A Winter Walk At Prophetstown State Park

A Great Trip To Prophetstown State Park

A few weeks ago I had a great trip to Prophetstown State Park. Even if I had not made any bird photos it was still a fun walk around the park. Coming home with some photos though made it even better. For most of the trip I was not too excited about my photos. I made a few that I liked, but I had to see them on the computer to see how they came out. As I was driving out of the park I saw a larger bird swoop down near the barn. I pulled my car over and used the hill on the side of the road as a blind so that I could get closer. When I did get closer I saw a northern harrier walking on the ground poking at the ground with its feet. A pony came over and got it into the air, and it went past me a few times allowing me to make some photos that I liked of it. I have never been this close to a harrier so it was a great experience.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker

For most of my walk this was my best photo of the day. The light was right and the bird posed for me perfectly. This was in the woods where I have seen some more rare woodpeckers in the past, but this photo was a welcome keeper on the day.

Flying With The Landing Gear Down

Ducks are amazing the way that they tuck their legs in to be able to fly more efficiently. This one though kept a foot down the entire way that I saw him fly. Something must have happened here to prevent the leg from tucking back in. As I was walking down the path I started wondering how he swam or even landed for that matter with a bad leg. In nature the simplest little thing can really be life threatening.

The Tree Of Death

I am sure that this tree has a name, but when you can call it the tree of death instead why look that name up? I will make a photo of nearly anything in one of these trees. Here a field sparrow spends a few minutes in the tree of death. It has to be fairly safe for the bird as most prey probably wouldn’t go deep into this tree.

The Backlit Goldfinch

While I was walking to one of my favorite spots I realized that anything that I saw on the way there would be backlit. I embraced that and changed my settings just in case I saw something. Most of the goldfinch that I have seen over time have been very shy. This one did not care that I was walking down the trail and let me get fairly close to it. I stopped to make this photo and then gave it some room as I passed.

A Great Bluebird Encounter

I found an old stump that could be the home to some of the local bluebirds. They were definitely going back to it over and over as I walked around. I tried to find a spot that would let me use the light and also make photos of the birds as they approached the stump. Everything combined with the background made for a photo that I really liked. The next time that I go out for a walk I will have to check this stump again to see if they are still hanging around it.

A Ring-necked Duck Flyover

As I was watching the bluebirds a few ring-necked ducks flew over and circled the small water body in front of me. They never landed, but they did fly around enough that I could pick out a male and show the ring on the neck that gives them the name.

The Magic Of Winter

I made this photo around noon. In the summer it would have been super harsh light, and I would not have even tried to make it probably. At the beginning of December when I made this photo though the sun never gets that high into the sky. As I walked my shadow stayed pretty long the entire time. (Sadly it seems to be getting wider over the years too.) That low light means that you can stay out longer and still make interesting photos. This is a great time of year to get out and make some wildlife photos.

A Trip Can Turn Amazing In A Minute

This was already a very good walk. You never know quite what you have until you get home, but I was pretty happy with my take as I was leaving the park. Of course a close encounter with a harrier can make the trip even better. I say it all of the time, but sometimes you just need to get out there and walk to make photos. Most of nature photography is pure luck. You increase your odds of luck by getting out there.

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