Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The New Marsh Overlook

The Town of North Beach built a small park overlooking the marsh.  They built a couple of gazebos and a small pier which allow visitors to watch the bird life in the marsh.  At face value, it is a nice facility.  But there are a couple of considerations that lessen it's value as a sight to watch or film birds. 

The first is that the marsh is fed by a creek which enters the Bay on the far side of the road.  Although the town occasionally dredges the opening into the creek, it quickly fills back in, cutting off the refreshing water the tides would push into the marsh.  Once it fills in with sand, the marsh becomes stagnant (and smelly) and the water level drops through the simple process of evaporation.  Much fewer birds are attracted to the marsh when this occurs.  The town really needs to build a bulkhead at the mouth of the creek to keep the sand from continually closing it off.

Although the little park could not have been sited anywhere else, it is actually on the wrong side of the marsh to be able to view the birds.  Bird activity peaks morning and evening, with morning probably being more active than evening.  When you stand at the park, you are looking directly into the sun and, if you can see any birds as you squint your eyes to look, you will be seeing their shadow side.  Not real good for birders who would like to identify what they are looking at or for photographers.

Take this photo of the same mallard family from yesterday.  Due to the limitations of all cameras, the contrast of the scene is too great to handle both shadows and highlights.  Even shooting 1 EV (exposure value) over the correct setting yielded a photo that was so dark that I could not make out any detail in the ducks.  So I had to add another two stops of light to the photo in post processing to see the ducks, but look what happened at the other end of the spectrum in the lightest part of the photo.  The water becomes almost featureless and without detail.  That is why I probably won't be going back to that park - at least, not in the morning.

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