This past week I decided to try something different. I decided to try and challenge myself to find something to photograph that is just 30 minutes from my home. I spent a lot of time at Laurel Run Park and Cherokee Lake, I also stayed along the Holston River. I wanted to focus my attention on wildlife. When I started this challenge I didn't expect to have so many great wildlife encounters.
On my first day of the Challenge I went down to the boat ramp at Laurel Run Park, I had heard rumors of 3 baby Great Blue Herons who hunted along the rocks, it turns out that they were actually Juvenile Green Herons and not baby Great Blue Herons. As I sat on a large rock out in the river these three Juvenile Green Herons started to get use to me, they realized I was not a threat and fished all around me. As I photographed these guys for about two hours I noticed an Osprey flying overhead. This Osprey landed on a branch of a dead tree across the river and I began to get very excited. I quit watching the small herons and focused my attention on the Osprey. I waited for thirty minutes, just staring at him from my rock in the river, then all of a sudden he jumps up and plunges straight down into the water. When he came up, all you could see was his head bobbing in the water. He began to try a lift himself up and out of the water and started flying right at me. I began snapping pictures as fast as I could and I couldn't believe how big of a fish he caught, it was rather large. To watch an Osprey hunt was so exciting and it was a great way to start off my challenge.
The next day I went out to Cherokee Lake in the morning. I decided to head to Church House Point, it was a place I knew really well. I had grown up fishing here with my Papaw and knew larger waterbirds frequented the area. As I began to pull down the little gravel road I noticed a large Great Egret standing in the water not three feet from the lakes edge. I pulled my car down next to him, he didn't mind me being in the car as long as I stayed in it. I was about ten feet from him once I parked and shut the engine off. I sat with him for about an hour before he caught his first fish, it was a bass and it was right next to the shore. The morning light added a glow to the fish and the Egret, I was thrilled! This was two mornings in a row where I had caught a large bird with a fish. I stayed here for about another hour, the Egret caught a few more fish and decided to fly off into the sunrise. I was really happy, I had just got a bunch of great shots and it was a morning well spent.
Over the next few days I decided to stay along the river here in Church Hill, TN and at Laurel Run. My little Green Herons were there and very comfortable with me. I got a bunch of new shots of them fishing for crayfish along the rocks and some smaller fish, I believe I even got a shot of one with a tadpole. While I was setting on the rocks a curious Northeastern Water Snake decided to come up and say hi. He stayed very close and I didn't know what he was at first, so I took a few pics and moved on down stream. I also had an encounter with a group of 4 River Otters for a few minutes. They didn't want much to do with me as they barked at me and fled away, but I still got a few shots of them swimming around. I also shot a few landscape shots while I was setting on that same rock. I spent hours here, just patiently waiting. I also got a few Cormorant shots, but they did not want to get anywhere near me. These birds were very frustrating to try and photograph. I also walked around the park and photographed smaller birds like the American Goldfinch along with butterflies, mallards and dragonflies.
I spent the last part of my challenge at the lake where I ended up getting a lot of Great Blue Heron shots. I also had a curious Turkey Vulture fly very low around me and got some shots of him as well. Great Egrets seemed to be everywhere as well. At the end of the week I ended up with about 300 new images, which most all were wildlife. It was exactly what I was hoping for! All of my wildlife shots and some of my landscapes were taken with my new Sigma 100-400mm C series lens. I have became a huge fan of this lens and the images below will show you why.
If you liked this challenge, please feel free to try it for yourself. I truly enjoyed it and may do it again soon. Staying withing thirty minutes was challenging, especially finding property I could legally go on, but it was also fun. Maybe you can focus on one type of photography or one lens, but no matter what, remember to have fun with it! I would love to see what you capture as well, so tag me with your experiences if you do decide to try it.
Thanks for reading! If you see any photographs you would like to get a print of, please head over to the contact page and fill out the form. I am really good about getting back fairly quickly. Thanks again for your support and I hope you enjoyed this blog.