Some Cooperation Finally

I know that for every good day of photography there is a bad day, or two. The more images we get, the more critical we get, and then the more bad days we get. It’s a good thing. If not the internet would have even more out of focus cat pictures.

Last week was more bad than good. We had the opportunities. One day we watched an amazing display by Ospreys. We managed some fair photos, no good ones though. None would tell a story, which is what we always want.

The good news was a better day appeared right after.

The other day, before the ground thawed and the spring mud took over, I went down to the local marsh lands. As soon as I arrived a large Red Tailed Hawk came into the open area. He stayed, preened, and gave me the ‘eye’ for intruding. This was an extra large bird and the coloring amazing. I was able to take plenty of shots.

 

Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk

Since the morning thaw happens quickly this time of year most of my trip to the marsh was spent with the Hawk.

Soon after I left the marsh a totally different type of bird, a Downy Woodpecker, gave me another surprise. This was the fact that he was lounging in the sun. Have you ever seen one these sit still for even a minute? He out lasted me. Last I saw the bird was still sun bathing.

The day ended with another raptor. This time a Broad Winged Hawk.  Talk about cooperation. I down loaded files from the camera, taken the memory card out….and failed to add a new one! I stood under the tree limb he was on and happily shot away. But it didn’t feel right. A quick look at the back screen and I knew exactly why. So now what? I went to my sling pack, retrieved a card, loaded it. Walked back and started all over. The Hawk sat and watched me to see what I was doing.

Broad Winged Hawk
Broad Winged Hawk

While this fiasco was happening small birds just hopped around in the trees with no sign of concern. A Blue Jay actually dove down on the Hawk.

Broad Winged Hawk
Broad Winged Hawk

In spite of myself I managed to get a few decent photos. Talk about a dumb mistake. Mad at myself yet relieved for the shots I called it a day. Quit while I was ahead.

I Prefer My Mansions Haunted

The Harkness Mansion in Connecticut is an incredibly beautiful building. There are also large Victorian style gardens, open fields, marsh lands, and it’s topped off with rolling waves on a  rocky beach. Something for everyone. This is all part of the Harkness state park we photographed a few months ago.

I visited this time on a bright and sunny winter day. However there were a few shots that just seemed to need a different presentation. So here I have tried to have a ‘haunted’ mansion feel.

Harkness Mansion Connecticut
Click To Enlarge

 

Harkness Mansion Connecticut
Harkness Mansion Connecticut

 

Lately I’ve been slowly adding the short lens back into my photography.  Like the shots here, it is back to the basics. Compose the picture, set the camera, use multiple shots and exposure, then process back in the office.

Typically I have myself set up with a long telephoto lens, mounted on a monopod, and a sling pack of misc. stuff. I photograph anything that blinks!

Part of me likes how much more territory is available in the view finder. How lightweight everything is and there is no mad rush to get the shot right.

Still I am positive a once in a life time wildlife picture, say an Eagle in a top hat riding a Moose in  pajamas, will present itself and I will not be ready.

Winter Mallards

All winter the ponds, parks, and rivers have one constant, Mallards.

In the rivers and woods they will quickly fly away. But in the parks and ponds just float and wait for food to appear.

No matter where, they are bright and colorful.  Over the past few months I have collected numerous photos. I thought at this point they should be added here.  It may be snowing and cold yet, but spring is around the corner and the Mallards will be too busy to pay attention to us.

Mallards
Mallards
Mallards
Mallards
Mallards
Mallards

 

At The Bent Of The River

No, that’s not a typo. Bent Of The River is an Audubon Center preserve in Southbury Connecticut. It also happens to be on a bend of the Pomperaug river.

The car was parked in deep mud, everything else was either solid ice or hard crust snow. This was my first time here so I was not sure of where any trails might be.  A path along the banks of the stream seemed as good as any place.

IMG_7932It was completely void of movement. The brook was full and rushing however the only hint of life were tree stumps left behind by local Beavers.  The fields and stream are beautiful this time of year so there was plenty of landscape photos to take.

We finally did find the centers barn and being an Audubon preserve, bird feeders. Everywhere. A field and barn yard filled with small birds. The barn has a porch over looking the fields. It’s a great place to take a million photos of the local small birds. Like the thousand other shots we already have. But of course we stayed and photographed everything that moved.

For me the real find was an Eastern Blue Bird on the road back to the car. I don’t remember the last time I saw one.

Eastern Blue Bird

Eastern Blue Bird
Eastern Blue Bird

The final show was announced before we could see it. Crows, loud and then diving around the wood line. Finally a Broadwing Hawk flew off and high followed by the crows on his tail.

Crows Chasing Hawk
Crows Chasing Hawk

All in all it is a great place to wander around in and we will be back, in summer.

 

The River Is Open

Over the last few months many of the articles here revolved around the frozen Connecticut river. At times this year the river bed was like a highway. I photographed coyotes, eagles, and numerous other animals all along the river stretching from Hartford south to the shore.

Now, mid March, the river is officially open. So far no floods, a few ice jams, but nothing of concern yet. To the north I’m sure much of the Connecticut river is still iced over. We may still have an adventure or two.

IMG_7475Once the river opens a entirely new group of residents come back.

Ring Necked Duck
Ring Necked Duck

Ring Necks did better than most ducks during the period of hunting for feathers in the 1800s. In New England, especially Connecticut, hats were a big business. Think the Stetson cow boy hat. Made down the road, not anywhere near the wild west.  While other birds were hunted to near extinction Ring Necks did fine. They don’t gather in large flocks and stay in the rivers away from all the shore birds, and people.

Loons are usually associated with Maine. Not in the winter. They move down the rivers following the freeze. Finally they stay around the salt water inlets until spring. They also have a complete new ‘look’ in winter.

Common Loon
Common Loon

The first time you see the small Horned Grebe there is a shock. They are not wounded, just have weird eyes.

Like the Grebe, a Red Breasted Merganser will dive and stay submerged on the bottom for long periods of time. We have several different types of Mergansers but the Red Breasted seems to be the most prevalent this year.

Red Breasted Merganser
Red Breasted Merganser
Red Breasted Merganser
Red Breasted Merganser

I haven’t included any geese or mallards since they appear everywhere and I have a series to be written that prominently feature them as photography examples anyway.

Oh, and there is another important item related to the rivers opening. The mud has arrived.

Beach Of Shells

Last week we went to the Connecticut shore with the idea of getting different types of photographs.  With all the snow piled on the roads I found myself going to the same locations too often.  With spring coming it won’t be long until we need to change our style of images. Trees will have leaves hiding wildlife and bushes will block views.

Ice Connecticut Shore
Ice Connecticut Shore
Connecticut Beach Of Shells
Connecticut Beach Of Shells
Connecticut Shore Gull
Connecticut Shore Gull

While sitting and resting awhile I noticed large parts of the beach had no sand at all. Snow was melting and as far as you looked the ground was covered with small shells. It’s easy to assume a beach with sand when looking at photos. Here, millions of tiny shells with different shapes and colors.

Beach Of Shells
Beach Of Shells

I find the most amazing things while holding the camera and looking for the next shot.

 

TPJ Photography