Monday, March 31, 2014

Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area

Today was the first day I explored area 1 which is the first pull in spot on Amana Road. After putting on boots I walked down the small hill and in to the grass plan. The open area is mainly grass but as you go towards the river you run into colored branches growing out of the grass bed. As I moved close to the river the flatten grass becomes wet and bog like, good thing I put on boots. I moved west along the bank crossing soft bog like grass until I found a muddy gap to cross. There was a bit of trepidation that passed through my mind but I went for it anyway.  About half way through the crossing I lost my balance only to catch myself with my hands, which in the left one was my camera. I quickly wiped the chunks off and moved forward.

I arrived on the bank and waited for the birds to calm down. Most of the birds I saw were Ring Billed Gulls which were easily spooked unlike the Sea Gulls that mob us if we have food around. Their body is predominantly white with grey wings tipped in black. Eyes yellow as well as the bill that has a black ring around the front portion. With my 500mm I got many shots but only a few I believe were worth the trek across the mud. I placed my camera in the bag and made my way back only to lose my balance once more. The mud wanted to keep my boots but I found if I open the hole my boot made by tipping my foot forward, I was able to extract my boot easier. By the time I reached solid ground I was carrying at least 4 pounds of mud on each boot.

I spied birds about a mile or so east, which with the amount of mud I had on each boot, this could be fruitful.
As I moved along I came across scat that could be
coyote. I am not a biologist so I am not completely certain of this but the scat was the size of my dog’s poop.  I made my way to my target area trying to not spook the birds but to no avail. I must work on this skill or I will never get a great close shot. Jim makes it look so easy. As I drew closer I stumbled upon a mallard decoy stuck butt first in the mud. I pulled it out and laid it out for the rising waters to take with it. Maybe it will be a friend to a lonely duck someday.

I finely arrived at a spot that was mostly dry and sat for a spell. Most of the gulls had moved on but a few hung around at somewhat of a distance. I waited to see if some of them would return to a closer position and in that wait I saw a flock of American White Pelican flying over head. Mostly white with black on the back half of the wings they flew south against the strong wind. A few flew close but moved slowly on and for a while I thought I had missed out. After 20 minutes passed I noticed another group of same kind of Pelicans flying over. They were closer and bunched up closer together in formation which lend to some great group shots. Once they passed one more group came over once again or I think it was another group but who cares it was another chance to get more shots.

After the fly over I decided that the gulls were not coming and it was time to move on. Almost 3 hours has
passed since my arrival and I had shot over 100 frames. Half way to my car I noticed how the sun lit up an area of small tree like stems. Some of them were red and some yellow and against the blue sky it created something I hadn’t seen before. As I moved to get the shot I noticed the skeletal remains of a large fish probably eat by coyote due to the lack of trees nearby for birds of prey to eat on.  A few shots of the carnal mess and back to my landscape I originally set out to photograph.

By now thin wispy clouds were forming in the sky and with the red of the twigs I could not ask for a better set up for this time of day. I made several exposures with the sky being in the majority of the frame leaving the land in the bottom quarter portion. Once I was satisfied with the shot I packed up and headed to the car. It was a long enough day and I wanted to get back to see what I really had.

I am not done with this area and will most likely go down there at twilight to take more photos. Not sure if this area lends itself to long exposure black and white shots but with further exploration I may find something yet. This place has a hold on my attention.