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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

The Road Less Traveled

December 7th, 2014 · No Comments

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Sharon and I took the road less traveled through the Sawhill Ponds Wildlife Preserve on a sunny and warm Tuesday morning. In several places it wasn’t even a trail, much less a road, and we had to bushwhack cross-country. That made all the difference in terms of how much fun we had. We had a great time exploring new parts of a preserve that each of us has hiked dozens of times before.

I wanted to show Sharon the route that I finally found last month through the undeveloped central part of the preserve. We got to the trailhead just as the first light was hitting the ponds at 7:30, but then, just 15 minutes into our hike, we got sidetracked. When we came to the pond shown in the photo below, we saw a big white bird in the far distance.

A Big White Bird Rests in the Distance of Sawhill #2

A Big White Bird Rests in the Distance of Sawhill #2

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To approach close to the bird we had to hike south, to the left, of this long pond, taking us where neither of us had ever hiked before. We didn’t even know if we could get close, but we succeeded by walking through the tall grass.

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We didn’t know what to expect when we approached. But as we got close we could see that the big white bird was a swan.

A Tundra Swan on the Ice with a Canada Goose

A Tundra Swan on the Ice with a Canada Goose

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The swan walked to the unfrozen part of the land and jumped in. My camera followed it, and I kept shooting. As I took the shot below I was aware that some other birds were flying into the frame, and I thought that they had spoiled my picture. But I nevertheless kept my finger on the shutter button and kept firing away. I’m glad I did.

Male Mallards Meet Swan

Male Mallards Meet Swan

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Seeing this bird was the high point of this visit to Sawhill Ponds, and we had barely started. After backtracking, I again found the route through the central section by skirting the south side of Sawhill #5.

When we reached the back end of the preserve, we tried to see if we could return to the trailhead by hiking between Sawhill #10 and the south boundary of the preserve. I kept trying, but that proved impossible. Sharon had to leave by 9:30 so she took the trail back to the trailhead and saw a Great Horned Owl en route. Meanwhile I made it back by bushwhacking between Sawhill #10 and Sawhill #11 and then hiking no trail between Sawhill #9 and the south boundary until I came to the south side of Sawhill #2, where two hours earlier we had seen the swan.

But when I returned to that pond every one of the birds had flown. I did, however, get a reward for my effort. As I approached my route between Sawhill #10 and Sawhill #11, I saw a bird land on the Osprey nest there. Smaller than an Osprey and out of nesting season, this bird was species that I couldn’t identify until I looked at my photos when I got back home.

An American Kestrel Leaves the Osprey Nest

An American Kestrel Leaves the Osprey Nest

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Seeing this beautiful bird, the smallest raptor in America, made up for missing the owl.

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