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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (February 2013)

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a place I've wanted to visit for several years, but haven't for various reasons.  After visiting St. Louis' World Bird Sanctuary in December, I felt even more irked that I've put off going for so long.  I knew that eagle nesting season was coming up, beginning in February and ending in late March.  Unfortunately I put off my visit until Valentine's Day when the eagles were already nesting and not as active, but that's OK, because I know I'll be going back again! Again, the folks I've met in Maryland parks (or in this case, a National Wildlife Refuge operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service and a non-profit formed in 1987) are some of the friendliest, most helpful people.  I didn't happen upon a ranger with an ATV and spare time on his hands like my last experience in Maryland, but I was advised by a very helpful woman from the Friends of Blackwater who was kind enough to reference the most recent eagle sighting logs.

Other than some ducks, geese, and a formation of Warthogs, my day began with nothing in sight.  No birds, wildlife, or squirrels, let alone the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrels Blackwater is known for.  I also found that the wildlife blind was useless, as there was no wildlife around.  I later used my car as a mobile blind.

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It wasn't long before I came across this Great Blue Heron; we almost ran into each other - we were about 20 feet apart before we noticed each other.  For this reason it allowed me to stay close and watch as it fished for tadpoles.  I was very shocked it was perfectly happy fishing with me just 6 feet away, as though I didn't exist.

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Sunset was coming quickly, and I wanted to be in a pretty spot along the shoreline.  Along the way I spotted some Red-Winged Blackbirds, and stopped to watch the sun drop below the horizon not far from a pod of Pelicans.

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Earlier in the day I'd spotted a single Bald Eagle, in its nest 1/2 mile away.  But it was after the sun had set that I finally began seeing both Golden and Bald Eagles take to the skies.  As I was leaving, I spotted a pair of Bald Eagles flying off into the dusk, and a lone Great Blue Heron on the water.

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