Today’s photos were made at Cardinal Marsh, a wetland with several ponds, about 12 miles west of Decorah, Iowa. Joan and I have been there last summer for a short exploration and I wanted to come back this spring, hoping to see some migrating birds there. Well, the birds didn’t fulfill my expectations this time. I saw lots of Canada Geese, Mallards, and some Ring-necked Ducks, but since I can find them here at the Mississippi River as well, it wasn’t necessarily worth a two hour drive… ;-) Finally, when I entered the car to drive home, I heard the call of the Sandhill Cranes. During our first visit last year we got a wonderful dance performance by the cranes. Click HERE if you are interested and like to see what I’m talking about
What got me absolutely excited this time was the discovery of a Tiger Salamander, walking just towards me on the grassy trail that surrounds the marsh land. Last year we found a dead one, so we knew that a salamander species calls these ponds home. The month of March is breeding time for the salamanders and seeing a Tiger Salamander is a great treat for me, not just because salamanders spent most of their time underground.
Let’s talk a little bit photography. Although the critter doesn’t move that fast, the Tiger Salamander didn’t give me too much time to make the shot before it disappeared in the grass. I was prepared for birds and had the camera with the long lens attached on tripod over my shoulder. I made a mistake and didn’t change lenses. The SIGMA 150 mm, f/2.8 would have been the best choice, but I played it safe, went just on the ground, and used the 50-500. The sun was bright and almost harsh, and so it felt a little bit like being on safari in South Africa during mid-day, without the hot temperatures… ;-) I like the first photo and would have never shown you the second one, if it would have been a critter that we can photograph here every other day. The Tiger Salamander was a “first one” for me… :-)