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S is for Spring

Spring is for the songbirds.

At last, the forests are filled with song. I’ve made it my goal this year to get out of my (once established, but since broken thanks to excursions in Montana…) comfort zone, and get into the woods and off the trail to where the songbirds are. The last month or so has been spent trudging down steep and mossy ravines, up sharp rock outcuts, through dense brush and tick-littered understory to get up close to the songbirds. Leaving the trail and heading into the backcountry was so new to me last year, but it made me realize something quite beautiful. I find a deeper connectedness to the woods when I create a path of my own.

These photographs represent some of my findings thus far.

An ovenbird on a once downed tree, a black-throated green warbler amongst the lichens, and a chestnut-sided warbler in hawthorn.

S is for spring, and spring is magical.

OVEN 5-14-19.jpg
 
BTGW 5-11-19 II.jpg
 
CSWA 5-7-19.jpg

Cliffsides

Have I wandered too many cliffsides, or need I wander more?

“Is this what you do? Just wander back and forth looking for animals?” Words from a local hiker out for a walk yesterday at my latest obsessive destination. “Not animals, just two birds,” I replied. We each carried on. Twice a week for the last few, I’ve spent hours scouring the sides of a particular ridge (that I am purposely keeping anonymous) and photographing its peregrine pair in all of their splendor. Apparently it’s just slightly more difficult to remain inconspicuous with a 500mm resting on my shoulder.

On the best days I have the cliffs to myself. I walk freely up and down the ridge, following the birds as I wish. Their habits have become predictable with time, choosing familiar perches, circling for lift on the right winds. I know just how close I can be, and how comfortable they are with me being there. This time of year, the male hunts while his mate sits on the nest. Each day I’m there, he delivers her a new prey item. Last week a young red-winged blackbird, yesterday a mourning dove. I’ve began to predict what it will be in days following. It’s all so familiar, bringing me back to the start of this journey along the Palisades cliffs of Jersey. I with many others would wait high above the Hudson river, and stake out a different pair of peregrines; the pair that sparked my addiction. It was always a social gathering it seemed, very seldom allowing solitude. But here, hundreds of miles from any Parkway, I’ve found a haven. This is a place where I can escape and feel a true appreciation for a remarkable species. A real environment, all in my loneliness.

 
 

K

Makai

In Hawaiian, the word Makai means “towards the sea.”

Ever since a young age, I’ve found within myself a deep love for the oceans, the fish, the ecosystems and the coastlines that connect them to us on land. There’s a certain feeling that comes with being around the ocean, whether it’s standing on the shore looking out at its vastness, floating on it from a boat, diving under the surface of the water; it is somewhat indescribable. I believe the only way to truly describe it is to go out there, and experience it for yourself. I felt it in Hawaii, as I swam amongst the fish and reefs, admired the birds in flight over the waves, hiked through the most vibrant forests and climbed lookouts, all surrounded by the Pacific. I felt free, and refreshed by the deep blue ocean hues and intermingled coral reefs just waiting for adventure. To know that there is a place out there where this exists, where the ocean surrounds you and lives with you, is truly something special. Perhaps there is room for me.

Hawaii, you’re unlike any other place on this planet. I will be thinking of you, until we meet again.

Kyle