May 4, 2023
It was the best day ever– as good or better than all the other best days I’ve ever had taking pictures! After a long, cold, Michigan winter, and a wet, dreary spring, I was more than ready for a warm, sunny day. But it didn’t start out warm, or sunny. At seven o’clock in the morning, it was only 39 degrees and overcast. I had left the house thinking it was going to get warmer much faster than it did, and hadn’t dressed appropriately! Standing still taking pictures was bone-chilling cold. By mid-afternoon, though, the temperature had climbed to a blissful 65 degrees and I wrapped myself up in all its warmth.
This particular picture walk started out down by the creek behind our house shortly after sunrise. I was hoping to get some good reflection shots of our resident wood ducks swimming along on the perfectly still waters, but it’s hard to catch a wood duck! They swim off in the opposite direction as soon as they catch a glimpse of me! Today, though, I was lucky. Either they didn’t notice I was there, or they didn’t care, and I took more than enough pictures to keep me happy—at least for a while!
After an hour or so of wood ducks, I continued along a path that followed the creek into our nearby woods hoping to find yellow warblers or kinglets. The kinglets ultimately cooperated, but the warblers did not. I love finding kinglets, but they are an extremely challenging bird to photograph as they flit non-stop from one well-hidden branch to another. I took dozens of shots before pulling myself away and heading home for lunch.
Within an hour, I was off again to another small creek and more pictures! This creek, like the one behind our house, widens to form a small pond, and is an excellent place to find a wide variety of birds. To the naked eye, though, it often seems as if the pond has nothing much to offer. With a telephoto lens, or a good pair of binoculars, a whole new world can open up!
I have visited this pond many, many times over the years, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I discovered the very best place to get good, clear pictures of the birds on the water. Unfortunately, that ‘very best place’ comes with a modicum of anxiety.
In order to access my ‘very best place’, I have to go behind a small, private business along a very busy road. Once behind the building, I have to walk up their back steps to an attached deck where I quietly park myself under their lovely gazebo at the edge of the water. Every time I use this spot, which isn’t often, I fully expect someone to come out of the building and ask me to leave, or to at least ask me what I’m up to!
No one ever does.
Today, however, I really, really wanted someone to come out!! I wanted somebody to ask me what I was doing so I could show them all the beautiful birds they were missing, like the Northern shoveler, the blue-winged teal, the gadwall, the hooded merganser, and the magnificent green heron catching a fish! I wanted to show them the hundreds of turtles sunning themselves on the rocks and logs, and I wanted them to hear the orchestra of birds playing right outside their back door!
But no one ever came.
I was grateful, though, as I always am, to have this little slice of heaven to myself, to not be extricated from my perch, and to find so many beautiful creatures to photograph!
It really was the best day ever!