Early on Saturday morning I found myself strolling through the Ashuelot River Park in Keene, NH. This time I had a longer lens on my camera and was focusing on the wildlife that lives within the park. After walking the length of the park and starting back towards my home, I encountered a robin in a tree just a few feet in front of me who was busy gathering nesting materials.
Just beyond there, I noticed a small turtle warming himself atop a tree limb that was jutting out of the river, his front leg stretched out in front of him.
Just past the turtle I reached a bend in the trail, but before rounding the turn the sound of a woodpecker caught my attention to the left. I walked to the edge of the river and spent several minutes trying to pinpoint the source of the sound. Eventually, with the help of my telephoto lens, I was able to locate a pileated woodpecker drilling into a tree some distance away across the river.
Further up the trail, I paused by the edge of the river once again and decided to wait there to see what kinds of wildlife would pass that spot. After a few minutes, a group of crows started to make a huge racket downriver, and eventually they flew past me. Shortly after that I saw a great blue heron land in the canopy of a tree downstream where the crows had been when I first heard them, but he was much too far away for me to get a decent photo. I committed myself to staying there until the heron departed its perch, and watched for quite some time as the bird cleaned itself and stretched its wings without leaving its perch.
About fifteen minutes passed, and I noticed an unusual bird pass overhead and land on the muddy riverbank almost directly across the river from me. After quickly finding it with my telephoto lens, I realized that it was some type of heron but was very different from a great blue heron which I was more familiar with. I later learned that it was a green heron, and this was the first time I had photographed one. The green heron began to hunt along the muddy river bank, and at this point I had two herons to keep an eye on.
While watching the two herons, I also started to hear distinct splashing noises in the river just a few feet upstream of my position. These seemed to be occurring at regular intervals, so I started to focus on the spot where I had seen ripples emanating from. I did not have to wait too long — a dark, rounded shaped darted up from below the surface of the water, and disappeared just as quickly. Though I did not get a very good look at it, I suspect that this was a snapping turtle feeding along the river bank.
Unfortunately, I had to break off my surveillance of the herons early after having an unusual encounter with a man that appeared to be watching me, and was doing so in a very suspicious way. Though I had committed to waiting for the great blue heron to leave its perch with the hope of being able to photograph a fly-by, I decided to honor my gut feeling and leave before I found out what the man’s intentions were. Unfortunately, the same gear that I use to make these photographs could also make me a target, and it is important to keep that in mind when photographing in areas frequented by other people.
Be safe out there.