I had only walked about 20 yards along a wooded path when I came upon a clearing. There before me stood a photographer dressed in a camouflage suit with his camera and its large camouflaged telephoto lens mounted on a tripod.
He stood motionless staring through the lens at a nearby tree. I copied his immobility and waited.
Moments later he motioned me forward. As I passed him, he whispered, “Wood thrush.”
I smiled and nodded knowingly. Not wanting to disturb the silence of the scene, I continued on.
I met other devoted birders on my way to the Rookery at the Smith Oaks Sanctuary at High Island (a short ride on the Galveston – Bolivar ferry and a 30-mile drive). I was clearly a babe in the woods of some knowledgeable folks.
We had traveled to High Island on the advice of Ellen Hufft, who was in charge of Registration for FeatherFest and Nature PhotoFest. She enthusiastically answered our questions about the gathering for the “… serious or casual bird-watcher or nature photographer.....experienced or new outdoor enthusiast.....or (just) someone who wants some exercise, fresh air and sunshine.”
The annual event is held in conjunction with “thousands of birds (that) take wing to our island each spring during an arduous northward migration across the Gulf from Central and South America” (galvestonfeatherfest.com).
Although we did not attend any of the over 100 seminars, workshops, and field trips offered over the four-day event, a quick look at the group’s web page led us to visit the registration area. In answer to my question about where we could photograph some birds on our own, Ms. Hufft suggested the Rookery at High Island.
And that is how I found myself walking along trails through the Smith Oaks Sanctuary—without a map. As a substitute for leaving a trail of bread crumbs (a la Hansel and Gretel), at certain points along the trails, I would turn around and take a photo of a stretch I had just traveled. The photos above became my “map.”
As you can tell, any day is a good day to watch the show in the Rookery.
We hope to make it to FeatherFest 2014.