September 18, 2014
I love fall birding! Though it’s always painful for me to wake up before the sun, this morning I dragged myself out of bed at 6 a.m., threw on some clothes, checked my camera equipment, and met a fellow-birding friend for a trip to the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve.
TLC’s newest natural area, Horton Grove is a mix of Piedmont Prairie and mixed hardwood forest, meaning there are a lot of habitats and micro-habitats for different bird species. It’s September, and the leaves are just beginning to turn red, tiny hints of the season to come. The grasses are so tall and absolutely gold, and they literally shown in the early morning sun. Haze slowly lifted up from the ground, and our legs quickly became soaked with morning dew as we shifted through the grass.
We tried the forest first when looking for birds, but had little luck. A woodpecker call here, a Blue Jay there, but none of the warblers or other migratory birds we were searching for. Have you ever seen a warbler? They are so tiny, about the size of your hand, but are completely full of energy and so colorful. Though in the fall their colors are muted, they come in blues, greens, reds, and especially yellow. Before I became interested in birds I didn’t even know they existed; you really have to look for warblers in order to find them. Now they are often my birding holy grail!
Since there were few birds in the woods, we headed back out into the field. We followed the edge habitat between the forest and the meadow before following a path mowed directly through the prairie habitat. We hit upon a great patch of birds full of Common Yellowthroats, a beautiful species of warblers. One female was so fascinated by us humans that she perched on a small branch barely a few feet away from us, right at eye level. I had an amazing view of all her feathered features, and got some great photos too.
Though I love sleeping in, waking up for an early morning of birding was absolutely worth it!
September 13, 2014
I am so lucky to work a few hours each week at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Because I spend a lot of time simply wandering from place to place within the 55 acre gardens, I have watched the passing of the seasons by observing changes in plant life and phenology.
The Gardens’ staff keep it interesting by changing the flowerbeds every few weeks, especially in the historic Terrace Gardens. Each terrace level has slightly different flowers and plants, from tulips in spring to foxgloves in early summer, to the brightly colored ferns and leaves that currently grace the different terrace levels.
Though I love Duke Gardens in all seasons, there’s something magical about the cherry blossoms. Though their buds are only open for what seems like moment (and in reality is a week or two) the air is filled with their color and, on a windy day, their petals. I could take pictures of cherry blossoms forever!
See these flower photos and more in the “Flowers” tab!
September 10, 2014
This past weekend I had an excellent opportunity to stock up on travel photos during a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. What a beautiful city! Ocean views, vibrant flowers, and cobbled streets that just breath history all make Charleston completely unforgettable.
We spent most of the trip exploring the historic part of the city. The homes and apartments are either classic southern clapboards with wide porches or pastel colored brick and plaster. These buildings were my favorite, and gave the architecture a Mediterranean feel. Palm trees lined the streets, leading all the way down to the oceanfront, which was bordered by a thick layer of marsh grass that shone in the sun.
It was truly a photographer’s dream. The sun periodically broke through the clouds, casting interesting dappled light on the ground or along building walls. I know I’ve already mentioned the colors, but I can’t help it, I’m obsessed! Why can’t we all paint our houses pink, blue, and yellow? It would sure make the middle of winter a little more cheerful. We made sure to check out Rainbow Row which, true to its name, had a row of houses in every color.
In addition to attractive cityscapes, Charleston also sports beautiful Folly Beach. The sand is a dark gray color, and the surf was crashing against the shore when we visited. A long pier extends into the waves, providing a great place to watch birds and take pictures of the beach and the sunsets.
Clearly, I couldn’t get enough of Charleston, and I can’t wait to make a return trip! Check out these photos and more in my Travel section.