Wild Ride

Having gotten a decent shot of a red-shouldered hawk at Audubon Acres yesterday, I have the itch to practice wildlife photography today.  I also have the itch to ride my bike.

I slather on several layers of 50 SPF and head off.  It’s about 2PM in the afternoon–not exactly prime time for either wildlife or light.

I cruise casually along the Tennessee Riverpark–the 94 degree heat dissipates as I coast down hills and suffocates me when I go uphill.  At least riding generates a breeze.

I continue on to the Amnicola Marsh.  I find a shady spot to set up and I wait.  This is where I start to question just how much desire I have to be a wildlife photographer.  It’s ridiculously hot for early May.  I feel the heat pounding at me the way I feel the beat of a bass drum at a high-powered rock concert.

Then, the bugs find me.  I am the incarnation of Pig Pen–I have my own cloud.

Sweaty, bitten, itchy, and aching from my heavy pack, I have a hard time being patient.  I have been in the field 5 minutes.

Then, low-and-behold, two green herons fly in and land in a dead tree.  The lighting is horrible, and I’ve arrived without my polarizer, but I do my best to get a decent shot.

I am too far away.  I decide I should try to get closer.  I carefully creep through the scratchy weeds, leaving my bike behind, but hoisting my pack back onto my sore shoulders.  I pick my way around thorns, through spiderwebs, and avoid poison ivy until I am all of 10 feet closer to the tree in question.

I consider moving further in, but the underbrush looks a little thick, I won’t be able to keep an eye on my bike from there, and, well, it looks like my feet might get wet.  I decide to shoot from where I am.

I see a flash of white in my peripheral vision and I swing the lens around to find a snowy egret landing among the lily pads.  Then, it disappears so completely that I believe I’ve imagined it.  The lily pads blow in the breeze and flash white glare back at me, fooling me into thinking there was never a snowy egret at all.

A belted kingfisher makes an appearance.  Although the light is pretty hopeless, I fire off a few shots anyway.  Then, the green heron starts to make his way from a low perch to a high one, catching my attention once more.

Eventually, I head on home. Tisen, having spent 2 whole hours at home alone, had foraged through my not-yet-unpacked suitcase and found the squeaky balls I brought back from Columbus.  I’m happy he entertained himself.  I’m even happier when I see my photos on the big screen and realize there really was a snowy egret!

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.