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January 13, 2013 / Rae Spencer

A Foggy Day at Back Bay

Web Back Bay Jan 12

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite places. It’s basically a sandy ridge of land between two major bodies of water. Some of its hiking trails wind over high dunes and trickle down to the Atlantic Ocean. Other trails slither through the salt marshes that border Back Bay.

Each winter, thousands of migrating birds pass through the refuge. So today, despite gray, misty skies, we decided to spend a few hours looking for geese.

At first, all we found was fog.

Back Bay Jan 12

The further we walked, the thicker the fog.

Back Bay Jan 12

Back Bay Jan 12

On the beach, there were no horizons. The view simply faded into nothingness.

Back Bay Jan 12

Every so often, the fog thinned a bit. Then the world regained its edges, though none of the edges seemed fixed. Everything was blurred and soft.

Back Bay Jan 12

Back Bay Jan 12

Back Bay Jan 12

Back Bay Jan 12

Back Bay Jan 12

We walked nearly an hour before seeing or hearing any geese. Then… Snow Geese!

Snow Geese Jan 12

Snow geese everywhere! Geese as far as the eye could see (which, admittedly, wasn’t very far)…

Snow Geese Jan 12

Snow Geese Jan 12

Snow Geese Jan 12

(Please pardon the inconsistent focus and poor light. It really was quite foggy.)

Snow Geese Jan 12

Snow Geese Jan 12

Photos can’t sufficiently convey the scene. Sound was a major part of the magic.

After a while, we began to notice other birds hidden among the geese. In particular, swans. (I think these might be Tundra Swans?)

Swan Jan 12

Swan Jan 12

Swan Jan 12

And American Coots.

Coot Jan 12

Coot Jan 12

Coot Jan 12

It was hard to walk away from such a glorious scene, but nightfall’s approach turned the fog almost impenetrable.

Snow Geese Jan 12

As we were leaving, the geese were still arriving. One group landed right beside us, inside the shrinking sphere of the fog’s miasma.

Snow Geese Jan 12

Along the return trail, we found ducks. (I can’t begin to guess what kind of ducks…)

Ducks Jan 12

Ducks Jan 12

And finally, right beside the parking lot, we surprised a solitary Great Blue Heron.

Heron Jan 12

Heron Jan 12

It was a beautiful way to end a beautiful, foggy day…

Back Bay Jan 12

8 Comments

  1. Kami Tilby / Jan 13 2013 1:04 AM

    Loved being on part of your walk with you. The word “stunning” kept going through my mind. From the beautiful web in the first photo to the blur of the heron taking flight. Loved getting a smidgen of the sounds you enjoyed as well. So glad you shared it all.

  2. Vicki / Jan 13 2013 10:35 AM

    wonderful photos! I like the boardwalk ones and the last one especially.. and also the blurry one of the heron taking flight.. the swans look like our Trumpeter Swans.. maybe they are also known as Tundra?

    • Rae Spencer / Jan 13 2013 5:20 PM

      Based on what I saw at the All About Birds website, tundra and trumpeter swans are different species, though they look very much alike. If I’m reading the distribution map correctly, trumpeter swans are not found in my area (coastal Virginia). I may ask one of the wildlife managers for more information, the next time I visit Back Bay.

      • Vicki / Jan 13 2013 6:31 PM

        that is interesting.. thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  3. Gillian / Jan 13 2013 2:58 PM

    Looks like a fabulous place to visit – fog or no fog!

    • Rae Spencer / Jan 13 2013 5:08 PM

      It is! I hope to return soon, on a sunny day…

  4. bardessdmdenton / Jan 16 2013 4:42 PM

    What a wonderful adventure, Rae! I think the fog made it more magical. We have a swampy nature reserve up the road and get thousands of Canada Geese, but I have never seen any snow geese. Many thanks for sharing.

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