Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Magee Marsh

Much like the concept of the 100 mile market, you'll often hear me extolling the virtues of local wilderness, seeking images and experiences from the woods just outside my backdoor, or right around town. It's "home", it's local, it's meaningful, it's green. It's about seeking and accepting what's native to your environment. You learn to love and appreciate what you have - you don't go craving mangos in Michigan.

Having said that, I've lately been hungry for the bounty that comes from certain wildlife preserves or wilderness where some animals just come in spades, and harvesting a photo can frankly be a whole lot easier. One such place, when it comes to birds--specifically warblers--is Magee Marsh. You want warblers, they got warblers.

Located in North Eastern Ohio, right on the Lake Erie shoreline, it's a popular stop-over for migrating birds venturing north to Canada (Point Pelee specifically) and is something akin to LaGuardia airport for birds. All kinds of birds stop there to fuel up before the next leg of their journey. 

A few weeks back I migrated over there for a weekend and was in birding heaven.

Each morning, while hundreds of birders were filing in to the infamous boardwalks of Magee Marsh, I was already in place, pre-dawn, trying to get a good shot of a big bird (heron, egret, eagle) flying in front of the nuclear reactor that looms large on the horizon - the very kind of image every other photographer was passionately trying to avoid. 

The biggest lesson I took from Magee Marsh was: bigger is not always better. So many of the warblers were so close my huge Canon telephoto couldn't focus on them. For the first time ever, I needed a smaller lens!