Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge Wood Marsh Trail February 7 2009

The Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Mason Neck peninsula between Gunston Hall and the Mason Neck State Park. The Wood Marsh is one of two major trails leading to the marshy area and home of the bald eagles. The other trail is the Great Marsh Trail.

My friend Ken and I walked about 3/4 of a mile from the parking lot to the end of the Wood Marsh Trail. We were pleasantly surprised to find a very new covered shelter at the end, replete with benches and a rail to set cameras and binoculars on.

This trip was an experiment for me. Except for the first and last picture, I took all pictures using my Canon XSi's manually focused Live View mode, coupled to a Canon 300mm L IS lens, magnified by a Kenko 2x teleconverter, most taken on a tripod. Even the "action" shots were taken in manual Live View mode.

An interesting evergreen emerging from the leaves.

This was one of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds staying close to the shelter. This is the state an adult is in before they change to the classic blud color.
In a tree at the far edge of the marsh perched three bald eagles: two immature and one adult. Several immature eagles flew around the marsh and overhead while we were there.

After we had been at the shelter for a while, white swams began arriving--noisily!

Two more caught in flight.

Also present in the marsh were a large number of American Black Ducks. They are in the foreground here.
After the bald eagles flew away, a great blue heron began to stalk for fish.
Later we walked to Raccoon Creek beyond the Wood Marsh and found a great blue heron up in a tree!

Interior view of the shelter looking out into the marsh; Ken and I have our cameras set up.

February 2009 Backyard Birds

I have managed to take some pictures of birds in my backyard--and the house next door. The Spring Migration has already begun. I have seen robins passing through, along with red winged and tri-colored black birds. For the years 2006 and prior, I saw cedar wax wings for about day and a half in late December. In 2007 and 2008, I didn't see them. And then just last week, I DID see cedar wax wings eating tree buds, in the same adjacent yard as the robins were visiting. Perhaps they have changed their migration timing? The pictures were taken with a Canon G7, not the best camera for long shots--only has 6x optical zoom. However, it is better than nothing and does have a good digital zoom. This is a Carolina Wren, just outside my kitchen window. It often visits my kitchen window sunflower seed feeder. This pileated woodpecker usually visits my tree and suet feeder once a winter. It worked its way down the tree and then look in the tree roots and bark for food.
One morning, when it was very cold, this red-shouldered hawk [first time visitor ever] perched in my tree just above big forsythia thicket. After about five minutes just sitting and observing, it dropped dramatically to the thicket, but was unable to snatch a bird, so it flew off.
A few of the approximately 18 cedar waxwings next door--with robins on the ground (no picture)
This is one of about 10 red and tricolored winged blackbirds on my rail having some seed. All of the others flew off when I got my camera to the back door window. The black birds have been in the neighborhood for about 5 days.