On The Way Home

Upon leaving the conservancy Sunday I stopped a few miles away, along Black Creek at Verona Beach State Park. The intent was to take some photos of ducks with their chicks. There were none on this day, however. What I did come away with was not quite so cute.

click on photo to enlarge

Turkey Vulture

Dining on something that smelled horrendous, a startled group of Turkey Vultures took short flight to the nearby trees upon my presence.

Enjoying nature comes from not getting what you expect but rather from observing what you’re given.

In 1938, the Union Oil Company discovered that by injecting a strong-smelling organic chemical called mercaptan into gas lines, they could readily find leaks by monitoring vulture activity above the pipelines. Some mercaptans smell like rotting cabbage or eggs. They and related chemicals are released as carcasses decompose.

The above paragraph was taken from an article found at Cornell University’s All About Birds web site. You can click here to read the complete article.

Rain Shortened

Last Sunday’s birding walk was cut very short due to rain (contrary to what the weather service I use had stated). Before the rains drove me away (for the sake of my rather pricey camera and lens) I managed a couple of images.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Canada Goose

Waiting at the edge of the swamp for some ducks to travel past I noticed this Canada Goose nesting atop a beaver lodge.

Viewing the scene above a song bird could be heard close behind me. It turned out to be the first warbler sighting of the year, a Myrtle Warbler.

Myrtle Warbler

The rains arrived shortly after this photo was taken forcing me out of the trails prematurely. However I left optimistic for what this Myrtle Warbler represents to me; the start of spring/summer birding season.

Lastly here is a different version of a photo from the last post, because I rather like it.

European Starling


2 a.m.

The Allman Brothers Play through headphones as I edit bird photos at 2 a.m.. I am anticipating good fortune for todays photo shoot as they call for morning sun [fingers crossed]. Until then I will drink hot coffee and post a few shots taken within the east side trail system of the GSC this spring.

(click photos to enlarge)

Canada Goose 8508
Canada Goose
Eastern Bluebird 0090
Eastern Bluebird
Ring-necked Duck 0895
Ring-necked Duck
Northern Flicker 0147
Northern Flicker
European Starling 0381c
European Starling

Thats about it for this post. Soon I will be off attempting to capture more usable images. Chances should be very good  as spring migration is in full swing. More and more birds will be arriving in the coming days and weeks filling the trails with song, color and activity.

On the way out I have something to add:

These boys reside across the street from where I often park. Not early risers, for you will only hear them bleating around dawn. Later on however they will be in the field checking me out as I break down my tripod and put gear away.

Three Goats 8641
Three Goats


I look forward to seeing them later today, with a camera full of images. Keeping my fingers crossed.


Within The Heronry

Within the eastside trail system is an active heronry. This post shows a few of our Great Blue Herons up close.

At times the large birds appear rather regal in their springtime breeding plumage.

Great Blue Herons are monogomous during breeding season, but will choose a new partner the next year. 

Highly developed eyesight allows them to hunt for food (mainly fish) day or night. This activity occupies close to 90% of their time.

Nests are made of sticks and used year after year (though usually not by the same Herons). A typical nest is two feet across, although it can reach four feet across with nesting material added year after year.

Great blue Herons have an average lifespan of fifteen years. Walking the east side trail sytem one is able to share a small fraction of that time with them. North America’s largest Heron would surely be an enjoyable watch for a nature enthusiast. Bring your binoculars or cameras and be entertained by the Great Blue Heron.

Courtesy Of A Strong Song And Technology

Emanating from the woods this summer, at two different locations (that I know of) was the unique song of the Wood Thrush. So powerfully sung as to enable the song to be heard throughout the dense woods it inhabits (and beyond).Thus if you are near a Wood Thrush in song chances are of hearing a faint return call from another in the woods more distant.          

 listen here (turn up the volume, in the wild it is a strong song)

  Inside the woods I stepped before 7am at the start of a beautiful summer day. The sky was clear, the East Side Trail System awash in soft light at this time (optimal for photography). The woods however are a different story. The Sun being so low on the horizon offers but faint help lighting the grounds within the environment at this hour. I found myself entering the woods, not for photographic opportunity but rather to resolve my curiosity. What bird boldly and persistently sings these intricate songs?

The bird, 75 yards into the woods was easy to spot, I just had to follow the sound. To see him, that is a different story. Because of the lack of light in the woods I remember seeing mostly silhouette. I do not recall seeing the rich brown color, the prominent spots on its breast or the dark spot on the tip of the lower bill. Current day digital cameras are known for being good in low light conditions. I wasn’t hopeful but decided to give it a try.

After adjusting the camera settings for low light conditions the first photo was taken. Next it was viewed on the cameras display screen. I was amazed! Color and detail the lack of light withheld from me was in the cameras image. The camera was seeing the scene better than I was.


 Photographers know that taking photos in low light conditions has a downside, the images are very grainy. Such images are processed with software which smooths out the graininess. However in doing that, much fine detail will be lost. 

So what we have here is an image of lesser quality. That said it is much better than my eyes and brain viewed in real-time. 

And also what we have here is a representation of a moment in time. One in which the stillness of the early morning woods was broken by the communication of a pair of  Wood Thrush  (one close, one distant) and my curiosity driven, stick snapping approach. Surprisingly, upon my approach the Wood Thrush did not take flight.Rather it kept about the bussiness of communicating with another Wood Thrush much farther away.Strongly singing one of the many songs in its repertoire and then waiting for the return song. Time and time and time again.

There was a sense of intimacy for being allowed to witness this display. Not only did I feel at one with nature, I felt blessed as well.

  Technical limitations of the image considered, I am more than pleased with the result.

Happy Thanksgiving

  This past weekend I encountered three Wild Turkeys on the trails. They flew off so quickly I didn’t manage to get a photo.They were surprisingly quiet upon take off. Geese and ducks are the larger birds I usually encounter and they make quite the commotion upon being scared into flight. 

   Today being our national holiday of Thanksgiving, I thought a turkey photo would be appropriate.This past March (mating season) with a few more miles to go before reaching the conservancy, these Wild Turkey were spotted in a farm field.

   Below we have a tom and two jakes displaying their tails to impress the hen(s). They were part of a much larger flock.

   In closing may we all take the time to appreciate the lives we are capable of living on this Thanksgiving. For those traveling may you do so safely. For everyone may the holiday be filled with warmth and good cheer. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wild Turkey