September 17, 2014
My friend Deepa visits St. Louis from her home in Bangalore, India, every year to see her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. She walks in nearby Forest Park almost every morning and that is where I met her several years ago. I was photographing great-horned owls one afternoon in the park and she just walked up to me and asked me what I was up to and if she could take a look through the lens. A conversation, followed by a long-lasting friendship, ensued and thanks to the wonders of social networking, we stay in touch even when she is back in India or on one of her many adventures around the world.
I hadn’t seen Deepa since her last visit, but I knew she was in town and hoped to join her for a walk in the park soon. When I saw on Facebook that she had discovered an osprey fishing in Forest Park’s Gand Basin last Saturday, I suggested we take a walk through the park on Sunday morning to see if the fisher might return.
I picked Deepa up early the next morning and we drove to the Forest Park Visitor’s Center. I hadn’t even parked the car when she spotted a Cooper’s hawk feeding on a bloody, songbird breakfast atop a light standard. “Let me out here!” she exclaimed, so I slowed enough for her to spring from my 4Runner, ever-present camera in hand. I forgot to mention that Deepa documents almost every thing she observes when she is on a walkabout, including the simplest of Nature’s wonders such as a tiny funnel web in the grass—see featured photo (700 mm; 1/1000; f/5.6; ISO 400; Av). She self-deprecatingly refers to her images as “Shamelessly Mediocre Shots” or “SMS” for short.
When I eventually caught up with Deepa, the Cooper’s hawk was still enjoying its meal so I captured the carnage in the image below. A connoisseur of all puns good or bad, Deepa referred to the shot as “A Light Meal.” By the way, I checked out her “SMS” captures of the same bird later that evening on Facebook, and I found them as good as mine, if not better.
Next we headed toward the Grand Basin in search of the osprey but we stopped by a suspended foot bridge to look for kingfishers along the way. We didn’t find a kingfisher, but we found a green heron on one of the cables that suspends the bridge. Even though I have hundreds of green heron images, I found the contrast between the tiny heron and the twisted steel irresistible.
As we continued on, we found some wood ducks along a waterway and I photographed one of the scruffy drakes in late-summer plumage. He had a little girlfriend with him but I never got a great shot of them together. Check out the little woodie’s paddle feet in the foreground. Cute!
We finally made it to the Grand Basin but the osprey was a no-show. It was a crisp, cool morning so we sat on a park bench by the lake and had some coffee that Deepa had brought from home. It tasted a little odd, like most of the food and drink she has offered me, but in a good way. As we watched the lake, I noticed a waterbird diving out in open water. At first I thought it was a grebe but it was much too large for that. I checked through my binoculars and saw that is was an immature, double-crested cormorant. We waited for it to make its way across the lake to our position and I grabbed the final image of this post.
After watching the cormorant for a while, we waited for another 45 minutes for the osprey but it wasn’t to be. By that time it had been such a fine morning with a nice friend it didn’t matter much. We gathered our gear and headed back to the car, talking all the way about whether the osprey would return on another day. My bet is that it will, and I also predict that Deepa will be lakeside, capturing all the action.
Thanks for looking,
Email me at: Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com
Note: If you would like to learn more about Deepa’s adventures as a nature lover, traveler, philosopher, and grandmother, you can find her at her blog: “Deponti to the World – Live Journal” by clicking HERE.