The work continues at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The pool near the visitor center has been drained and the marsh in the first section of the wildlife drive has been lowered. This seemed to concentrate the viewable wildlife along the Seneca River which borders the refuge on its eastern side and along the large water pools in other sections. These areas is where I saw songbirds, immature bald eagles and great blue herons.
The day was overcast so photographing birds in flight was nearly impossible unless they were low over the water. Mainly, I concentrated on birds which popped up near my moving blind (a car) along the Wildlife Drive. Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) males were singing from perches but I had to be quick as they were more shy than earlier in the spring. A new sparrow species for me fluttered past me with a yellow eye brow was more cooperative. Savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) males look similar to Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) with a molted breast and a dark spot in the center. Speaking of Song Sparrows, the males were in prime plummage.
A tree along the Wildlife Drive and right on the river had four immature Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perched on its branches. I could see another eagle in a tree on the other side of the river. I stopped and watched them for long periods during my stay at the refuge. When a fishing boat would go by, the eagles would get nervous and fly around. One of them tried to pick a fish out of the river with no results. A couple of eagles found a dead fish to share on the river’s shore. Never saw a mature Bald Eagle all day. I hope the immature eagles sharpen their hunting skills soon.
This strutting Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) tried several times to snatch a fish from the small pool he was working.
While I was watching the heron intently through my camera’s viewfinder, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye of something red. I looked up and quickly put my camera back up to my eye…
in time to photograph a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) running past me at full speed. He bounded up on to the Wildlife Drive and stopped a few hundred feet down the road before walking off into the brush.
I am still reserving judgement on the management work at at the refuge. The disturbances it is bringing has made the wildlife very skittish. Herons which would normally let me get within a few feet were flying off before I could get close enough to photograph them. The population of song birds is way down from years past. Once the loud and large equipment is gone and the water levels return to normal, I hope the goal of a more diverse and stronger wildlife population promised by signs in the refuge comes to pass.