Photographing at Jones Bridge Park
A photo story by David Dunagan
On a couple of days last month, I saw a pair of belted kingfishers over at Jones Bridge Park (JBP). One of them had found a useful perch sticking up out of the water: a small branch of a tree that had fallen into the river. From there, the kingfisher waited patiently for fish to swim by a little too close for their own good. I decided to see if I could offer the birds an even better perch—and better photo opportunities for us humans. I found a fallen limb in the woods—it had lots of ragged branches that I hoped would attract the kingfishers. I waded out to the fallen tree and wedged the limb in place to provide a taller perch in hopes that these handsome, darting birds might prefer that.
The next day, Alfonso Caycedo and I headed over to JBP to try our luck photographing at least one kingfisher. Unfortunately, my home-made perch had been washed away by the high water overnight and the place was overrun with kiddies playing at the river’s edge. Neither Alfonso nor I would say anything, of course, but privately we were muttering some riverside equivalent of “hey, you kids, get off my lawn!”
The morning might have been a total loss except for a couple of unexpected adventures. First, I spotted an odd-looking duck over toward the Fulton County bank. It was a diving duck, not like our common mallards, which are dabbling ducks. Alfonso stayed at our shooting spot while I waded across to see about the visitor. In some spots, the river bottom is mostly sand and gravel (great for traction), but in others you find sharp rocks, slippery rocks, soft mud, and mushy grassy areas. Those variations and surprises are part of the adventure. I kept moving my chair closer and closer to the little guy, but I guess I got too greedy—it disappeared before I could capture a photo. Maybe it took a dive and swam over to the bank where it could hide among some tree limbs that droop into the water.
Then, when Alfonso and I walked back upstream, we relaxed at one of the picnic tables and were serenaded by a charming Carolina wren on an overhead branch. As you know if you’ve been within about 30 feet of a wren when it’s singing, it’s got a shockingly loud voice! And its phrasing is beautiful. We heard of couple of songs from its Greatest Hits collection: the rhythmic “Chirpidy, chirpidy, chirpidy…” and the melodic “Tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle.” It seemed to be having a fine time singin’ up a storm.
Even with no kingfisher to be found, it was an enjoyable outing to JBP. Geese and ducks were scarce, the herons had taken the day off, the ospreys were on strike, and not even the shadow of a kingfisher could be found. How, then, could it be an enjoyable trip? Well, good friends on a river bank with cameras in hand don’t need much more to be content.