An Update or Two

    I want to thank the crappy few days of weather we received this past weekend for this post.  Rather than writing about my breathtaking adventure to the valleys of Shenandoah National Park, I’m stuck here writing about where I want to be. 

    Yes.  Snow, 30mph winds and below freezing temperatures the second week in April will do it.  Backpacking Shenandoah, the one thing I was looking forward to for months on end was canceled this past weekend.  I was really bummed out about this because I don’t get any real nature down here at school.  Being stuck right in the middle of suburban Maryland keeps it from me.  I really do enjoy the area for other aspects, but not being able to throw a rock and hit the great outdoors is something that is slowly but surely driving me crazy.   

    The good news is that spring is here.  Many birds are beginning their migrations north while others have already arrived.  Local raptors are either sitting on eggs or fledging young already.  Warbler migration is starting to show early signs along the east coast, with the majority of species only a month or so away.  Even the milky way is beginning to shine brighter with each passing week.  So there is a ton to look forward to.  A summer spent working along the shore is most definitely leading the way.  I cannot wait to start shooting again!

    In preparation for my trip (that didn’t happen) I made a few upgrades to my gear.  I purchased a few new gadgets to better the use of my GoPro camera.  For those of you who don’t know, GoPro cameras are just as good for shooting scenery as they are for action sports.  In fact, I know many photographers that pack these cameras in their bags for either time-lapse, landscape or just different perspective shots.  I have had mine for a few years now, but I haven’t shot with it much, since I spend most of my time shooting with my Canon. This past week I bought a time-lapse device and a small tripod for it.  Just from the few tests I’ve filmed around campus, I can tell that it is going to be super fun.  

Just for comparison, here is a shot I took this past winter:

    Not the greatest color from the valley in the dead of winter, but you can really see how wide the lens is on the GoPro.  Time-lapses especially look spectacular.  Be sure to stay tuned in the coming months.  I’ll be taking various time-lapses throughout my adventures this year. 

    I have been keeping somewhat of a mental checklist of birds here on campus, as comical as it sounds.  Believe it or not there have been a few notable species.  Back in the fall while I was missing out on hawk watch season, I found somewhat of a watch site myself: the window in front of the copier in our Liberal Arts building.  One sunny morning while copying literally hundreds of papers at work, I watched various passing raptors!  At one point, there were at least ten or so raptors in a kettle right over campus.  I watched a couple passing bald eagles, multiple cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks as well as red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks all making their migration south.  Any chance I could get over to the copier I did!  As cheesy as it sounds, this is entirely a true story.  

    The winter was dead for the most part.  An occasional cooper’s hawk (in perfect light, of course) would pass right over my head on my way to class.  People must think I’m crazy sometimes just staring at the sky.  Since spring has arrived there have been birds all over.  Last weekend while visiting a friend at Loyola University, a young red-shouldered hawk flew not twenty feet over our heads and an american kestrel darted past just shortly after.  Just yesterday I watched a pair of pileated woodpeckers in our small wooded arboretum, and every day a northern mockingbird calls away outside our dorm. Sparrows, cardinals and other woodpeckers are often heard and seen in the arboretum as well.  

    Anyway, enough for now.  I plan on posting a second round of favorite pictures sometime this week, but until then I’ll be studying or something.  One more month and we’re home free!

Keep shooting!