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Bombay Hook - Shearness Pool

Photography by Jim Flowers Jim Flowers | E-Mail | Posted 09-01-2011

Snow geese blastoff from the Raymond Pool

Snow geese "blastoff" from the Raymond Pool

The Auto Tour continues for the next 1.6 miles with the Shearness Pool to your left and a large area of tidal flats and salt marsh on your right. The Shearness Pool, the largest impoundment of the refuge consists of 560 acres and provides excellent viewing and photography of a variety of wading birds and waterfowl.

Birders scan the tidal flats for shorebirds in the fall

Birders scan the tidal flats for shorebirds in the fall

Like the Raymond Pool, the Shearness Pool holds a varying amount of the wintering Snow Geese along with many of the puddle and small diving ducks that call the Bombay Hook Refuge home. Large numbers of Bombay Hook's resident Canada goose population can be seen year round along with the wintering migrant Atlantic population of the Canada species that arrive in the fall and can be viewed in numerous locations around the pool. Common duck species normally observed include the Mallard, American Black Duck, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Common Merganser, Ruddy, Bufflehead, American Wigeon and both Green-winged Teal and Blue-winged Teal.

The Shearness Pool, along with the tidal flats across from the impoundment, hold an abundant collection of shorebirds too. During low tide the flats are popular with birders for observing various species of sandpipers and plovers that forage for a quick meal during the low water. Dunlin, Semipalmated plovers, sandpipers and the peep sandpipers are just a few of the species available. Clapper Rails and King Rails can also be observed foraging along the grass edges of the mud flats. During high tide the flats are a common resting place for Snow geese and American Black ducks. The best time of day for viewing and photographing the inhabitants on the tidal flats is afternoon with the sun to the west of the area.

Great Egrets fishing the Shearness Pool

Great Egrets fishing the Shearness Pool

The Auto Tour route along the Shearness Pool is very wide with ample parking and space for setting up spotting scopes and tripods for cameras with long lenses. Frequently long lenses are required for photographing the species on the tidal flats, salt marsh or in the impoundments. Because of the ample parking, this section is often popular with large birding groups with buses or multiple vehicles.

As you near the end of the pool and non-flooded grassy areas of the impoundment, keep and eye out for song birds such as the Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting that inhabit the area along with an occasional Bobolink. The American Goldfinch is along present during the warmer months along with the Marsh Wren and Common Yellowthroat warbler.

During the late summer months, the Shearness Pool is a popular location for hundreds of the "white wading birds" that inhabit at the refuge and include the Great Egret (pictured left), Snowy Egret, numerous species of terns and gulls as well as the "dark wading birds" including the Glossy Ibis, Black-necked Stilts and Great Blue Herons.

While exploring the upper reaches of the Shearness pool it is not uncommon to spot Bombay Hook's favorite mammal, the Red Fox and their young. The Red Fox hunts the grasses and shallower waters of the pool for rodents, fish or even a duck that might be stalked and captured. There are normally several dens located nearby and the foxes will travel the roadway on a normal basis. During the winter months, the frozen shallow portions of the Shearness Pool provide excellent areas for hiding, stalking and capturing waterfowl. It's amazing how "sure-footed" the Red fox can be on ice. But then again, "it can be quite comical".

Red Fox Resting
Red Fox Portrait

Red Fox portraits along the Shearness Pool roadway

Shadows in Motion - Glossy Ibis along the Shearness Pool flats

"Shadows in Motion" Glossy Ibis along the Shearness Pool flats

Departing the Shearness Pool the auto tour will continue and as you enter the woods you'll find a parking area and entrance for the Parson Point trail on your left. This one mile round trip trail travels through woodlands on a peninsula surrounded by the upper Shearness Pool. The trail is closed from November through June. For more information follow the link to learn more about the Parson Point Trail from the US Fish and Wildllife Service's Bombay Hook NWR Trails page.

As you travel through the wooded areas along the tour route, be sure to look for wet areas under the wooded canopy, especially during the spring months. These areas provide exceptional Wood duck habitat. There are many of these areas throughout the refuge.

The auto tour continues through open fields and upland habitat that once were cultivated fields and then turns right onto the Bear Swamp Pool loop. Keep an eye out for the Red fox in this area as well. The first section of road before reaching the pool proper can be productive for woodpeckers, springtime warblers including the American Redstart, Black and White Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and other songbirds.

About halfway between the Shearness Pool and the Bear Swamp Pool you will come to a parking area for the Bear Swamp Trail and observation tower. The trail is roughly a quarter mile roundtrip in total distance and friendly for the physically impaired. The trail consists of hard surface and boardwalk and includes a floating dock that is wheel chair accessible. Excellent photographic opportunities can be experienced along the length of the trail. It's a wonderful place to enjoy an early morning hike and photograph a lovely sunrise over the Bear Swamp pool if the angle is right. To learn more about this section of the refuge, follow the link for the US Fish and Wildllife Service's Bombay Hook NWR Trails page.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Yellowthroat Warbler

Common Yellowthroat and Yellow-rumped Warblers along the Bear Swamp pool Loop

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