A raccoon hides in a hole in a tree in Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Something I like about my wildlife photo-hikes is that I never know what I’m going to see or photograph.
That’s even the case when I have a somewhat specific subject in mind when I head out. For instance, my annual trip to wildlife areas along Lake Erie in Northern Ohio each May to photograph migrating warblers usually leads to photographs of many things besides migrating warblers.
May is when bird watchers from around the world show up in parks in Northern Ohio for a week to watch the massive number of migrating warblers in the trees and fields. It’s been dubbed the Biggest Week in American Birding. It even has its own web site.
The prime focus of birders is Magee Marsh Wildlife area, which is packed every year on Mother’s Day weekend when the spring warbler migration is at its peak. The birds gather in trees and bushes along the edge of the lake to rest and refuel before flying nonstop across the lake to Canada and their summer breeding range.
I’m not a bird watcher. I’m a photo hobbyist who happens to enjoy photographing wildlife. And I hate crowds when I’m shooting. So I usually avoid Magee Marsh, where people are jammed together shoulder to shoulder on a narrow boardwalk through the woods and one camera click pulls everyone in to see what the photographer has found. I spend much of my time at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, which is about a mile down the road and much less crowded.
But I do try to drop in at Magee Marsh for a short time to fight the crowds and see what I can find.
And on the 2016 visit I found this raccoon. I was watching some nearby warblers hop from branch to branch when I looked a bit higher in the tree and saw the nose of a raccoon sticking through a hole. Then it disappeared. I quickly forgot about the warblers and pointed my camera at that hole, waiting for the raccoon to look out again. It only took a few seconds before the nose appeared again, followed moments later by a face.
When I clicked the shutter all the bird watchers nearby crowded around to see what variety of warbler I was photographing. They were disappointed when they saw the raccoon. One even said, “With all these warblers around, why would you waste time photographing a raccoon?”
Hey, I’m not a bird watcher. I’m a photographer.
I was watching some nearby warblers hop from branch to branch when I looked a bit higher in the tree and saw the nose of a raccoon sticking through a hole. Then it disappeared.