I’ve been driving through Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge for many years and have enjoyed the view each and every time. Unfortunately, I’ve been there to photograph the birds and the beasts and not just take in the scenery or to break up the drive from Missoula to Kalispell. I’ve been there in 3 seasons, and over the course of 6 yrs and not once have even been tempted to try a photograph…

This past week I was once again driving to Kalispell for one of my wildlife photography workshops and was talking to my friend David (David Middleton) for comedic relief. Our conversation went something like this:

David: Where are you?

Me: On my way from Missoula to Triple D for my workshop.

David: Are you going to Ninepipes?

Me: Well maybe, I’ve been there a lot including 3 or 4 times with you and we never take a picture!

David: But you should find Yellow-headed Blackbirds on cattails!

Me: Acck, I don’t even think that bird exists, I’ve looked all over the west and have never even seen one. (Note this part was edited to remove some colorful adjectives that might not be suitable for all audiences).

David: Well, I think you should stop.

Me: Oh, OK David…

I was ready to stretch my legs and so I decided to heed David’s words and drive along the dam at Ninepipes and see what I could find to, hopefully, photograph! I really wasn’t paying  close attention and so missed the proper turn off to Ninepipes, but I turned on the next road which was Duck Rd and it was good name as I found these Northern Shovelers. There was soo much flooding that temporary “ponds” were everywhere.

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I took the first left to head back towards Ninepipes and as you may have guessed by now, I found this!

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Holy pre-visualization Batman! It was terrific and I spent about 20 minutes working on these birds to get one to land on the right cattail and face the right direction and start singing and have the best background. I would have to say that patience did finally pay off for me and I was able to engage in some bird photography at Ninepipes Wildlife Refuge.

It would be easy to give all of the credit for this to David, but as you can see from this map, I didn’t actually photograph these birds on the Ninepipes refuge. They were on the way to Ninepipes, but not in Ninepipes. I can officially keep my non-photography streak alive and I don’t have to hear “I told you so” from David, well at least not that often! And you can also bet I’ll always stop at Ninepipes…

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If you would like to see more of my photography and or order a print you can do that…HERE.

If you would like more information about my wildlife photography workshops, you can do that…HERE.