Flickr album link: Summer Birding ~ Lee Metcalf NWR
A previous article describes the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in detail. This preserve is located just off of Highway 93 north of Stevensville, Montana along the Bitterroot River. A dirt road runs through this park along the border of the developed agricultural area and by cruising along at a snail's pace, plenty of birding can be done just by hanging a camera out of the car window. The animals are used to seeing cars pass through, which presents some good opportunities to capture quality images.
Setting out on foot is a bit more challenging and there are trails that go through the woods to the river. Most of this preserve cannot be accessed by car or on foot, because the riverside terrain is a wetlands area full of ponds and reed marshes. This guarantees plenty of food availability, so the wildlife viewing goes strong all summer. Shortening the distances with a powerful lens or binoculars is the key to success, especially around the reed marshes where the songbirds are busy feeding on insects.
A mid morning venture into this park will also present an opportunity to spot deer and a wide variety of small animals. Even a few fawns can be spotted this time of year around the tall grasses and underbrush. The action can become fast and furious without warning, so it is best to keep a viewing lens handy at all times. Mid to late summer is a good time for photographing the entire range of local species, since the migration season begins fairly early this far north. Spending a few hours at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge certainly can be a rewarding experience, so be sure to chalk this destination high on the birding venture list!
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