I'm very lucky to have a couple of sisters who have a house right on Lake Erie in western NY who let me use their place frequently. And while our family has vacationed up there since we were little kids, it has been really great to get a chance to see the lake during all four seasons and witness all the changes it under goes throughout the year. Plus a resident Bald Eagle population makes for especially awesome bird watching while on long beach walks.
My nephews and I were hiking the beach by the mouth of Chautauqua Creek near the town of Barcelona when we happened across this Great Blue Heron hunting the shallows for small fish and amphibians. And I was excited to get a picture of it actually capturing a minnow.
One of my favorite parts about going to Lake Erie is seeing the Bald Eagles that are becoming more and more abundant along the lake shore. We typically see two mature eagles and one immature while we are there, with the immature lacking the white head and tail feathers that are synonymous with Bald Eagles (they don't get white feathers until 4 or 5 years of age). This trip I was lucky enough to get one picture with all three. The one mature eagle is soaring on the left side the picture, the other mature eagle is perched on the branches, and the immature is to the right of that eagle perched on a branch just a little below it.
I almost stepped on this little guy while walking the trail that follows Canadaway Creek upstream from its mouth. It was tough to get a picture of it though, it didn't sit in one place for long and hopped into some shadows in the brush out of the camera's eye rather quickly.
I would say that Candaway Creek is a medium to small stream when compared to some of the lake's other tributaries, and since it is within walking distance of my sisters' place, it is the one where I spend a lot of time exploring. And I'm always amazed how the sand and gravel bars at the mouth shift throughout the year and even from storm to storm.
This picture of Canadaway's mouth was taken from about a 100 yards upstream looking out at the lake. As a photographer, I always pay close attention to light conditions and I've noticed that from this particular point on the stream bank, the trees to the left seem to shadow the water in such a way that the sky paints the water's surface a brilliant shade of deep blue. And estuaries like this, where two "eco-zones" meet and intermingle, have some of the most diverse flora and fauna.
I like Kildeer. They nest on open ground and when you get close, they will actually fake having a broken wing to lead you away from their nest. It's really a pretty interesting adaptation to fool predators and if you ever encounter one walking around like it has a broken wing, simply go in the opposite direction to look for its nest, just be careful you don't step on the eggs. This little guy was walking around on a large floating mat of dead vegetation as it headed toward the mouth of the creek.
We found some Wild Blackberries this trip and they were tasty. The property on the one side of Canadaway Creek is essentially abandoned and has become overgrown with brush and thickets, which is good habitat for Wild Blackberries. We only ate a few handfuls, but there were plenty of bushes scattered about, some with ripe berries, others that still needed a few days so it was the gift that kept on giving...
I'm not sure what species of pumpkin this is but we found them growing right on the beach itself which is surprising given how inhospitable the conditions are. There were actually several Pumpkin plants there, so I'm guessing someone or something dropped the seeds last fall and then nature took over.
This is my first photo of Allegheny Monkeyflower this year and the blossoms were looking a little beat up, but since it was very close to the beach, I'm sure the winds take their toll on all the plants. I guess the plant is named because its flowers resemble the face of a monkey, but personally I don't really see it.