I love our canoe. There aren't too many kinds of boats in which you can sneak up on a heron, but we're lucky enough to have one of the best. We have two travel modes. There's Full Steam Ahead, in which my mate-4-life, sitting in the back, applies full power to a kayak paddle (blade on each end), so he can easily alternate strokes. I sit in the front seat and pretend my paddling helps, while my expensive, can't-live-without-it digital camera sits wrapped in a towel in my LAP, for heaven's sake! We make a bit of splashy noise in this mode, but I have never yet dropped the camera.
But we have the most fun when we travel in Silent Mode, paddling very slowly through the shallows, looking for birds, snakes, turtles, flowers -- anything interesting. We usually manage to see something new, or learn something, or at least come up with a new question.
This past weekend we went exploring in a flooded area of Lake Monroe, gliding through "islands" of swamped trees. We watched herons and tracked songbirds through the trees at the edge of the water.
We spent a long time following songbirds. One bird that I didn't recognize was heavily streaked with brown and white, with an orangey throat. It turned out to be a female red-wing blackbird--a very common bird after all. But at least next time I see it, I'll know it immediately.
We saw a couple of other unfamiliar birds. One tiny black and white bird was very elusive. I have several pictures of big green leaves, with a beak or a tail sticking out one side or the other.
We saw prothonotary warblers for the first time ever. [This is a correction--I had earlier identified this bird as a pine warbler, but pine warblers have white wing bars.] These energetic little yellow birds were difficult to keep up with, but fun to watch as they flitted from branch to branch. The bird in this photo has caught a caterpiller. (I wish they'd eat something that wasn't supposed to turn into a butterfly!)
Photographing birds and nature is an obsession for me. I'm not sure why, but I just have to take pictures. I'm not a great photographer--in fact, it's very frustrating for me. I have terrible eyesight and find it difficult to focus my camera. I lack patience with manuals and can't figure out my own light meter...in fact, taking pictures is so frustrating that next weekend, I'm going to do as much of it as I can. Go figure.