Monday, February 21, 2011

Maryland's Blackwater Refuge

Early last week when the weather folks were predicting warmer temperatures for Friday, I got a little excited. Not too excited, mind you, because we all know how often those forecasts can change. But as the days passed and the prediction for warmth persisted, my excitement grew. Not only do I have a brand-new bike that is just aching to be ridden, I was REALLY in need of a day off. So I requested and was granted a personal day. (I'm not sure what I would've done if the answer had been no.)

The next challenge was deciding where to go. I've really been wanting to see the Snow Geese at the Blackwater Refuge. Not only are they pretty birds, there's just something really cool about seeing and hearing several thousand geese at one time. Snow Geese spend most of their time at their breeding grounds in the Arctic Tundra. During the coldest part of the year, they hang out in more-southern coastal marshes.

I was faced with a quandary. While Maryland's Eastern Shore is pretty, it is also quite flat. Because the Eastern Shore of the bay is pretty much a series of peninsulas, there aren't a lot of options as far as back roads either. So I'd be riding 100 or so miles each way on what is essentially a flat, straight highway.

There's just one word for that... boring. But I really wanted to see the geese. And I knew if I didn't go, I'd be kicking myself. The geese will be flying north any day now. Besides, I figured even a long, straight run on the bike on a 70-degree day in February would at least be pleasant.

I was so right.

Here's a link to a map showing my approximate route to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. My favorite bird photographer who goes by the name Nikographer has taken lots of great pics at the refuge. I captured a few shots during my ride, which I'll share below, but they are nowhere near as good as his.

I did take one little side trip through Wye Mills. But visiting the refuge was definitely the high point of the day as far as location. The very best part of the day was the ride.

Look closely at the upper waterway. The white stuff you see are the Snow Geese.

This is what Snow Geese look like close up.

This is what it looks like when a bunch of them take off at once.

I have more geese pictures, but I can't give them all away at once, right? Besides, the geese weren't the only thing worth seeing. I was perfectly happy on that sunny, warm day gazing out over the marsh.

I love marshes. The contrasting colors have always captivated me.

Especially the blue sky as a backdrop for the yellow marsh grass with the very dark sand in the foreground.

These were either raccoon or fox tracks going out to check the Osprey nest on the platform.

Every now and then, something would spook the geese and they would all take off.

One minute, you see quiet marsh and hear a little honking in the background.

The next minute, the sky is a riot of birds flying in every direction and all you can hear is honking.

Peaceful marsh.

Fluffy marsh grass.

Snow Geese and Canada Geese

Peaceful marsh.

Sky full of honking Snow Geese.
I absolutely LOVE my new motorcycle. Love, love, love it. It doesn't feel like a machine I am riding on, it feels like an extension of my body. It is so nimble and lightweight compared to my big old cruiser. And the expandable top case is big enough to hold my entire camera bag with room to spare. Awesome.

That last picture is my favorite. My bike with a sky full of Snow Geese in the background perfectly sums up the day.

I am REALLY glad I took the day off. Especially since as I sit here finishing up this post on Monday night, there's sleet ticking against the windows. Later tonight, it's supposed to turn to snow. By tomorrow morning, there's supposed to be five to eight inches of snow on the ground.


SonjaM said...

I guess you really like your bike, eh?! The last picture with the flock of snow geese and the bike is awesome.

ToadMama said...

Yep, I really like it. LOL

Capturing the geese behind the bike was a happy coincidence.

Jess said...

Very cool. You got a lot closer to them than I did. I would have had to walk half a mile through six inch deep muck with a gigantic Chesapeake Bay Retriever by my side to get any good close-up shots. Love that shot of the two in flight. Glad you made the trip!