May 21, 2016

One Day in May - Dawn to Dusk at Great Meadows

This strangely undulating spring season has finally taken hold and migrating, nest feathering, courting, breeding, and newborn appearances are at a crescendo.  As my birthday week dawns, all the land again looks fecund and familiar, the perfect inspiration for a dawn to dusk communion with the wild rebirthing of the year.

Last night's brief but thorough watering has brought on the rising mist at dawn.  While gossamer has draped the vernal marsh for many days, this morning reveals the first perfect orb weaving of the year (above), appointed with shocks of chartreuse buttonbush leaves emerging.  Swallows twitter and soar over the water dining on thick clouds of spring gnats.  And mama wood duck emerges from her box for a breath of morning air.

The early morning trail is filled with more birds than people at this hour...a least sandpiper eating and a tree swallow gathering nest material on the cross dike trail.

Photographers and three goose families promenade down the trail together.

A grackle strikes an Edgar Allan "pose" on the observation deck.

At the river, all is serene with the golden hour light projecting a continuous landscape onto the river.

Bouquets of sensitive ferns unfurl their rain-washed fronds to the rising sun.  And the otherwise lowly tower mustard catches the light and is revealed against the early morning shadows.

Along the Edge Trail, the plaintive repeating call of a female wood duck in a tree catches my attention.  It's tone and her frantic looking about suggest she may have lost sight of ducklings or her mate, and unlike her usual shrieking flight habit, she seems reluctant to leave this spot.  Further along, the starflowers and Canada mayflowers are lighting the forest with their little white lights.

Back at the parking lot, a Baltimore oriole pair are feeding and calling.  And the constant twitter of a blue-gray gnatcatcher leads my eye back to her tiny, camouflaged nest above my parked car.  From the tower I can see her better.

Returning in the evening, I finally spotted the swan family I've heard about this week.  Though the refuge discourages their residence due to their territoriality and potential to harm other waterfowl, the are inherently faithful mates and doting parents and lovely to watch.  So I make the best of a complicated situation and enjoy their company for now.

Passions run high on the trail with first the strutting, stalking, and mating initiated by this redwing blackbird and then the aerial tussle of a kingbird pair (photo op missed) followed by incessant chatter in the silver maple near the observation deck.

The moon rises before the setting sun in this night before its fullness.  New acquaintances, visitors from VT, walk out under its light, and a goose family glides by its reflection on their way to a bedtime snack.

Walking out in the near darkness, I look up at the moon and am reassured we've come a long way from the buds silhouetted in last months glowing sphere.  The leafed-out moon of May.

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