My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Visit to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

March 11, 2016

I was to spend two days in the Norfolk Virginia.  My friend has not yet reached the golden age and still has to work, as does his wife.  He said he would be at home after 3:30 P. M.

I decided to make the most of of daylight, and planned to get to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge by sunrise. This is Virginia's southeasternmost refuge.   I had an easy trip up there but had to stop and take sunrise pictures a short ways before I reached the refuge.

Sunrise over the dunes 

By the time I arrived at the refuge,  morning clouds were diluting the sun. I started down the first boardwalk I saw and watched lots of small birds flit around.  Robins, Carolina wrens, song sparrows, and myrtle warblers were calling and starting to forage.  Then several flocks of tundra swans flew over. These will probably be the last swans I see because the swans left Pea Island at least two weeks ago.

By the time I got to the refuge, the sun was blocked by clouds

Part of a flock of tundra swans heading north

A closer view

The boardwalk was short and led to an overview. I turned around and went back across the parking lot and behind the closed Visitor Center to find a fishing area. Back Bay is on the beach but has a fresh water impoundment on the west side, called..... Back Bay.

This is Back Bay, a freshwater impoundment

Inkberry, a native holly, was growing in wet areas along another longer boardwalk

I only took my camera so took about 50 pictures of a  pair of song sparrows
 to figure out  what they were

After I walked a little over a mile, I was back at the Visitor Center.  So I got my car, and started to leave.  But then I saw a road to the beach and decided to take a quick look.  I was so glad I did.

A lot of gulls were feeding over a place waves were breaking

I captured these double crested cormorants  just before they too went fishing.

One brown pelican flew in

Behind me the clouds were breaking apart and rising above the dunes

But the most exciting thing was the realization I was looking at several northern gannets fishing and resting just off shore. This is the first time I've been close enough to get any kind of a picture.  This was definitely the best moments of the day. I tried to restrain myself and only added four pictures of them. 

First one

Then two

Caught one in the act of taking off

And several pictures of them flying

Lesser black-backed gull

Many gulls were already resting on the beach

Finally I tore myself away to leave, but a few yards farther down the road, I had to stop and take another blast of pictures of this pair of ospreys.  The male flew in and seemed to supervise the female who appeared to be forming the hollow. (Or perhaps even laying an egg.) I also had pictures of her with an expression all women can associate with, having to do with her opinion of something the male said.

Osprey pair

 Then I was off to my next stop, First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. There I took a ten mile hike. Then I met Les and we went to see his garden (AKA Norfolk Botanical Garden.) More soon.

When this publishes, I'll have only eleven more days here to work, than another pair of days to pack and clean up the bunkhouse.  Getting excited.

I'm joining Wild Bird Wednesday. Click on the picture to see blog about birds from around the world.