Independence Day 2014

Skunk Kit on the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
Skunk Kit on the Liberty Loop, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

I woke up early on this rainy Independence Day and walked the Liberty Loop at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. It rained on and off as I walked the loop, but it was quite birdy with high numbers of many of the expected species. The highlight of the morning, however, was not bird related. I was walking the east side of the loop and I saw a skunk up ahead on the trail. It was very white and I believe it is likely the same skunk that I photographed at the same location back in March. I hustled to try to catch up to the skunk and at some point I realized that the skunk was actually heading towards me, rather than away, and that it had something in its mouth – a young skunk! I stepped off the trail and waited. The pair of skunks got pretty close before the adult (mother?) went off trail with her kit still in her grasp. I moved ahead quickly, thinking that she wanted to continue down the trail but didn’t because of my presence, but she never reemerged. I continued along the east side of the trail and saw two more skunk kits on the trail in the distance. In my binoculars I could see no movement; I thought something had happened and they were both dead. Once I reached them, I realized that I was mistaken, they were both fine. I snapped a few pictures of the kits and I was checking behind me to see if the mother was coming back for them. I moved past the kits to a safe distance and the mother eventually did come back. I watched as the she collected one of them and then headed back the way she came. I did not stay to watch her pick up the third kit, but I was thinking that I was happy it was a rainy morning and that she would not likely be disturbed again this morning as she relocated her kits.

Adult skunk transporting a kit down the trail. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
Adult skunk transporting a kit down the trail. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

As far as the birding went, I had a nice morning seeing the expected birds and I totaled 29 species for the day. My best bird for the day was a young Red-bellied Woodpecker, a bird that I’ve never seen before:

I have this as a young Red-bellied Woodpecker. This shot is a little soft, but it was low light all morning with the rainy conditions. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
I have this as a young Red-bellied Woodpecker. This shot is a little soft, but it was low light all morning with the rainy conditions. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
I was just saying recently that I never get shots of Northern Cardinals in the field. NOCA in the swamp, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
I was just saying recently that I never get shots of Northern Cardinals in the field. NOCA in the swamp, Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
This Downy Woodpecker was in the same tree as the young Red-bellied. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
This Downy Woodpecker was in the same tree as the young Red-bellied. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
I feel like I am getting very few opportunities to shoot Great Blue Herons this year. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.
I feel like I am getting very few opportunities to shoot Great Blue Herons this year. Wallkill River NWR, 7/4/14.

It was an enjoyable morning for me, I have been busy lately so I haven’t gotten out as much. I am finding that I appreciate getting out much more at times like this. Here is my list for the morning:

Canada Goose 44IMG_2073
Wood Duck 5
Mallard 35
Great Blue Heron 5
Green Heron 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Killdeer 3
Mourning Dove 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 4
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Kingbird 4
Blue Jay 8
American Crow 1
Barn Swallow 15
Wood Thrush 3
American Robin X
Gray Catbird 8
European Starling 35
Common Yellowthroat 2
Yellow Warbler 6
Song Sparrow X
Swamp Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal 3
Indigo Bunting 5
Bobolink 3
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
American Goldfinch 6

7 thoughts on “Independence Day 2014”

  1. Matt,
    Despite the rainy weather these are nice shots!!! What were you thinking getting that close to skunks??? Looks like you graduated to some more nature photography…..some pretty blooms. They are nice. See there is more for the camera than just birds!

    I’m trying tomorrow morning again for the balloon festival in Poughkeepsie. It was too windy today so they didn’t launch. Oh, I went to Weston Road on the way back today hoping to see some woodpeckers, but not even one.

    Have a great weekend

    Wilma

    1. Thanks Wilma, I couldn’t resist those skunks! Good luck with the balloon festival tomorrow and thanks for the woodpecker update. Last time I went there I only saw one RHWP.

    1. I never even thought about it- the mother was seemingly very preoccupied with her task and I kept a good distance and stepped off the trail in case she wanted to pass.

  2. Matt
    Where do you go when you go to 6 1/2 station road? I always go to the spot where the sign is…is there a better place to go? You said 17M side here, is there more than one place to go to?

    Wilma

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