Blackwater NWR – Autumn Colors

After several days of clouds and cold, yesterday was to be a gorgeous day.  The plan was to look for autumn colors, see if Mother Nature had started any gorgeous displays around me yet, or were they going to fizzle out from the funky weather patterns we’ve had recently.

I headed to Blackwater NWR.  If the colors were right, water reflections would be a added bonus.

Leaving, I was ‘wowed’ with our community’s entrance.

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Autumn color displays at Blackwater NWR are still in the beginning stages.  There are a few areas that have gotten off to a great start.

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Do you see the smiling pumpkin?  (no touch-up)

 

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The above bird house was where I decided I wanted to be for the golden hour.

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The Golden Hour

 

Our upcoming weather isn’t too promising so I am glad I tried today with autumn shooting.

Were there any birds?  Hmmmmm…..stay tuned!

 

 

 

Great Egrets

The last of my Great Egret captures taken at Blackwater NWR in the past couple months.

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Great Egret

 

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Great Egret

 

It’s amazing how white they remain, even when foraging in the muddy marshes.

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Great Egret

 

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Great Egret with a just-caught snack

 

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Great Egret – snack gone in a gulp!

 

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Great Egret

 

I’ve been back to the refuge three times in the past three weeks and no longer see any Egrets of any kind.  It looks like they’ve officially left for the fall/winter to warmer temperatures in the southern states of the U.S.

 

 

Visitors At The Osprey Platform

After Osprey depart for migration in our region, their nest platform likely becomes a handy perch here and there for someone else.

Not an unexpected visitor, a Fish Crow stopped by, just checking to be sure no food was there to snack on and take a short break before scavenging on.

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Fish Crow

 

 

“Hmmmm…..anything to nibble on?”                           “Darn, no snack….but nice view!”

 

There’s been a Belted Kingfisher flying around the creek, perching on the sailboat mast lines to fish.  I’ve been hoping he’d do a little perching on the platform.

Bingo!

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Belted Kingfisher

 

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Belted Kingfisher

 

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Belted Kingfisher

 

The Belted Kingfisher was focused on fishing and gave me a few more photo ops.

 

“Hmmmm….I see you little fish.”                           Taking the plunge!  Did he succeed?

 

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Belted Kingfisher with his successful catch!

 

Over the parking lot to perch on a light pole to gulp down the meal.

 

The Belted Kingfisher then quickly gets back in action to perch and fish some more.

 

 

This last captured visitor to date, a Merlin Falcon, was an exciting surprise!

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Merlin Falcon

 

 

Look to the right.                                Look at Donna.                                Look to the left.

 

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Merlin Falcon

 

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Merlin taking flight

 

Who knows what other visitors have already or might perch at any time.  It’ll be interesting to keep watching and sharing throughout the fall and winter.

I do think we all know and agree that Bella, the Osprey Lady of the platform, would not approve of these trespasses!

 

 

American Robins in the Fall

When we see our “first Robin of Spring”, hopping and running, foraging for insects and worms, we get excited; we tell others “they’re back!”  We see it as one of the first signs that Spring is finally here.  Then by summer’s end, the American Robin disappears from our yards and parks, as many birds do.

Were you aware that the American Robin doesn’t migrate huge distances as many others?  They will spend their entire fall & winter in their breeding range throughout the U.S., maybe only just miles away from their nesting areas, flocking with other American Robins at places where there are trees & bushes laden with autumn and winter berries & seed to eat.

 

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American Robin snacking on berries

 

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Down the hatch!

 

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American Robin – An Autumn Profile

 

So if you need a “Robin fix” and cannot wait until Spring, you can find them now if you look in the right berry-licious places!

(Photos recently taken at Blackwater NWR, Cambridge, Maryland)

 

Great Blue Herons

Great Blue Herons are in abundance around the Chesapeake Bay area year-round.  Lucky me!  They are one of my favorite birds to photograph.

Here are more of my favorite shots from the past summer not previously shared.

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Great Blue Heron

 

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Great Blue Heron

 

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Great Blue Heron

 

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Great Blue Heron

 

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Great Blue Heron in landing mode

 

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Great Blue Heron and his reflection

 

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Great Blue Heron thru the marsh grasses

 

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Great Blue Heron preening

 

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Sometimes they tell a joke and we all have a good laugh!

🙂

 

Another Delmarva Fox Squirrel

I got a chance to slip over to Blackwater NWR again yesterday (yay!) and was rewarded with another sighting of the large yet elusive Delmarva Fox Squirrel.  And finally in a tree and not scampering around on the ground!

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Delmarva Fox Squirrel

 

The Delmarva Fox Squirrel was listed as endangered in 1967.  After a rigorous recovery plan and range expansion, the Delmarva Fox Squirrel was finally removed from the endangered species list in November 2015.

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Their big, bushy tail grows to 15 inches long.

 

After many years looking for even just a glimpse of this very shy squirrel that is found only in the mid-Atlantic region, it wasn’t until this year I was able to sight and photograph them several times, for which I feel fortunate.

It is gratifying to the see the protective efforts of many has been a success for the significant growth in population of the Delmarva Fox Squirrel.

And, as squirrels go, they can’t help but look cute!

 

 

Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 Bridge Swallows

Head down to a boat marina around the Chesapeake Bay during the spring/summer season and you’ll likely find a colony of Barn Swallows, swooping the air and water for insects, or perched on the dock lines or boats lookin’ pretty.

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Barn Swallow (male)

 

I received an e-bird alert over the summer that there were Cliff Swallows under the Rt. 328 bridge crossing the Tuckahoe Creek, a tributary off the Choptank River near us.  The Cliff Swallows would be a new addition to my bird lifer list if I could capture one.

After two trips by boat, hanging around/under that bridge and taking a bunch of photos, I was disappointed that I couldn’t ID any Cliff Swallows, even after pouring through my images later to make sure.  Several times!

However, there was a large colony of Barn Swallows and I did note one male Tree Swallow.

The Cliff Swallow looks very similar to the Barn Swallow in coloring but has an added white patch on its forehead, the white patch that was missing in all my Swallow photos.

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Barn Swallows surrounding a Tree Swallow (in the center)

 

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Barn Swallows chillin’

 

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Barn Swallows and one Tree Swallow

 

What was neat was seeing the Barn Swallows’ nests as we passed under the bridge.  Barn Swallows use mud to create their nest, mixing it with grass stems to make pellets.

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Barn Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge

 

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Barn Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge
(sorry bad photo, rocking boat)

 

I wish I could have gotten more/better photos of their nests but the current was always swift while maneuvering the boat.

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Barn Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge

 

Of course, I was bummed in not photographing the Cliff Swallow and getting to add them to my lifer list, but I did take notice and got this next photo of a Cliff Swallow’s nest amongst the Barn Swallow nests.

Notice how the Cliff Swallow adds a tube to their nest, making it look more like an enclosed gourd.  Proof the Cliff Swallow was present here somewhere!

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Cliff Swallow nest under Tuckahoe Creek Rt. 328 bridge

 

How pretty to see Swallows perch so elegantly on a line….

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Barn Swallows

 

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Barn Swallows and one Tree Swallow

 

The swallows have all since migrated from the area to their wintering grounds in Central and South America, so I missed my opportunity this year on the Cliff Swallow.

Hopefully next Spring the Cliff Swallows will return to the bridge…… and so will I if I’m able to.  My lifer list awaits!  🙂