A Good Friday

Dawn breaks over the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, New York.

Dawn breaks over the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, New York. Nikon D700/28-300VR, 2.5s, f/16, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 82mm focal length, tripod.

Each year on Good Friday, I get up in time to arrive at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge to watch the Sun rise.  It was around the freezing mark in temperature and, while the morning looked promising, clouds soon took over the sky.  The ducks, geese and other wildlife I have photographed for years seemed more shy this time.  Rarely coming in close enough to fill much of the frame.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) perched at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) perched at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

I think part of the reason for why the wildlife was acting this way is the current work being done around the refuge.  Much of the habitat is being changed.  Water pools are being drained with new ones being created through the use of large earth moving equipment.  Tangled brush along the Wildlife Drive had been cut and removed.  Song birds like Red-winged Blackbirds and Song Sparrows I saw every few feet in years past were now separated in smaller areas about a hundred feet apart.  There were signs explaining these changes would produce a richer environment for the wildlife.  Time will tell.

A pair of Canada Geese make their presence known as they fly over the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

A pair of Canada Geese make their presence known as they fly over the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, ISO 1800, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

I became more of an observer as I waited for photo opportunities.  I enjoyed the smells of the marsh, songs of the birds, splashing of the ducks and an occasional bird of prey soaring overhead. It was a nice respite from the day to day stresses of work.  I smiled thinking how a murky day here was better than any day back in the office.

Harrier hawk (Circus cyaneus) soaring over the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, New York.

Harrier hawk (Circus cyaneus) soaring over the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/1250s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

I wondered if the people whizzing by on the New York Thruway knew of all the sights they were missing at 65 miles per hour.  I then wondered if the Great Blue Heron who seemed to be watching the traffic as I was could be thinking the same thing.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) stands on a muskrat mound at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge as traffic goes by on the New York State Thruway.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) stands on a muskrat mound at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge as traffic goes by on the New York State Thruway. Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 4500, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

After I returned from my lunch break and time in the nearby Village of Seneca Falls, I spent the rest of the afternoon communing with the wild citizens of the refuge.  Renewing my spirit and making it a very good Friday.

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27 Responses to A Good Friday

  1. Sybil says:

    Lovely photos as always.

    Many people fail to see the world around them.

    Like

  2. Simone says:

    I LOVE the shot of the hen harrier (that’s what we call Harrier Hawks over here :)) – beautiful. I have yet to see these beautiful birds here, they’ve become very rare in Ireland, unfortunately.

    Like

  3. montucky says:

    That was a good day! The shot of the geese is exceptional!

    Like

  4. Gerry says:

    Nice captures, Scott, and a strong word essay too! I think it was very thoughty of the sparrow to perch on that red, red twig. Judging from its expression, the bird is reserving judgment about the “improvements” to its habitat. I hope it works out well. Bet the heron is wondering what it would be like to tear around like that big metal animal does, pretty much the way we wonder what it would be like to fly.

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    • I am reserving judgment, too. As a person who trained to be a wildlife manager, I understand the refuge needs to be managed for the purpose of migrating bird species. That is its primary reason for being. I just don’t like to see those species who live there have to take a back seat to that purpose.

      Like

  5. Dick Beery says:

    Great shots and thoughts, Scott.
    Wondering what area of NY you are from. My son-in-law, John, and I always participate in the 24hr Birding Contest: Montezuma Muckrace. I am from Ohio, but now spend at least a week per month in Rochester to help take care of granddaughter. In fact I am in town now till May 13th. I would love a chance to meet you over coffee and maybe go shooting with you.

    Thanks
    Dick

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    • Hi, Dick! I live just west of Syracuse, NY. I am about an hour’s drive from Montezuma. Will drop you a note if I plan on being out your way before the 13th. You are leaving just before the Lilac Festival which I do have plans to attend this year.

      Like

  6. Giiid says:

    What a lovely blogpost in both photo and words! The Song sparrow is irresistible. What did you do to make this bird cooperate so perfectly?

    Like

  7. Lucinda says:

    I fantasize about actually getting out of my van some day and going on a real photo shoot. These are really nice. I love the expression of the song sparrow and also how the tractor-trailer spoils the scene with the heron.

    Like

  8. Deanna says:

    Looks like a really good Friday! Love the sparrow, reflections and the heron.

    Like

  9. Nye says:

    Beautiful shots Scott, love all the images. I do find it rewarding to spend time with nature, most of us don’t get to do very often.

    Like

  10. milkayphoto says:

    A GOOD Friday, indeed! Wonderful images, Scott. The simplicity of the song sparrow on those gorgeous red branches (probably a coral bark maple or a red-twig dogwood) is striking. Also love the low-flying geese…the reflections are amazing and then, THAT open beak! WOW! Glad you had such a nice day and the peace and time to sit and really take it all in.

    Like

    • I want to go with the red-twig dogwood since this is located right next to the main pool in the refuge. The bark is striking right now before flowering. When I return later this spring, I will confirm it.

      Thank you and I hope you could hear those geese in your mind. It is one of those signs of Spring I look forward to hearing every year.

      Like

  11. Karma says:

    Looks like a better-than-good Friday. Lovely bird shots. Seems like a great time and place to enjoy and let the photos come to you.

    Like

  12. flandrumhill says:

    Scott, you even caught that one goose with its tongue sticking out!

    I wonder how all those changes to the park will affect the wild creatures that presently consider it home.

    Like

    • Everyone is liking the goose tongue. :)

      Hard to tell. My one day saw a reduced number of sightings of many of the smaller song birds I have seen in the past. They have moved to other parts of the refuge I did not get into or to surrounding habitats though most of that is farm land.

      Like

  13. truels says:

    From Blue Hour to Red&orange Hour – Amazing colors in that first photo!
    The pair of Canada Geese and the Great Blue Heron are wonderful shots and with fine reflections in the water. And I like the composition with the Heron admiring (or fearing???!) the truck….

    Like

  14. Pingback: Eastern Bluebird | Views Infinitum

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