Yesterday afternoon the VEB and I set off on a grand adventure to visit the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which stretches from Sudbury up to Concord. We started off in Sudbury, where even before we got out of the car we spotted this fellow moseying across the road. It’s a woodcock, which – depending on your viewpoint – either won or lost the evolutionary game because it’s brain is basically upside down. (Really.)
There were lots of brochures at the trail entrance but, oddly enough, no actual trail map. After a tiny, grumpy hissy fit by one of us (not the VEB), we embarked on the Weir Hill Trail. Because someone (again, not the VEB) insisted on going right instead of left, we eventually crossed over to the Red Maple trail. As we approached a man-made shelter sitting adjacent to the trail, there was a sudden flurry of fur darting fur across the trail, from under the shelter to – well, we’re not quite sure where. Either a fallen hollow log or a well-concealed tunnel, we’re not sure which. But there were at least a half-dozen of baby weasels running amok:
They ran. I ran. The VEB laughed.
Sadly, this was about all the excitement at this part of the refuge, and we headed up to the Concord facility. And our heads just about exploded, because this place….wow. It’s probably the best place we’ve been to in terms of wildlife sightings, and the main path takes you straight through a marsh area where herons and cormorants fly in and dodge all the blackbirds nesting in the reeds. It’s a beautiful place. The only drawback was that there were lots of people there, and it’s the sort of place you want to keep a secret.
Happily, though, our fellow visitors were happy to share a few secrets. First, they pointed out a little yellow warbler nesting right along the path:
Second, a woodpecker feeding its baby. Possibly babies, we’re not quite sure:
We could see some herons off in the distance, at which point I announced to the VEB that we’ve seen so many herons lately that I’m done taking pictures of them. And then, roughly sixty seconds later, there was a heron standing about two feet from a little footbridge, totally and completely ignoring all the foot traffic passing by. So, I proceeded to take another 42 pictures of a heron:
I desperately wish this photo had come out better:
Those things that look like fins in the water? HUGE carp. Invasive carp, mind you, but HUGE carp. To the left side of the photo is the footbridge, and to the right is where the heron was standing. The carp were too big for the heron to eat, but s/he was patiently biding time until the smaller fish came along.
There were lots of blackbirds, frogs, a baby bunny, and cormorants (I think we saw a total of 4), and something we’re not sure about. Woodchuck? Beaver? Muskrat? something furry, anyway. There were also some very mean Canadian geese that actually hissed at me as I tried to pass. Again, I ran. Again, the VEB laughed.
And then there was this, which amused me to no end. On one of our very first hikes together the VEB and I managed to crash a wedding, and yesterday we crashed wedding photos. The geese were also unwelcome guests: