My buddy Dwight and I are tucked into some heavy grass along the waters edge.
My buddy Dwight and I are tucked into some heavy grass along the waters edge. Here we are nestled in just enough that the biting north wind somehow ignores us. If standing up we would feel the full force of this cold, cutting, first full day of Spring, welcoming draft. We sit about ten yards apart, occasionally whispering to each other, but mostly are thoughts are to ourselves as we wait for photographic scenes to come our way.
We are in the marsh with ducks, geese, beavers, muskrats, mink and all other critters that make this place home. We are more interested in the wood ducks that are slowly making their Spring return to the marsh, but we will take anything that comes our way.
The sun is just coming up. While we are still in the dark of the awakening morning, we look forward to the warming rays of sun to hit our backs. Ducks are flying overhead, woodies, mallards and northern shovelers. Nothing lands close. Canada geese are all over the marsh, most of them fighting for territory rights and the best nesting locations.
More snow geese have arrived overnight, twice as many as were here the day before. They are way off to the west. Occasionally they rise and when they do so the morning sun reflects off their white bodies like beacons of light. They are dark blobs until they turn, and like magic, the scene turns snowy white. They return to the ground as fast as they lifted to the air. This very scene repeats itself over and over throughout the morning.
The wood ducks are here, but not many yet. They shoot by like little rockets as they land in the flooded timber behind us. We wait for them to land in front of us, not just the wood ducks, anything for that matter.
I jump a bit as I hear a little rustle in the grass beside me. I’m sitting right along a trail on the waters edge. It could belong to anything but in my mind it belongs to a beaver, angry that I am blocking its path. It snaps its big yellow teeth to put fear in the watery trespasser of its domain. But the noise doesn’t come from a beaver or a muskrat or even a mink. It’s nothing more than a mouse going about its daily business. We scare each other, and it nearly jumps in my coat pocket. It takes me a few minutes to return to my prior state of calmness.
To my side I notice a big blob in a tree about forty yards away. It was a small tree, so the blob stood out. It just didn’t look normal. I stand and now invite the north wind back into my life. What a difference it was, sitting as compared to standing. While the temperature didn’t change in that three to four- foot range, it sure felt twenty degrees warmer when sitting on the ground.
Walking directly into the teeth of the wind now we make our way to the blob. When we arrive, we find that it is a raccoon, sound asleep. Why the raccoon chose this tiny perch I have no idea. Somehow though it made the best of it and nestled in. It doesn’t look very comfortable and by looking at the photo above I think that you will agree with me. We snap a few photos of the sleeping raccoon and leave it to its nap time.
We leave the grassy shoreline and head west to photograph the incoming snow geese. They are everywhere, and the wind is just right, allowing the geese to land facing us, a photographer’s dream. I have taken thousands of snow goose pictures this spring and you would think that one might tire of it. But you don’t. You can’t afford to. You get them while you can and when given the right opportunity you take as many photos as you can. In the next few weeks the snow geese will be gone, and you will have to wait for their fall return. They travel a slightly different path in the fall so their numbers will be fewer so a scene like I have before me may not be repeated until next Spring. Take what you can get when you can get it.
In the coming weeks the marsh will come alive even more. More ducks will be arriving. Shore and wading birds will make their Spring appearance; the marsh will see drastic changes. Each and every day will be different than the last. I will be here, sitting at the waters edge, just waiting. If nothing happens on a particular day I know I will have the next, and the next, and the next. The scene always changes, and everything happens by luck, by chance. But if you are not there you will miss it. Your chance gone. Don’t miss the chance.