Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back Bay on the Last Day of May

I had a beach weekend family visit going on, and the weather was perfect for the beach. The surf was warmer than last week, and it felt great to get into the Atlantic for more than 5 minutes of shivering. But today, I went back into Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge for a short 3.5 mile hike. Like my second hike of last week, I went along the West Dike Trail.

A killdeer scuttled along the path in front of me, crying plaintively. It would alternatively slow down and speed up, depending on how close I got. My assumption was that it had a chick or nest nearby, and was drawing me away. After about a quarter mile of this game, it flew back whence we came.

The breeze was strong at times, but despite this, the dominant wildlife was deerflies. They attacked in swarms, buzzing all over, landing on various body parts, punching some holes through my skin, and often dying as a result. A few mosquitoes joined in at times, adding to my impressive bite collection from last weekend. One of these was totally engorged with my blood before I saw her and made her pay a very steep price for her meal. I have my own souvenir from this encounter, a quarter-sized itchy red area.

The dominant vertebrate wildlife for this hike was American egrets. I saw dozens of them, but they are very skittish and would always fly off the moment I got within about 100 meters. I also saw great blue heron, some unidentified ducks, two ospreys, and a ruby throated humming bird. The wildlife treat of the day occurred on the hike back when I spied a doe in the tall marsh grass. After watching for a few minutes with binoculars, I realized that she had two cute little spotted fawns with her. They were mostly hidden in the grass even though they were standing and running around. They would be no more than a week or two old this time of year.

Here are a few photos from my hike.

Impoundment along the West Dike Trail

This marshy area had at least a dozen egrets scattered about it

A forested area with twisted live oak

Looking back to the north along the trail

All that remained of this rabbit was some fur, skin, and bones. His removal from the gene pool allowed some other creature to remain in the pool at least a little while longer. I saw a number of live rabbits on this hike. They must be a very important food source for bobcats, fox, and great horned owls in the refuge.

In the middle of this photo is an egret in flight. They never allowed me to get even remotely close.

This doe was the proud mom to two tiny and cute fawns, but they were too short and too far away to show up in the photo.

1 comment:

  1. Looks and sounds like a great walk despite all the insect bites you got!! Would spraying OFF or some other bug spray help. There is also a lotion which I like better than sprays.
    I love to watch herons fly - they are so graceful. I have noticed LOTS of rabbits when I go walking. Seems like way more than most years.
    A happy day to you Art! :-)