Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

My gift to me


You’d think that this week’s smile would center around Christmas day. A lot of people find that day the culmination of weeks of preparation, but for me, this year, I didn’t have to prepare much of anything. Which left Christmas Eve day open to do anything I wanted to do. Most of you can guess where I spent it.

And you’d be right if you guessed the woods.

Dried beech tree leaves are the only leaves still clinging to their branches.

Monday had been in the 50s (10C) and Katie and I enjoyed a long sunny walk. But Tuesday it was cold, the high temperatures only half of the day before, and of course I didn’t pay attention and was under-dressed. But once I got moving everything but that darn broken finger warmed right up.

I went out to Kensington, my favorite park and nature trails, on the hunt for something different. This is the park where the little birds come down and perch on people’s hands if they are offered seed. And I always love that experience, but I wanted to see what else was out there.

The bridge to the fun begins here.

Of course I wasn’t surprised when I stopped on a bridge not far from the car to change some settings on my camera and heard the familiar fluttering of wings near my head. A silly little downy woodpecker landed on the bridge railing and insisted that I give him something. No picture, because I wasn’t prepared, though I think he would have waited right there for me to get the camera settings right. Instead I just reached in my pocket (because of course I had something for him!) and handed him a peanut.

Little stinker didn’t even say thank you before he took off to enjoy his treat.

No snow around here at the moment.

I headed to the trails furthest away from the parking lot, trails that I had never explored before. I know that the further away you go from the parking lot and nature center the fewer little birds you’ll see or hear. They’re smart and hang out where most of the people wander. But the further away you go the fewer people you’ll run into and that was my goal, at least for the first part of my walk.

Moving further away from the crowds.

I did hear and see a big pileated woodpecker, he was sounding the alarm about me, I think. When I stood still and watched him he went back to pounding on a dead tree. He was too far away and directly into what sun there was, so no picture of him either.

I was OK with that, after all my goal wasn’t more bird pictures. No, I wanted to see what else was out there. And even if I didn’t see anything interesting, I was enjoying just being out in the woods.

Seed fluff, wonder why the birds don’t eat this?

There was a lot of interesting colors…

Would make cool wallpaper.

…and textures everywhere I looked.

Like it was knitted.

Not to mention the moss that was everywhere…


…just about every downed log had something growing on it.

A squirrel’s emerald highway.

After a bit I had the feeling I was being watched. Glancing over to my left I almost missed them. There are two faces watching me, do you see them?

Way over on that ridge, I’m being watched.

How about if I crop it?

Look to the left of the first face you see…there’s another peering between the trees.

The mama deer, laying down and chewing her cud just like a cow, watched me watch her. She didn’t move as I took off my backpack, changed the lens on my camera, and took a shot.

Guess I’m not very scary.

She just kept chewing. Eventually I noticed there was a whole herd of deer just over the ridge. They were all watching me, but none of them ran as I moved away.

After that sighting I was headed back toward the nature center, but I didn’t want the fun to end, so I connected with another trail, one I’ve been on many times. It was late in the day now and I didn’t expect to see much.

I was reminding myself that once, right along this trail, I came across a huge flock of turkeys. I glanced over to my right and saw what looked like, from far away, three stumps. Could it be?

Three turkeys were asleep, lined up on a log.

Don’t bother us lady, we were sleeping here!

The trail was going to take me about 2 feet from their log. I kept taking pictures because I was sure they were going to wake up and move away. They did, indeed, wake up, but they never moved. Three sets of eyes watched me walk past them.

And then they tucked their heads back under their wings and went to sleep.

Boy, it’s sure hard to get rest around here! (Notice way to the right, the turkey assigned to guard duty shirking his responsibilities.)

Then, as I got closer to the parking lot the little birds started hovering. If I stood still getting a shot of anything they flew down to see if I had a treat.

I changed the camera settings and had some fun. These aren’t great shots, but they show the frenzy that can happen when the birds are hungry.

Two at once!

The shots I find most interesting are the ones that show movement. I couldn’t tell what I had until I got home and looked at them on a bigger screen. They aren’t what I was hoping for, but they do give me ideas of how to tweak things to get more of the bird in focus.

All this wing movement would be fun to capture with the head more in focus.

I think I will try shutter speed priority, and set the shutter speed way high, then adjust the rest of the settings to support that. I’d also like more of the bird to be in focus, so that means a higher Fstop too. I have a camera that will allow some of these extreme settings…so it’s worth a try!

And of course I did get a few images of birds in focus. Like this titmouse. Look how elegantly perfect he is! The feet are extraordinary, and the wings are just beautiful.


So I’ll be back. On my way out to the trails I passed a squirrel in a tree enjoying his breakfast. An hour later he was still there, still munching away.

Nom nom nom…

I guess to get the bird shots I want I’ll have to be just as methodical and persistent as this little guy.

I have high expectations for success soon.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

28 thoughts on “My gift to me

  1. I love these photos…the deer photos are fun. The birds landing on your hand—amazing you got those photos. The turkeys! What a great place to walk.


  2. Dawn–these are wonderful. The deer–I didn’t see that one sitting down until you pointed it out. And the turkeys–not one, but three! I love that photo. Birds aflutter–I think you did great. What a fun nature walk this was!


    • There were so many deer, I should have tried to get an image of the whole herd, but I liked the chewing her cud mama so much I didn’t think about the rest of them until I had moved away. And there was a fourth turkey, not sleeping, just a bit away from those that slumbered. I don’t know if he was supposed to be the watch turkey, but if so he didn’t sound an alarm when I arrived.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I see why you think it is a gift to yourself – looks like a fabulous walk. I’m assuming no Katie – yeah, I hate to tell them, but walks in the woods without the dogs are often better. The deer and turkeys and such are less skittish without the dogs.. 😉 Hope you have a good weekend and more excuses to get out into the woods 🙂


    • No dogs allowed on these nature walks. Sometimes I feel sad about that because this is exactly the kind of place she would love, but mostly I know that it wouldn’t be so full of wonderful if there were dogs there. So I take her other wonderful places and don’t tell her when I’m going to these trails.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful treat for you and for us! Love these nature shots — the turkeys, deer, hungry birds, and patient squirrel. No wonder we’re ALL smiling!!


  5. Great pictures Dawn! What a perfect way to spend the day. When you have the birds sitting in your hand with the seed, are you taking the picture? How do you balance all that? I have a hard enough time with inanimate objects.


    • Yes, I put the camera on ‘multiple shots’ so that it continues to shoot, hold the camera in my right hand and put the seed in my left. It works fine, though I often lose the birds just outside the image constraints because I can’t pull my right hand back far enough to get a bigger perspective. Still….I’ve gotten some great shots doing this. Once they get used to the black lens pointing at them they aren’t afraid at all. It’s a very special place where the birds are brave. I worry, some, about the fact so many people feed them, but I”m sure there are days when no one comes and I hope they are continuing to eat naturally so that they’re not totally dependent on us.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We love watching the birds at our feeder and we have hummingbirds that land on us in our yard but never on a nature walk. We are wearing the green scottie socks you sent us years ago today. We love them so much.
    Sweet William The Scot


  7. oh my those bird photos are incredible! I had to laugh at those turkeys just sitting out there…..looks like they think they are safe cause Thanksgiving is over?


    • They were very sleepy. There are many at the park, and if they’re up and walking around they will come right up to you to ask for something to eat. It can be kind of intimidating, when there are a lot of them, as they are so big. But these guys must have already eaten and were having their midday nap.


  8. Pingback: The Weekly Smile Recap 12/23 – 12/29/2019 #weeklysmile | Trent's World (the Blog)

  9. Beautiful photos! I especially liked “Fuzzy”.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How wonderful! Thank you! I tried to pick a favorite photo … couldn’t do it. I really like your imaginative photo captions, they add so much.


  11. Great photos, Dawn! The animals appeared to enjoy your visit to the area. I’m impressed that you got so close to the birds too and that you could balance your camera while feeding them!! Nice!


    • Thanks Shelley! The birds are so used to us humans clomping through their woods that they don’t get too upset when we try to do it quietly. I’m sure if I was running and yelling they’d get upset. That’s why I try to stay away from where most of the people are.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my goodness – the “two at once” photo is my fav….
    The color of your jacket subtly works with bird tones and the glove and action – really cool!


  13. Oh how I love that titmouse on your hand. Those turkeys on a log should win a contest!!


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