By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator
A dashing combination of deep blue with russet wings, the Blue Grosbeak sings from his perch as the last rays of the day’s sunlight play across his brilliant feathers. The camera focuses tightly and the shutter trips dozens of times as this bird sits cooperatively for a portrait session.
During a recent evening visit to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, I experienced a series of close wildlife encounters that help illustrate what a top-notch location Bombay Hook is for wildlife observation. You can simply drive along the wildlife loop in your vehicle and expect to see a variety of wildlife around every turn. Come along for the rest of the ride…
Around the next turn, an Eastern Kingbird perches on dead tree on the edge of the vibrant salt marsh. This black-and-white flycatcher sits motionless for long periods of time, then flies forth on spirited pursuit of flying insects. The local greenhead and deerfly population must take quite a hit from these talented insect assassins.
A bright flash of yellow signals the arrival of a Yellow Warbler , and this one is clutching a prize in its beak: a long-legged fly of some sort. This insect will provide the necesary protein for a growing baby Yellow Warbler, likely waiting patiently in a nearby nest. Wetland edges are particularly attractive to this bird, so there is never a Yellow Warbler shortage at Bombay Hook in the summer.
As dusk comes ever closer, orangish-red shadows skirt the edges of tall grasses. The Red Foxes at the refuge are quite accustomed to the presence of people, and pay no mind to vehicles. This young fox, likely just a few months old, listens intently as his ears strain for the sounds of prey. His deep brown eyes don’t miss anything, so any rodent within eye-shot is in serious trouble.
The fox trots off into the growing darkness and brings a great evening of wildlife watching to a close.
Today, July 1, is a special day for our national wildlife refuges. This is the day that the new Federal Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp will go on sale. Better known as the “Duck Stamp” this is the most simple and effective method of taking direct conservation action. Funds raised from sales of stamps go directly towards the purchase of critical wildlife habitat, particularly wetlands. Of Bombay Hook’s 16,000 acres, 94% of the land was purchased with Duck Stamp funds.
Buy your Duck Stamp, and get in on the best bargain in conservation. An investment of just $15 gives you year-long admission to over 550 refuges nationwide, and the satisfaction of making a lasting contribution to conservation in our great nation. And when you visit a refuge and see great wildlife, please share your sightings with us!