Friday: Mountsberg Conservation Area - 9AM- 11AM Temperature: 30C degrees sunny & humid
Sunday: Forks of the Credit - 7:30AM - 10:00AM Temperature: 31C sunny & humid
Similar to all life, I feel like photography, is fairly cyclical. Bird and Wildlife photography amazingly so - and not in the way that most people would expect. Birding in particular is incredibly sensitive to seasons with the spring birding season as the absolute peak. Many a birder and photographer enter into periods of euphoria as millions of birds across hundreds of species make their way up into the thawing forests of Northern Canada & USA. Although spring will always remain my favourite (breeding plumage, variety). Winter is where I've taken some of my absolute best photos. That leaves fall migration (still very good) and finally the worst of all - summer. Early summer can be exciting while witnessing birds battle for territories, young fledglings hatch that provide touching moments of parenthood against all odd, but by the time late summer rolls around we enter the doldrums of birding.
Which leads me to my civic long weekend. I've had some mixed success at Mountsberg (Eastern Phoebe & Water thrush) in mid July - which is why I decided to head back there on Friday morning with hopes of greater success.
To my disappointment the exact opposite occurred - although there were a number of birds, all were very skittish and were either in the tops of trees or hiding behind the thick foliage I began the trip by heading straight to the wildlife viewing blind on the north end of the parking lot to see if I could spot the Water thrush from a few weeks ago - and ended up flushing a purple sandpiper out of the bushes but sadly it flew away before I could get a decent photo! I did however run into a vocal set of swamp sparrows as well as a fearless marsh wren - however neither of which would stay put for longer than a few seconds - too little for a decent shot. I left Mountsberg without anything to write home about, but decided to try my luck earlier in the day at Forks of the Credit.
Another hot morning. as I got into the car at 7AM the sun was already providing ample heat with the air swamped with moisture indicated another blistering day. I thought that going early would provide ample opportunities to photograph Bobolinks - my main target of the expedition. For those who don't know Forks of the Credit provincial park contains two large sections - one grassy meadow, which is spectacular particularly in the fall with golden sunsets, as well as a forest section that runs along the credit river and ends at a beautiful waterfall. Needless to say my goal this morning was to maximize the shots along the meadow trail while the sun did not have its full energy. I did manage to spot a Clay Sparrow in a tree engaging in full song. I snapped a few mediocre shots before proceeding along the trail to see if I could photograph the famed Bobolink hopefully still in breeding plumage. As I rounded a bend in the meadow path a flock of birds suddenly emerged from the tall grass - rats - Bobolinks - I fumbled with my camera and failed miserably to get a full shot as 7 - 8 birds flew off into a tree. From their perch they observed me, almost perplexed as to why someone would spend their time walking in a field to try to photograph them. After a few moments they descended to a lower branch which allowed me to take a few snaps before they flew far deeper into the fields where no paths go, and disappeared into the hot sunny day. I was very happy and lucky to have seen Bobolinks - although can confirm that they were either all female, or immature males, or most likely now out of breeding plumage. Still beautiful birds. Worthy of the challenge to get a stunning photograph of. I guess I will need come back next spring to try again!
The last time I went to Mountsberg I experienced feast - great shots of the phoebe as well as a lifer. This time famine. Which is why I decided to write this post. Most people are very happy to talk about their successes. This one is about the failures. However if it weren't for these expeditions the wall-worthy shots would not be as special.
If anyone has any questions around either location please feel free to send me a note!