at hiding, unlike this American Bittern which was, as usual, hiding in plain sight


or I would never have seen him.