I made a quick run to western Maine for a long weekend. I’d been to coastal Maine several times but I hadn’t been to the inland area. I didn’t know where to go, but I didn’t want to drive forever, so I looked at a map for an area that had lots of lakes and less than five hours away from my Vermont home.
I ended up in the Rangeley area and I was glad I did. It has the most spectacular scenery east of the Rockies. I was stunned.
One of my goals for the weekend was to photograph moose. As I was driving through New Hampshire, there was a moose eating her lunch along the road. If it wasn’t for the five cars that had stopped to watch, I don’t know that I would have seen her. I hopped out of the Jeep, but she was pretty backlit and she headed for the woods after I got off about 10 shots. It was fun but I wanted more.
Today was a top 10 weather day of the year, so I headed to the Raritan River hoping to find a heron or two. I went to a county park that is mainly a flood zone, there are a couple of soccer fields mowed among the tall grasses and a path to the river. I grabbed a bunch of gear and hiked over to the river.
Right away I saw a heron about 150 yards downstream. Wow, my lucky day, perfect weather and a beautiful bird right away. I needed to get much closer and rather than walk along the river and scare it away, I headed away from the river and into the tall grass, which was over my head. As I started walking, I could hear voices but there weren’t any other people in this part of the park.
I walked a ways and then I saw the noise was coming from a fishing boat floating down the river. My luck ran out and the heron was gone by the time I got back to the river’s edge. I decided to sit along the river and see if the heron would come back, they frequently hang out in the same place day after day. I sat pretty still for over an hour but no heron or anything else.
Some days I get pretty mad when it doesn’t look like I’m going to get a shot. But the day was so perfect I decided it really didn’t matter if I got a picture or not, I would just enjoy what was there. As the sun was starting to get low, I hiked back to my Jeep.
I put my gear away and noticed some swallows, red-wing blackbirds, starlings and robins in a mowed area near the parking lot. So I watched them for a minute and they were pretty animated. I moved my Jeep so I could shoot out the window along a split-rail fence and into the grassy area. I shot some birds hopping and flying around and then a barn swallow landed on the fence right in front of my Jeep. Of course, I couldn’t shoot out the open window so I had to shoot through the windshield, which I hate doing. The windshield can distort the image and do some strange reflections. But I didn’t have any choice, the bird was nice and close and it was preening and acting a liitle goofy. It wasn’t the shot I thought I’d get, but I like it.
The fall foliage season is strange this year in Vermont. Some areas had two peaks of color, some none. I drove from Woodstock to Addison looking for color along the way. The leaves are down in Killington but just peaking in the Castleton area only 20 miles away, but a much lower elevation. But the weather wasn’t very good, lots of spots of rain.
Earlier in South Woodstock I came across this little barn with a couple of horses out front. I like the way the sun came across the horses and the barn. The satellite dish was an extra touch.
I drove back past where I photographed the bull moose yesterday, just hoping he might still be hanging around. He wasn’t. So I went to a beaver pond near Barnard, Vt., about a mile away. I photographed some cedar wax wings flying around the trees. I hung out for about an hour and a half but there wasn’t much going on. On the road I saw a candy wrapper, so I walked over to pick it up. I looked at the pond and beaver was swimming toward me. I went back to the Jeep to get the camera, but I feared my movement might scare it. The beaver turned around and twacked the water with its tail. I thought I was done, but it kept swimming around. It came closer to me and didn’t mind my presence. As it was going back and forth another one appeared. They both swam around in front of me for a while but I was blocked from clear shots by branches and weeds. They would pop into the open and I got a few shots I like.
I was driving through Pomfret, Vt., with Robin and our friends Jayne and Frank when Frank yelled, “There’s a moose!” Yea right, I’ve been constantly looking for moose for the last four years. Vermont is packed with “Moose Crossing” road signs but I am certain they were put up by the department of tourism. The signs are everywhere but the moose must be able to read them because the moose are never near the signs. In fact, they don’t even have pictures of moose on the signs like they do for deer, people or cattle, just the words, so I don’t think the Vermont department of tourist knows what they look like.
So there we are, cruising along with Frank yelling MOOSE!!! and I could tell he wasn’t joking. So I turned the Jeep around quickly and got back to the field where Frank got excited. Sure enough, standing in a little meadow was a big bull moose grazing on the grass. I pulled off the road and the moose looked at us and started to wander up the hill. I ran to the back of the Jeep and grabbed my camera and fired plenty of shots as Bullwinkle trotted off into the trees.
At sunrise today I was wandering around Colonial Park, in Franklin, NJ. I wasn’t feeling it, I was having real trouble finding a picture I liked even though it was a beautiful morning. The light and what little colorful foliage that is still around didn’t come together for me. I was about to give up and I was headed back to my car when I saw a bird with long legs land beside a pond. I didn’t recognize the bird, so I tried to get closer. I couldn’t see it in the reeds and grass along the pond and it flew about 20 feet away. I didn’t have my long lens so I went to the car and go it.
When I came back, the bird hadn’t moved but the lighting was really bad on it. The only way to get good light was to be in the middle of the pond, and that wasn’t happening. So I crept up on it and made some shots. I thought it might be a green heron, but it wasn’t big enough. It just sat there staring into the water, it didn’t move. I still didn’t know what I was shooting, but it stuck its neck out real long and then shook off before taking flight. I went through my bird book and looked online when I got home and I think it is an immature black-crowned night heron. Let me know if I’m right or wrong.
I headed off to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge this morning. I thought with the cool morning air and water still being warm there mist be some nice mist shots as the sun came up. If they were there, I didn’t find them.
I was driving down a small gravel road and saw a red fox in the road about 1/4 mile ahead of me. As I got closer, it went into the trees but I couldn’t see it anymore. I creeped away and saw it in my mirror, so I turned around and slowly drove back toward it. It didn’t mind me being there as long as I kept my distance, so I followed it for a while. It stopped a few times and I took pictures through my windshield. It stopped and looked at something in the grass. The fox hunched down and got ready to pounce and then it jumped through the air and landed on a vole. It brought the tasty breakfast back to the road, gobbled it down and then walked toward me as I shot more pictures through the windshield. The fox walked right past me on the road that is barely wide enough for two cars. It didn’t even look up to see what I was doing, it just went back to where I first saw it and headed back into the trees.
My favorite bird is the Great Blue Heron. They are pretty and they make me smile when they walk. They are pretty skittish, I haven’t found a way to sneak up on one, but if I see one working the shore of a pond, I know if I stay still, it may walk right in front of me. This morning I saw one sitting on a small log in a pond. I pulled my Jeep off the edge of the road and the bird stayed put. I sat there for over an hour taking pictures of the heron on the log and then walking through the grass. When it was in the reeds it would peek through while looking for some breakfast.
I took a walk with one of our dogs in Duke Island Park in Bridgewater, NJ, late this afternoon. As we pulled into the park, I saw there were tons of Canada geese in a field by the road. That isn’t uncommon around here so I didn’t pay much attention to them. As Zian and I were walking, the geese took flight with a lot of noise. They were in four or five flocks and circled around and all landed in a small pond with a lot of commotion. We were about done with our walk so I put the dog in the car and pulled out the camera. There were are 250 geese in the pond and I sat there for a while hoping they would all take off again at once so I could get one of those cool geese taking flight shots. They didn’t, but I enjoyed watching them floating and bitching at each other.
When I got up this morning, there was a rather heavy fog covering Woodstock, Vermont. It happens fairly often in the fall, the fog seems to lay in through the valley that surrounds the village. Usually when I head east toward the Conneticut River, it gets worse. It isn’t the fun, pretty kind of fog, it is fairly high and pretty much just blocks the sun.
Today I went west and south hoping to escape the heavy fog. As I drove up some hills, I got away from the worst of the fog. As the sun was coming up shooting through the trees. I stopped along a dirt road for a nice scene and then came upon a farm on top of a hill.
There was a large barn and cows out in the field as misty fog floated in the hills. One of the cows was wanting to get in the barn and stopped to see what I was doing or she wanted to pose for some photos. Either way, she made some nice shots.
After I was done with the cows, I was standing along the road to see if the fog in the valley would make a photo. I thought being on a dirt road in the middle of Vermont would be lonely, but three other photographers showed up. They were nice and one, Judy Lombardi, is from Vermont and she was happy to tell me some other places that make nice photos.
In Woodstock, Vt., is the only national park dedicated to farming. The Marsh-Billings National Park is a working farm with Jersey cows, horses and lots of other critters. It is a fun place to visit, especially at sunrise before the crowd arrives.
I looked out my office window today and saw a praying mantis crawling around on a bush. I had to go out and make some portraits.
I always enjoy a dog with his head hanging out a car window. This pooch was ready for a ride in the kayak.
I left the office in East Brunswick today and was enjoying the puffy clouds. I saw a flock of buzzards circling, which isn’t unusual. One of the largest landfills on the east coast is just a couple of miles away and there are plenty of buzzards and gulls hanging out there looking for dinner. The office is right beside the NJ Turnpike, so I’m standing in a parking lot listening to 12 lanes of traffic, watching birds coated in landfill stuff and then I see the airplanes lining up to land at Newark Airport. This wasn’t exactly the scene I enjoyed this summer as bald and golden eagles soared past me in Alaska, but it was pretty cool.
We were having a lovely dinner on the deck at my sister-in-law Penny’s house when she noticed a woodpecker pounding away on an apple. The bird pecked away about a quarter of the fruit without it falling off the tree. We couldn’t tell if he had a thing for apples or was after worms and bugs inside. Either way, the apple won’t become cider now.
I went to the Somerset County courthouse in Somerville tonight after the sun went down. The historic courthouse has great architecture, it was built in 1909 with lots of marble. There’s a walkway under the main steps to the second floor that has an arch. The lights in the walkway have a yellow tint and it catches my eye every time I drive. I was hoping a person would slowly walk through the arch but there isn’t much foot traffic in the evening. I stood there for a while and cat made its way up a sidewalk to the arch, stopped to pose long enough for me to take two shots and then it moved on.