Ridgefield NWR & Vancouver Lake

I headed up to Ridgefield yesterday afternoon to look for the Snowy Owl reported on Thursday.  Spoiler: I didn't see it.  But I took my time around the refuge and watched some interesting things...

I saw something splashing in one of the marshy areas and when I finally got my bins on it, I realized it was a hawk.  I thought maybe it had some prey it was trying to drown... But no, I think it was just taking a bath.   It was too far away for decent photos, but here's one anyway:

Nice fluff...  Next up was a heron snacking on something I couldn't quite figure out...

I came across another hawk perched in a tree.  He flew down to the grass and I thought for sure he had snaggged some prey and then was trying to stomp it to death.  When he flew back up to the tree without food I decided there had been no prey.  The hawk had merely been doing the raptor version of a polka meets Irish jig meets raindance...

What you can't see in these photos is the stomping.  It was quite theatrical.  Next up were the hundreds of swans on Rest Lake...

Since I couldn't find the Snowy Owl at Ridgefield I tried to think of where it might turn up next... My first thought was the Vancouver Lake area.  It was perfect since I needed to walk the dogs anyway.  I drove around the whole area before settling in at Frenchman's Bar Park for a bit.

There were bird tracks in the sand, but definitely not from a Snowy Owl...

I drove over to Vancouver Lake Park next and walked the dogs some more... I was scanning the lake when I caught sight of the moon rising over the trees.

As we were standing there I realized the sun was setting directly behind us and the moon rising directly in front...  It was kind of magical and I like to think that somewhere on the moon were the teeny shadows of me, Jake, and Ralph...

So again, no Snowy Owl.  Last night when I was having some beers with friends I happened to check OBOL to see if the owl had turned up anywhere.  There was a posting that the owl had been seen near Vancouver Lake (at Post Office Lake) at 3:30 pm, which is exactly the time I arrived at Frenchman's Bar Park.  Frustrating, yes.  But also awesome that I was on the right trail at least...

This morning I took the dogs out and noticed the moon was not as full as it was in the above photos.  Hmm.  It finally dawned on me that I was watching a lunar eclipse...  I took some photos from my front porch when I got home but unfortunately the fog moved in for the grand finale.

At first light I returned to the Vancouver Lake area, drove all the way down to Post Office Lake, and found nothing but gunshots and fog.  I could barely even make out the lake.  A few other birders arrived as I was leaving.  Oh well, maybe the owl turn up somewhere else today!

Good times!


  1. Wonderful images...and I missed the eclipse.. too cloudy.

  2. Geesh. Do you sleep? Like the new header by the way.

  3. Cool shots of the Hawk doing the Irish jig. Sorry, you missed the Snowy, maybe next time. Awesome shots of the moon and eclipse.

  4. Thanks, guys! I do sleep...sometimes... when I'm not thinking about Snowy Owls and a seriously long to do list!

  5. That first hawk kinda looks like a young Red-shouldered. Nice heron meat-morsel too.

    I hope I have better luck with the Snowy Owls....

  6. @Steve- I thought it might be a Red-shouldered when I was watching it, but my pictures were so bad I didn't want to label it anything but a hawk...


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