Like a sunflower.
Another Saturday, a very warm one, has come and gone. In the early morning hours, before the first sip of coffee was even in a cup, I took my RX10IV and headed for Dunkin Donuts. The one that’s two miles away from Huntley Meadows. The sun had just broken through the horizon, and I needed the sun to go up just a little higher to clear the tree line at Huntley. And I needed a little jolt to wake me up so to speak.
It was near 80F at six in the morning. The day had barely started and the humidity was already beginning to make things a little uncomfortable. Oh well, I was already at the parking lot, so I might as well take a walk through the woods and then into the wetlands. As I crossed into the boardwalk, the moon was still visible in the sky.
And the white flowers were there, just like they were the week before. The air was heavy with heat and humidity. As I walked further towards the wetlands, the flowers, with dew clinging to the leaves and petals, were backlit by the rising sun. It was quite a thing to behold. Hundreds, maybe even a thousand or so flowers, glistening in the early morning light.
Sometimes, you need to stop and admire the things around you. And enjoy the unexpected. It warm. It was humid. The sun was up. I was going to just quickly walk through and look for birds. And yet. In the heat of the rising sun, nature reminded me yet again to slow down and enjoy life. Take the whole thing in. The story is not just what we want it to be. It is an entirety waiting for us, to discover, to find new things, to explore. It is not always what we envision, but if we keep our eyes open, it can and is often better than what we imagine.
The red algae was blooming in the main wetland area. Water was evaporating, as it always does. The water level drops down as summer progresses. With little rain to naturally replenish the wetland, the water was shallower, murkier. I walked towards the observation tower, where I spied the egrets and herons wading in the shallow water.
I was amazed. Huntley was alive this particular Saturday morning. Two kingfishers were flying about. Just a little bit to far to take pictures of, but you knew they were there. A deer was foraging by some bushes. The herons were in the water. They were in the air.
The herons were fishing. And I thought that maybe, just maybe, this heron’s appetite was a little bit too much.
And then an osprey flew by. And caught a fish. Not quite the magnificent catch I saw earlier.
There were herons aplenty. Herons grooming themselves in the “mirror.”
Herons with unexpected visitors, like this juvenile white ibis.
And suddenly, a flock of egrets flew by. Land, I said to myself. And land they did. By the red algae bloom of the Huntley wetlands.
It was hot. It was humid. That was to be expected. The egrets in the wetland. One or two, maybe. A flock stopping by to rest, perhaps to cool down just a bit. That was most unusual. And on this summer day in July, it was most welcome.
On Friday night, I made up my mind to wake up early and take a walk at Huntley Meadows. It’s been a while since I spent a few hours at Huntley. Spring went quickly and the summer heat is oppressive. The birds are most active in the early part of the day.
I’ve been using my Sony RX10IV for most of my photography lately. This is a great camera. It’s light enough to carry everywhere and it has an incredibly useful zoom range and good built in image stabilization. Where I used to carry a tripod and a long zoom into Huntley, I just carry the RX10IV and shoot away. It’s very liberating.
One thing about the setup that I find indispensable. Without the tripod, you try out different angles on the same subject. Not that you can’t do that with a tripod mounted camera, but it’s a much faster process when you use a handheld camera with a nice lens that you know can do what you want it to do.
What I really wanted to do is shoot bird pictures. Alas, although I got up before daybreak, I hesitated long enough (about going out in the heat) that by the time I did get to Huntley, the sun had been out for almost an hour and a half. Not great. And so, the birds that I hoped to see were not in view (they were probably there, I just could not find them). There were ospreys flying and diving, but they were never close enough to get good pictures of them diving. There were herons that stood on the water, but they were just lounging around. There were egrets, further still, also lounging around. A bluebird sang then went into its nest. Birds aplenty? Yes. The early bird gets the worm is a saying that applies to humans, especially bird photographers. The early guy with the camera gets the birds.
Still, there was a goose that wandered into close proximity. And with its partner, flew up into the sky in an opportune moment. I was tracking an osprey, but saw the two large birds in the periphery of the scene, turned around and pressed the shutter button. The RX10IV has a great AF system. It focuses quickly and tracks the subject quite well. Not quite as good as the top of the line Sony A9, but that’s a bigger camera and the lens I want to use with it won’t be out till next month. And if someone wants to give me that lens, well, I’d take a picture for you.
And that’s how I managed to get a decent goose in flight picture. Born of frustration, but given an opportunity to do something unplanned. Sometimes (actually, most of the time), opportunity knocks. You just need to listen for the sometime faint sound (or in this case, a momentary rush at the edge of the viewfinder). You never know what’s out there. And that’s a good thing.
And there were other things aside from birds. I almost got sunburned staying out too long. And didn’t bring enough water. Still, it was a nice morning to sweat. Take pictures. And be inspired.
So go out there. Take a walk. Be surprised. And let nature rejuvenate your mind and soul.
I was browsing through my computer in search of pictures I can use for a new blog posting. I noticed a folder that hasn’t been opened in a year. A year old, untouched, pictures unprocessed – what was inside the folder? A quick glance reminded me that I was at Huntley Meadows that August day. In search of birds (probably hummingbirds). I vaguely remember that after a few hours of August humidity and heat, I went home. I copied the pictures to my hard drive and did nothing else with them. Until today.
Browsing through the photographs, I see pictures of hummingbirds. And dragonflies, butterflies, herons and goldfinches. Remember the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, when the Ark of the Covenant is placed in a crate and stored in what seems like a never ending warehouse of similar looking crates? Well, that crate among crates seems like an apt metaphor for all the folders sitting inside my computer. They all look the same, but they are all different. I am not claiming to have found the Ark, but I did find some interesting pictures.