Monday, November 12, 2012

By the Beach and the Marsh

Over the weekend, I combined two short marsh hikes in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge with a short beach walk, over two days.  I would guess I covered maybe 7-8 miles in all.  So these photos are from all three little hikes.  The first was Saturday afternoon near sunset, the beach walk was Sunday morning just after sunrise, and the second marsh walk was Sunday afternoon.  I saw wildlife - typical beach birds, two kingfishers, three species of snake, a turtle, and a leaping white-tail deer - it's "flag" high in the air as it made a spectacular jump.  I also saw a "V" of snow geese in the distance.

I'm putting some photos out here, and will have more later - these hikes were good for at least two or three of my "what am I?" series.  Oh, what the heck - let's make it three!  Here is one.  Here is two.  And here is three!

There is such a wide variety of habitats in this wildlife refuge.  You can see several of these in this one photo.

Mother Nature is already putting our her Christmas decorations:

I've seen a number of nice sunsets, some spectacular, over Back Bay in the past few years of hiking here.
The next morning, I watched these sanderlings work hard for breakfast in the waves.  I wish I could move my legs as fast as these little birds do.
I don't know much about the life of a razor clam, but they have a really interesting shell.
Black backed gulls are about twice as large as the more common herring gull.  While they are scavengers, they can also be predators.  I once saw one in Maine swoop down and grab a eider duckling from the surface of the sea with its bill.  It flew off with the unlucky duckling without even missing a wing beat.
On my second hike in the refuge, I hit the jackpot with reptiles.  Several of these will be "What am I?" posts later, but I will show a photo of this little snake.  I think it is a red-bellied snake, although its belly was a pale yellow.  According to my field guide, there can be a lot of color variation in the belly.  All of the other markings suggest a red bellied snake, so that is what I am going with.  You can also check out this recent post of mine.
Notice the dark spots on the back of its head.  This is one of red bellied snake's field marks, although it could be another species.  If so, I am not sure what - any takers?  (note by Art on 11/13/2012: after thinking this over, I think this is a northern brown snake - formerly known as DeKay's snake.  That fits the animal I saw better than a red-bellied snake with a pale yellow belly.  The northern brown snake also has a black mark on the back of its head.)

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