Fernhill Wetlands Visit

Birding is typically less than ideal in the summer.  It's hot, the birds are less active, and the bugs in wetlands can pick the all flesh from your bones.  But, the shorebirds at Fernhill Wetlands just south of Forest Grove, Oregon have proven to be worth a trip or two each summer.  This past Wednesday evening my friend Bruce and I made an outing.  A slow, photography centered trip around the wetlands was a perfect way for two birding geeks to spend the evening.  We began by watching several shorebirds in some nice light from atop a walkout structure on a water level control valve.  We didn’t have the best of access and couldn’t get as close and low as I’d prefer, but the low evening light was excellent.

This was the first time I shot with my Canon 5D, using the 1.4x extender to lengthen my 400mm f/5.6 L lens (what Arthur Morris refers to as his "toy lens") to an effective focal length of 560mm.  The new Canon firmware allows for center auto focus point focus now at f/8 on the 5D MkIII body.  It sure beats manually focusing on birds, but from a distance is not as tack sharp as I like.  If you’re a bird or wildlife photographer and own this body, make sure you install this firmware update.

Since I couldn’t get as close to the birds as I wanted to and didn’t have the luxury of isolated them for portraits, I tried to include the birds in their surroundings and add some patterns or artistic composition to my shots.  We saw the following birds that each gave us photographic opportunities, though they may not all be shown in this post; spotted sandpiper, western sandpiper, dunlin, greater yellowlegs, bald eagle, cedar waxwings (maybe one of the prettiest native birds to this region), gold finch, house sparrows, tree swallows, gulls and some ducks and geese to round out bunch.

Since Bruce is retired and I have a day job and a little monster at home, we don’t often get the opportunity to get out and shoot together as our schedules don’t mesh well.  But, this just makes each trip more enjoyable.  I’m already looking forward to some Ridgefield visits this autumn and winter, as family life allows.