It was a bucket list thing. Jody Doll and I had been talking about going on a nature hike together, cameras in hand, for years. When I got a call recently from a local landowner who encouraged me to jump the fence and photograph his land, I knew exactly who to call.
For those of you who don't know, Jody Doll is a talented wildlife photographer and a friend of mine. I feature many of her photos in my designs and I always look forward to seeing her next batch of shots.
The day was perfect for autumn photography and not much else. It was cold, drizzly and windy. We bundled up and hit the road. Before we even arrived at our destination we were stopping to take photos. The fall colors were at their peak and the entire region was stunning. Here's a photo of the road we traveled on the way to our destination:
This road was so beautiful. If that would have been the only shot I got all day I would have been happy, but there were even more beautiful scenes to come.
We arrived at the land and squeezed through the barbed-wire fence into a cow pasture to start our adventure. The dreary autumn weather suited the rugged, rustic land perfectly. We were greeted by an old creaky windmill and the view that would keep us busy for the next three hours.
We followed the cattle trail through an old gate, around a large pond, over a dried-up bog and into the woods, our cameras clicking the whole time.
We were happy to reach the woods and get out of the wind. The ground was decorated with fallen trees and leaves. Everywhere you looked there was something new to discover: acorns, mushrooms and moss.
There were some unique trees in the woods, too. Check out this strange one that Jody's sitting on. We imagined the scenarios that would cause the tree to grow like that, but it would be interesting to know the real story.
Everywhere we looked there was a new treasure in the woods. The moss-covered trees lining the floor were gorgeous and the birch trees leaving only their paper bark behind were a study in texture.
At one point, the trees were filled with birds. We saw robins, blue jays, ruffed grouse, marsh sparrows, chickadees and later in the day we saw juncos. Jody said they mean snow is coming. I wish we hadn't seen them.
Our favorite bird sighting of the day was this immature bald eagle. He circled above us for quite some time, curious as to what we were doing. He was quite close to us, so you can see by this photo how much haze was in the air.
At the end of our hike, though, came the highlight of our day. As we passed a large oak tree, I glanced toward a clearing and found myself looking right at a buck. He had seen us first and just stood there staring, about thirty yards away. I whispered to Jody, "Don't talk and don't move." I was right between her and the buck so she couldn't see it and I felt guilty about that, but I didn't dare move for fear of scaring him away. Soon I heard her camera click, though, so I knew she'd found a way to shoot around me. We took over fifty photos of him before he bounded away!
After he left, Jody pointed out all the acorns littering the ground where we stood. She figured we had interrupted his lunch and he was hoping we'd leave so he could get to them. We did leave soon after so I hope he was able to eat his fill.
We hiked out of the woods and toward our vehicles with camera cards full of photos and plans for a hike this winter. I can't wait!