Slate Run Metro Park near Canal Winchester, Ohio, is typical of many of the Franklin County Metro Parks in most ways. It has woods. It has trails. It has hills. And it has recreation areas.
But if you ignore the main entrance to the park and take local roads around the perimeter to the west side you’ll find an entrance to the Slate Runs Wetlands Wildlife Refuge and trails through marshes and between ponds. And, if you’re lucky, you will see a variety of wading birds and waterfowl.
I found this Great Egret wading in one of the shallow ponds during a morning hike in July 2014. I liked how both the Egret and the green plants in the background were reflected in the water so I grabbed a shot.
I’ve photographed a number of birds in the wetlands at Slate Run, including the usual “around the water” types: various ducks and geese, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Egrets and Mute Swans. I’ve grabbed photos of a pair of Sandhill Cranes that have nested in Slate Run the last few springs and have even captured some photos of their babies. I’ve also found Meadowlarks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and an immature Red-headed Woodpecker in the wetlands area, birds I haven’t found in other parks.
But the most unusual bird I’ve encountered in the wetlands was a black swan. The birds are native to Australia. The one I saw had a band on its leg so it likely escaped from a zoo or private collection in the U.S.
About the photographer
I’m a photo hobbyist who lives in Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. I typically spend several mornings each week in the woods of local parks, photographing birds and other wildlife. I also enjoy shooting sporting events and photographing different cities when I travel around the country.
I began doing photography in the pre-digital, pre-autofocus, pre-Internet 1970s. I had a color darkroom in the basement of our house in our hometown, Ashland, Ky., and on occasion would shoot for the newspaper where I worked first as a sports writer, then as city editor. But I put the camera away in the 1980s after burning out from too many of those "hey can you" photo jobs – “hey can you shoot my son's Little League team," or "hey can you shoot my daughter's wedding." I reached the point where I dreaded picking up the camera.
After taking a vacation from photography for more than 20 years, I was using my daughter’s point-and-shoot digital camera to get some photos of her first college tennis match in fall 2004 (she played four years at the University of Akron) and realized how much I missed photography. After doing the “Nikon or Canon” research, I bought a Canon digital SLR , started adding lenses – that’s my Canon 600 f/4L, the lens I use for wildlife and some sports photography, in the photo above – and have been shooting ever since.