Everyday life can be overwhelming. Whether it's a job that is relentless with stress. Kids that never seem to be happy. Frustration when pets that lay down the most foul smelling awfulness known to the planet. My sincere apologies to Andy Dufresne. Sometimes we just need to call a time-out.
When I was younger, I didn't have much of an appreciation for nature. I'm a city boy, born and raised in Pittsburgh. I grew up with asphalt under my feet. Give me Scooby Doo and some Mac N' Cheese, and I'm golden!
My patience level has always been next to nothing. I blame the ADHD. With age, comes a bit of a wake-up call. We aren't immortal. With time, comes reflection. With reflection comes an awakening. An awakening that I still don't find easy. A subtle reminder to take each day as it comes. To appreciate, not just the final result, but the subtle, often overlooked details.
Now back to the point of this post. For me, I needed to find a way to let my mind take a break. To get away. To just.....be. Just so happened that my partner in crime shares this with me. She grew up in the woods. She introduced me to nature.
I woke up!
My love for photography and the calmness of nature. Sure I'm still petrified of snakes, but finding yourselves lost in the woods with a slow drizzle?! That's living!
So I take photographs. Of everything! The shots in these blog posts aren't going to win awards. Not going to sell many prints. They merely represent the slow decompression of a soul.
Yesterday, we took a trip to Moraine to get in some hiking, and hopefully, some wildlife watching. We got both.
And it started off, with me thinking "Words look kinda cool in an upside down bottle of water"...
Our day started at the ranger station...and this scary dude....
After chatting with a few of the rangers regarding potential wildlife spots, we started simple. At the water fowl observation deck on the park's South Shore. Really a cool little spot. Offers you the chance to sit down and take in whatever might come.
I have also become very interested in birds. To be specific, birds of prey. Hawks. Eagles. Owls. At the same time, I've become more and more interested in birds in general. My bag isn't quite set up for bird photography however. Small animals equal larger, faster lenses. Those=BIG MONEY. That is on the list! For now, my shots are with a 70-300 f4/5.6. Not a fast lens and doesn't have the reach you really need. Until I get that big glass, shots like this are just going to have to do. This little guy is a Kingfisher. He stuck around almost the entire time we were at the deck.
Leaving the deck, we traveled over to the other side of the lake to check out the Osprey nest. Osprey, known more commonly as "Fish Hawks" like to nest near water. Common to find the nests on top of large utility poles.
When we first walked to the boat launch, we were disappointed that the nest was empty. Add to that, a rather large collection of people on the launch, our hopes were pretty much crushed. We made a short walk to the bathroom and I heard a familiar call. It was the Osprey returning to the nest. She wasn't really feeling the noise and the people..or the dogs, and she let everyone in ear shot know how she felt.
Now the nest was on the other side of the lake so a good photo op this was not, but seeing these birds will never get old for me. This gives you an idea of a common nesting site.
After the Osprey, we took a short walk to the dam. Quite a few birds along the way. No snakes. Whew. First bird is an Eastern Towhee.
We peaked the curiosity of a few Sparrows along the way?
So, Kristen walks like a freight train. She was a good 100 yards or so ahead of me and I could see something caught her attention. There was a huge bird on a buoy by the dam. Couldn't quite make out what it was but we knew it was a water bird. Turns out it is something of a rare sighting. It was a Double Crested Cormorant.
A what?!? That's what I said! Turns out it is a bird that really is only seen in these parts while migrating. This guy must just be a little ahead of the curve. Again, quite a distance away...
About this time, we were ready to get dirty and do some hiking. We started down the Native Plants/Butterfly Trail. My search continues for an owl, but we did see some cool flowers...and these guys...
And then the rain came....
We came across a section of Pine Trees. I unsuccessfully scanned for an owl when I heard Kristen say..."Come back here. You will take probably the creepiest picture you have ever taken". To be honest, it was pretty creepy.
The rain started to come down pretty good at this point. After a break for some food, we hit Sunken Garden Trail. Quick little hike.
I really enjoy shooting right after storms. I also really like Snickers bars...and puddle reflections...
And a Catbird...
Nice day in the park! The regatta fireworks were the main reason for going, and they were cancelled, but we got in a nice day outside and I snagged some half decent shots. Thanks for taking the time!