Friday, August 23, 2013

Vignettes Around The Impoundments

A break from my other photography project allowed me to wander over to Great Meadows twice this week. The first visit was quite quiet. I was starting to wonder if it was some sort of a karmic payback for not spending enough time there this summer. The second visit was a bit more productive photographically. However, to paraphrase an old saying, "Even a bad day at the refuge, beats a good day at work."

I was greeted by several of my avian friends. The Marsh Wrens which seemed so scarce this year, seemed to have successfully produced the next generation. It seems like there are many more to been seen or heard.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Back by the grapes near the "Poison Ivy" bench this female Common Yellow Throat posed for a moment. But like most divas she quickly shot me a menacing look and was gone.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;


With all the hot weather you would expect to seen many dragonflies. It's hard to walk down the dike paths without scaring up one with each step. My visits didn't disappoint.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;
Female Common Pondhawk

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;
Male Blue Dahsher. The background is the original, with the right angle & aperature the gravel path becomes this solid grayish / brown color. It was the perfect match for the pinkish / magenta flowers.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;
Male Twelve-spotted Skimmer - the guide book calls the body color pruinose gray

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;
I can't decide whether I like the horizontal or vertical orientation better, so it's up to you to choose your favorite.

Of course the American Lotus still dominate the landscape. Sometimes obscuring the wildlife, other times providing a pleasant backdrop.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

The shorebirds are big fans of the water draw down in the lower impoundment to allow the dredging of the drainage canals. My birder friends also concur.

Unfortunately, they are drawn to the muddy flats one the backside of the lower impoundment. The best views are from the observation deck, with a scope or binoculars.

While my big camera lens looks impressive, it is not up to the task of photographing them that far away. Don't forget to check the outflow from the upper impoundment to the river, occassionally some of the shorebirds can be found quite close feeding in the mud.

Personally, I find the shorebirds section of my Sibley guide a scary place. They all look so similar. I know these are members of the sandpiper family, but I'll leave precise identification to my birding friends.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

I believe that this one is a Wilson's Snipe based upon the striped head, long beak and general coloring. However, the buffy stomach is not described in Sibley so I can't be sure.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Many summers we are treated to visits by Great Egrets. Their white plumage is a nice change from the drab grey of of Great Blue Herons. Usually they are well out in the impoundments, but today one was fishing near the outflow near the boat ramp. Still a challenge because of the backlighting and drab background their beauty still comes through. When they get in front of the lotus, they are a treat for the eyes.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

If your life is driven by the calendar you have probably noticed that Labor Day is just around the corner. School will resume soon and our summer fun will be over. If you however your life is based upon the rhythm of nature, you too will probably have noticed the subtle signs that summer is winding down and a new season is approaching.

Light Chronicle: GM20130823 &emdash;

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's Been A While

Between traveling, vacations and my summer photography project, I have hardly had a chance to make it over to Great Meadows. While I have missed it, my summer photography project has been exciting. I've been photographing loons from my kayak. I would encourage you to click on the link and take a brief detour to view some highlights from that project.

When I finally got over to Great Meadows I could see that summer was alive and displaying it's full glory. The lotus have expanded to consume most of both impoundments. It seems like they only liked last year's mowing. They are pretty flowers. It's just do they have take over the whole refuge?

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;

As you would expect there were many of the usual summer suspects at the refuge, but also quite a few of our special summer visitors.

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
Great Blue Herons flying to & fro

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
Flock of ducks leaving for the morning

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
Plenty of dragonflies including this Twelve Spotted Skimmer

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
In the woods the Eastern Wood-Pewee was calling. Though it is rather plain, it get's its name from its distinctive "pewee, pewee" call

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
This Cedar Wax-wing was hiding its head in the shadows to protest my absence

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
Summer sometimes brings us Egrets who alternate between fishing and preening

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
While Great Blue Herons are common, Green Herons are a bit more uncommon at Great Meadows. To see both together is rare. Green Herons look fairly large on their own, but look tiny next to the Great Blue. While the Green Heron wanted to fish in peace. the Great Blue kept pushing it along the bank.

Fish & Wildlife has lowered the water level in the lower impoundment in preparation for dredging out the canals in the lower impoundment. The vast areas of exposed mud has attracted the shorebirds.

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
Normally you would have to Plum Island to see Semi-palmated Plovers

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
But today they were flying around the imundment as a small flock

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;
If you look closely you will probably notice sandpipers foraging among the weeds in the mud

I know Purple Loosestrife is an invasive plant, but my photographer's eyee was attracted to the complementary purple and yellow colors.

Light Chronicle: GM20130805 &emdash;

Don't worry, I promise it won't be as long to my next Great Meadows blog post.