Photo Contest Deadline June 30, Winners will be announced September 16.
The first Refuge Photo Contest was held in 2001, and since that year, thousands of photographs have been submitted, creating a goldmine of images of the birds, wildlife, plants, and scenic shots of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. This digital library is used on a regular basis by the Friends and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide photos for Facebook and websites, the Swamp Scene newsletter, exhibits and flyers, postcards which are sold in the Friends Nature Shop, outreach and orientation presentations, and the photo slide show which runs continuously in the Visitor Center. Thank you so much to the many photographers who have submitted photos over the years. You are hundreds of eyes capturing so much diversity in all seasons at all times of day. It’s priceless. There is no other way this incredible digital library resource could have been created.
The deadline for the 2017 Photo Contest is fast approaching. Entries must be received by June 30, 2017. We accept digital entries only. You may mail your entries or drop them off at the Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center.
This year, you may also submit your photos online, using our new website Photo Contest Entry Form.
You can contribute to the Photo Library
Winners will be announced at Fall Festival, September 16, 2017. Whether or not your photo is selected as a winner, this is a great way to donate your photos to the Friends and the Refuge where they will be added to the digital library and used for interpretation, education, and public enjoyment. Thank you so much for contributing to this incredible and unique resource.
Here are some of the sightings reported by visitors at the Wildlife Observation Center from 2005 to 2010. Mark your calendars and come experience the arrival of spring.
Listen for the “peent” call of the American woodcock. It’s peak duck season through mid-April, but that “quacking” call you hear may be the wood frogs, always in a hurry—calling and mating early—check for egg masses in the vernal pools. The tiny spring peepers produce a deafening spring chorus. Northern water snakes are basking on the tussocks trying to warm up. Ribbon and garter snakes are on the move as are spotted turtles. On a warm day, look for basking painted turtles. The skunk cabbage flower is almost gone by, but take a close look at the red glow on the maples—their tiny red flowers.
The Eastern phoebe arrives—look for the wagging tail as it calls its name. Ducks are still active—migrating blue-winged teal are late arrivals. Look quickly as the mourning cloak butterflies flit past; they get an early start by overwintering as adults. The tiny blue spring azure is also an early butterfly. Spring ephemerals begin their brief flowering cycle – the bright yellow trout lily is one of the first to bloom.
April 1- 15
Tree swallows appear, seemingly overnight, gracefully swooping through the air. The early warblers—palm and pine arrive. The small blue-gray gnatcatcher can be seen as well as the great egret slowly stalking on the ponds. Bullfrogs and green frogs join the chorus. In the woods, look for the white clouds of the shadbush’s early bloom, before the other trees have leafed out.
April 16 -30
The songbird migration is picking up: look for Eastern kingbird, or an early black and white warbler. The mallard is already on her nest. More flowers rush to bloom taking advantage of the intensity of spring sun before trees leaf out, creating shade: carpets of the pink-striped spring beauty, star flower, dwarf ginsing, wood anemone.
It’s the peak of spring songbird migration—the woods are full of color and sound. Listen for the haunting call of the thrushes. Vireos and brilliantly-colored migrating warblers abound. The tiny ruby-throated hummingbird buzzes past. Spring ephemerals are giving way to showy summer flowers: golden ragwort, the spectacular pinxter azalea, the blue flag iris, the floating yellow spatterdock. All too soon, summer arrives.
February 17 – 19, 2017, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm every day
Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center
Join us for three days of birding fun. Be a citizen scientist and help count the birds at the feeders from inside the Visitor Center. Learn to identify common feeder birds. Ongoing activities for kids include: make a suet bird feeder to take home, play bird bingo for a prize; paint your own bird house gourd or a tree cookie ornament. Daily bird counts will be reported to Cornell Lab of Ornithology to aid in citizen science research.
Can’t tell a nuthatch from a woodpecker? No problem. We’ll help you learn how.
You’re an expert birder? We need you to help identify those confusing species.
Great Backyard Bird Count Schedule
Every Day – Indoors
10:00 am – 4:00 pm – Count the birds!
Volunteers will be on hand to help identify and count the species.
Bird Bingo for kids – play our game and win a prize!
Make a pine cone bird feeder to take home.
Learn how to begin birding.
Saturday, February 18
11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Paint a gourd bird house to take home.
1:30 – 2:30 pm: Guided bird walk along Pleasant Plains Road
Sunday, February 19
11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Decorate your own tree cookie ornament.
12:30 – 1:30 pm: Learn to identify common winter birds. Indoor presentation by naturalist Dorothy Smullen.
1:30 – 2:30 pm: Guided bird walk. Put your new bird identification skills to work.
This event is free and registration is not required. Join us!
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an international citizen science event. Bird watchers count and report all the birds they see. The objective is to create an annual snapshot of bird distribution and abundance around the world. This data is critical in wild bird research to find ways to protect these wild creatures for future generations.
Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center
32 Pleasant Plains Road