A stroll in the Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary at Wolf Creek Environmental Center led us out over the wetland area via boardwalk. Along the walkway was a late-season water lily bloom, floating on dark waters in the afternoon sun. Nearby, tiny green dots of plant life float. It was warm that day but cold days lie ahead. Nature knows.
A vigorous walk around Hinckley Lake this morning provided plenty of “photo ops.” I got images of at least three Great Blue Herons, a macro shot of a slug (actually kind of pretty), some flowers, a butterfly, and fish thrashing about in the water apparently in the throes of spawning. The shot that was a standout, however, was also something of a surprise. I liked the way the morning sun was playing across some lily pads floating at the edge of the lake. Some of the pads had beaded puddles of water on their waxy tops and the sun outlined them in silver. The camera, set to automatically select a shutter speed appropriate to the light level, saw all that light and darkened the scene: the pads turned black, the puddles showed textures, and the pads seemed to levitate above the glowing surface. The scene, overall, looked somewhat foreboding. Perfect. The title sprang to mind and I couldn’t think of anything better… “Death Pads!”
I visited the Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary of the Medina County Park System this afternoon, seeking the season’s first dragonflies. None were to be seen there. It was, however, a splendid afternoon for a little stroll around the grounds and it’s not like nothing else was worth looking at! The ponds were fairly still and alive with the ripples caused by likely thousands of water-striding insects milling about, doubtless seeking mates. The first lily pads floated, soaking up the day’s sunshine while others could be seen stretching up from beneath the surface. Wriggling amongst the reeds and algae near waters’ edge were hundreds of tadpoles, somehow sensing my presence and quickly hiding. And oh, what’s that, lying in wait for the careless passing fish or tadpole? A medium-sized snapping turtle sat in the mud, barely submerged and barely exposed. The pond may display quiet beauty above, but there’s danger below!
My dragonflies? Oh, they’re likely crawling around underwater in their nymph phase: a terrifying aquatic insect (if you’re a small critter they might find tasty) and will emerge in due course, um, to stalk the skies.
Expecting not-very-nice weather for Sunday, we skipped our Saturday morning errands and headed for Hinckley Lake to rent a canoe. It had been a while since we last paddled around the quiet waters of the park but we set out confidently, She in front with a canoe paddle, I in the back of the boat with a kayak paddle. We actually did fairly well, pretty accurately controlling the boat and maintaining good speed when desired. Of course wildlife, most especially water fowl, are a big attraction for me at Hinckley so I carried the little Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC43 — I did not want to risk getting the Canon SLR or its expensive lenses wet. Of course there are risks of another sort to not carrying one's best at all times!
Cruising along the shoreline (and trying to avoid morning fishermen) She spotted a smallish great blue heron nabbing minnows from water's edge. Judging by its size and its failure to flee it was a young bird we approached close enough to bean with a well-placed toss of a stone! So we circled out, I retrieved the little Panasonic from my pocket, and we passed by the youngster repeatedly as I shot photos. It's actually not a bad little digital snapshot camera but I have grown used to SLR speed and quality. I missed several shots due to shutter lag, got blurry results from others, and had very little telephoto reach. Still, in all, it was quite an experience to observe a truly wild bird in the open at such proximity. One of the barely-acceptable photos was kind of fun… young heron is apparently wet and all ruffled up, seen nearly straight-on. Kind of comical, in fact!
We left the bird in peace and continued our travel paralleling the shore. I'd wanted to get a nice on-water opportunity to photograph a water lily and finally got one. Just one. The only water lily we could reach (due to shallow water boating restrictions) was all by itself, floating in dark water amongst the lily pads — no other blooms anywhere. We took the boat in very close, nearly floating over the flower, I made my shots (three, one fairly good), and headed back out.
It was a pleasant morning on Hinckley Lake.