The air becomes frigid, the days getting shorter, but there a beauty in the stillness of winter. As the snow blanketed the tired fields, piled onto the trails, and weighed heavily on tree branches, the preserve had subtle signs of wildlife visitors if you looked close enough. Squirrel prints pattered on fallen logs, perfectly shaped little raccoon handprints, deer routes, and delicate bird feet were imprinted in the snow. Cross country skiers took to the trails to enjoy the quietness of Avalon.
With some extra time on our hands to plan for the upcoming year’s activities, it can lead to a collaborative effort. With our creative minds buzzing, ideas flow and form some unique opportunities. David Cohn, one of our astronomers on our observatory programs, was toying around with a specialized time lapse camera and mounted it inside a bird house blind adjacent to the sky dome. After several takes and many hours of his efforts, he started to compile a beautiful time lapse of Avalon. A Northern flicker, Carolina wren, red-bellied woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, and white tailed deer were many of the wild residents to make a trip past the camera. Being super tech savvy, David edited his works together into a video sequence paired with sky movements and weather patterns. Avalon was bustling with life in the dreaded winter right before our eyes!
Viewing the preserve from the perspective through David’s lens illustrated just how much there is to be discovered in nature, especially right here in our local area. His goal is to create a video capturing Avalon through the seasons over the course of a year. This inspired me to get our student volunteers involved and I invited our members to participate in a seasonal photo contest. I provided little guidance to keep it open ended to our students’ interpretations as an independent self-guided activity. Not only was it limited to photos, but our contest was also open to include poetry, short stories, sketches, video clips and music.
The works that were submitted were very well done and perfectly captured the essence of nature and the wildlife inhabiting it! I’m so proud of our volunteers who took the lead and showed off their pieces of art while having fun in the outdoors! Admiring your own work is not always easy, however this is a place for like-minded nature lovers to share their experiences with others. Congratulations to the winners of our first photo contest, Hailey and Eamonn!