While I was scrolling through images that I took earlier in the day yesterday I had a thought. I will try to get through the though in a somewhat liner manner. A challenge for me.
I think one thing that is important for me is to find a location close(ish) to the house that I can get out to multiple times a month at different times of the day. For me personally it is a spot in nature or that has a variety of wildlife/nature. Wait won't it make the spot boring and less special. Well there is that risk but to counter that risk I will go looking for one or two things or give myself a challenge Say walk 100 meters and take 6 shots or shoot blue things. While most of these shots go to live in the trash can or on a storage drive it is a fun challenge. When I lived in Aiken I had two or three spots that I haunted on the regular basis. Citizens Park (a ball field and open grass lands), A walk down a dirt road that went from town to country, and Hitchcock Woods (a 2100 acre woodland in town). If you ever get to Aiken and have more than one day to stay I would highly suggest going there for a few hours. Late Fall to Early Spring is best time temperature wise to go there. Anywho I am drifting onto a side thought so back to the main thought. For me here in Moncks Corner (just north of Charleston) my favorite close place is Old Santee Canal County Park. $3 an adult or $35 a year for a car +7 people.
Old Santee Canal Park is about 200 acres and has a small variety of habitat from swamp to lowland hardwoods. This brings in a variety of sites and wildlife. Being only about 2-3 miles from the house by road it is within walking distance if I want to go up there and my wife is not home. Being that this is more or less in a natural setting it fulfills my need to get nature therapy and my photography fix for the day. One major Con of this location is the 0900-1700 hours. During the winter this does give me afternoon light that is lovely but summertime it makes things a challenge but the forests will give me some shade and nice light.
Yesterday I went up with the sole purpose to find and make a good photograph of the Prothonotary Warbler and I gave myself 2-3 hours to accomplish this. While waiting on the warbler I did see a young Fawn. Unfortunately I got no decent shots of it or shots I would even think about posting. Once I saw that the warbler was not on the every few min. feeding cycle for the chick I poked around the boardwalk near the nesting box. Prothonotary Warbler is either the only warbler species or one of the very few that will nest in a box 99% of them only will build an open nest. One other fun fact is that they winter in South America and will return to the same area year after year. Most of the time to the same 1/2 acre or acre.
This guy is a Red Bellied Water Snake or also known as Plain Bellied Watersnake. A non poisonous snake that live in wetlands here. I suspect that with the vivid color on this snake it may have just shed its skin.
Here is another one of the same species. If you notice on this one the colors are dull and the eye looks a bit hazy. This is not a result of the light or a reflection of the sky in the snakes eye. This is the snake in the process of shedding its skin. The eye will cloud over to an almost opaque white. While this is happening the snake looses most of its eye sight so they can be a bit more defensive (often seen as aggressive).
You might be thinking why are snakes consistently hanging around this area. Well there is a virtual buffet of food close by.
Yepper frogs are on the menu for them.
Summer Tanager not a great photo because of the noise level in it but it is a document type shot. One that I took to show the bird. Same with the image below however it is a bit better of a shot.
I plan on getting better images of this species of bird in the near future. One for my hunting list. Also we saw a Yellow Billed Cuckoo a bird I have never seen let alone photograph. So yes I will stalk this bird too. I did say we because I was told I could join in a group that was doing a bird walk with an Audubon Guide who is a biologist studying the Warbler. As a thank you to the Biologist for his tips and knowledge I did send him the images of the first flight that I posted here . He is going to use that image on the SC Audubon Facebook page and also send it to the head of the park. For me this one was not about $$ for the image which he was initially concerned about but as a thank you and open a door for future opportunity.
Now if you ever get close to the Charleston area the 30-50 min trip up to Monck Corner is worth it especially if you like nature and wildlife. In addition to the Park there is also an Abbey , Lake, a National Forest, and part of the Palmetto Trail (if you like hiking). For more information about Old Santee Canal Park and the reason it has the name that it does. You can find that here. There is also a separate museum that you can visit while at the park and it is one of two buildings that has AC (a welcome thing after in the summer heat).
Do you have a favorite haunt close to you that fits with what you like to photograph? Have you ever thought about return trips to the same location?