The hidden pond

As some of you may already know, Battelle Darby Creek is currently my favorite of the Columbus-area metro parks. It seems that every time I venture out to Darby Creek, I wind up discovering new trails and areas within the vast park. My latest obsession has been the wetland restoration spot, as it is a popular spot for birds. At first glance, this location is not interesting at all. In fact, I visited once a couple of years ago and was disappointed. The large prairie and wetland habitat is very flat and covered with tall grasses. There are no trees, rivers, caves, or even much color.

Having taken an interest in birding, I decided to give the wetland restoration a second chance this year. Back in January, I attended a naturalist-guided walk to view Northern Harriers in this area. That was when I learned of the hidden pond. In the middle of this seemingly-empty field, there is a pretty sizeable pond that looks absolutely amazing at sunset. Somehow, the prairie grasses manage to completely shield this pond from view, until you are only feet away. I have attempted to visit the pond a couple of times since then, but the quickest path always seems to be flooded. Well, with the beautiful weather this past week, I was determined to reach the water and hopefully add some new duck species to my birding Life List. The path was still flooded, in the same spot as every other time. Hopping between raised clumps of grass, I was able to get about halfway across the "puddle" until I ran out of these squishy stepping stones. At that point, I just tried to get across the puddle as quickly as possible. I spotted a less fortunate photographer's lens cap in the muck, and prayed that I wouldn't drop anything. With wet socks, I made it across and soon arrived at the pond.


All throughout this field were hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds. Perched on the grasses, they sang VERY loudly, and occasionally would rise up together as a huge flock in the sky. The blackbirds are fun to watch, but they were not the reason for this trek. I was excited to find several ducks swimming across the pond, and all of them were species I hadn't yet encountered. While there were no swans, as I had been hoping for, finding the ducks was still a great success. Although they were not super close to me, I was still able to photograph most of them with my Sigma 150-600mm lens. Buffleheads, Lesser Scaups, and Hooded Mergansers were all checked off my Life List. I sat on a nearby bench for a while, watching the birds and the reflections on the water. It was a genuinely lovely day, and the sky was becoming cotton-candy hues of pink and blue. I took some more pictures of the birds, and some of the nature around me. Unfortunately, I did not have any wider lenses on hand to capture the landscape, but I did get a couple shots on my phone. Along the edge of the pond, I noticed how many of the reeds were bent and folded, meeting their reflections in the water. Inspired, I tried to capture these interesting shapes. The images are a bit abstract, but personally I am pleased with how the colors of the sky pair with the strange lines and geometry created by the reeds. But with the sun getting close to the horizon, I eventually had to say goodbye to the hidden pond. I chose to follow the looped trail back to the park entrance, to avoid the flooded area. Apparently, that was a much longer and less scenic hike than I had anticipated. I suppose I got my steps in for the day, at least.


I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read my new blog. Recently, I've begun to do a bit of freelance writing, and so it seemed smart to write for myself as well! For my photography, I hope that telling the story of each session will add more context to my images. It may take me a short while to get this blog fully organized, but I would love it if you all would check back in for my future content.