Monday, September 9, 2013

Take a Hike!

I was shocked to prep these photos for posting to find I have not shared any photos since this spring!  Where has the summer gone?!  Well I have spent most of it in the office instead of behind the lens, but I did use my paid day off on Labor Day for some rest and relaxation in the woods, and boy am I glad I brought my camera!

Millcreek Metro Park probably has more hidden gems and interesting nooks and crannies than most urban parks.  So while I am not sure what trail I was on or how to find my way back there again, I can tell you it was a perfect day for photos in cloudy Youngstown.

The first hidden gem was a part of the creek that was cut down in a deep gully....when driving on the road above looking down to the creek made my knees wobbly and weak!  But there was a nice trail and boardwalk of stairs that took you right down to the water.

 I am grateful that the water was running low and shallow so I was able to stand in the creek bed to shoot pictures without getting my feet wet.  I really didn't expect to find such a nice spot so I didn't bring my tripod.  But these photos didn't come out half bad for motion water shots taken by hand.

As you can see by these photos I was really taken with the layers and layers of rocks on the was just super neat.  These were taken looking up the creek with this gentle series of spillways, and then the shots below were taken of the little waterfall that went into this perfect clear pool below.  I am not sure I did the set up justice, but the rocks were mossy and slippery and while I want to get the best shots, I really don't want to dunk the camera!

Part of the waterfall and pool below.

A view from atop the trail

 This was the end of the trail near the road.  I was just wondering how that giant round rock got there.

This was a rock skipper's heaven!  There were so many flat stones of all sizes, my inner 7 year old could not resist a try at skipping even in this rocky part of the creek.  And believe it or not I got a triple mini skip!  

 And the last surprise of the day was stumbling upon a doe and her three youngsters as we walked the trail back to the car!

There was a mess of young growth maples and they were just standing there eating, and frankly I am shocked I didn't scare them off before I got there because I was not being quiet.

Mama on alert

 Sometimes a blurry shot can turn out to have a very nice effect as this picture did as they started trotting back into the woods.

Hope to spend a little more time behind the lens this fall and get some awesome shots of the Lord's amazing creation to share with you!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oh Deer!

Last Saturday I decided it was high time to give my new wide angle lens a try over at the daffodil field at Mill Creek Park.  But contrary to my initial plans, using the new lens was not the most exciting part of this photo adventure.

After I gave up trying to fight the bright beaming late afternoon sun and all the shadows that come with it, I put my workhorse 28mm-300mm zoom lens back on my D90 and decided to just enjoy the regular walking path.  While stopped looking at the trail head bulletin board a couple walking by stopped and told us they had just seen a few deer on the path about a quarter mile down.  Of course I practically took off at a sprint.....but after speed walking and scanning the forest along the creek I spied no deer.

 But the creek looked sparkling and gorgeous as it ambled through the carpet of green grass and I saw a worn down footpath off the paved walkway so I clambered down the embankment picking up speed as I did...pausing and shouting back to my #1 assistant who was following me.  As I turned to look back, my trusty assistant grabs my shoulder and turns me almost face to face with four deer!!!  Of course they were beginning to move away as my bull in a china shop behavior is in no way conducive to sneaking up to wild subjects.  But their tails were down, and they were moving slow enough that we could we trailed them along their beaten down path. 

How many deer do you see?  Hope you said three!

I didn't get the awesome perfect photo that I would have wanted....but it was my own fault!!  However tracking those deer through the picture perfect setting as people shouting and strolled at the top of the embankment on the main walkway was still thrilling, fun, and oddly soothing.

Tracks of my Deers

 Another fun highlight after the deer got too far away, on the way back I heard some quacking and looked to find a lovely mallard drake cruising along the creek.  He swam along quacking intermittently and then hopped up onto a rock near a spillway and to preen after a few quick dunks in the water!  Fun to see that happen in the wild for real instead of in a city park next to a football field.

All in all a nice kick off to the spring photo season.  I hope to have more posts as I get out there enjoying the great outdoors!

Deer path

If I was a deer I would want to live here!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Special Sightings

 In the past two weeks I have had not one, but two first time bird sightings!  And both times I was lucky enough to get to my camera before these new feathered friends took flight.

My first unusual sighting happened while I was pacing and talking on the phone....I paused by the window and saw a very strange bird that looked like a combination of a dove, a woodpecker, a sparrow, and a starling....I just couldn't figure what I was looking at.  But it was gorgeous and I took pictures and asked questions later.  After my mom and I consulted the bird book and flipped through every page we came to realize that what we saw was indeed a woodpecker, who feeds on insects on the ground, called a Northern Flicker.  My shots were from pretty far away and don't do it nearly enough justice, but like my Barred owl sighing....I am too excited not to share!

Check out that golden yellow underneath as he flies!!

The male has some red on his breast
   My second sighting was brought to my attention by my outdoorsy Dad.   Although not raised by wolves, my Dad probably spent most of his childhood and young adulthood outside like one.  So he can ID darn near any indigenous species of bird, mammal, or tree.   But while he could ID this common redpoll, he did NOT know they are an arctic finch.

That's right, these little fellas flock together in large numbers from the arctic and northern Canada and migrate south for winter.  However, seeing them in the US can be unusual unless they are in an irruption year.  Apparently I am not the only Ohioan to have see these guys for the first time at a feeder this winter.  According to this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, every year the redpoll's southern migration is forecast based on their natural food sources etc.

 And this year they got it wrong!  The Winter Finch Forecast said there was plenty of chow in Canada so we would not have any visitors, but there have been many sightings of flocks of redpolls and other boreal forest feeders in Ohio.  YAY!

Any regular reader here knows that one of my favorite subjects that makes me see God's handiwork in his Creation are His marvelous avian critters!  I hope you enjoy these guys as much as I did!  In the words of Steve Irwin, "They're GORGEOUS!"

You can really see his beak shape and color good here

Check out the striping on his side

The female - similar but no red breast

Two pair!

She looks cute but she is scrappy at the feeder!