Covid & Nature: Part One


Three years ago, when Covid turned everyone’s world upside down and we all had to go into isolation it would have been easy to dwell on the negative side effects of the situation as we all had to shelter in place.

I was an Account Executive with an Exhibit Company in Dayton and about 4 months into the ordeal, trade shows came to a screeching halt as they were the ultimate face to face event gathering and soon after all work dried up as well.

It also squelched my usual evening ritual of photographing – writing about local sporting events and I found myself with lots of free time.

What to do with all that time?

I thought it would be a nice break to take a small weekend trip to Brown County Indiana with my wife Rita (Fourman) Barger and rented a secluded cabin professing to be a bird oasis, which would be different then the seclusion of our own home.

Having worked nearly 40 years, non-stop at breakneck speed, it would be a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a forced furlough and a chance to reconnect with nature.

Given my photographic skill set and having the equipment I was off to try my hand at observing and photographing birds.

It turned out to be very rainy and poured so hard it caused flash floods and even closed the road and we were unable to leave our cabin to go anywhere.  So, our weekend with nature would be limited with much of our time spent in the cabin instead of outside.

The Cabin however turned out to be a very nice respite perfectly adorned with all thing’s birds from reading materials, wall hanging photographs, a clock with birds that chimed on the hour with a different bird call, decorations, table setting, you name it the theme resonated throughout the cabin.

It also had a beautiful screened in porch overlooking the back yard with a trail leading into a wooded area and pond off in the distance. The backyard had at least a half dozen bird feeders which was a small price to pay to entice our bird models.

Eastern Kingbird is a large flycatcher with blue-black, back and wings, black tail with white bands and underparts. They eat kites and insects along with berries and small fruits. (Dale Barger Photo)

It wasn’t ideal conditions for picture taking due to the gloom, but when we did get a break from the rain I ventured outside and first captured a picture of an Eastern Kingbird perched on a post sitting upright and looking regal.

Then in a flash she flew off and gave me a little wave to say good-bye.

As if to acknowledge my presence the Kingbird took flight and tipped his wings to say goodbye. (Dale Barger Photo)

My next subject was a noisy Blue Jay which is an active bird that doesn’t stay in one place very long and I had to keep my distance, but I was finally able to get a static picture sitting on a branch.

Although dreary and wet the Blue Jay colors were still vibrant enough to stand out. (Dale Barger Photo)

Now photographing sports turns out is much easier than birds.  In sports you can anticipate movement and know what will happen next … birds are not so easy, you don’t know when they will take off, where they are going, where they will land, and their movements are erratic and much faster than my usual subjects.

I was able to capture the Blue Jay in flight heading for a more secluded location.  (Dale Barger Photo)

I persisted in trying to find spots to move and hide and I became good at making the Blue Jay fly away, so at this point it was my goal to at least get an action picture and my persistence finally paid off.

I would photograph two more birds at the feeder a White-breasted Nuthatch who then flew into a tree.

White-breasted Nuthatch prefer deciduous trees and like to gather nuts and seeds, jam them into tree bark, or hammer and hatch the food open with their bills. (Dale Barger Photo)

This Nuthatch had no problem grabbing a large seed from the feeder. (Dale Barger Photo)

Then the very popular and colorful American Goldfinch that I never tire of seeing with it’s vibrant pop-up of yellow and black.

No matter what the background the pop of yellow and black markings on the American Goldfinch is a pretty as it gets. (Dale Barger Photo)

Although the weekend was a washout, it wasn’t a total loss, and eventually it was time to return to home, and the weekend only served to fuel my desire even more to spend time outdoors and my next column will explore my summer boyhood playground.

And that’s my “View of Nature.”

The glow of sunlight in a partially shaded area lights up the American Goldfinch showing off the gold instead of bright yellow. (Dale Barger Photo)