I find the solitude of the refuge very peaceful. Walking you are entertained purely by the sounds of the wind rustling through the trees and the various birds calling. The early morning light is warm and embracing. I find moments like these recharge my spirit.
The photographer in me also likes the fact that most of the animals are not yet on guard and cautious of humans. If you are quiet and walk stealthily you can often get closer to animals. Later in the day the same animals can be found further back in the hidden recesses of the impoundments.
That is how I happened to come upon this Pied Billed Grebe close to the observation deck.
This time I was looking for the bittern as I got close to the Poison Ivy bench. Unfortunately they hide well. It saw me before I saw it.
As I was walking along the lower impoundment, a flock of bluebirds came flying up the path. One decided to land on a gone-by calico aster and stared right a me. I tried to shift subtly to get more of the blue on its back, but that was enough to scare it away.
My favorite pictures of the day, however, are of this White-throated Sparrow that sat and posed for me on the remnants of an old snag. The light was perfect and at my back. Update: I originally identified this as a Savannah Sparrow, but Alan pointed out my mistake. I confused the yellow supraloral with the Savannah's yellow lores. I guess I'll have to pay closer attention.
This snag used to be my favorite because tree swallows used to nest in it. Unfortunately, most of it broke and crashed to earth a year ago. However, it appears the rest still photographically delivers for me.