The Wildlife and Wild Art of Tower Grove Park (St. Louis)

February 5, 2014

Last weekend I visited Tower Grove Park on a cold, icy, Sunday morning. I arrived at dawn, mounted my 500mm lens on its tripod, and began my walk through the rectangular park of 289 acres. It was still a little dark for a sharp wildlife image, but I had to make the best of the situation when a red-tailed hawk landed on a limb, almost at eye level, just as I began my trek. It was almost as if the redtail had been watching me all along as I prepared my equipment. It must have thought, “Who is this new guy, in camo nonetheless, on my turf?”

I was so close to the hawk, I knew it wouldn’t tolerate too much fumbling around with my camera so I quickly overexposed by a full stop for the overcast sky, autofocused on the hawk’s eye, recomposed the image, and clicked the shutter! Next, I glanced down at the highlight alert on my LCD to check my exposure (it looked fine) and when I glanced back up the hawk had disappeared like a ghost. A second check of the LCD revealed a reasonably sharp image, reminding me of the importance of the number one point I stress in workshops and seminars:  “Be prepared to think and act fast when shooting wildlife.” Wild critters are rarely forgiving to photographers. Come to think of it, most pets, including my two cats, aren’t too forgiving either.

Tower Grove Park, a National Historic Landmark, is a wonderful place to behold. The park is filled with whimsically adorned pavilions from the late 1800’s, all commissioned by St Louis’ own Henry Shaw. As I approached each of the pavilions I was completely taken by its beauty, which represented the creativity and skill of architects and artisans long gone. I was also impressed by the tender loving care the park’s staff has bestowed on the pavilions, including the maintenance of their colorful embellishments of gold, red, green, blue and yellow. Tower Grove Park benefits from additional support from organizations like The Friends of Tower Grove Park, Webster Groves Nature Society, and Missouri Department of Conservation.

Although I was toting a long lens, I couldn’t help but to photograph some of the inanimate wildlife I observed along the way, including these sheet metal dragons that guarded the corners of the Chinese Pavilion. The image demonstrates the organic colors I mentioned before. I bet Frank Lloyd Wright loved Tower Grove Park if he ever stopped in for a visit during his time in St. Louis.

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As I neared the end of my photohike, I was pleasantly surprised to see a mourning dove alight on a bridge structure along the path. As with most park birds, the dove didn’t seem too concerned with my presence and allowed me to capture its image for the final shot of this post.

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I considered the dove sighting appropriate because I was feeling very peaceful by the end of my visit to Tower Grove Park, a colorful gem in my favorite city.

Thanks for looking,

Danny Brown

Email me at:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com

8 comments on “The Wildlife and Wild Art of Tower Grove Park (St. Louis)”

  1. Beautiful colors and detail in the hawk photo – a perfect portrait!

  2. Always enjoyable, Our “winter” is already shading into hot weather…so I enjoyed this post even more 😀

  3. Very nice, DB! I love the mourning dove pic – beautiful. Glad you were quick thinking and got that great image of the red-tailed hawk also. Your work is amazing!

  4. Your quick response got you a beautiful hawk. Those feathers are gorgeous.


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