Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sunset at Back Bay

I thought I would try something a little different with this post of a short New Year's Eve hike in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I saw great wildlife during my three miles of walking, as well as a mesmerizing sunset, all while being entertained by the voices of thousands of tundra swans. But I took this walk specifically to try out a feature with my mapping software (DeLorme's Topo North America 9.0) that I had not used before. So the wildlife (and sunset) was considered to be a New Year bonus.

Here is my track for the hike, as captured by my DeLorme PN-60 GPS and then synched up with Topo North America:

And here is the same track showing where I snapped several of the photos you will see in this post:

The software has a Geo-Tagger feature that compares the time that the photos were taken against the track, and tags each photo to a spot on the earth based on the time you were there. Obviously, you need to have the correct time in your digital camera. Then it shows, placed on the topo map, a thumbnail of each photo that you choose to tag. Further along in the post, you'll see a larger version of each of these five photos, plus a few more that I threw in.

I didn't get close enough to wildlife for a good photo, but in addition to the swans seen far out on the bay (and heard wherever I walked), I saw a clapper rail, black ducks (I think), a great blue heron, Canada geese, and a kingfisher. The latter posed for a while on top of a dead tree, and then hovered over the pond for about 20 seconds before diving to miss a fish. And I talked to a man that claimed to have just seen a beaver swimming along the shore, but my guess is that it was a nutria.

From this point, I could see hundreds if not thousands of swans, and the cacophony of sounds coming from them was wondrous. In a few short months, they will be up in the Yukon.

There was still snow to be seen in many places from Sunday's storm down this way:

These feathers are all that remain of an unlucky bird that apparently ran into a hawk or owl:

The sun was starting to set as I headed south along the dike road:

From this point, the west dike path heads to the west and then south:

But that path is closed, so I headed east and then south as far as you are permitted to this time of year, to the big wildlife observation blind, with views over some ponds:

I look forward to April, when the path is open again all the way to False Cape State Park. But for now, I had to go back. As I turned back north and walked back to the car, I was treated to a spectacular sunset. The colors reflected off the bay, and also tinted the recent snows rose and orange. Here are the final pictures I took of this sunset, a mesmerizing last sunset for 2010, about which I wrote this poem two days later:


  1. Thanks Anne! It was gorgeous! Happy New Year! Art