At 5:30 AM I tried tiptoeing past my wife so as to not wake her, but she was already conscious.
“Well, maybe it will stop by the time I get there.”
Most of Bear Island WMA is closed for deer hunting on several dates this month. According to their website:
Lottery Drawn Gun Deer Hunts:
- OCT 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
I was hoping that at least one of my favorite spots would be accessible. As it turns out, I was able to get into Duck Alley. I would imagine that is because not too many people want to hunt deer off of a mile-long narrow dike with marsh on both sides.
I arrived about 15 minutes before dawn. I walked onto the dike, careful not to inadvertently step on a gator. That would be a nasty start to the day. I proceeded to my usual spot and set up camp. It usually starts getting light about a half hour before sunrise. Right on time, here they came. Snowy Egrets first, followed by both White and Glossy Ibis.
Very early light is tough enough for photography, but with the clouds this morning it was especially difficult to get clear and detailed captures. No matter, just watching this was good enough for me, and whatever images I could get were a bonus.
The light gradually got a bit better, and soon other birds started showing up. I could see the flocks coming from a long ways away, to the north east. Great Egrets, Tri-Colored Herons, more Snowy’s, and even some Roseate Spoonbills.
The last time I was here, the birds settled into the marsh almost directly in front of me. Today, they are moving further down the dike, and further out into the marsh. There will be no stunning close up shots today, but I don’t care. It’s a privilege to just be here and watch this.
After only an hour, I have to leave. The mosquitoes are horrendous! During our dry summer they have been fairly sparse. But, apparently recent rains have hatched a new mutant strain that is impervious even to the DEET based repellent I have on. They’re in my nose, ears, eyes and mouth. Yep, there will be other days.
Since it is early, I decide to stop at Magnolia Plantation on the way home. As I reach the Baldwin Bridge over the Ashepoo River, two Bald Eagles presented me with a nice opportunity, even if their perches were not natural.
At Magnolia, I ran into Ted and Ellen Jennings, and Angie Bridges, some more “Swampers.” That made the visit worthwhile in itself. On the way out, the two Red Shouldered Hawks were busy in a field looking for bugs and snakes.
It was a great start to the week!