April 27 to 29 - CSNP Gathering

I spent this last weekend with a group of dedicated amateur photographers from the Central States Nature Photographers forum. This is a great bunch of photographers, and I enjoyed my time shooting with them very much.

We met down at the upper end of Boxley Valley in Arkansas at a small cabin we rented. I arrived right as the sun started going down so those of us that were there ran out and shot the few clouds that were on the horizon. These pictures represent just a very small portion of the sky - most of which was featureless.

Boen Gulf
On Saturday morning, we hiked in to Boen Gulf and visited Magnolia Falls - I shot several views of this falls, but liked the one with the trees in front. The other shot is from farther down the creek. It was a nice hike, but the hills grew quite large on the way out!

Broadwater Hollow
On Saturday evening (after waiting through a cloudless day), we headed over to Broadwater Hollow for a few shots of the waterfalls and even saw a few columbines.

Smith Creek Scenic Area
This newly opened natural area has some very nice geological features and we were there on Sunday morning before it was fully light. The mix of house-sized boulders, moss and flowing water was just fantastic.

April 22 - Carolina Wren

For the past few weeks, we've been engrossed with a family of Carolina Wrens. I've always liked these birds with their delicate shades of brown and rust, and I was very happy when we found one of them building a nest in a flower pot right by our window! We had a front row seat for a thrilling spectacle.

In early April, we spotted five tiny off-white eggs in the nest of twigs and grass. There they stayed through some very cold nights, finally to emerge about two weeks ago. Here's a picture of one of the parents (I can't distinguish between the male and female) feeding them bugs and spiders. One morsel at a time, they kept the hungry mouths fed.

On the day that the chicks fledged, one of the parents would take a bit of food in its beak (pictured) and push it into the mouth of a waiting chick, but then pull it back out again! It did this repeatedly - enticing, I suppose, the youngsters to leave the nest and get some food on their own.

One at a time, they emerged from the nest...

And faced a brave new world.

March 24 - Elephant Rocks

I though I'd go ahead and post a few images I took from Elephant Rocks on our recent field trip. Though there is nearly an infinite number of compositions to be made here, I've always found it challenging. The photos I like best on this day were the ones that limited themselves to a a very small portion of the park.

Here's one with a lot of color...

And here's one with none...