Thursday, February 6, 2014

365 Photo Project - December Photos

December is a month of holidays and vacation for me.  The first part of the month is always very quiet and then there is the second half of the month that is always busy with Christmas and travelling back to New York to see family.  So photos for the month are generally fewer. 

This December, however, has been a little more eventful.  First I went with a group of friends to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow.  Then the second half of the month I was home for Christmas, and, fortunately for me, this year just happened to be an irruption year for Snowy Owls on the east coast.
The Glow Garden with the Climatron in the background

I am going to start with the Garden Glow.  It was a beautiful night when we went to see this beautiful display.  The temperatures were cold, yet not too cold.  This was the first time I used the night setting on my camera.  Normally when you use a night setting it is best to have a tripod or monopod to stabilize the camera, however the gardens had asked for no tripods or monopods, so the test was on.  Could I keep my hands steady enough to take nice photos? 

Surprisingly, I actually ended up with a lot of very nice night photos.  I would have loved to stay longer and walked back through to take more shots, but sometimes when you are with a group that does not always work.  However, of those I did take I came away with numerous very nice shots.  My first and favorite photo is from the glow garden looking back at the Climatron.  The Gardens staff had these nice, pretty glow globes on the ground and then star lights hanging above, and with the Climatron all decorated in beautiful green lights, it just came out beautiful.
The Christmas Tree at the Tower Grove House was just beautiful!

My second favorite photo from this event is this close up of the Christmas tree in front of the Tower Grove house.  I love this photo because the decorations are simple, yet it combines the old and the new way of lighting trees. The candle with the modern lights and the ribbons makes for a beautiful simple tree.

The last photo I have included is from Dec. 26.  My parents and I went for a birding ride from Webster, New York, west along the Ontario Lake shore.  This year the area has been experiencing a Snowy Owl irruption.  This year the Arctic had a very poor year for Arctic Lemmings, the Snowy Owls’ favorite, small rodent food.  So, many of the owls have moved south in search of food.  Snowy Owls like small rodents, but will also eat waterfowl, such as ducks and geese.

On this particular day we located a total of 5 Snowy Owls and I have photos of all five.  I will do a blog later about Snowy Owls so you can see some of these birds.  Three were on piers or docks and the last two were in farm fields. 

At first glance can you find the Snowy Owl?

The photo I have chosen for this blog is the last owl we found that day.  This was a dumb luck find.  We were driving through the country side looking for small birds.  I always look at the fields watching for raptors.  When we drove by this field I saw a white lump and said, “Possible owl!”  We pulled over and at first I could not find the bird, then I saw the lump move its head,  Snowy Owl!   We backed up and then I took several photos. 

This bird’s photo really shows you how difficult they can be to see, even within the brown and green of a farm field.  The bird sat nicely for multiple photos, and then we moved on. 

We always think of the birds when we stop, trying not to stay for too long or getting too close.  When birding or taking photos always respect the birds and give them the space they need to maintain their comfort zone.  Never keep pushing closer because you want the better photo.

If you would like to see a Snowy Owl, but can’t journey to their preferred habitat, come out to the World Bird Sanctuary to see our resident Snowy Owls, Ookpik, Crystal and Tundra.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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