Tuesday Photo Challenge – Trail by jansenphotojansenphoto

Welcome to week 165 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!
You certainly hit the Road with a passion! Not only were your posts creative, but there were a lot of them! This week, as I’m on the road for work, I went through some of images from Ireland and found a nice next step along our journey: Trail! Wh...

Yesterday I walked the Stonebrodge Trails with Bhavana. I've hiked or walked many of the trails in the area around Hopewell, Princeton, Hillsborough, and Montgomery including Van Horne Park Trail, Devil's Half Acre, Autumn Hill Reserve,Institute Woods Trails, D&R Canal Park Trail, Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve Trail, St. Michaels Farm Preserve, etc.. Most of the trails in Montgomery Township were cleared and created by the Montgomery Friends of Open Space (MFOS) and D&R Greenway Land Trust.

Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, 0.025 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, 0.001 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams

Bhavna has had problems with a heel spur in her right foot. She's been in pain for several weeks, but she wanted to get out of the house. I wanted to capture trail images for Frank's weekly challenge. I remembered that Stonebridge Trails were mostly flat terrain that could be easy on her foot. She was hesitant but agreed to come with me. Neither one of us has walked the trail.

The trail wraps around the Stonebridge at Montgomery senior living community. We parked in the lot next to the Montgomery 1860's house. We did not find the trailhead, which we later discovered was near the entrance to the 1860's property but found a way onto the trail from behind the red barn.

Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, 0.001 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, 0.005 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

We took a wrong turn at the fork in the trail, and I think ended up going south-east toward the D&R Canal toward Rocky Hill. The trail was muddy. We turned around and returned to the fork to go the other direction.

Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, 0.014 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, 0.001 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams

Some of the trails are part of a paved loop walkway which I think was built for Stonebridge. It's early summer, and most of the spring wildflowers have since disappeared. However, I did find small islands of colour among the ocean of green.

Bhavna's pain threshold was breached 30 minutes into the walk, so we took the abbreviate trail and headed back to the car.

Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, 0.000 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, 0.001 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, 0.001 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, 0.006 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, 0.001 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Stonebridge Trails, Montgomery Township, Skillman, New Jersey —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (36.5 mm, 0.001 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams

This morning I joined members of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society and an excited group of birders on a field trip in the Princeton Institute Woods by Brad Merritt. The group met near the entrance to Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge. The Washington Crossing Audubon Society hosts regular birding field trips around Central New Jersey, the Delaware Water Gap, Delaware Bay, the New Jersey shore, and eastern Pennsylvania.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (100 mm, 0.008 sec at f/4.5, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams

About the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge:

The tract is a nesting ground for more than 90 species of birds and scores of others pass through the refuge; over the years more than 190 species have recorded here. There is perhaps no better place of comparable size to find warblers. A few people see up to 30 different kinds of warblers and many spot 20-25 in a single day at the height of spring migration, the first three weeks of May. As a consequence, many bird watchers and nature groups visit the area every spring. Some of the groups include the Summit Nature Club, the Trenton Naturalist Club, the Montclair Nature Club, and the Watchung Nature Club. The Annual Christmas Bird Count and the Princeton Big Day Count cover the refuge extensively.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

This morning's field trip was planned in memory of Fred Spar, an avid birder and Princeton resident who recently passed away last year.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Fred was a student-athlete who ran track at Midwood High School and Cornell University. His career had many chapters. He worked as an elementary-school science teacher before completing a PhD (1980) at Brown University, where he studied Chinese history and spent a year in Taipei, Taiwan, at the Stanford Center. He lectured at Keene State College before working 36 years as a communications consultant at Kekst & Company in Manhattan. He was a member of the 2010 class at Harvard University's Advanced Leadership Initiative and applied his experience thereafter advising or serving on the boards of environmental and education organizations, including the Watershed Institute, Friends of Princeton Open Space, New York City Audubon Society, Generation Schools, and City Year New York. He was also chair of Friends of the Rogers Refuge, for which he worked tirelessly on improvements to wildlife habitat and accessibility for human visitors.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (100 mm, 0.002 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

I didn't know Fred Spar, but it seems he accomplished much with his life. I joined the group on this field trip, not to honour Fred, but to learn more about the Rogers Wildlife Refuge and also do a test run with the Fujinon XF100-400mm R LM OIS WR that I rented. I will be taking photographs of warblers with Ray Hennessey tomorrow afternoon.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (100 mm, 0.006 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

Photographing the birds in the Princeton Institute Woods was challenging for me. The birds kept to the high branches which meant shooting with a bright blue sky as a background; which means too much backlight casting a dark shadow on my subjects. I continued along the walk, shooting wildflowers and plants until we go to an area of marshland. It was here that I was finally able to find some birds against a background that worked for photography.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (386 mm, 0.003 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams

There are a number of signs within the refuge, one of which explains the importance of marshes and swamps. "Marshes: act as 'safety valves' during peak rains; help maintain our water table; provide a highly productive habitat and food supply for fish, waterfowl birds, animals and crustacea; and serve as a collection point for high-ground nutritional runoff." Preservation of this habitat is particularly worthwhile because marshes are disappearing at an alarming rate.

FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (301.1 mm, 0.002 sec at f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Red-winged Blackbird —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.6, ISO320), © Khürt L. Williams

I captured some photos of the Red-winged Blackbird that had landed one on the tall grasses in the swamp. The images are not as sharp as I would like. These were captured at the far end of zoom range for this lens.

On my walk back to the car a song sparrow landed in a low branch of one of the trees immediately to my left.

Song Sparrow —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (252.1 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.0, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams
Tree Sparrow, Sparrow, Bird , Blue, Branch
Tree Sparrow — FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.003 sec at f/5.6, ISO200), © Khürt L. Williams
Red-winged Blackbird —FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 0.008 sec at f/5.6, ISO320), © Khürt L. Williams

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Rock by Frank JansenFrank Jansen (Dutch Goes the Photo)

Rock it!

My first thought when I saw the challenge was, "I'll hike the Sourland Mountain Preserve to Devil's Half Acre". Bhavna offered to come with me. The parking in the area near the trailhead on Mountain View Road was filled with cars.

Devil's Half Acre is a large boulder field with talus caves which can be approached through the Sourland Mountain Preserve by taking the northernmost trail 34 of the way up and then heading about 12 mile to the north/northwest.

The warmer weather seduced local area residents and their dogs to enjoy the outdoors. We started up over the rocky terrain. I scrambled, took this shot and noticed that Bhavna was way behind me.

Sourland Mountain Preserve
Rock, Sourland Mountain Preserve —FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams

While on Hike and Hops at St. Michaels Farm Preserve a few weeks ago, we both injured our feet. It seems Bhavna didn't recover as quickly as I did. Her mind was willing, but her body was not able. We walked the shortest part of the trail returning to the car, just thirty minutes after starting. I got this shot and a few others.

Sourland Mountain Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (17.6 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams
Sourland Mountain Preserve
Rock, Sourland Mountain Preserve —FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), © Khürt L. Williams