I can’t help myself: I keep taking pictures of birds that are high up in the sky. There are no reference points to give the photos balance and the birds are too far away to make great shots, but I still want to capture the majesty of a hawk or eagle in full flight.
Tonight the early evening sun gave me an opportunity as a hawk was flying lazy circles above our house. The sun was highlighting under his wings as he effortlessly glided over our neighborhood.
He came a little closer, but was obscured by a tree in our yard.
It was an enjoyable hour, watching a beautiful bird seemingly enjoy the air currents, probably looking for his dinner.
While waiting for him to circle back around a blue jay having a snack from the bird feeder obligingly provided me a shot on the ground.
A glance out the window this afternoon found our chestnut tree full of birds. There was a lot of noisy activity around them, but a core group just sat there. I fetched the camera from upstairs, changed the lens , and still they sat.
After watching awhile I realized they were mostly Cedar Waxwings, which we rarely see, with a variety of our regulars mixed in. An hour later most of them were still there.
The snow has mostly melted and there is water everywhere, from calm ponds to roiling streams. Yesterdays’s road trip started at Westfield Falls in Middletown, where the ascent was a bit dicey, to the view of the Arrigoni Bridge from Harbor Park, ending at a serene pond in the Cromwell Meadows Wildlife Management Area. We saw some wildlife in the Meadows, including a heron, a hawk and some song birds, but none were available for a photo shoot.
After a disappointing trek on Sunday that left me with a multitude of out of focus Osprey shots I decided to stay in the back yard with the camera yesterday.
I chased the squirrels away from our feeders and I waited. And waited. I was about to go back in when the parade started; a few flits at first, then a steady stream of small birds.
I captured Finch, Sparrow, Cardinal, Downy Woodpecker, and Robin who all graciously took turns around the yard. I missed a few. A blue jay didn’t stay long enough, the beautiful female Woodpecker hid behind the maple branches, and the Mocking Bird who has policed our yard for several months didn’t join in.
Back yard male cardinal
I hope to try the Osprey again another day.
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The snow is down to just patches along the CT side of the Long Island Sound. Eolia, the one-time mansion of the Harkness family, and its grounds are now showing off details that can only be seen this time of year. Some, like the ceiling, aren’t fully hidden during summer but could easily be overlooked when the vibrant gardens catch your eye.
These underpinnings of the gardens and the views through the trees will soon be obliterated by the plants and trees that make the gardens and grounds of Eolia so wonderful in the warmer months. It’s been a rugged winter and budding leaves will be a welcome sight.
Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Connecticut is home to Eolia, formerly the summer mansion of the Harkness family. The park includes 230 seaside acres of sweeping lawns, with stately trees and spectacular gardens.
Exploring local sites has been a fun part of going out with the camera. I’ve lived within three miles of Dividend Pond for about 25 years and went there the first time last fall. The Town of Rocky Hill maintains a series of recently created trails around the pond and there are some archaeological ruins of the mills once powered by the water scattered around the property.
I checked in there a few days ago to see if the pond was still frozen over and if the trails were navigable. The pond and the upper end of the falls were easy to get to and offered a variety of photo ops. The lower pond is accessed down a steep slope; going down would have been easy if not pretty. I didn’t try to find out how I would get back up.
Bird visitors have visited our back yard steadily this winter, when all of Connecticut has experienced a heavy snow cover. We have several feeders spread around the yard, with one that is expressly meant to foil the neighborhood squirrels.
Most of the birds are familiar species from other years but this is the first winter we have had a mocking bird live in our yard. He pops out of the holly bush every morning and chases the junkos and other small birds that come to the closest feeder.
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Photographing individual birds has been a fun way to learn the camera’s options.