Friday, May 2, 2014

Pieces of April

I've visited Great Meadows several times in April, but never found the time to post-process my photos, write a blog entry and load everything onto the web. Today the guilt finally overcame me & it popped to the top of my To Do list. 

One of the challenges of writing this blog is finding new clever titles for each post. I was pondering what I should title a post of a collection of photos that I took in April, but didn't post until today. Then a bolt of inspiration hit me in the form of lyrics from a hit song from 1972 sung by Three Dog Night, written by Kenny Loggins' brother Dave.

     I've got pieces of April,
              but it's a morning in May.


So turn up your speakers, click on the link above and hum along along as together we explore Great Meadows last month.

I think spring has to be my favorite time of year at Great Meadows.  Maybe that's because three of my favorite subjects to photograph return then.

Among photographers Great Meadows is known as a fantastic place to come to photograph Red-winged Blackbirds.  They come for two reasons 1. there are so many of them and 2. they get habituated to humans so you are able to get closer than you can elsewhere.  Here as some of my favorites.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

While the maile Red-winged Blackbirds get most of the attention, we should not forget about the females. While easily mistake for the biggest sparrow you've ever seen, the are interesting in their own way.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
While striking a pose similar to the males, I though my birder friends would enjoy the great look at the coloration around the face.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;


My second favorite species to photograph are the Wood Ducks. The males are some of the most handsome birds around. We all know that the female can't afford to wear such fancy duds because she has to do all the work of raising a family.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
If you walk quietly, you may see one among the reeds

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
While still skittish, several times this year, I've gotten nice views of them

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
I never saw this male fly by as I was taking a burst of 5 images. It was only in 1 frame, but perfect centered above the pair I was photographing.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
In years past this is how I saw the majority of my woods ducks; from the back end flying away as they saw me before I saw them

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
One of my favorites from the month

My personal favorite bird is the Marsh Wren. There weren't too many last year. In the last week or two several males have returned and have started to set up shop & building nests. They actually build several and when they attract a mate she will select her favorite.

I guess I like them because they are small, quick and unpredictable. They tease you with their chattering call and then suddenly pop up for brief moments.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

In addition to my favorites species many of our friends are at the refuge. The first warblers of the year have started passing through. Some of the ones that arrive later will summer over at the refuge.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
Palm Warbler

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
Palm Warbler singing in the sun

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
Obvious how the Yellow-rumped Warbler got its name

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
Though they have yellow elsewhere too



Great Blue Herons have returned to the area. Each day several can be found across the refuge. Normally they are skittish but a few have become used to people and let you get closer than normal.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;
Still taken with my 500mm lens, but close enough that I could only take a portrait shot. I just love the light on the breeding plumage.


There are lots of sparrows at the refuge now. The most predominant are the Song Sparrows, but you have to check because you may be fooled.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

While Canada Geese are year-round residents at the refuge, in the spring they get very territorial as they stake out their nesting areas. Most often you will hear then honking letting other geese know they are getting too close. If they don't back off, the geese will fly / swim over and chase the encroacher away.

There is one pair that is nesting near the water control structure on the Cross Dike. One morning they treated me to a territorial display on dry land. It was great to get shots without reeds in the way.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

It's not just fauna, but also flora that is starting to become active.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

My understanding is that the lady bugs were chased up the tree due to the flooding, but the waters receded a while ago, so I suspect they are congregating for some other purpose.
Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

During one of the bird censuses we saw this large Blandings Turtle sunning itself near a vernal pool off of the Timber Trail. Unfortunately it was too wet to circumnavigate to get pictures of the shell for the biologists.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20140421 &emdash;

I hope reading to the end was not as painful to you as writing the post was for me. It is certainly motivation to do more frequent, smaller posts in the future.

6 comments:

  1. Wow! Great photos. I'm looking forward to May.

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  2. Loved the photos! Thanks for sharing .

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  3. AWESOME photographs! And a random question: I feel like I read last year that they were initiating some kind of parking fee or permit for the main parking lot. Is this true?

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    Replies
    1. Your memory isn't failing you. They did announce they will be implementing an admission policy. The sign is installed & so is the "Iron Ranger". When I checked a few weeks ago they still did not know when they would start charging fees.

      Last I heard the weekly entrance fee will be $4 per vehicle, or $2 individual (walkers). Annual passes will be $12 (good for up to 4 people in a vehicle). They did say there will be some announcement in advance of starting to charge admission.

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  4. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. wow, so many great birds come in the month of April, please also provide us the full intro about these birds. Good to see them on your blog. Great Share!

    ReplyDelete