Swallows of Mass Audubon Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary

Spring has arrived and with that I am like many other birders and wildlife photographers itching to get out and see as many of the migrants as they return to Massachusetts. Of all the places I can photograph within a 40 minute drive Mass Audubon Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (DWWS) in Marshfield is by far my FAVORITE. At over 500 acres with open grassland, two small ponds, woodlands and the Green Harbor River this diverse habitat helps to attract many different species of birds and other wildlife.

I have been going there for over fifteen years and have photographed more birds and other wildlife then any other location in Massachusetts. One of the reasons for the success at DWWS is the fact there are two large observation blinds at either end of a small man made pond just beyond the parking lot. A short list from years past includes both Least and American Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, Wood Duck, Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, Black-billed Cockoo and Gray Fox just to name a few. However every year seems to provide some very good opportunities to photograph several swallows species and this year has been particularly good for Barn Swallow. In the month of May it is possible to photograph four swallows species at DWWS in one day: Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Purple Martin and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. All of which I saw this past weekend and two I photographed and if it were not raining I would have photographed all four! That said one of the nice things about DWWS is even when it is raining you can sit in relative comfort in either of the blinds watching and photographing the entire time. Just be sure to bring a seat cushion if you plan to spend any amount of time there. Another note for any first time visiting photographer is bring a bean bag to set your lens on or in each blind you will find two mounts which you can attached your tripod head to.

Barn Swallow Canon Mark IV, 600mm +1.4x 1/80, f8, ISO 800
Barn Swallow
Canon Mark IV, 600mm +1.4x
1/80, f8, ISO 800

The first blind or one nearest to the parking lot is refered to as the “afternoon blind” and the blind on the far end of the pond is known as the “morning blind”. Both of which are “fixed-uped” each spring by placing perches out in front which can allow for good viewing, photographs and video provided the birds are active or you happend to be there at “right time”. There are many days I sit in either blind and take zero photographes of any wildlife. However there are also many days when I go home VERY HAPPY with many good photos and video so my advise to anyone spending time at DWWS observations blinds is to be patient and you never know what you might see and photograph.

To view some photos from this past weekend check out this photo gallery.

To view video of Barn Swallows from this past weekend.

Watch the seasons change as viewed from Blind #1.

Hope to see you at DWWS and remember help to protect wildlife and wild places.

Shawn Carey
Migration Productions

Tree Swallow DWWS
Tree Swallow