Friday, July 1, 2011

Test Drive

After years of complaining about missed shots because the subject was too far away, or my equipment was too slow, I finally acquired a new (to me), fast 500mm telephoto lens. I was up at the crack of dawn and drove to Great Meadows to give the new lens a test drive.

I had not ventured far from the parking lot before I saw my first photo opportunity. A Common Yellowthroat was posing on a bush in the marsh, with the first rays of sunlight.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

A bit further into the refuge, there was a Redwinged Blackbird, calling and sitting on the top of a reed. (I know I have a lot of these photos, but the light was sweet and to test the new lens I needed something known to compare it to.)

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

My morning commute quickly came to a crawl as I encountered the geese. Since I was the first visitor of the day, they were a bit reluctant to make way. Making plenty of noise while walking they reluctantly started to make room to let me pass. Still making me "run the gauntlet" of hissing geese and goose droppings.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

It was photographic opportunities like this Marsh Wren that motivated me to upgrade my equipment. While the Cat Tail Reeds are making this shot more challenging, this little bird did his best to cooperate. He would periodically fly back to the same perch to sing. He's gotten pretty habituated to humans, often flying within inches of my body as he flew to and fro.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

With the hot weather the dragonflies are starting to become much more active. It was strange taking a macro type photograph from 15 feet away...but that is this lense's minimum focusing distance.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

Continuing on around the impoundment I learned why I see so few photographers with long lenses here...they are heavy and the weight makes your shoulder sore. I did see this bit of feathers caught on a snag. It was a reminder of the hard realities of life at the refuge. I wonder was truly happened.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

Back along the Timber Trail I encountered this Downy Woodpecker wandering from tree to tree.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

At the corner of the old railroad bed and the road to the maintenance barn, I encountered a cluster of small birds in the trees. There quickly flitted from branch to branch. They generally moved faster than I could find them and focus with my new lens. With time I got better and was able to get off a few "good" shots. Here's a Tufted Titmouse with a very busy background. Something Black and White caught my eye. As I turned to take yet another chickadee photo, I was pleasantly surprised to find that what I had seen was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110630 &emdash;

It was only after I returned home that I realized that I've reach the calendar mid-point in this year long project. This makes my fifty-fifth visit to Great Meadows. On one hand it seems like this project just started, on the other I feel like I've been doing it forever. It will be exciting to see what the second half of the year has in store.

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