Nothing spectacular. Just a few images of things that one can expect to see this time of the year (January) at Huntley Meadows, a local wildlife refuge in suburban Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a great place for a walk and for sightseeing.
Almost the same time in the morning as the other day, but boy, a little bit of light make a BIG bit of difference.
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.
One of the most interesting places to visit in the east coast of the United States is Bombay Hook National Wildlife Reserve. Is it by Delaware Bay and the reserve is a major stop in the Atlantic Flyway , the route that most birds take when they migrate northwards or southwards. This means that birds almost always make a stop at Bombay Hook during the spring and fall migration season. It makes it easier for non expert birders like myself to find birds to photograph.
Bombay Hook is a two hour drive from Northern Virginia. You head to Annapolis, Maryland and then cross the Bay Bridge towards the Eastern Shore. You proceed towards Wilmington, Delaware though you actually end up near Smyrna. Since you need to get to the reserve around sunrise, you generally have to leave at 4AM or a little earlier to get there on time. Every trip yields different photo opportunities. Just don’t come here in the summer. You will be eaten alive by mosquitoes, flies and other biting insects. Actually, if you have a thick skin and/or love insects (which birds apparently do), this could be the place to be in the summer. It is only a short drive from the Delaware Atlantic beaches. It is also a short drive from Wilmington, Delaware.
Bombay Hook has plenty of short walking trails that allow different views of the marshes and pools that dot the reserve. There are, of course, a lot of trees, bushes, flowers and other things that hide birds (and feed birds) quite well. My musings on Bombay Hook will be comprised of multiple postings. I only started visiting this wildlife reserve earlier this year. It will be a place that I will return to again and again.
The pictures below were taken on my first trip to Bombay Hook (late April 2017).