Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, is one of my favorite places to go birding in the fall because during October and November as many as 50,000 geese, ducks and tundra swans stop. And there is the important factor that there are fewer biting insects this time of year. Our first stop was the visitor center to pick up a bird checklist, view the displays, and purchase book marks and a patch for my vest.

Next we took a walk through the Loblolly Pine forest out to one of the brackish tidal marshes the refuge is known for. The sky was overcast, the day was dreary and the lack of birds was disappointing. We did see a Belted Kingfisher and Canada Geese.

Our next stop proved to be more fruitful where I enjoyed watching a young Northern Harrier hunt voles. It was so beautiful with its bright rusty breast. One of the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrels was hanging out in a tree. Blackwater Refuge has the largest population of the grizzled-gray squirrel but you still have to look carefully to see them.

Canada Geese were everywhere and I really enjoyed seeing them fly in from the fields as the day ended. The refuge is one of the main wintering areas for geese along the Atlantic flyway, a major migration route along the East Coast of the United State.

The highlight was seeing the Bald Eagles. A pair was sunning themselves on a tiny island when a Golden Eagle swooped in just to harass them. It was like a nature movie moment. I tried to take photos of the eagle on the tree top but just couldn’t get a good shot. Since the refuge is host to the largest breeding population of Bald Eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida I had plenty of opportunities to try.

I even tried to take a photo through my binoculars. You just recognize that it is a Bald Eagle but that is about it.

On down the way I saw a snake swimming and a Painted Turtle in the water skirting the road.

Even though my photos were lousy that day, being there in all that flat expanse (25,000 acres) and listening to the Canada Geese and Red Winged Blackbirds was enough. One group of Canada Geese flew so low the sound of their wings was almost as loud as their calls. Those are the moments that keep me returning as often as I can.

Be sure to visit more good places at Outdoors Wednesday.


Gaelyn said...

The National Wildlife Refuges are another of America's "good" ideas. Maybe Ken Burns will cover some of them next. You sure saw a lot and just the sound alone could have been enough. Good captures under flat conditions.

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

Looks like you had a very successful day, love the photos.

Mary said...

Your photos are spectacular. It looks like you had a marvelous day. I hope you are enjoying Outdoor Wednesday.

Bonnie said...

Lots of fun photos - so lucky to get so close !

~Cheryl said...

I can certainly see why you like to visit this spot as often as possible. I know I would have missed that squirrel hanging out -- very cute!

Ms. Bake-it said...

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge looks like a beautiful place to go. I too would visit there often.

Thank you for sharing it with us!

~ Tracy