Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Evening Fisherman at Magee Marsh

Birding at the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio.
Saturday evening, while the sun still hung at a respectable level in the sky, Heather (of Heather of the Hills) and I stole over to Magee Marsh. It was a forty-minute drive, which ate up a bit of daylight, so when we arrived we knew we would have to hurry if we wanted to see anything. Almost as soon as we stepped onto the the boardwalk we were rewarded with a sweet glimpse of a Gray-cheeked Thrush. Sitting on the rail, he almost seemed surprised in a "what are you two doing here so late in the day?" sort of way. The last time I saw a Gray-cheeked Thrush was on the Little Miami trail at the height of spring migration in May. Who knows where this little guy had spent his summer--maybe as far north as the upper reaches of Alaska! With fall migration in full swing, our little Gray-cheeked Thrush might have been a new arrival, or maybe he had been hanging around for a few days to fatten up for the rest of his journey south. We watched him through the binocs for a bit until he flew off, then we walked on. With the sun sinking ever closer to the horizon, we started to think this trip was going to turn into nothing more than a reconnaissance mission, but we shouldn't have worried, because as we neared the end of the boardwalk, a beautiful Green Heron stepped into view. He was perched on a mossy log just to the left of the boardwalk on a small pond. A gorgeous bird, his focused stare as he watched tiny fish move beneath the water was mesmerizing. I cranked up the ISO on my camera and took a few shots, but the sun had already given up the fight and was rapidly sinking below the horizon. As the wet log, spongy with green growth, started to darken in the fading light, so too did the heron, making it nearly impossible to capture a clean shot....but...that's what flashes are for! I had never used my flash and had to think about how to activate it. I assumed the heron would fly away as soon as the flash went off, but he didn't. He actually came closer. Maybe the flash was attracting the fish and bringing them to the surface of the water, because he was suddenly able to pluck one out right in front of us--too fast to capture on film. He hung around for a long time while Heather and I, and then another gentleman flashed away. After he was full, he slunk back to the shelter of branches and leaves, deep in the darkness. With that...we three slunk off too. We still had enough light to see through the leaves, but that was about it.

A Green Heron in the fading light at Magee Marsh.

This guy liked the flash and walked closer toward me.

Look at his focused gaze. I love those eyes!!

Stepping through the green growth on the decaying log,
the heron carefully picked his way across the log,
completely stable on those lovely, huge feet of his...
very fun to watch!

I can see why birders love this boardwalk in the spring. It floats over a wet woods thick with trees, insects, ponds, and marshes. It must be a haven for warblers who need easy meals of protein to replenish their fat stores before getting ready to finish the last leg of their journey north over the Great Lakes. I will definitely head up to Lakeside some time this coming spring to catch a bit of spring warbler maddness at Magee Marsh.

The boardwalk in fading sunlight at Magee Marsh.

After stepping off the boardwalk, Heather and I walked to
the other side of the parking lot and down to Lake Erie.
This is what we saw. Lake Erie sunsets are spectacular.

46 comments:

Susan Ellis said...

Brilliant photos and sunset! That Red Sky At Night is gorgeous and the LGH no less so...thanks!

holdingmoments said...

What a beauty that Green Heron is. And very obliging. Lovely captures Kelly in difficult light.
That sunset; perfect end to a day.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow Kelly.... What a neat place to be... I'd love that boardwalk... I probably could live there forever. You got some great pictures of the heron. He must have liked you...

Great sunset photo also. WOW!!!!
Thanks.
Hugs,
Betsy

Cathy B. said...

Beautifull sunset photos!

Roy said...

That was definitely worth the trip Kelly.

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Oh my!!! What a post! This heron shots are awesome miss! Incredibly beautiful! Guess you got some fun over there, did you get a lot of pictures?

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

The Green Heron is a beautiful bird and photographed perfectly. I like the contrasts or I should say I like the subdued lighting and how that contrasts with the colors.

Yes, it was too humid the other day for me to do much of anything.

Thanks for helping me to make history.
Pick a Peck of Pixels

forestal said...

wow sounds like a great spot
wonderful sunset shot

Laure Ferlita said...

Would love to be there with you! Such a gorgeous place.

Kimberly Kaufman said...

Kelly,

I'm so glad you got to experience the magic of Magee! Fall migration is much slower and drawn out, kind of easing it's way through in this quiet, gentle way. But, in the spring, migration comes marching through like a holiday parade! The Magee / Ottawa area is absolutely THE place to be. Kenn has dubbed it "The Warbler Capital of the World!" Not only is the birding just unbelievably phenomenal, but, the air is charged with this wonderful energy. Everyone is happy! Everyone has a huge smile on their face! People will come into the bird observatory with these looks of utter amazement, stuttering and stammering about seeing things like Blackburnian, Cape May, and Parula, right in front of their face! Bird and nature photographers come from all over the world to gather along the boardwalk as the birds forage at eye level. It's an astonishing thing to witness.

I've lived in Ohio all my life, and I never thought I'd travel ANYWHERE. But, since Kenn and I got married almost four years ago, he has taken me to some of the world's greatest birding spots. And, I have to say, there's still no where else on earth I'd rather be birding than Magee in May. I love being there as migration unfolds all around us, but, it takes the joy to an entirely new level when you can share that with thousands of people who really appreciate the experience! It's absolutely crazy -- and absolutely wonderful!

Kenn has done some great maps of Magee and the surrounding areas that really focus on birding. They're available as free downloads through the birding blog that he does for BSBO. (Kenn Kaufman's Best Bets for Birding the Crane Creek / Magee Region) You can get to them through the Observatory's website. www.bsbobird.org.

I hope you'll come out next spring! We've got a huge event planned for May 7 - 16 with tons of guided bird walks (some given entirely in Spanish!!--isn't that cool?!), loaner optics for people who don't own binoculars yet, workshops, trips into areas of the wildlife refuge that are normally OFF LIMITS, and, here's the best part, almost everything is FREE! We'd love to have you there to share the magic of it! Here's a link to the event page: www.biggestweekinamericanbirding.com

Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos of the heron. Ya gotta love Magee!!
~kim

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love these photos Kelly. So glad you had such a nice time...learning and doing what YOU do!!!
We have the beautiful and graceful Blue Heron all over Florida...they are a sight to behold.

Mar said...

Amazing photos! I love herons. The sunset is beautiful!

JKoenig said...

Great pictures, Kelly. I think you were there at exactly the right time!

Jayne said...

Oh wow Kelly! Amazing! The photos, even with a flash are wonderful... and that sunset. Oh, my. What a great afternoon memory.

Mary said...

Wonderful sunset! Such color! That heron is very pretty and your shots are so close. Nice of you to help him see his fish to catch :-)

DK Miller said...

WOW!!! Beautiful photos and sounds like a lovely evening. I loved the Green Heron and its eyes are so intense. The sunset was stunning.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Hi Kelly !! How are you? This is so a beautiful place and shots are as usual fantastic.So lovely and nice..Thanks for sharing..I Will come again.

Kelly said...

Susan...thank you. I couldn't believe that sunset. I had no idea the color would be so intense over Lake Erie. That color is exactly how it showed up on the camera. In person, it wasn't quite as intense, as the darks weren't quite as dark. The contrast happened in the shooting...but it is almost dead on.

Keith...thank you. I had no idea if anything was going to turn out. I was so happy when I downloaded the photos. Since I'm a night owl, I need to get out at night and do a bit more night photography. I know nothing about it...

Betsy...you would love that boardwalk...it's very cool. I'm wondering why it has taken me so long to get up there and spend some time. I'll be back.

Cathy...thank you!! As I said in Keith's comment....right out of the camera....

Roy...it was. Even if we were just able to check it out, it would have been worth it, but being able to study such a cool bird, really was enjoyable.

Chris...thank you!! I didn't get as much birding in as I hoped and therefore not as many pictures. I might have enough for one or two more posts. There were so many wonderful speakers (Kenn Kaufman being one, see Kimberly Kaufman's comments below--he was fantastic), and I wanted to listen to what everyone said. I'm not worried, because I will be back in the spring....and maybe even this winter.....so I'll have more photos then.

Abe....isn't this weather down here crazy? It was so humid and warm yesterday it was like being in Florida. I had all my windows open and was sweating....but I do like the heat. Thank you! I really enjoyed watching this bird. It's like we became friends...he kept getting closer.

Dan....it is a destination spot. If you can make it there, take your son. He would love it too. Sounds like during the spring migration it's almost mandatory!!

Laure....I bet we would have a blast birding. You could paint them while I find them. ...and then I could paint them too. (For anyone reading this...Laure is a fantastic artist, and I'm just starting one of her online art classes. If you have an interest in art...check out her blog.)

Kimberly....Wow...oh Wow!! You and Kenn are my birding heroes, and to see your comments here on my blog really makes my day!!! Thank you for posting all this wonderful information. I'm still in awe that you visited my blog!! Loopy and Doodles speak so highly of you, I've heard all about all the wonderful things you do at the Black Swamp Observatory. Believe me....this spring I will be there. Hopefully I'll have Rick and Matty with me too so they can witness the spring migration.
.....now......I don't speak Spanish, but I am fluent in German! Any German hikes? I definitely want to go on one of those guided tours. Thanks again for all your kind comments. (Had to laugh when I read you saw and remembered "Peanut.")

Suz....gosh....living in Florida I would go crazy with the herons. All year you have such a nice variety. When I was on Pinckney Island near Hilton Head, I got a taste of the variety. You are LUCKY!! Thank you!

Mar...thank you so much. If you love sunsets, head over to Lake Erie....three nights in a row I saw spectacular sunsets. They were nicer than those I would see at the ocean! Such incredible color....

Janice...for that sunset....we definitely were. Those photos were taken at the peak. Only five minutes later and the colors were fading....Thank you! And as for the heron....I doubt I'll ever be around one who behaves like that again! He was so sweet...

Kelly said...

part two...(wouldn't let me post all at once...)


Jayne...thank you!! I know......the colors, the detail...it all worked out for a perfect evening.

Mary....thanks....it was so cute. I actually looked up can a camera flash attract fish...and it can!! I found several entries. A green flash can catch even more. Apparently mullet are very attracted to light....

Diane...thank you......you're close to Lake Michigan....do you ever make it there for sunset. I guess you would have to leave Chicago to get a water view though!! :-)

Unseen...thank you very much!! I was lucky the flash worked...probably because he was so close. The sunset was a total bonus!! :-)

Nature As Is said...

Stunning shots of the Green Heron Kelly and your sunset shot was breathtaking. I'm sure you had a wonderful time while you were there. Sounds like you had fun.

Take Care

Atanasio Fernández García said...

Hi Kelly!! Just seeing the image of the boardwalk, you feel like walk around and discover the sensations to venture into this wonderful wet forest. Cool images of the heron!Greetings1

Heather said...

Kelly, your images of the heron came out so nice! I was very much feeling the limitations of my camera that evening (i.e. doesn't handle low light well), so not very many of my shots came out well. I'll post a few, though. I'm glad Kim left her comment about that 10-day celebration up at Magee in May. I just read about it the other day on 10,000 birds.com, and thought to myself, "Oh my gosh, I am SO there!" Before I forget... they did a slideshow Sunday morning, and there was a picture of you in it. You had your camera in front of your face, but I could tell it was you. I'm guessing it was a photo Dave Lewis took during the Kirtland's hysteria.

Warren Baker said...

Stunning, stunning photo's Kelly. Spent ages looking at that Heron!

Jenny said...

I'm glad you thought to use your flash. It give a whole new look to a bird! That sunset is amazing. Fantastic intense colour! You're having a great trip Kelly! (-:

Phil and Mandy said...

Hi Kelly, Wow, I love that sunset photo. Regards Phil

The Early Birder said...

Hi Peanut, Great captures in the failing light & a fabulous sunset to end the day. I wonder what your night prowling will produce next! FAB

Hilke Breder said...

I love the sunset. It's so painterly, like an Emil Nolde painting - would fit right on the walls of an art museum!

Dave Lewis said...

I told you Magee was the GREATEST PLACE ON EARTH!
I love your Heron photo, I'm jealous and I'm gonna start hanging out in the evenings!
Let me know the next time you're going to visit our neck of the woods!

Shelley said...

I am in love w/ your Green Heron - excellent shot! Lovely series of photos!!

ShySongbird said...

The Heron is beautiful Kelly and that sunset is truly stunning!

NCmountainwoman said...

Spectacular. Absolutely gorgeous photographs. I loved every one of them.

Cicero Sings said...

That truly is a spectacular sunset Kelly. Wow.

dAwN said...

Beautiful photos..ms Peanut Kelly! Someday we will go to Magee marsh..I have heard its a great place..

Eve said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic time Kelly! I'll be going on my first birding trip here in the south tomorrow morning, I can't wait!

Ginnymo said...

Great close up shots of that Green Heron!! I'd love to walk over that boardwalk area. It looks so peaceful. And what a beautiful sunset!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laubaine said...

la premiere image est superbe ...

Wren said...

Great photos of the green heron - I've never gotten that close to one.

You know, I'm only about an hour away from there and I've never been. I really have to fix that.

Chris Petrak said...

I'm catching up - liked your series on the symposium. And this one - gray-cheeked thrush! Good sighting! A friend insists they do pass through my area, but are rarely seen. Of course, we have to pick them out from the bicknell's which nest here. Life can be so tough!

Midmarsh John said...

A lovely evening encounter. Superb photos as always.

JRandSue said...

Great images,your Green Heron shot is fantastic.
Great stuff Kelly.
Just love your Blog.
John.

NPT said...

Great pics.........

Ken Januski said...

Hi Kelly,

Well if you'd gone a week later or us a week earlier our paths would have crossed at Magee. We were there most of Saturday, 09.26. We saw few warblers, no herons, but a number of shorebirds in the very dry mudflats that kept us busy trying to id them for 15-30 minutes (That little adventure and the accompanying watercolor is the latest entry in my blog).

We first heard about Magee while birding near our home in Philadelphia. We'd just come through Ohio and had birded briefly there. While birding we ran into someone from Ohio and he said if you want to bird Ohio you have to bird Magee. So we've been doing so ever since, and there is just never enough time, no matter how much we budget for it!

I look forward to seeing more of your watercolors. The wings on Caspian tern look great.

Ken

Kelly said...

Thanks, Ken!! It was my first time to Magee, and I fell in love with it. I will definitely be there some time this coming spring for spring migration. I wish we had been able to spend more time there. We didn't see much there either, but then again, the sun was setting quickly. Two days earlier, the Kirtland's Warbler was sighted about 10 miles from it. I'll drop by to see you paintings of the Magee shorbirds!

Larry said...

I am so impressed with your Green Heron captures Kelly. I, like you, never thought of using my flash in this situation. What a great idea. Next time I am in the dark, I will remember your Green Heron shot and turn my flash on. Amazing that the bird stayed with the flash going off.

Fabulous sunset to Kelly! Well done!

Kelly said...

...thanks, Larry! I have so much to learn about photography. I'll just keep getting out there and learning I guess. Now.....if I only can find an owl to photograph in the dark.... :-D

yen said...

Hi Kelly,

You must be standing quite close to the Green Heron, fantastic shots.