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.

Birding Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

I made my semi-annual dentist visit to Vancouver last Wednesday. As usual, I left a little after 6:00 AM so I could stop at the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge before having lunch with a group of retired school teachers.

Since I only visit there two or three times per year, I never quite know what to expect, though I wasn’t surprised to find the male Red-Winged Blackbirds


were in full song, though I didn’t spot too many females.

I was pleasantly surprised to see several Ring-Necked Ducks, including this female,


since I seldom see them in places where I commonly bird.

I even enjoyed seeing birds that I commonly see, like this Canada Goose in the foreground


and the Northern Pintail in the background in new settings.


I suspect the Pintails were less shy than usual because the Canada Goose alerted them to my presence but didn’t bolt.

Not unexpectedly, this male Hooded Merganser


came drifting out of the shadows on the far side of the refuge.

A good start to a long day. I wish the day had ended with a delightful reunion at lunch, but unfortunately I was later told by my dentist that the tooth she had tried to save the year before had split and was abscessed and needed to be pulled. Then I had to decide if I wanted a bridge or an implant; tough decision since I didn’t want either. I knew I wanted the tooth out as soon as possible, though. So I had it pulled yesterday. I decided to go with the implant, which takes nearly 9 months to complete but is supposed to be superior to the bridge (or, at the very least, more expensive).