Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nisqually national wildlife refuge

Canada geese on the frozen Nisqually river

Equipment: Canon 20D, Canon 100-400mm

Image details: 340mm, f/5.6, 1/400sec, ISO 200

Nisqually national wildlife refuge is one of the best places for birdwatching and bird photography in western washington. The refuge is about three thousand acres of salt and freshwater marshes in the Nisqually river delta area.

The refuge is good for photography in both summer and the winter. However winter here is special. During sunrise the golden light from the early morning sun light up the marshes and grasslands creating wonderful backgrounds. If you have monster 500-600 mm telephoto lenses this would be the place to use them! The refuge is teeming with ducks, geese, songbirds and raptors.

My favorite spot in the refuge is located very close to the beginning of the Twin barns loop trail. A few hundred yards into the boardwalk trail, look to your left. You should see a cackle of Canada geese on the frozen Nisqually river. If you arrive here before sunrise you can get some great shots when the rays of the early morning sun light up the background. This is also a good place for panning shots. If you are patient there are a number of geese taking off and coming in to land. I would recommend a good tripod and telephoto lens. 500 or 600 mm would be best but you could probably get by with a 400 mm.

Foggy days are also good for photography in the refuge. The refuge is shrouded in fog and you can get some great landscape shots. After your done with your hiking make sure to visit the visitor center. It has some very illustrative exhibits explaining in the detail the tidal and birdlife of the Nisqually delta region.

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