A Four Hour Walk

I had to return to Merrimac Farm on Monday morning to re-shoot some video that I had made on Sunday morning that I wasn’t too happy with. As you probably know, it was another 90 degree plus day and I wasn’t as enthused as I normally am to go over to the refuge, but I didn’t want to delay the project, so I went.

I got there at about 10:00 and set up my gear. As with most nature/wildlife photography, there is a lot of waiting for something to happen. This is usually followed by a brief period of intense activity; followed by more waiting. As I waited for my subjects, I started to realize the weather wasn’t too bad. In fact it was a heck of a lot better sitting here in the woods than in my air conditioned office where I was supposed to be.

I had managed to set up in a small patch of shade and there was a breeze – light and occasional, but a breeze. It wasn’t really too bad at all. There was a nice stream of cotton candy like clouds floating by above and the air was full of the sounds of birds and insects all around me. (For some reason the song Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah kept popping into my head….) I started to think that maybe I should spend a little more time there than I had planned.

I finished getting the footage that I needed to capture and decided to give myself a little challenge. I thought it would be fun to see how many different images of flowers and critters I could capture by 2:00. I would walk around the refuge as if I were on a bird walk – you know –  walk ten feet, stop and look around, take pictures, discuss what you see, and then walk another ten feet. You don’t get too far or get a whole lot of exercise, but it is an enjoyable learning experience.

I did my “walk” in the area of the Stone House, one of the best birding spots at Merrimac, and the Barn, another good birding spot. During the three hours that I had remaining, I shot 54 video clips and made just under 1000 still images. (625 of the still images were for the time-lapse clip of the clouds.)

Other than the bluebird pair tending to their babies, I didn’t get any decent bird shots. The birds are pretty smart. They stay in the shade and protection of the trees most of the day. So although I could hear them and occassionally see some flying by, I didn’t have the opportunity to get any good images. (The day before, the wildlife survey group recorded seeing 31 different species.)

There are no wall hangers or contest winning shots in the batch, but I had fun and some of the images are nice. I have put several of the stills and a half-dozen video clips together in the video below.

For those of you who would like a little nature challenge: All of the photos and video clips in the video were shot on Monday, August 1, except one. That one was taken elsewhere later that day. If you think you know the non-Merrimac image and why you think it is the one, let us know by sending a comment. This contest is like some of the weekend contests that you might listen to on Public Radio. The prize is the satisfaction of being first and right. Our prize closet is empty.

This might be a good photography/exploration game for you to try by yourself or with a group. Just set a time limit and some simple rules, get fully charged camera batteries and go have fun. At the end of the designated time, meet back at an agreed upon spot and count and compare images. As an alternative, you might want to drive down Fleetwood Drive to the crossroads and get a drink and treat at Aden’s Grocery and then compare images. That’s what I did!

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11 comments so far

  1. Nancy Vehrs on

    Beautiful! Was osage orange photographed elsewhere?

    • Ernie Sears on

      No, the osage orange is on the edge of the grass on the left side of The Stone House.

  2. Kim Hosen on

    I’m guessing Deep Hole Point at the Occoquan Bay Refuge.

  3. Nancy Vehrs on

    Are we supposed to guess the location or the image?

  4. Ernie Sears on

    I revised this post so much that I left out exactly what you are trying to figure out. Try to guess which plant or animal was taken elsewhere and the clue that made you select it.

  5. Kim Hosen on

    Hey, there are no osage orange trees at Merrimac Farm. Actually, the only one I know about is at the Occoquan Refuge, although I am sure there are others.

    The trees near the Stone House are black walnuts. When I first saw the image, I was looking for something that’s not at Merrimac Farm and thought it might be an osage orange or then again it could be a walnut… there’s nothing to show the size of the fruit and no leaves either, but if it was taken on the edge of the grass by the Stone House, it’s a black walnut.

    I am stumped. I don’t know what the yellow flower is. I can’t say for sure what the fruits are near the beginning, although they may be autumn olive berries. Other than these, everything could be at Merrimac Farm.

    I saw phlox, a great spangled fritillary on thistle, queen anne’s lace, and a female common whitetail on mulch. There were early pokeweed berries, daisy fleabane, a skipper on a pink flower (possibly pink wild bean, although there’s not much to go on and it’s a little early), sedge seedheads, common mullein, hemiptera sp. (possibly a stinkbug), milkweed seedpod, grass, trumpet vine flower, great-spangled fritillary and silver-spotted skipper on thistle, skipper on NY ironweed and bluebirds.

    I think you’re going to have to tell us, and then we can say oh, of course!

    • Ernie Sears on

      Well of course you’re right. The osage orange is actually a black walnut that is near the Stone House. Maybe there’s not enough of the clue showing in the photo to identify the mystery photo, so if no one gets by Wednesday evening, it will be reveled right here.

  6. Kim Hosen on

    Regardless, it’s a great video. I enjoyed watching it a lot!

    • Ernie Sears on

      Thanks, it was a fun little project to do. For anyone still trying to guess the mystery frame, it is the stink bug! Of course stink bugs are at Merrimac, but the clue is that it was on a butterfly bush which is not native, is invasive, and not at Merrimac. Unfortunately, I guess I didn’t show enough of the bush.

  7. Kim Hosen on

    Aha… I think this calls for a new video contest!

  8. Terry on

    Ernie – Great video!


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