The Good: It was a beautiful day on Dec 6 with the sun shining brightly and a few wispy clouds. The thin layer of frosty snow on the paths crunched under my feet. The trees and bushes sparkled with brittle ice crystals; The low-lying winter sun made the pools and wetlands glitter...
The Bad: The harsh sunlight created deep shadows and bright high lights with little in between. The birds on the glimmering water were often just silhouettes. Rafts of ducks were floating far from shore feeding, heads in the water, showing just their backs, rarely surfacing to catch a breath. I only got a few decent photos of Gadwalls, Northern Pintails and Northern Shovelers out of the several hundred that I took. There were plenty of Canada Geese, Mallards, Hooded Mergansers. Small birds were almost entirely absent except for a few unidentifiable sparrows in a road-side thicket. I saw three Northern Harriers flying near the road, but none giving me enough time for a shot. By late afternoon shortly before the sun went down at 5 PM a few more clouds appeared, too late to make much of a difference in the light situation.
Mixed Gadwall Group
I got out of the car to try for a picture at a different angle to minimize the sun glare, but as soon as I got out ehe birds turned their back and started swimming away from shore.
Even at a distance Pintails are recognizable by their "pin tail" butts
A group of Northern Shovelers had congregated near the center of the pool
These were probably Lesser Scaups with the wind ruffling the feathers on the back of their necks
I had printed out Tom Wetmore's list of recent sightings and was particularly interested in ocean sightings but the surf was too high for any birds. They were either staying farther out at sea or had taken refuge in a quiet cove elsewhere. At any rate scanning the ocean with my binoculars I didn't see any birds except for a few gulls.Still the ocean's turmoil was awe inspiring and the low-pitched roaring of the waves gave an indication of the formidable might of the sea. One could hear the waves' thunder long before traversing the dunes.
I made a recording of the ocean waves. Here is a 45 sec clip.
The sun was going down
Last picture at Ocean 1 near sunset at 5 PM when the refuge closed. .
Next time I'll pick an overcast day, but still it was wonderful, one of those soul-cleansing days.