Camera Walk.

The day broke cloudy and warm. It wasn’t a perfect day for photos, but I wasn’t looking for a perfect day. I was looking for a walk with a camera. So, off I go to Magnolia.

Normally, if I don’t stop at the Audubon Swamp, I park by the ticket booths and head directly for the boat landing. Once there a quick glance at the eagle tree showed it to be vacant.

Two Kingfishers were zipping around the boat landing lagoon, always staying just out of range for a clear image.

Snowy Egrets and other white birds save the day in conditions like this.

I decided to head over to the Observation Tower in hopes of catching an eagle fly-by. As I walked underneath the tree where Bald Eagles commonly perch, I heard the unmistakable chirp/whistle of an eagle, followed by the sound of talons grasping a dead tree branch. One had landed right above me. I headed back to the clearing with a good view of the tree.

There simply is no substitute for good light. Below, an image on the left from today’s overcast conditions, and on the right from a sunny day.

Even the most sophisticated post-processing software can’t correct two crucial features of a good image: Distance to subject, and good light. With software, you can correct the color, bring up the whites, bring up the blacks, dehaze, add contrast, raise the shadows…but the result just isn’t the same.

Oh well! It’s still an eagle image. I turned again to head to the tower, and got just a little further when a dark shape passed above me. Vulture? Nope, immature Bald Eagle, joining the adult in a nearby tree.

Meanwhile, it’s windy up there and the adult–apparently a bit distracted–almost fell out of the tree.

Soon the juvenile left, and so did I, carrying with me a memory of the event and a few–if not perfect–images to document what happened. That’s a win in my book.

On to the observation tower! The sky was beginning to lighten up a bit, and there always seem to be wading birds hanging out by the tower.

I only spent a few minutes in the tower, and captured just a few unremarkable fly-by’s. I wanted to move on to Bluebird Bend to see if I could get some more like these from yesterday:

I call it Bluebird Bend because the trail makes a sweeping turn in front of a Bluebird house. It was occupied last year, and as you can see, looks promising for this year too. I wasn’t real happy with this image, there is something strange about it that I can’t really put my finger on. Maybe a focus issue, lack of detail, I’m not sure. But I made a few changes to camera settings and hoped I could get some more shots to compare.

But first, in passing by Perry’s Field, another Bald Eagle. This location was new to me, although I heard about it from others. Not a close shot, and when I tried to sneak closer–take note, tried to sneak up on an eagle–it didn’t pan out.

See how the colors are better on these shots? The light was better than it was for the previous pics.

Eagle says, “Seriously? That’s your best sneak?”

Still headed for Bluebird Bend, but on the way a pleasant surprise–Black Crowned Night Herons. I hadn’t seen one of these since July, in the Audubon Swamp.

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron
Adult Black Crowned Night Heron

The SCDNR was on the river looking to trap something.

Coming up on the small rookery pond now. I like this rookery; it’s remote and easy to approach while staying hidden. Today I’m rewarded with close shots of a drake Wood Duck.

I saw he had made me, so I got ready for the in-flight shot. But, not so ready that I remembered to bump up the shutter speed.

Finally, I am at Bluebird Bend, but no one is at the Inn. I wait for a few minutes, but lunch is calling my name. I’ll come back another day.

One last glance at the rookery pond on my way back, and a uniquely shaped duck looms on the far shore. Is that a diving duck? Yes, a Ring-necked Duck. We always called them Ring-billed Ducks due to the white markings on the bill. But, if you get close enough, they also have a dark ring around their neck.

Well, it’s been a heck of a walk for not expecting much! On the way back to my vehicle, some Camellia and Encore Azalea shots.


Published by Larry Maras

Nature Photographer in Summerville, SC.

One thought on “Camera Walk.

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