The Fallen

A barn swallow sings while perching

When I arrived at Ridgefield in late 2013, after an absence of nearly a year, I lamented how many of the snags near the road in Long Lake had fallen over as they were a great place in spring to photograph songbirds up close. This more distant snag was still standing and offered a lovely background hinting at the surrounding environment with the blue of the water and the green plants at the edge of the lake and the brown grass of the meadow beyond. In the spring of 2014 I was watching barn swallows hunting for insects over the lake when this one perched for a moment and chirped to its compatriots still in the skies.

This snag has since fallen and there are no more near the road. I once saw a Jedi knight lift a sunken X-wing fighter out of a swamp, so I remain hopeful that one will visit Ridgefield and set some of the fallen snags upright once more.

The Fallen Perch

The Fallen Perch

A barn swallow takes a break from hunting insects over Long Lake on a rainy spring day. This was one of my favorite spots at the refuge to take pictures, the dead tree to which this branch was attached was close to the road and I spent many hours just sitting in my car watching to see what would swim or walk or fly by, but sadly the tree fell over into the lake.

The Only One Not Singing

A barn swallow perches on a cattail with his mouth wide open at South Quigley Lake at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington in May 2008

On a day I spent watching birds sing, from yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds to song sparrows and marsh wrens, this little barn swallow was the only one not singing. After swarming over the lake hunting insects with the rest of the barn and tree swallows, he landed on this cattail for just a moment, opened his mouth wide a couple of times, preened a few feathers, then took to the skies once more.