Monday, September 14, 2009

In Search of Wildlife Photos in central Illinois (Friday, September 11, 2009)

Awakened this morning and decided to explore some state parks and nature centers I had visited before. I first went to Camp Canfield Nature Area south of Sullivan, Illinois. While teaching biology in the past, I had
taken teams to the site for some ECO-Team activities. The site consists of a wooded area on the bluffs along Lake Shelbyville. It also has an area of Prairie Plant restoration. My goal for this morning was to explore the prairie to photograph butterflies and dragonflies. Wind was a little gusty and not too many butterflies were present (and NO dragonflies at all). After an hour of walking the prairie, I got plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and one or
two photos of Yellow Sulphur butterflies.

I left site #1 and drove south on Route 32 toward Stewardson. Along the route was the turnoff to Hidden Springs State Forest (also accessible from Shelbyville, IL). I had visited here before and was attracted to two small ponds at the site where I again had photographed dragonflies, butterflies, and frogs (and occasionally some shore birds). Today.....not much. Again an hour of walking around two of the ponds netted a few frog photos.

From Hidden Springs, I drove farther south (via Route 32 to 33 to 128 S to 40) to Altamont, IL. Located near Altamont is the Ballard Nature Center. Earlier this summer our camera club had visited here. On that day we saw water snakes, dragonflies, crayfish, turtles, frog, and a few butterflies. On that day the wind was a challenge and the wildflowers were not yet blooming. I thought I would give it another try. This time a little less wind and A LOT LESS WILDLIFE. No snakes, no dragonflies, and few butterflies. I came away with a couple of frog photos and some photos of milkweed pods covered with milkweed bugs. Very disappointing. A drive of 80 miles directly from my home and so little for it. So far the entire trip was very disappointing.

Heading back north to Shelbyville, I decided to take a detour from my
wildlife photography. A few miles east of Cowden, IL, is one of the few covered bridges in Illinois - The Thompson Mill Bridge. I had not been there for a while so I decided to stop by. I took a number of shots and as I was firing away, I made a mental note of how much better the photos might be in a few weeks when the trees behind the bridge had their fall colors as a background. Need to return here at that time.

Drove back to Shelbyville and had my first meal since breakfast. From Shelbyville, I drove to Wolf Creek State Park along Lake Shelbyville (near Findley, IL). I wanted to photograph some deer in the early evening light. Saw a dozen or so deer during my journeys along the road, but my photographic opportunities were limited. Took a few shots like the fawn to the left.

Summary for the day: 250 miles traveled, eight hours in the field and less than 100 images captures. I started to feel a little sorry for myself, then remembered how lucky I am to have the health, time, and resources to spend an average day driving around central Illinois just looking for wildlife photography opportunities.
Is this a wonderful country or what??