An Early-Morning Outing to Finley Refuge
Tuesday 16 July 2013 — Category: Outings
I’m guilty of a disgraceful photographic time lapse! No, I’m not talking about another time-lapse photography project gone bad. Instead, I’m lamenting the huge lapse of time since my last photographic outing. It’s been nearly SIX months since my last photo outing to Smith Rock. For someone like me who is supposed to be passionate about photography, this lapse is pathetic!
Well, I can’t go back and change the past — all I can do is try to correct this situation in the present. This is exactly what I did a few days ago when I took my fourth photo outing in three years to Finley National Wildlife Refuge, south of Corvallis.
Because I’m an early Byrd, I left the house at 5:05 AM, imagining that it takes about 45 minutes to drive there. So I was shocked to see that it was only 5:35 when I arrived at the northern entrance to the Refuge. I’ll have to make a note of that for next time.
As I was approaching the Turtle Flats restroom facilities, I suddenly encounted a herd of elusive Roosevelt elk in a roadside meadow. I had heard that there was a herd of them at Finley, but I had never seen them before. I stopped and stared at them, while they stopped and stared at me. From the abundance of antlers, they appeared to all be males — about 8 to 12 of them.
Obviously I’m not a very prepared photographer, because my camera was still in its case on the floor! But even if I would have had my camera handy, it still would have had the wrong lens on. As I was reaching for it, the elk must have decided I was not safe, because they all turned around and quickly headed back into the nearby forest. In a few fleeting seconds they were gone, leaving me greatly disappointed at the very beginning of my photo outing. Well, there’s always the story of the one that got away....
I ate my breakfast parked in front of the facilities, hoping the elk might reappear — but they didn’t. As I continued on my way, I saw an interesting log in a misty meadow, so I got out to take a picture. As I was composing the shot, I noticed a Great Blue Heron sitting on the log, which I had not seen at first. That made the shot even better! To the upper right is a 100% magnification crop of the best photo I took. Things were starting to look up again!
Driving a bit further, I parked near the Fiechter House around 6:00. From there, I took the Homer Campbell Boardwalk through a patch of forest, and then walked along the dirt road around the east and south sides of Cabell Marsh. I got some nice shots of the marsh, including a 180-degree, 9-photo panorama.
As I continued south and west, I noticed a white flower on the side of the road with a red ladybug on it. I quickly switched to my Olympus 60mm macro lens and got down on my knees to get some close-up pictures. Between the very shallow depth of field inherent in macro photography and the ladybug always on the move, it was quite difficult to get a good shot, but there are a few photos which turned out pretty well.
Eventually I arrived at the Refuge Office and Nature Store building. From there I followed the main road through the Refuge back to my truck, completing a 4.3 mile (7km) photo hike. I was very glad that I took this walk in the cool hours of the early morning, before the heat of the day starts its oppression!
After four hikes at this wildlife refuge, I’m sorry to report that I have not seen a whole lot of wildlife! Perhaps I’m going at the wrong time of the day or the year. This time around I encountered a heron and a ladybug — and of course the elk that got away without being photographed! Kinda slim pickin’s! For my tastes, I think I prefer walking around McDowell Creek Falls County Park.
Out of the 94 pictures I took during the few hours I was at Finley, 19 of them are presented in the Finley Refuge 2013 album. Photos from previous outings can be found in the Finley Refuge 2011 and Finley Refuge 2012 albums.