Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Walk

The wind finally died down to a reasonable level, so I decided to venture over to Great Meadows to see how spring was progressing.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
Bluebirds were flitting back and forth near the river by the Southwest entrance.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
Canada Goose turning onto final approach

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
Another one lifts off

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
A rare glimpse of a muskrat eating in the water

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
Red-winged blackbirds are starting to increase in numbers

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
It's hard not to take a beautiful shot with the setting sun at your back

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
Synchronized swimming - Mallard style


On the way out, I paid a quick visit to see if the Screech Owl was at home. He wasn't out when I first arrived, but it soon it poked its head out. Unfortunately the sun was already below the horizon and only a very high ISO and slow shutter speed would allow for these photos. Unfortunately they are a bit noisy / grainy as a result. The is the first time, I've caught this owl with its eyes open. Unfortunately the light disappeared and I had to run before I could see him fly.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
An animal chirping caught its attention

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120227 &emdash;
Doesn't like having its photo taken

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spring Is On Its Way

Saturday morning I arrived at Great Meadows as the sun was cresting the tree line. My had the refuge changed in just a few days. The impoundments previously covered in ice except for patches of open water, were now open water with patches of ice remaining. Song sparrows greeted me in song as I ventured onto the Cross-Dike Trail.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;

As I approached the Boat Ramp, I was greeted with the unmistakable songs of Red-Winged Blackbirds. While robins wintered over, the return of the Red-winged Blackbirds is a sure sign that spring is rapidly approaching. Soon I expect the refuge will be filled with them each trying to lay claim to his own territory., hoping to attract a mate.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;


There was quite a bit of duck activity. Mallards flying too and fro. Near the Poison Ivy bench a pair of male Hooded Mergansers were trying impress a couple of females. (I've got to stop trying to use auto focus, when there are so many little twigs to grab the focus.) They were quite a distance away, but included a couple of "record" shots. I love their crested heads. Near the other end of the lower impoundment, another pair wth their crests back, was swimming until they saw me.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;


The shy Screech Owl was sun bathing in his hole near the holt. But when he heard the shutter he quickly went back inside. Unfortunately there is no view of the hole that is not blocked by branches. I am including this photo, just so people know what they are looking for.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;

Along the way I also encountered several other animals is various forms of activity.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;
Several Common Goldeneyes couldn't decide which impoundment they wanted to swim in

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;
hairy Woodpecker contemplates its next tree

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120218 &emdash;
Canada Geese seemed to be pairing up. Several were seen checking out muskrat lodges. Last year a couple used them to nest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Changing Of The Guard

Tuesday, I returned to Great Meadows to see what has been happening. Scanning across the impoundments from the tower, much appeared to be the same since my last visit. A harrier was cruising the cat tails looking for prey.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;


Much of the impoundments are still frozen, to a depth sufficient to support Canada Geese and Mute Swans. But there were spots of open water. The swans were slowly opening channels to swim and feed in.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;


Elsewhere in the refuge the balance between winter and spring is starting to subtly change. There were more birds active than my last visit. Several muskrats could be seen active among the reeds and on the ice. Elsewhere, along the pools and streams, you can see signs of the ice melting. In the woods there are patches of green that we then frozen by the most recent storm.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;
I wonder who put the big gash in his tail. No wonder he ran as I approached.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;


The pattern of lichens growing on this tree made me think of a passage from Thoreau's journal.

Feb 5, 1853
A thick fog. The trees and woods look well through it. You are inclined to walk in the woods for objects. They are draped with mist, and you hear the sound of it dripping from them. It is a lichen day. Not a bit of rotten wood lies on the dead leaves, but it is covered with fresh, green cup lichens, etc., etc. All the world seems a great lichen and to grow like one to-day,—a sudden humid growth.

The weather was gray and cloudy. The photographic opportunities are somewhat sparse compared to the bounteous days of May. This patch of woods near the Southwest entrance has always appealed to me. Today, decided with the current conditions it was a good candidate for black & white.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120214 &emdash;

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seems Like A Long Time

During my project I averaged one visit very 3 days. Now when I've been away for only a week and a half, it feels like an eternity. I visited the refuge this morning to see what was going on. I ran into Will and Kathy joining them in the weekly census. I probably did more birding than photography. I certainly was traveling light leaving the big lens at home.

Here are a few photos from our walk around the impoundments.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;
Winter has taken its toll on the wasp's nest

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;
Canada geese took off from the ice right at us

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;
This Marsh Wren wintered over. Not too long before they will be singing on the tops of the cat tails.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;
The seed pods of the Evening Primrose look like little flowers in the sunshine



Where ever we went there was ice. With the mild winter we don't have the mammoth sheets of ice. But the running and splashing water generates some interesting patterns.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;


Down near the southwest entrance to the refuge, there are signs of recent beaver activity. While beavers can cause flooding, this winter the beaver along the river has been working on opening up a small vista of the river.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;


While we were looking up, there were a couple of fly-bys that we caught.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;
A pair of mute swans

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;
The belted kingfisher flying up the river

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120206 &emdash;
Will spotted this sharp shinned hawk in the trees of the holt.


If you are interested in why it's so long between visits, you can check out my other photographic wanderings at blog.lightchronicle.com

I apologize for the ugly watermarks. I didn't have must time, so went with the default, instead of manually adding my own copyright. When I catch my breath, I will try to remember to fix these.