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Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge; 27 December 2014

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Brunswick – On Saturday morning after work I visited Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, drove through the wildlife drive and walked some of the trails around Bluebill, Woody, and Snipe Ponds. It was a wonderful morning for a walk with temperatures in the 40s, clear blue skies, and the sun just beginning to come up over the trees. There was a good variety of wildlife to be seen. Gray squirrels were all over the place and even though I didn’t see any deer or pigs, there were plenty of deer and wild pig tracks and evidence around. Bird-wise, I saw American Coots, Night Herons, Blue Winged Teal, Green Winged Teal, Tricolored Herons, Glossy Ibis, Green Herons, Bufflehead, Great Blue Herons, Northern Harriers, and Turkey Vultures.

I started out by walking the Bluebill Pond Loop from the Woody Pond end, around Bluebill Pond, then back up to where I had parked by Woody Pond.  There were a lot of Black Crowned Night Herons roosting in the trees along the edge of Woody Pond and on the pond’s islands but none were within good range of the lens I had. There was a large group of Coots grooming themselves on some driftwood in the warmth of the rising sun and by the time I made it back around to Woody Pond they were in the water feeding in a tight group. As I walked around Bluebill Pond, I saw more Coots plus Blue and Green Winged Teal in addition to Tricolored Herons, Green Herons, and Glossy Ibis.

American Coots grooming on driftwood in the warmth of the sunrise.

American Coots at Woody Pond; grooming on driftwood in the warmth of the sunrise.

By the time I walked back around the Bluebill Pond Loop, the Coots were feeding in this tight group...

By the time I walked back around the Bluebill Pond Loop back to Woody Pond, the Coots were feeding in this tight group…

and their place on the driftwood was taken by this Alligator.

and their place on the driftwood was taken by this Alligator.

Blue Winged Teal, Green Winged Teal, and American Coots in Bluebill Pond

Blue Winged Teal, Green Winged Teal, and American Coots in Bluebill Pond

A trio of Blue Winged Teal in Bluebill Pond

A trio of Blue Winged Teal in Bluebill Pond

A pair of Blue Winged Teal swimming through the grass of Bluebill Pond

A pair of Blue Winged Teal swimming through the grass of Bluebill Pond

Tricolored Heron at Bluebill Pond

Tricolored Heron at Bluebill Pond

I saw this Green Heron fly up into a pine tree; it was the first time I'd seen one stretch its neck out...

I saw this Green Heron fly up into a pine tree; it was the first time I’d seen one stretch its neck out…

But by the time I got in better position for photos, it was back to its normal posture.

But by the time I got in better position for photos, it was back to its normal posture.

This crow was keeping a sharp eye on me as I exited the Bluebill Pond Loop

This crow was keeping a sharp eye on me as I exited the Bluebill Pond Loop

While walking around the Snipe Pond trails, I saw a pair of Bufflehead and a Grebe swimming along together as well as a Great Blue Heron and a pair of Turkey Vultures. Unfortunately, the Great Blue Heron took off before I could a photo of it. The vultures were roosting on a piece of concrete in the middle of the pond and hung around long enough to get some good photos of them before they decided I was too close and flew off.  The Turkey Vultures, believe it or not, were a nice catch because I usually see more Black Vultures than Turkey Vultures at Harris Neck.

A male an female Bufflehead and a Grebe swimming in Snipe Pond

A male and female Bufflehead and a Grebe swimming in Snipe Pond

Turkey Vultures roosting on piece of concrete at Snipe Pond

Turkey Vultures roosting on piece of concrete at Snipe Pond

Turkey Vulture taking flight at Snipe Pond

Turkey Vulture taking flight at Snipe Pond

If you visit Harris Neck NWR, I highly recommend getting out at the trails along its wildlife drive and walking around the ponds. You’ll see a lot more than you would otherwise. It was a short trip because I had to get back and catch some sleep before my next shift but it was productive and well timed with the warmer and rainy weather over the next couple of days. My next refuge visit wouldn’t be as pleasant…


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