Negotiating the Sarsaparilla and Jack Pine Trails
The freezing rain stopped at about midnight and the day started off with some blue sky and temperatures slightly above freezing. This meant that walking the trails would be a bit of a challenge. Underfoot was still frozen while, overhead, the trees were dripping water from their ice covered branches or letting loose a small chunk of concave ice. When I arrived at the Sarsaparilla Trail, the silence was almost deafening. No sounds of squirrels. No sounds of chickadees and no sounds of anything. Very eery. Overhead the cloud cover was so thick that, at 2PM, it already felt like it was very close to night time. In fact, it was so dull in the woods that I was concerned that I might be having a problem with my eyes. Looking at my camera settings was reassuring. It wasn’t my eyesight. It was just very dim lighting! Even out in the more open area of the beaver pond, it wasn’t all that much brighter.
I stopped at a few places with my handful of seed beckoning to the Chickadees, which I knew had to be out there somewhere. First one, then a couple and then, within minutes, they found me and zoomed in to my outstretched hand, sometimes trying to land three at a time. Didn’t take them long to finish off a small bag of seed and I headed over to the Jack Pine Trail.
Compared to the days leading up to the day of freezing rain, the trails seemed abandoned. In fact, in a one hour period, I saw less than a dozen people on the Jack Pine Trail and no one on the Sarsaparilla Trail.
As I was trying to photograph this male Hairy Woodpecker at the primary feeder, I was first joined by Rick and later by Steve. Rick had an assortment of feedstuffs for the creatures of the forest. They definitely knew it from his past visits. It wasn’t long before the Chickadees moved over from the feeder to check out what Rick was offering up. Meanwhile, at his feet, the Red Squirrels were beginning to gather for a peanut or two and a couple of deer emerged slowly from the woods.
As I mentioned above, available light in the woods was pretty low due to the heavy overcast skies. Even though I upped the ISO to 1000, and opened the lens up to f2.8, shots like this one of this squirrel, still had to be at shutter speeds of 1/20 sec or lower.
When the deer arrived, they appeared to be rather skittish. We couldn’t see a reason for their skittishness but eventually one bellied up to the bench and ate a goodly portion of deer mash.
As the squirrels began to arrive from different directions, the pace picked up and the squabbles began. In the dim light, they were sometimes tough to follow as they chased each other away from the prime peanut spot.
After Steve arrived, the three of us headed out on the path. The path was generally icy so, in a few spots, care and attention to foot placement and balance was required.
As we got back near to the parking lot, a light haze was hanging over the marsh.
I am quite often alone out on the trail, but walking along with Rick and Steve was an enjoyable experience, as we discussed the merits of today’s new camera technologies from digiscoping to 3D imaging to the fascinating internal processing tricks that even the simplest of Point and Shoot cameras can now do since their internal computing power and programming has become so sophisticated. We never did resolve the issue of what makes a good photo. Is it the lighting, the shadows, the depth of field or some innate level of knowledge and creativity that the top photographers just seem to have? Always good topics and mostly still unresolved 🙂