Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wings On The Wind

As a birder, butterfly and dragonfly photographer, choosing to go out on a windy day brings all sorts of challenges. The first being, birds are hunkering down with the change in the weather, even if it is for a change to fair skies and warmer temps. That was the kind of day I ventured out to visit my local Huron / Clinton Metropark, Indian Springs in White Lake Twp., Michigan. A fifteen minute drive from my home.

My first stop was to the Nature Center where I can usually find something to observe. Funny how the cool things hang out near the Nature Center. I stopped by the pond and found a very healthy looking Green Frog enjoying the duckweed in its environment. A few feet away, a meadow of wildflowers and milkweed attracted a Monarch Butterfly. I took a quick photo of the frog and then off to watch the Monarch. Given the windy conditions, I was surprised to see the Monarch handling the wind as well as it did. A very cooperative Monarch posed momentarily on the milkwood and I was able to get nice images with the wind whipping in my face.

The day was hospitable for the Turkey Vulture soaring in the warm winds, the Great Egret was buffeted in flight by the strong westerlies and the Cedar Waxwing was unphased as it clung to its perch on a young tamarack tree. The barn swallows and tree swallows were a delight as they seemed to enjoy the extra lift under their graceful wings.

After a trip to the pond, and was returning an unneeded tripod to my car, I happened to run into some friends who are fellow members of the West Oakland Camera Club. They were there to watch the Cedar Waxwings at the marsh lake a short distance from the Nature Center. I joined them for the short hike and conversation about the Cedar Waxwings and how they enjoyed their antics and the seemingly friendly nature of the birds. We were strategizing on how to get close to them for easier viewing. We walked closer, and the birds didn't mind, so there are more opportunities for close up photography. We concluded our visit and they were on their way. I stayed on to watch for more butterflies, but only the Monarch would make an appearance on such a windy day.

My next trip was to the Environmental Discovery Center to look for dragonflies. The center has a central pond surrounded by marsh, cattails, meadows and Massasauga rattlesnake habitat. You have you watch your step when venturing near the pond edges. The snake is shy, but is present and visitors are instructed by signage to stay on the designated pathway. The snake doesn't like the gravel paths or stoney surfaces, so one must be very observant if wandering off into the grassy areas surrounding the pond. I wasn't dressed in high boots, just my Keens, so I kept to the designated path for the most part. It wasn't very long before I found a male Widow Skimmer and a male Eastern Pondhawk perching on the grasses. The frogs were watching my every move as they lay in the shallows under the protection of the cattails surrounding the stone steps leading to the pond edge. The Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly kept returning to the same step beneath my feet as I enjoyed the scenery at the pond.

My trip lasted a few hours and satisfied my need to be in nature for the day, I returned home, but not without another life time observation, a coyote ran safely in front of my car as I drove the road that runs between Indian Springs Metropark and the Pontiac Lake State Recreation area. That was a first for me, a coyote out in the woods close to suburbia. Even the coyote was enjoying its day out in the northern woods of suburban Detroit, Michigan.

It was a beautiful day and won't think twice about heading out on such a windy and challenging photography day.
Get out and enjoy the day!


dAwN said...

sounds like a great day of communing with nature! Sometimes windy days are the best!
Great to see your new blog post!
Awesome pics!
Keep it coming!

Julie said...

While reading your blog & viewing the stunning photos, I was joyfully transported to Indian Springs Metropark & The Environmental Discovery Center. Thank you for the beautiful expression of words & allowing us to experience a little bit of glorious nature along with you.

Todd J. List said...

I love your photos. Indian Springs is a beautiful area. Thank you for showing another level of detail there!