As I parked in the parking lot at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge yesterday morning, I noticed a large group of ducks and several tundra swans just offshore, in good range for a photo using my Sony CyberShot. I pulled out the camera and turned it on. Nothing! The rechargeable battery was dead. But that is not a problem, as I keep a second battery - the camera requires a special battery - in the bag. So I switched batteries, turned the camera on, and - nothing! Another dead battery. This camera takes great photos, but without a battery, the photo quality is the same as a picture taken with a pack of matches. I heard the sound of ducks and swans snickering at me. It reminded me of the time that I walked 10 miles each way to the North Carolina border and my camera batteries were dead. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this will have to be a long post - but it won't be.
Well, I was there for a hike, and hike I would do. I knew that with no camera, I would be seeing lots of wildlife, and I was not disappointed there. No, a bobcat didn't step into the path and groom itself just feet away. Nothing that spectacular happened. But during my approximately four mile hike, I saw thousands of animals. Yes, thousands!
After leaving the ducks and swans, I headed along the path through the forest. A male cardinal displayed colorfully just feet away from me. Winter warblers flitted in and out of the trees. A great blue heron took off from a small pond, and a belted kingfisher perched high above the pond in a tree. At one point, he took off and made a circular flight above the pond, calling with his distinctive rattling cry as he flew. Despite the cold, a turtle's nose broke the surface like the snorkel from an old Diesel submarine. And at the end of the path, where the bay meets the woods, large number of ducks and swans swam and fed. On the hike back, a group of tundra swans flew directly over my head, about 100 feet above me. It was spectacular! I could hear every wing beat. It would have made a great photo.
As I reached the dike trail, a huge group of grackles flew around. There were hundreds of them. They tended to rise all at once, their voices sounding like hinges in need of oil. I hiked the mile along the dikes to the wildlife observation building, and watched many ducks and swans out in the freshwater. The wild cries of the tundra swans are amazing. They are just arriving from the Hudson Bay area. As I began my return, another huge flight of grackles - over a thousand, I estimated - flew around. They rose and moved like smoke, and as they would take flight from their resting place, it sounded like a wave breaking on rocks - there were that many of them.
I watched a harrier fly over the marsh, and then ended my hike with a short walk on the beach, seeing a single sanderling and a gull. No camera today, so the images have to all be in my brain.
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