No, I didn’t spell Wilde wrong, it’s the name of a lake in my home town of Columbia, Md named after Frazier Wilde, one of the original backers of the new town back around the 1950s.
As spring is approaching, the blizzard that was forecast for yesterday turned out just about a half-inch and melted by nightfall. By this afternoon the temperatures were in the mid-40s (F) and the sun was shining. What does that mean? Time to get the camera out, put on the 400mm Zoom lens and take a walk around the lake. The walk started out a bit disappointing, no great Blue Herons at the Dam or on the shed roof where they were earlier this week, when I was without my camera.
As it turned out, only the first third of the circuit was dull. There’s a small platform in the middle of the lake and when I neared it I saw what I’d been hoping for, one of the Great Blue Herons that nest in the nearby rookery, it was a reach even for my 400mm Zoom, but a little cropping works wonders. Another walker spooked this bird, and shots of it flying would have been good, if it flew my direction, but those dared birds only seem to want to fly away from cameras.
As I expected Michael Oberman, one of the more well-known nature photographers in Columbia was on his usual bench at the head of the lake waiting for more birds to show up. And they did. He spotted a Red Shoulder Hawk swooping down to land in a tree across the end of the lake to perch in a tree. Hawks don’t show up too well in winter trees.
One attribute any wildlife photographer must have is patience, and lots of time to “waste”. By now someone just out for a walk stopped by and chatted a while, that happens a lot. Photographers waiting for exotic birds draw crowds. That’s when things started getting more interesting. The hawk decided to get a closer look at us, perching in a tree probably not more than 20′ over our heads. It sat and eyed us for a while. All that time there were a small flock of sparrows in a nearby bush, they were probably very happy that we were there, or a few may have become dinner.
When the hawk decided it was time to head back out to find more fish for dinner it did a nice fly by just for the cameras. and left us waiting for the next show. And it came, not really close enough to satisfy us.
Seeing a Bald Eagle is always a thrilling sight, but today we had to cool our heels and be satisfied with it about half a lake away, that’s probably a quarter-mile. And we usually only see them solo over this lake.
But it was not all over yet. I returned to my car, at the far end of the lake of course, walking back with a friend and his dog. Along the way he mentioned a Witch Hazel tree in bloom. I must have a bit of a cold, I could barely smell it. Maybe next time I’m there I can get the full effect of the aroma.