Beauty in December

You don’t have to travel far to find scenes worthy of a photograph. Bill and I had some free time this week, and found we were overdue for a visit to Umstead State Park. I have some vivid memories of that place, mostly involving a copperhead and a “death march” I took with him a few years back, but that is another story.

This time, I had a new camera in hand, and we searched out photo opportunities.

December is not the most colorful time of year in Raleigh. I think we’ve had a late fall; still, most of the leaves have turned and nearly all have fallen, but there are a few, colorful stragglers here and there.

last-leaves
Gumball trees are an annoyance when they get big and start to reproduce.

We took off from the visitor’s station, which Bill warned was a bit of a walk to the main park, but I shrugged off his suggestion to drive in further and off we went.

I kept hearing birds I didn’t recognize, and managed to locate one with the zoom lens.

white-throated-sparrow
I identified this white-throated sparrow by the patch of yellow just above its eyes (and some help from the Internet).

We walked on the road for a while, but the trails along the creeks offered the best views.

december-shadows
The play of light through the trees makes for interesting patterns, even in late fall.

After 90 minutes or so of walking and stopping, we decided it was time to head back to civilization to find some lunch. But not before discovering a few more birds.

nuthatch
Nuthatches are one of my favorites.

Another beauty perched above our heads. I’m not sure, because of the winter feathers, but I think it’s an American redstart. My first time seeing this bird, as well.

redstart
I’m still working on getting the camera to focus on the bird, not the branches.
redstart-1
The same bird, from another angle. It’s about the size of a robin.

I’ve got four feeders set up around my house, but the birds have been scarce this fall. I’m not sure if it’s the location, the mild weather, or the number of hawks in the neighborhood. The squirrels are another story.

creek-in-umstead
This clear creek runs through Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC.

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