Monday, January 30, 2012

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

I went in search of a Snowy Owl.  No luck there, but it was a wonderful day filled with beautiful scenery, fresh air, good exercise and nice birding!

I arrived at the Visitor Center about 10:50 AM, picked up a map and a trail guide and headed for the entry gate.  Paid my $5 entry fee and headed in.  Temperature was about 35 degrees, but with the whipping wind, it felt much colder.  My first stop was the North Pool Overlook, where I saw some ducks (pintail, bufflehead and others that I am not able to identify), but they quickly swam to the far side of the water and I didn't get any worthwhile photos.

I stopped next at the Hellcat Wildlife Observation Area.  There was no way I was going to climb the lookout tower with the winds, but I did walk out to it and check out the visible water fowl.  Then, I took the Marsh Loop trail, quite beautiful boardwalks through the marshes.  Cold near the water.

Next, I took the Dunes Loop trail, also mostly boardwalks, through a lot of scrub growth and finally up to a high point on the dunes with an overlook to the sea.

Saw several birds in the berry bushes on the way down from the dunes:  chickadee, cardinals, robins and a downy woodpecker.

Massachusetts State Bird, Black-Capped Chickadee

The next stretch of road was popular with gulls who were dropping shells to crack them open.

I stopped next at Stage Island Pool Overlook.  Another brisk walk and I spotted a marsh hawk (Northern Harrier) hunting in the salt marsh.

On the return trip, I looked carefully over the open fields, thinking this was the most likely area for viewing the Snowy Owl.  The sky was very pretty.

Saw a marsh hawk several times (maybe the same one) on the drive out.  The biggest water fowl activity was just prior to the entrance gate, at the open water.  There were dozens of Canada geese in the sky, many coming in for a landing in the water which was already filled with many geese and a variety of ducks.  It was neat to see so many large birds in the sky at one time!

I left the refuge about 2:30.  A great birding day!  I like the fact that there were very few people in the park.  I wonder what it is like in the peak birding months.... I will probably find out this year!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great Blue Heron and Graffiti

Walked at Farm Pond in Framingham, Massachusetts this morning.  There was an odd view of swans, geese, and other water fowl mixed with dilapidated, graffiti-riddled abandoned buildings, trash along the edges of the pond and the CSX train switching yard on the opposite side of the water.  It is possible to find nature in the city, but it's not always as enjoyable.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Horseneck Beach State Reservation

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to walk on a beach, so I stopped in Horseneck Beach and took a look around.  What a pretty beach, rocky in parts, but sand and dunes too.  January in Massachusetts!  What a beautiful day!

Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

It was time for some fresh scenery, so I headed down to Westport, Massachusetts to visit Allens Pond, a Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary.  Traffic was light and I arrived about 7:30 AM.  I took the Beach Loop trail first.  The beach is full of medium sized rocks that make walking on it somewhat tricky, but the rest of the trail was a small dirt path.

It was a short hike.  There was some nice waterfowl off at a distance in Allens Pond, but unfortunately, it was too far for my zoom capabilities.

Next, I moved the car into the small parking lot and started off on Quansett Trail.  Parts of this trail were muddy, and I only wore Merrills for walking, so wasn't sure how far I'd be able to go as it became wetter and wetter.  They did have boards laid down in some of the wetter areas.  I spotted a Great Blue Heron flying out over Allens Pond early in the hike.

I passed one photographer on his way back to the parking lot and asked him if he had any good sightings.  He didn't report any.  He said it was pretty muddy beyond where we were and looked dubiously at my footwear....  This should have been a warning to me!

I moved on and found the trail to be just around the bend to be at least 4 inches under water all the way across.  I managed to keep going by jumping on rocks or walking on the very edge of the trail and trying to avoid brambles, but eventually, I was forced to stop.  I think I turned back shortly after the bridge at Fresh Pond.

Fresh Pond

Birds were plentiful in the overgrowth, especially the areas with berries.  I saw male and female cardinals, chickadees, sparrows, Northern mockingbird, robins (of course!) and a red squirrel.  Right at the rock bridge next to Fresh Pond I saw some type of otter or muskrat.  Not enough time to properly identify it.


Song Sparrow (I think)

Northern Mockingbird

The private property early on this trail had some beautiful grazing horses, and the last field that I walked through prior to the parking lot had this hay mound.  Pretty subjects for photos!  And hard to believe this is a hike at the end of January in Massachusetts!

Took one last look at Allens Pond on the way out and saw several Mute Swans.

Mute Swan

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rain in January

When it's cold, dark and rainy in January in Massachusetts, there's not much wildlife cooperating for photographs!  So.......I chose to focus on the rain itself!  These photos were taken in my own yard.