Michael's Rediscovery of Nature

Ramblings and observations of a former biologist and a lifelong naturalist, who has recently returned to his roots in east Texas. After a many years of working from coast to coast in an industry far removed from biology, it has been a pleasant change of geography, activity, and attitude. No stressful job decked out in a three piece suit. No city living. Instead there is a rediscovery of the woods, of something scurrying through the leaves, of the clear notes of a bird call, and of reliving the joy that I had when nature was a playground and a classroom.

The Answer to What to do When It's Too Cold to Go Out & Take Pictures

It was a beautiful, sunny morning and, as usual, I was going to go out to sit in my chair by the lake. That's where I try to spend at least a little time each morning, sitting with my camera and binoculars.  The birds are always active to some extent plus it is just a peaceful way to start the morning. 

I opened my door as the coffee was brewing if "brewing" is the right word for coffee in a Keurig.  

Despite the bright sun and clear sky, the air was cold, not chilly, COLD. Those who know me understand that I am not really put off by cold and rarely really let it bother me. They've all seen me running around in short-sleeved shirts half the winter. This morning, though, it just seemed too cold for my usual attire or to even go sit by the water, birds or not. There was just a slight breeze. Just enough to make it a bit uncomfortable with the temperature in the '20s. Well, the upper '20s but that is still pretty cold in a breeze by the water.  

So, the first thought was "Nah". Not today." I looked out again. Not a bird in sight. I listened and heard a Carolina Wren calling in the distance but that was all. Nah. Then, I thought "Well, just for a minute. Let me go look around for just a minute."

I grabbed the camera (which is always attached to the 200-500mm lens) and my binoculars. I stepped outside, then reached back inside the door to grab my light jacket that I keep hanging there. Then I was off to the chair by the water. 

LSLake120418 2 November 30, 2018 001Across the lake, it was beautiful with the bright rising sun lighting up and tinting the shoreline across the lake with a soft golden glow on the fall leaves. I stopped for a moment just to take all that in and the thought came again at how lucky I am to have this view right outside my door. 

I walked over to my chair and decided it was too cold to sit down. I'd just stand there for a minute and then go back inside. 

I saw movement on the other side of the lake and spotted nearly 20 white specks which I knew were likely to be Ring-billed Gulls. A quick look through the camera showed that to be true.  There was nothing else in sight. 

For a few more minutes I just stood there taking in the view and thinking of how much more peaceful this was than being back inside listening to constant negativity on the news. Like many of us, I seem hypnotized by it sometimes. This was so much better. We all need to find a view like this. A view that washes all the other nonsense away and brings the peace that a beautiful fall morning brings. Ah, yes, but maybe not so cold. 

LSLake120418 75 December 04, 2018 002Just as I was about to go back inside, I saw a Common Loon in rapid flight just above the water. I see them often on the lake but rarely see them fly and it is even more rare to see them is such a rapid flight. I took a couple of shots but he was really too far away.

That warmed me up a little. As I started again to leave, I looked towards the south just as a flight of White Pelicans rose over the pines trees. They were in a perfect V formation flying right towards me. What a cool sight and a great chance for photos. Click, click, click. . . . 

Okay. That warmed me up for a minute.  It was fun but it was getting colder there in the light breeze and still in the shadows as the sun was not high enough to hit the bank yet. Time to go. 

As always, I looked around first. Here came a Ring-billed Gull flying in my direction and not far away. Click, click, click . . . 

LSLake120418 161 December 04, 2018 004That got me warm again. At least for a few minutes. I kept watching, then walked over by the new little dock where I stood for a couple of minutes. I was going to look for a bit and then head back to the warmth and to push the button again on the Keurig. 

LSLake120418 166 December 04, 2018 005Movement caught my eye again and I saw a Great Egret flying just above the water in the shadows of the pine trees to the south. He drew up and his wings flared out as he landed. Click, click, click . . . 

A little more warmth filled me, but not for long. I watched the egret for a minute with my left hand in my pocket for my fingers were really getting cold. It was time to quit. After all, I was only coming out for a minute just to look around. 

I scanned the sky again. Just as I was about to turn towards my door, I caught the sight of a dark speck coming around the point headed roughly in my direction. I was pretty sure of what it was by its darkness and the power of its flight. A quick look through the lens verified my impression. It was a Bald Eagle circling slowly about 300 yards away. Click, click, click. . . Too far away for a good shot, but still I always make the attempt.

As I watched through the lens, he turned my way and headed right at me for a bit. Then turned away slightly before he flew not too far away from me. The sun was slightly behind him which kept his head somewhat in shadow from his body and wings but he was so close that I knew the pictures had to be at least decent. Click, click, click. . . ad infinitum.  (I took a few shots, to say the least). 

LSLake120418 124 December 04, 2018 003Well, I just wasn't cold anymore. I was also so thankful for coming outside and not letting the comfort of the heater keep me in watching from the window. 

So, what is the moral of this little adventure? What is the answer to the question of what to do when it is too cold to go outside and take pictures?  

The answer is clear and it is proven by the photos above. When it is too cold to go outside and take pictures - go outside and take pictures anyway.  There are always reasons not to go, not to do this or that. Life happens whether you go or not. I am thankful for whatever made me go this morning for had I not, I would not have anything that would have made this day special. Nothing that would be worth remembering. A good cup of coffee? A comfortable view out my window? Bile spewing from the news? No, none of those would have much value. So instead, I had a terrific morning watching nature and this photo of the eagle to seal the memory. 

 

 

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Tuesday, 18 December 2018
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