As much as I enjoy exploring the world on my own, it’s even better when you’re in the company of an expert: a geologist or a local historian, for example, because they can point out and explain so many things that you’d never see. A few weeks ago I got to walk through Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area with a group of professional and volunteer naturalists. The assignment was to photograph John Sheehan, who is the Conservation Education Manager for Metro. By a strange twist of fate, two other naturalists were there too, as well as a couple of volunteers who help them teach schoolchildren about the things you can see in the wetlands.
Before we even got on the trail, a juvenile red-tailed hawk dropped down to poke at something in the grass, just 10 yards from where we sat. Naturally, this distracted the group and we spent several minutes watching it, and then analyzing the trails in the grass to figure out what the bird had been interested in.
Along the trail, we saw turtles sunning themselves, found a fallen bushtit nest (containing about 7 abandoned eggs), and looked for water bugs in a flooded section of the trail. We also saw osprey, bald eagles and other birds along the way. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon!