Well, with only a short time to get out and a major (for DC anyway) snowstorm on the way, what could I do? I went as local as I could, which means I headed back to Great Falls National Park, yet again. I wasn't disappointed.
I had a great, but very cold morning, starting out with some beautiful ice patterns in small puddles left in the ruins of the Patowmack Canal (conceived and started by George Washington). Then as I was exploring up river, I ran into a very friendly great blue heron (Ardea herodias) right along the trail in an overflow tributary of the Potomac above the falls. It didn't move as I came around the corner on top of it and it let me set up my gear and then slowly ease my way to within 8 feet or so. I worked it for about 40 minutes (even after putting my gloves under them, my knees were killing me) when two hikers came up fast along the trail and caused the heron to fly down the river a bit. I got up on the trail to soothe my aching knees and fold up my tripod, and as I was in the final stages of packing up, the heron flew back and landed 5 feet away from me. Clearly, this was its favorite fishing hole and after an hour spent together it did not consider me any threat. I took some more photos as the heron's back got covered with the now rapidly falling snow, but eventually I got worried about the road conditions to get home. I said goodbye to the heron and it did not budge as I slowly packed up and backed back down the trail.
The last few images I captured from one of the overlooks during the height of the storm before I left. Besides worrying about the roads, I was now worried about the melting snow shorting out or freezing in my camera and my lens hood was filling with the blowing snow. Definitely time to call it quits. Below is a slide show of my favorite images from the morning. Don't forget to click on the icon to get a full screen slide show for the best viewing. Enjoy!
Great Falls National Park Jan30 - Images by Elijah Goodwin