Growing up in Kentucky, my childhood memories include the road trips past tobacco barns displaying the black and white message SEE ROCK CITY. It was a tourist attraction at Lookout Mountain just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee. The sign continued SEE 7 STATES. Never did see that Rock City, but on several occasions, I’ve driven just a little north of Salamanca, New York to see what I think is a more amazing Rock City. I did that again this early October.
Driving north on US 219 from Salamanca, take a left on Hungry Hollow Road where shortly after the pavement ends, you’ll see the sign post for New York’s Rock City.
Had a workshop to teach on Sunday at Cornell Plantations, and it was such a beautiful morning that I arrived early to spend some time in the Herb Garden. It is luscious right now. The iron gate into the Herb Garden still has the brilliant red Clematis.
Had the opportunity for a day trip into New York City yesterday to do some shopping at B&H PhotoVideo. With time to spare before returning to the plane, my wife and I walked thru Central Park, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and found a nice deli on Madison Avenue for coffee and a terrific apricot danish. We arrived a little early for the bus back to the plane. So, we found a shady place in the plaza at the south end of Central Park near the Plaza Hotel. To that point, I had seen nothing that appealed to me for photographs. But, sitting there, I became drawn to the reflections on the glass building facades. With my little Canon G9 camera, I explored the possibilities.
The Harder Watercourse Garden is a relatively new addition to the beautiful arboretum at Cornell Plantations. I found it recently and find it a photographer’s dream of textures and changing colors as the season progresses. First, let me show you where to find this place. It lies just south of the Neuman Overlook at the first parking area just past the overlook.
The past weekend was hot in the Finger Lakes, but I found myself going from hot to hotter. It was not the best weekend to go to Washington, DC. I was focused on keeping in cool AC in DC, but our daughter had on her mind to go the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens on the Anacostia River. It is one of the overlooked attractions. See:
Canada Lilies (Lilium canadense) have become a rarity with the soaring population of Whitetail Deer in the Finger Lakes. The gardeners at the Cornell Plantations would grow them in the greenhouse and transfer them to the Mundy Wildflower Garden only to have the deer destroy them. I recall finding my first bloom, and the whitetail doe brazenly standing nearby ready to trim it to the ground.
One of the summer interns at Cornell Plantations asked me what my favorite wildflower is. I have many favorites, but the one I anticipate most is the Showy Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium reginae. So that is my best favorite. The species name in latin, queen(ly), says it all.
Shot with Nikon D800, 105 mm Nikkor Micro lens, f/11 at 1/125 second ISO 800. Gitzo tripod. Shaded the bloom to reduce harsh light.
So, for Cayuga Nature Photographer members in the Finger Lakes region, the message is that it is Showy (Lady’s Slipper) Time. If you know of a population, this weekend is a great time to visit them.
I’ve posted a more details report in my regular blog at:
I resolved to visit the Black Swamp area east of Toledo, Ohio after a terrific presentation at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology by Kim and Ken Kaufman. I was not disappointed. The number of warblers and other spring migrants is overwhelming, and the ability to be at eye level with the birds remarkable. My most productive time was along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. I will make this an annual outing for future years.
There were several warblers that particularly caught my attention. First was the Prothonotary Warblers. Some were as close as 5 feet. Try focusing on that!
I’ve posted high resolution images in a gallery on my website at:
Have to post this one photo of a Chestnut-sided Warbler in full voice. Went to a park very near home and found the bushes alive with birds due to the spring migration. It was mostly Chestnut-sided Warblers with a few Yellow Warblers, Wood Thrushes and Song Sparrows. The males seemed totally driven to out-sing one another, and to jump around trying to find their rivals. Never saw a female, and wonder if the females, as with so many birds, trail the males by a few weeks. Anyone know about that?
Perhaps someone can tell me why this seems humorous. I did not know they could open their beak so wide, but something makes me think he is just a loud mouth doing some bragging.
The sun is shining, the reports of new birds are filling my email and a great weekend is coming. So, my message for CNP members is to be sure to set aside some time to get out and photograph. I only have to step outside my door to have wildflowers emerging in bloom, and birds singing.
Met up with CNP member David Duneau at the Mundy Wildflower Garden on Cornell campus this Wednesday. I’ve posted a longer blog on my personal site at:
To briefly summarize, we were looking for birds, but not having much luck getting close. As we wrapped up on the parking lot, we saw incredible activity in nearby apple tree that was rich with blooms. The most exciting was a fantastically colorful Baltimore Oriole.
A Northern Cardinal was also pretty cooperative.
For CNP members looking to try some bird photos for themselves, I’d begin at the apple tree next to the Horticulture Building off of Caldwell Road. It’s just to the right of the building.
We also saw an uncommon Nashville Warbler in the tree. Warblers are harder for me because they are so often hidden inside the tree or bush, seem to move constantly and are very small. Perhaps the richest place right now is the Hawthorn Orchard behind the tennis center on campus. Seemingly dozens of different birds in the cover.
I’ll be unable to attend the next CNP meeting, but I hope to see reports of your success and perhaps a post here too.