Going Back

The osprey nest appeared to be empty, at least temporarily, but Nana Buruku, the ancient cypress tree, still fills the swamp with her spirit. That’s my name for her. The cajun swamp tour guides will introduce her to you as, simply, the oldest tree in the swamp.

If I need to go to the part of Louisiana we call Acadiana for any reason, I will do my best to fit in a visit to Lake Martin. Last Friday, I made it for the second time this year.

The swamp is a rich but challenging photographic subject. Actually, it’s the richness that makes it so challenging. There’s so much stuff! And how do you frame so as to show enough of something to be coherent but exclude all that will distract the viewer from what you want them to see? I struggle!

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) draped with Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides).

Bald Cypress trees always fascinate with their fluted trunks and feathery leaves. In early October, those leaves are turning yellow and copper, and the colors are made more intense by contrast with the curtains of gray Spanish moss that drape from every branch.

This particular trip, I did not see as many birds as usual. I hope that is only because, as our guide suggested, they had moved temporarily to nearby crawfish ponds that were being drawn down.

Majestic great blue herons were the most plentiful. I was fortunate to capture one about to take flight. Generally speaking, I prefer to compose one frame at a time. But for a shot like this of moving wildlife from a moving boat, at least medium speed multi-frame shooting makes all the difference.

Great Blue Heron (Ardia herodias)

Of course we saw ‘gators, several. But the most fun ones to see were a bunch of babies swimming about close to and between cypress trees at the edge of an open area. We looked and looked for the mother. And although we did not see her, I’ll bet she was nearby keeping an eye on us!

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

BTW, in case you don’t know, Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor moss. It is an epiphytic plant, meaning one that uses another plant, in this case a tree, as a structure to grow on. It is not a parasite and does not hurt the tree. It is native to the southern U.S. and much of Central and South America.

No photographic adventure is complete without some mention of the shot you didn’t get. On this day it was a huge barred owl. Although some of my fellow travelers saw it perched twice, I could not see it either time until it flew. 😦

But, of course, I’ll be back!

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