When I go on walks in local parks and natural areas, I almost always take my camera with a long lens. Better to lug it along (it's pretty heavy with the large, image-stabilizer lens) and see nothing worthy of photographing than not take it and see something really unusual and interesting. So I was very happy I have that habit when my wife and I took an afternoon walk on the first of April at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary near Alton, Illinois. As we walked through the small trees that form a forested edge to Ellis Island we came upon a small flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets. I have seen them only a handfull of times in my life, usually on Christmas bird counts, and always just catching a glimpse as they moved incessantly through the trees searching for over-wintering insect eggs and pupae. But this day they were were not as frenetic, and seemed to not mind our presence. In fact, they seemed almost curious and moved with us along the path, pausing frequently to have their pictures taken. How thoughtful of these beautiful little birds to delay their trip north for the summer until my wife and I could come to see them off.
Brent Langley is an internationally known artist who enjoys sharing his views on art and nature.