Arriving at the refuge, I encountered no fog and a few more cars than normal. It seems several folks were talking advantage of the holiday to participate in the weekly bird census. I quickly encountered the "gaggle" of birders by the bridge on the Cross Dike Trail.
There in the weeds were both a Virginia Rail and a Sora. While they were nice views with binoculars, the camera doesn't ignore the intervening cattails like you mind does.
The group continued up the trail making note of many varieties of birds. It may be my imagination, but it seems like there are more different species this year than last. I guess the maintenance in the upper impoundment has started to pay off.
At the walk to the observation deck, I spotted to Sora's out in the open in front of the cattails. They were in the perfect environment to photograph, but quickly retreated into the reeds with the arrival of people.
I was disappointed that most of the group missed the Soras, when a Virginia Rail appeared among the lotus.
If you have ever wondered about the expression about "being as skinny as a rail", it's not a fence rail, but the bird. While this isn't a great photograph, it is a good illustration about how skinny rails are. Their slim bodies allow them to easily wander between the narrow gaps between plants.
Those alone would have made my day, but I walked ahead to see if I could sneak up on anything interesting in the pool at the far end of the Cross Dike Trail. Often, I do this an come up empty. Today, I was rewarded. I had never seen, much less photographed, a Green Heron at Great Meadows. (They do visit, I've just been unlucky). That was until today.
The rest of the morning was less exciting. However here are some photos that I captured during visits over the last week.
Down near the "Poison Ivy" bench there is a huge hornet's nest in a tree. I don't know how I've not noticed it before. Look closely at structure of the nest, and the designs in the sections.
Labor Day is the traditional "End of Summer". Walking around the refuge, you'll start to see subtle clues that autumn is on its way.
Finally, as I was headed out, I encountered someone who reminded me that there as different ways to view the refuge.