Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A picture-perfect finish to 2010

The experience was nearly a year ago (January 16), but I remember it well. A good friend and fellow conservationist called to invite me over. His name is Curt Oien (you’ve seen me write of him here before), and his home overlooks a stretch of the Crow River near St. Michael, as well as a vast meadow and woods that belong to the Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, a parcel of the Three Rivers Park District.

Curt had seen a number of Trumpeter Swans, recently, exercising in open water just down the hill, and he wanted to share them. (Truth is, it was a harsh winter, and Curt had been helping the birds survive with pails of delicious corn.) They were familiar enough with his presence that, barring any scares from passing snowmobiles, he could sit nearby for hours, feeding them.

So, I joined Curt on a trip down to the river. If I recall correctly, it was very cold that day (around ten degrees), but the wind was mercifully quiet. And sure enough, the collection of Trumpeters was there. I watched Curt hand-feed the group, and I crawled around on the ice near shore to find the most advantageous position to shoot pictures. Among many other shots I took that day was the photo you see above; I have recently been notified that this picture is the winner in the wildlife category of a photography contest sponsored by the ten-county Crow River Organization of Water. (Click on the photo above to see a larger version.)

As this shot was taken, I was on my knees near the riverbank, shooting across and down-stream toward the birds. The gentle haze is steam rising from the open water into the crisp winter air. And those puffs in the background are not clouds, but ice chunks on the opposing bank, covered by the light snow which had fallen the night before.

Click here to see all of the award-winning photographs, including a shot that earned Curt an honorable mention (any other day, his shot could have easily beaten mine!).

This is the second year our work has been recognized by this group; last year, the winning shot was an injured deer, "Cooling Off in the Crow River."

In the coming months, I'll take a more casual approach to updating CleanUpTheRiver.com, as I focus on a couple of other projects and wait for the spring clean-up season. So Happy New Year, and here’s hoping your 2011 is prosperous… and picturesque. Stay connected via my other site, http://footprintsandphotographs.com/.

© 2010 Mike Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

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