Well, it has been pretty rainy here the last week and this week and … yea, next week too! My plans with Jesse for showing this weekend are probably going to be washed out, unless something drastic changes with the weather. The show was supposed to be outdoors and include a cross country class.
The organizer told me that in the case of rain, the cross country would be canceled and the other driving classes would be moved indoors. I was most interested (of course!) in going for the cross country class as a way to start brushing up on Jesse’s skills in prep for the HDT in July that I plan to go to. Oh well, there’s still the even at the end of May, and I’m checking the schedule for anything in June I might be able to attend.
Sure enough, the trailer sale fell through, so for now, it looks like Jesse will be the only one getting hauled around until I can manage to get a bigger trailer. That’s fine enough, though.
In the mean time, I have not been missing out on photography. I have been making every effort to get out and photograph in between working and working horses as well as hanging out at home with the new kitten (oh, yea, I have not mentioned the new kitten yet!).
Where to start? Well, right at the beginning of the month, one of the ladies from the barn rescued a little dying kitten. His mom was run over by a car, and the people who had him had no idea what to do with him. Who knows if he was even getting any food, and for some reason they had him wrapped up in a flea collar I was told. He was weak, couldn’t walk, and was clearly not going to make. Thankfully, he was rescued, and a few days later, since he was still alive, we were asked if we could take him on to finish raising him up and rehome him in a few months.
Well… we certainly took him on, but now he’s been added to the family. Just what I need, right? The choice to keep him was not mine, but the cute little fella, now dubbed Rumpelstiltsken is doing just fine and growing like a little weed. He’ll be 5 weeks old on Saturday and hopefully he will start eating on his own soon.
Here’s the little nugget. I have yet to take “good” photos of him because I want to do them outside and it’s just been too yucky ! I will do them once I have a little time on a nice day.
He’s such a tiny little thing – smaller than the palm of my hand when we first got him. Now his belly is bigger than his head and he’s at least bigger than my hand.
In the mean time, I have been going photo crazy and really accomplishing quite a few improvemenbts. I’ve been seeing some new bird species for me, which is always kind of cool. I would love to be able to photograph mammals and get truly epic photos that involve sprawling views, mountains, and fog, but let’s face it – I’ve seen a wild fox twice in my life. I see coyotes now and again but never have the camera. I’ve seen a wild owl once in my life (this year in fact!). I don’t have plans to take a trip to wildlife abundant locations like the Everglades or Galapagos anytime soon, so I just photograph what is readily available, and in my case, that is birds- and a plethora of them at that!
I haven’t shared any photos on this site in a while, so let me try to catch up.
This was a new species. Normally I don’t bat an eye at ducks, because I am so used to seeing the common Mallards, which while pretty to look at, are as prevalent in the area as Canada Goose, so I rarely reach for the camera when I see one. While out on a photo drive in early April, my husband pointed out these ducks and at first glace I thought they were mallards. It wasn’t until I did pick up the camera that I realized I was seeing a new species (for me).
Two male and two female Blue Winged Teals. Cool!
Another nature drive in April led me to see this fantastic duck – a Wood duck. Also my first time seeing one in person, but I knew what it was the second I saw him. Unfortunately he also flew away the second I saw him, but at least I got this shot off before he and his family was gone.
Of course deer are a common sight, and a park just blocks away from home offer a near guarantee that you will see them, and they will be close to the road. I never see bucks, but so long as you pick the right time of morning or evening, you are almost surely going to see a small herd of does.
With the abundance of rivers and lakes where I live, wading birds are a surefire thing. There are even a few known Bald Eagle locations, but I have rarely gotten close enough to photograph them. I will try this year, but I think my trip to see the eagles on Valentine’s Day is about as good as I am going to get to them this year.
Besides Sandhill Cranes which are found in abundance around here and are usually easy to photograph, we have Herons and Egrets can be every bit as difficult and elusive to photograph as eagles. Getting a good shot of one, I have found to be no small challenge. Over the last 2 years, while photographing with my kit 70-300mm lens, I can’t say I’ve gotten images that are fantastic. In fact, I barely got any images at all, because by the time I got close enough to get a decent photo, these skittish birds are long gone!
I have found that egrets tend to be only slightly less skittish than the great blue herons, so for the last year or two it’s definitely been a challenge to get good shots of these birds. Mission – success!
I’ve been getting luckier and luckier with my heron/egret shots of late, beginning with finding nearby birds in unlikely locations and then having lucky experiences out on hiking trails near a local dam.
This particular egret was in a retention pond right in between a Dick’s Sporting Goods and an Olive Garden! LOL! Of all places to find one. I was pretty close to him, the pond wasn’t that big, and I just sat on the curb in the shopping center driveway and took photos of him!
Eventually he took off, but he did not go far and I lucked out getting a halfway decent photo of him.
After that, on the very same evening, I headed over the to the dam and found a couple egrets sitting in a tree at sunset preening themselves – something I have never seen before!
So happy over my dual preening egrets photo series at dusk, I went back to the dam a day or two later again at dusk and got many pictures I was proud of.
While photographing this Great Blue Heron in a tree preening, a sandhill crane flew right over my head and I landed the best Sandhill photo I’ve ever taken!
And then another Heron was wading in the dam waters and flying from spot to spot to fish. I was shooting directly into the sun with these, which actually made the original photos look like silhouettes. I was able to pull the colors out of the heron since I shoot in RAW, and with the play of late evening sunlight against the waters, I truly thought there would be no way I would ever top this series of photos!
Even though I thought I would never ever get lucky enough to get better photos that those, I went back yet again a few days later… this time on Mother’s Day morning in the fog and mist.
I began walking the nature trail away from the dam, hoping to find some birds nestled in the trees waiting out the light rain, and instead, I found so much more. The very firs thing I found was a female cardinal sitting on her nest, which was new for me! The nest was so nestled into a thick of bushes, that a photo was impossible, but it was neat to see.
A short walk down the path led me to catching my very first goldfinch – a bird that has been evading photos for years! What a feat! They usually flitter so fast from tree to tree I can never get a shot of them, but luckily this one sat still a little bit, probably due to the rain.
Further down the path, I saw this bird hopping about from stump to stump. I didn’t know what it was, but once I got home and put Google to use, I found that it is a common grackle – so yet another new critter for me!
I ended my journey down the path where the water sources stopped and a family of attack geese were on the prowl. Having no interest in being chased or bitten by geese, I turned around and headed back to the car, figuring on it being a mostly good morning with several new experiences.
On the path back, I immediately spotted a green heron! Just the 2nd time I’ve ever found this particular type of bird.
Right above the Green heron, the swallows were having a bug feast. I actually managed to get a couple decent photos of them, and amazingly, even got one in flight – a real accomplishment considering how small they are and how fast they fly!
It didn’t end there! The morning just got better and better! While photographing the swallows (or trying to anyway), I noticed a shadow cross my lens and I looked up only to see a Great Blue Heron flying past me just feet away. It landed on a branch fairly close by and I sat on the ground for quite some time watching it.
Eventually, someone walking the path startled the bird and he flew off, which allowed me to capture a series of it in flight as it flew right past me…
The crowning result of which was this photo:
This may very well be the single best photo I’ve ever taken in my life. I am so immensely proud of this photo and so glad for the incredibly lucky set of circumstances that led to getting it!
I have this photo up for voting on a site called GuruShots. If you have a moment to hop on over to it and vote for it, that would be great. I have also uploaded it to the National Geographic website. I certainly hope it will get noticed!
Once he flew off right in front of me, he landed just a short distance away and I managed to creep up nearer to him without scaring him away, so I was able to get more photos of the bird wading, splashing in the water, and fluffing his feathers! It was really cool!
What a treat it was to watch a Great Blue up so close and get so many photos of him. All totaled, I took about 30 shots. Just putting a few up here!
After I finished having my fill of the GBH, I walked back off the nature path and headed over to the dam where I immediately found another Great Blue and an Egret standing side by side in the white water rapids fishing. Super cool!
It really was a great photo shoot, producing pretty much the best photos I’ve ever taken. I feel like I’ve topped my top, so now I’m not sure how to top the top!! I think a road trip/photo journey is in order! (If only…)
Well, more updates as they come!
Enjoy the day!