Sixteen years later and these pictures still make me smile, wondering if this is the world’s best toupee or the worst? The teeth were real enough, of which the crabs in the freshwater marsh were well aware (or were about to be).
On New Year’s Eve in 2009, snow still blanketed the ground but the more typical cold rain had returned, beading up on the head and neck and shoulders of an American bittern as it patrolled the edges of South Quigley Lake. I loved being at Ridgefield in the rain, sitting at one of my favorite spots on the auto tour with a bevy of towels strewn around the car to absorb the rain that would blow in. Your car acted as a blind so on days with poor weather and little traffic, as long as you sat quietly the animals would relax and often come quite close. This was one of two bitterns I was watching for a couple of hours that afternoon until the bewitching hour approached and I had to start the car to make it out before the gate closed.
A northern harrier stretches its wings on a foggy winter morning in 2009. I had seen it an hour earlier in this same spot but I don’t know if it spent the hour there or only returned to a favored perch. I’m happy I got some pictures of the stump I called “The Cactus Tree” as in subsequent days it fell over into the swamp.
A song sparrow peaks out of the marsh on a rainy October morning at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. They are year round residents here in Arizona as well but I’ve yet to see one, though to be fair I’ve only been hiking in the local desert environment.
This was the first time I had seen a muskrat out of the water, even from a distance I was startled to see how long and white its claws were. Taken in a quiet backwater channel on the Kiwa Trail at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.