Posts Tagged ‘ducks’

Skyliner, Falls, late Feb. 2014

We are all getting antsy for spring to arrive…winter has been hanging on and on for dear life.  It’s been hard to access the river because the water level has been high.  Most of the places I visit at the Falls of the Ohio State Park are currently under muddy water.  We have had just a handful of nicer, warmer days, but that has accelerated the melting of the snow and ice throughout the more than 800 hundred mile long Ohio River Valley.  I don’t mind the cold so much, but it’s harder to do what I like to do on a swollen waterway.  Here’s how one of my spots under the railroad bridge looked during my last visit.

muddy, high water at the Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2014

Not a pretty picture seeing a river as brown as gravy.  Lots of logs and wood floating on top and when you look more closely…there is also plenty of plastic and polystyrene in the mix too.  Another view this time with me standing on the wall that separates one side of the river from the other.

high river at the Falls, Feb. 2014

All those white spots are pieces of Styrofoam.  With my usual haunts inaccessible I moved further east…just outside the park’s entrance.  There has been a lot of activity in this area that has caught my notice.

Skyliner on the riverbank, Feb. 2014

There has been a campaign on the Indiana side to make the river more accessible particularly in areas that afford a good view of Louisville’s skyline.  To do this the vegetation has been bulldozed away.  I came across an elderly person walking her dog and she said to me quite unsolicited..”Bout time they did something to clean up this mess!” as she pointed a thin finger in the general direction of the river.  In this case, one person’s mess is another creature’s habitat.  The true “mess” comes from all the plastic bottles and chunks of man-made junk that make it into the water.  No amount of removing trees and creating views will help with this and it seems what we prefer looking at is a very selective process.  I brought my collecting bag along.  I’m hoping to pick up materials to use in an upcoming art workshop at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, but I find a few other interesting items as well and photograph them upon discovery.

Taco Bell cat toy, Feb. 2014

I came across this smiling yellow cat toy that I think came from a fast food establishment.

plastic containers for paint, Feb. 2014

Finding these paint containers made me realize how hungry I’ve become for color.  I’m looking forward to the world turning green again with color notes supplied by wild flowers.

bright orange plastic paratrooper, Feb. 2014

This plastic man with his bright, radioactive orange color was hard to miss.  He was a skydiver or paratrooper in a former life and probably fell to earth using a plastic parachute.

Skyliner with the City of Louisville behind him, Falls of the Ohio, Feb. 2014

There were other signs from life that the season’s are about to change over.  I’m ever alert to what the birds are doing.  I spotted my first Red-winged Blackbirds of the year and they are among the first migratory species to arrive.  Male Northern Cardinals are singing their courtship songs and scouting out the best spots to build a nest.  On the river, however, I spied what I consider a bird sign of winter.  A nice sized flock of Lesser Scaup ducks were mostly sleeping and relaxing on the surface of the water.  In this area, it seems we see more duck varieties in late fall and early winter. Here’s a peek at the scaups.

White-winged Scoters, Falls of the Ohio, Late Feb. 2014

Before I move away from the ducks…I found one other to add to my growing collection.  This is a Mallard decoy made from plastic.  Not too long a go, I found another plastic decoy representing the Pintail Duck.

found plastic Mallard duck decoy, Falls, Feb. 2014

One other bird note…I heard them before I could see them, but I knew what they were instantly.  The familiar calls of migrating Sandhill Cranes winging their way back north.  Like geese, they fly in V-shaped formations to avoid the air turbulence created by other cranes flapping their wings.  These birds are high flyers and this was the best I could do in taking their picture with the camera I have.

high flying Sandhill Cranes, Feb. 2014

As February becomes March…the forecast for the Kentuckiana area is calling for freezing rain and snow.  It appears that Old Man Winter will be hanging out for another week.  Spring will eventually get here and already you can tell that it stays light outside longer with each passing day.   I am, however, really eager to see how the river has rearranged this familiar landscape.

Skyliner on the Ohio River's edge, Feb. 2014

Once the Ohio River recedes there will be a new landscape to explore and who knows what I will find?  I like that each year is different from the last.  Well this post is drawing to a close.  Thanks for visiting and see you soon…from the skyline of Louisville and the Falls of the Ohio.

Looking toward the skyline of Louisville, Late Feb. 2014

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Not much remains of the season’s first snow at the Falls of the Ohio…except for these images.  I shot these last weekend as well as another figure that I’m unveiling today.  I call him (or her?) the Skater and originally posed this figure on ice before moving on to investigate other locations.

Skater’s head is made from some odd bit of insulating material covered in black paper.  The facial features join a variety of materials including found plastic, wood, a clam shell, and a small acorn.  I had to chip a tiny hole in the ice in order for this figure to stand up.  I zigged-zagged across the park imagining this small guy visiting the sights with me.  Here are a few of the other scenes we came across.

I’m always on the look out for bird life.  During this time of the year duck watching can be very productive.  Although on this day, all I came across were these Mallards, it’s not unusual to see during winter other species including Common Goldeneyes, White-winged Scoters, and Canvasbacks.  Ring-billed Gulls, Great Blue Herons, Carolina Wrens, Song Sparrows, Canada Geese, and Northern Cardinals were among the other year-round residents seen on this day.

The temperatures are somewhere in the high teens, but luckily there is no wind to really make things cold!  After checking out the water’s edge with its ice formations, I moved back inland to check on my studio site and the few sculptures that are still in place.  Skater trudged along with me to say hello.

Among the past projects we came across were Pot Belly and Cross-legged Lorraine holding their positions.  Since the really cold weather, there haven’t been as many people out here to potentially mess with them.  A quick look around the snow didn’t show any human footprints.  There were, however, loads of various kinds of animal tracks now generalized by the elements.  Next I visited my Styrofoam cache, but couldn’t see much of it due to the snow.  Three figures from this past year were still on guard.

After a couple hours, I started to get hungry and the thought of a fresh cup of coffee seemed blissful.  I headed back to my car enjoying the sound of icy snow underfoot.  Skater decided to stay at the outdoor studio and I went ahead without him (or her).  I walked past that mysterious object that my son Adam dubbed in the spring, “…that giant plug at the bottom of the river”.  It will take a mighty flood to float this thing away.  I wonder who will eventually inherit it?

I still have some nice ice images to share with you from this day and perhaps I will put that post together in a day or so.  As I was walking home, I saw this object sticking out of the snow and it amused me and so, I’ll end this winterland adventure with it.  Might go good with coffee and pie!

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