Montezuma Wildlife Preserve

Two weekends ago I visited the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. I grew up not far from here, and vaguely remember field trips (back when kids still got to go on field trips) and I’ve driven past it countless times as an adult, but I’ve never stopped. Never stopped until I started taking pictures that is. I did go one time last fall, so this was my second visit as an adult. A couple of my Flickr friends have posted some amazing shots taken here so I was excited about this trip.

Montezuma is presently going through some changes – they are draining the main pond, and they had a fire last year that they turned into a controlled burn to allow new nature to bloom. Some people feel Montezuma isn’t on par with where it has been in the past because of this – I have nothing to compare it to so I don’t know if they are right or not. But hopefully the steps that they are taking now will lead to a bigger and better Montezuma in the future.

Heron Hunting

Great Blue Heron going fishing

I love herons – always have. Perhaps it’s because they’re rare, so when you spot one it’s so exciting. It’s one of my long term photography goals to get a crystal clear shot of a Great Blue Heron but that didn’t happen on this day.    And it was overcast, forcing slower shutter speeds.  I should’ve changed up the ISO to lessen the effect of the clouds and increase the shutter speed but as is often the case, I didn’t think of that until I was viewing the shots on the computer. Live and learn. And it’s close by – so now I guess I will just have to go back. 🙂

Eastern Painted Turtle

Eastern Painted Turtle - birds aren't the only wildlife you'll see at montezuma

So I was discouraged and a bit mad at myself and I didn’t touch these pictures for three weeks. At first glance there wasn’t much there worth taking the time to put through Photoshop. But then a friend told me about a photo contest Audobon Magazine is doing and I thought I would take a second look – see how my first pass of bird shots looked.  And I’m not as discouraged as I once was. With a little PS work (sorry to you purists out there) I think I have some decent stuff here.

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Barn Swallow - looking down from one of the observation towers

I especially like this osprey shot. I had no idea there was also what I’m pretty sure is a red-winged blackbird in the picture – I can’t tell is the blackbird is chasing the osprey or if they just happened to be in the same frame.  I don’t know what is trailing behind the osprey but that was in several of the pics I took – I’m guessing it’s a twig for his nest possibly.

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Montezuma has some nesting osprey this year - visible off Rte 89.

Montezuma also has at least four bald eagle nests this year.  I was only able to locate one near the mud locks outside of the village of Cayuga, NY.  I did see the eagle, but he didn’t pose well and those pictures are very blurry.

So stop by Montezuma sometime.  Driving the wilderness drive takes less than 1/2 hour (depends on how many photo stops you make) so it’s not a huge investment of your time, and you’re likely to see something wonderful.

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3 thoughts on “Montezuma Wildlife Preserve

  1. Is this the same wildlife preserve that Scott Thomas often mentions/photographs? If so this seems to be a great place for photography! I love the barn swallow shot – the expression on the bird’s face is great. I was lucky enough to get my first blue heron shots last summer on vacation in Maine; it was a wonderful experience. Let me know if you’d like to see the pics; I’ll send you a link to the blog post.

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