Parker River NWR, Plum Island

Every once in a while I do go somewhere besides the woods. Because I’m in New England that doesn’t leave a lot of somewhere else. No desert. No badlands. No canyons. No sweeping steppes. We do have coastline though and so I’ll make the trek. This time to Plum Island which is the home of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, a much-needed sanctuary for an over-developed coastline. Strangely I have only visited in the fall. It’s a popular place and maybe I just shy away from what must be hordes of people in the summer season. As it is I feel quite surrounded when I’m there, seeing more people in one day than I do in a month of forest hikes.

Because it’s a wildlife refuge, human intrusion is limited. Many areas are only accessible by wooden walkways, both to protect the fragile ecosystem and because some is deep marsh. Walking these paths you can hear birds you cannot see.

I saw it anew

It does limit compositional choices quite a bit, but there are some areas where you can go off path, although I don’t do it often and only where there are no signs prohibiting me. This part of the marsh is tidal and a few hours before there was only mud where the water is. I love that ever-changing aspect of tidal estuaries and marshes.

Your share of the inheritance

And sometimes, the walkways themselves can provide a subject.

Down in the narrow space

The light wasn’t really favorable for most of the day, but since I decided to stay until sunset, I did a bit of scouting for good locations and playing with what the light did give me. One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in photography is not to fight the light, that is to have certain optimal photos in my head all the while working in opposite conditions. Now either I wait for those optimal conditions or make the light I have work for me. At one point I simply walked on the beach. No camera. I left it in the car, knowing I’d get nothing useful if I brought it. On my way out though I met a guy coming in who had a big Nikon rig with him. I laughed to myself. Maybe he sees something I don’t, but to each her own.

Spun without moving
An Unchipped Heart
Whose coming was foretold

Eventually though, if you wait long enough, the light you want arrives.

A Second’s Silence
Such fantastification

So, unfortunately, did 4 people. Yeah, it’s a public place and the viewing towers are a great spot to watch the sun go down, but I didn’t appreciate their presences up there with me. I guess all this solitary time has made me a bit of a hermit.

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4 thoughts on “Parker River NWR, Plum Island

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  1. Those are nice shots. As an FYI, PRNWR not as crowded in the summer as you might think. First, as hot weather starts the greenhead flies come out, which scare many locals away from the beaches. They are bad, but with the right protection and a little stubbornness you can deal. Then, in mid-summer a lot of the beachier sections of the refuge get closed off to protect piping plovers. That further strips off beachgoers. Meanwhile the trails you were photographing on stay open. In the spring and fall, you get a lot of birders trying to log migrants. You don’t see so many of them in the summer and winter. One of my own published photos (in a Cornell University Ornithogy publication) is actually a picture of birders taken at the refuge. The birders were on the ground, and I shot them from the tower.

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