Tammy and I have been trying to go semi-regularly to the Sweet Marsh State Wildlife Management Area, which happens to be not all that far from our farm. Typically, we go to sit and just watch birds, fish, turtles, muskrats, dragonflies and the rippling water. We realize we could walk around the dikes or various paths. But, we typically get plenty of walking on the farm, so just taking a seat is the more relaxing option. Sweet Marsh is a place where we can go and just observe nature as it goes by us - at least for a little while.
Many people go to the marsh to dip a line in the water and others might hike - and that's just fine with us. We also know some folks go there and capture some amazing pictures of the wildlife (especially the birds). Kip Ladage is an outstanding photographer and we enjoy checking in on his almost daily notes and photos - often featuring Sweet Marsh wildlife. Here are his notes from a day in mid-May. I encourage you to visit his posts and photos further.
I am painfully aware that I am not a photographer in the artistic sense of the word. I have a camera that works well enough and I enjoy trying to frame pictures to capture things I see. Oddly - I haven't brought the camera to Sweet Marsh - until yesterday. I was not sure I would actually take it out, but I was really liking the dark, slate gray color the water was showing me. The high, overcast skies did not help much, but when some darker clouds came in, I decided to give it a go.
I liked the first two pictures in this blog, but the others were a little less satisfactory. But, one trip with a brief point and shoot session is enough to encourage me to try it again another time - perhaps even giving myself permission to spend a bit more time on it. As it is, this still gives me a chance to share with others one of the things we do to calm ourselves and gain some perspective in our lives.
We have enjoyed the opportunity to see some birds that neither of us have observed before. Please note that I say 'observed' versus 'seen.' It is entirely possible we have seen many of these birds in the past, but we have not really observed them. To me, observation implies that we really took a moment to recognize and appreciate their presence. Over the past few weeks we have identified Common Yellowthroats, Yellow Warblers, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes, Scarlet Tanagers, Wood Thrush, Forster's Terns, Baltimore Orioles and much more along with Cardinals, Robins, Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, Canada Geese, American Coots, Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, etc. There have been numerous other birds we have not identified or I have forgotten for this list. Spring-time at the marsh is amazing because the bird populations can change from day to day. It seemed like one day we were enjoying Wood Ducks and Northern Shovelers and the next they were replaced by a host of other migratory birds.
If I can't remember all of the birds we have seen - it's ok. If I see them again in the future, it will be just like I am observing them for the first time. I'm fine with that, as long as I can continue to have the opportunity to appreciate the diverse wildlife our world has to offer.