We were first clued into the fact that something might be in the area by the bridge along the approach to the Day Sail parking area by seeing a stopped car there. The car moved along as we approached. I told Judy to be sure to check it out to see what they might have seen. We saw a Green Heron (our first this year) feeding in the creek. Judy shot several pics from the car. It is handy that when we go birding that she wears her Canon SX30 around her neck in the car!
I parked nearby, and slowly walked with my new camera back to the creek. Actually it is a used camera I bought from a friend and great birder and photographer, but it is new to me - Canon D40 with Canon IS 300 mm lens. It was "love at at first shot"! I love the new outfit even more now! I bought the camera outfit right after I sold my personal "albatross" of cases of sports cards from 1989-1994. It was a stupid investment, but at least I now have something useful that came of it other than basement clutter. It was such great timing that even before I cashed the check I saw that my birding buddy was upgrading his photo equipment and selling off his old stuff. Indeed, some things are made to happen!
So ... I crept up on the heron. It was not too spooky and allowed many pics! I shot a series with the heron stalking wild edibles (bugs?) in the shallow water.
|"Come to me my lovely morsels"|
|I suspect if turtles could run it would have happened right then!|
I know that would have scared any digested vegetation right out of me!
|Turtle: "OK. I am leaving ..."|
|Heron: "Me too".|
I like this pic because it shows the great wing span for a relatively short bird.
|Turtle did not need to bail out - the bird left soon|
|Great lighting shows the subtle green on the upper wings.|
I love this shot!
I guess this was my "one tree day". It is so wonderful that the park leaves dead trees in place rather than removing them like my condo association does! They provide food and nests - besides resting perches - and offer great photographic opportunities! Here is the main tree offering photo opportunities.
|I could have watched birds at this tree all day!|
|It's ... "Rocket Bird"! Wow again!!!|
|Someone told me to "go take a flying leap"...|
|"Look - I can balance on one leg!"|
|"OK, you got your pics! Now go check out the Marsh Wrens over there!"|
|Fellow birders Rick & Connie at LSCMP|
I want to specifically mention this because I was very impressed that they did not want to intrude on our encounter with the birds we were watching! It would have been OK, but they waited until we left the area before going down to look at the birds themselves! It really meant a HUGE deal to me! In this case, we would not have minded; actually I was hoping to share "our" bird! We had our pics already, and it would have been fun to meet them then. But, obviously their concern was memorable to me.
So often the "big lens guys" get a bad rap - and a few times I have bad-rapped them myself because a few have crowded me out when I was watching a special bird in a limited area - usually at Magee Marsh. Yuk! Cannot you wait a minute or two? BUT, it was SO wonderful to see an expression of - geez, I fail for words because it does not happen as often as it should, and I guess words cannot adequately express what I felt? Consideration! I finally got it - yes, that is the word!!! I cannot believe it is a word that came so hard to me! I was thinking concern and humanity. What was I trying to say? (Geez, that was weird ...! But I am rambling ...) Anyway, yes indeed, they were so considerate! OK. That might be a good summation in one word for the "Golden Rule". And, yes, I am quite a bit embarrassed that when thinking of personal interactions, I had trouble remembering something so basic! Is it me - or is it when I consider (verb choice intended ...) "society" today?
On the other hand, I have met so many wonderful bird photographers with big lenses, I truly know the few who seem to create unsavory memories are indeed the exception! Somehow the memories stick in my mind. Yes, I know I must "flush my mental toilet" of those remnants. Today helped reaffirm my faith.
I digressed ...
We left the heron and walked out on the new boardwalk for the first time. Wow, what a difference in Santa Rosa Marsh from a few years ago. Back then the marsh was so engulfed by Phragmites that we could hardly see into it! Duck hunters had forged a couple of trails into it, but we never had desire to slosh our way very far and missed all of the good birds reported by some birders.
A few years ago (really not more than 3 years I think ...), the Metro Park system did a controlled burn of several critical areas around the park including the marsh to eliminate the invasive Phragmites. I think they may also have applied a herbicide beforehand. Whatever, it really worked! What a huge difference! And, then, just this year, they built a boardwalk through part of the marsh. They were still working on it, and the approach from the Day Sail parking lot, but it is open. What a gift to less adventurous birders like Judy and I!
As we walked along the boardwalk, I kept hearing unfamiliar songs. What is that bird? At some point a guy with binocs passed us, and I asked if he knew the song. Marsh Wren. Thanks!
Marsh Wren!!! This is one of the most "secretive" birds of all according to bird books! They were very abundant (maybe a dozen?) and singing everywhere along the new boardwalk on Santa Rosa Marsh at LSCMP. Many times I saw movement and heard singing about 3 feet away (!) but could never see the birds. They are right at my feet and I cannot see them in the vegetation. Fascinating, yet frustrating!
Rick and Connie joined us on the boardwalk. They had driven quite a way and had been on the boardwalk before that day. We really enjoyed talking with them and hearing of their experiences at LSCMP as well as Kensington Metro Park. Good company! We watched for the wrens together.
WOW! What a day! At almost any point after shooting the heron we could have gone home completely satisfied.
Judy and I went to find some shade and chose a picnic table under trees by the parking lot. Some guy was laying out wires on the ground on a grassy mound. What is he doing? Then we noticed a large antenna in the center of the wires. Curiouser and curiouser. Fascinating. Another guy hauled a wagon to a table in the shade under the trees. OK, I was reviewing my pics and cooling off, so it was fun just wondering what would occur. It did not look like a regular picnic.
It turned out that Walt and John are members of the Utica Shelby Emergency Communication Society (USECA). It is an amateur radio club (ham radios). We spoke to them quite awhile and watched as Walt used Morse Code to communicate with people in other states. What fun! It had been years since I was exposed to Morse Code. Walt and John said if we were interested we should join them at a picnic on Sunday at Stoney Creek Metro Park on Sunday.
|Walt "Morse Code" in the shade at LSCMP.|
You can see the antenna in the upper left.
You might wonder why - with a global internet and cell phones - anyone would want to do the ham thing except for fun. Check out the name of the group - about emergency communications. Now think about 9/11 or the massive power outage a couple of years ago - or floods or hurricanes or anything that takes out the power grid and use of any cell towers with it! These guys are ready! The network of hams made a big difference on 9/11!
On Sunday, we also saw one station using voice, and another with the ham rig hooked up to the internet with a special sound card. And all of this was happening with small portable antennas and being run on battery power from a local park!!! These hams do it all of the time - just to hone their skills and stay prepared.
Fascinating! Darn! As if I needed anything new to grab my attention ... But what is life about except continual learning? Keeps me going!
Some USECA members meet outdoors at the Metro Parks frequently, and they accepted my desire to join their Facebook group, so I am sure Judy and I will combine birding with learning more about this great group!
"Birds and Beeps"! Great day!!!