About twenty minutes from my house, Swoope has gently rolling hills, with many magnificent views of mountains. I have birded there on bike, on foot, and by car. There is also a very special farm with a small lake, a Bald Eagles' nest, and owners who allow me to frequently bird there. Aside from the birds and insects, it is a very quiet and peaceful place. I seem to be as addicted to Swoope, with all its beauty, peace, nature, and birds, as I am to photographing birds.
On a recent trip to Swoope, I wanted to work on my camera settings as well as take a bike ride. The first bird I saw was the Great Blue Heron (pictured above). It was sitting in a dead tree by the lake. The same tree the Bald Eagles frequently sit in (until they see me). I set up my camera and tripod, took pictures with several different settings, and crept closer...and repeated different settings. The heron stayed very still, mostly ignoring me. I moved on to other areas around the lake, taking pictures of different birds, trying to fine tune the settings on my camera and lens. An hour and a half later, I came back to the heron in the tree. It was still sitting in the same place! This time, I crept even closer. When I left, I said, "Thank you, my friend!" It was unusual to have the same subject for so many shots, but I loved it!
I packed up my gear, and took my bike off the car and rode for a while. We have recently been blessed with unusually cool weather for July, which makes bike riding a real treat. Biking is a great way to enjoy the scenery of our beautiful Shenandoah Valley (or any place). Swoope has more gently rolling hills than some other places in our area. Since I am trying to build back up my strength, Swoope is a great place to ride.
When I returned from my bike ride, there was a pair of House Finches with a little courtship act going on. According to the website, All About Birds: "During courtship, males sometimes feed females in a display that begins with the female gently pecking at his bill and fluttering her wings. The male simulates regurgitating food to the female several times before actually feeding her." The pictures below show that feeding/courtship. Wave your mouse over the large picture and either click play, use the arrows, or click on the thumbnails.