It was grey and not raining when I arrived at the refuge. In fact, I thought I was going to be late, but arrived just at 8 o'clock to find Alan by himself at the top of the tower. Maybe everyone was scared off by rain in the forecast. However, a few minutes later 3 more people arrived.
It was somewhat quiet at the refuge. Canada Geese and Coots were abundant. Several Buffleheads were on the far side of the Upper Impoundment. They were small even in the scopes. Near the opening on the Cross Dike Trail, the Ruddy Duck was hanging out on a tuft of lotus leaves and other vegetation. Of course the light was all wrong, so I am substituting this photo from yesterday that didn't make the editorial cut. It shows the same duck, on the same tuft, playing "King of the Hill" with a coot.
As we walked we encountered sparrows, chickadees, goldfinches, bluebirds, woodpeckers and a belted kingfisher. Unfortunately, they weren't very cooperative. They generally were hiding within the branches or back sides of vegetation. Occasionally, one would pop into the open and cooperate for a brief moment.
Unfortunately the clouds got denser, the sky darker and rain loomed on the horizon. (Why do weather forecasters rarely get the forecasts for rain wrong?) My backup camera, doesn't perform as well in darker conditions, so photographs became fewer and fewer.
Finally, the rain came and chased us all back towards our cars. It let up after a while it let up. Alan & I wandered over to the Timber Trail where we constructed a bog bridge, using wood reclaimed from old repair projects. It now spans the only section of trail that never dried all year long. There is now a path to allow people to pass without destroying the trail, or their shoes. Of course, where's my camera? Back in the car. Just one of those days.
Back at the parking lot, I wandered for a few minutes hoping for some photo make the day. Along the trail to the dike, I heard a cardinal calling. I tried for ten minutes to find a view that wasn't blocked by branches. With such a bright red body, I guess you learn not to let your guard down, even if it is only for a photograph.
As stealthy as the cardinal tries to be, it is really difficult to hide, when there are so few leaves on the trees.
I guess it was a fitting end, to an otherwise unremarkable day of photography. (Of course, becoming a better birder, it wasn't so bad.)
The day wasn't a total failure. The Great Meadows calendars have arrived and I've started to distribute them. They look really good. There are still some left. Click on the Great Meadows 2012 Calendar link for details.