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.