Author Archives: Justin Cale

FORETHOUGHT: A MOMENT TODAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

A curious Virginia Rail risking it all to have a look at the group of friends observing it.

 

As our lives collectively get busier and busier, in world full of white noise and distraction, forethought on a large scale seems almost impossible for many people. With everything that requires our attention on a daily basis, where do we find time to consider the “big picture”? This is a question that I wrestle with more often than I would like, and it’s a BIG question for many folks. Today I am going to tell you a short story, and finish with a few thoughts.

Just over two years ago, I was attending my third Biggest Week in American Birding festival. I was becoming an established photographer, but lacked purpose in many senses. I knew that I loved birds and wildlife in general, but had no sense of direction. That changed for me in the biggest of ways (see what I did there!) during that Biggest Week festival.

 

This Virginia Rail peeks over it’s shoulder for one last glimpse of us before disappearing back into it’s marshy home.

 

I had no expectations going into that trip, other than to enjoy the time with my Dad. Since I knew that would happen I was fine with whatever the week decided to throw at me. Dad and I ended up picking up a friend at the airport late one evening, and the next few days would forever change both my life and how I viewed my interactions with others.

J. Drew Lanham is a man of many hats. An ecologist, ornithologist, and “dot connector” extraordinaire. An incredibly soulful human being with an affinity for bringing people together through birds and words. My Dad and I had the great fortune to spend a few days with Drew that week. On one of those days, while wandering Maumee Bay State Park, we heard a recognizable call coming from the reeds. The conversation froze, and the Virginia Rail you see now in these photographs charged out of the reeds to see why these three humans had traipsed into it’s territory. We all sat in wonder for a moment, made a few photographs, and moved on to let the little bird relax back into daily habits.

 

The Virginia Rail gave me the perfect pose. To this day, it remains one of the most powerful wildlife photographs (to me) that I’ve ever made.

 

I often think back to those few days and the changes that I underwent as a result, and wanted to bring this thought to you today. Life does not require more of us than we are willing to give, but giving that extra can be the difference between a good life, and an extraordinary one. Drew could have easily been too busy to spend time with a relative “rookie” birder and an old man (LOVE YOU DAD!). Instead, he extended me his time, and in that short time I changed from a directionless birder/photographer to a passionate conservationist, photographer, birder, writer…the list goes on!

The point is folks, think about the time you spend with others in regards to your passions. Have no reservations nor expectations. Spending even five minutes with someone today could affect him or her for the rest of their lives. Every minute matters!

 


 

A huge thank you goes out to all of you that read what I write. Having the ability to reach out to you every week is alike to air in the lungs for me!

Connection to others is the keystone of what I do, and how I view myself. Wildside has a wonderful, growing community on Facebook, and we want you to join! It’s a helpful, fun community of people sharing relevant news and engaging in amazing conversations. Come join in!

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See you next week!

-Justin

WILD YOUTH: REFLECTIONS ON MY EARLY YEARS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTING YOUTH TO NATURE

  As I sit at my desk this morning reading the latest news in wildlife and conservation, my mind is swirling, twisting, and turning as strongly as the incredible storm that is passing through outside. So many stories to tell. Memories of a youth spent mostly outdoors, unwittingly soaking in the wonders of nature. ItContinue Reading

MAKING AN IMPACT: HOW CAN WE SAVE BIRDS?

  It’s Monday morning. You’re sitting at your desk, daydreaming about the previous weekends adventures. Relishing the thought of the birds you saw and the places you visited. Perhaps a smile comes to your lips as you experience the joy and excitement of that moment. Perhaps a warm feeling runs through you from head toContinue Reading

THOUGHTS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND FATHER’S DAY BIRDING!

  Those that know me, know that my Father and I are a bit of a duo. We travel the country together on all kinds of adventures. We’ve seen Great Gray Owls in the bogs of northern Minnesota, massive Elk that roam the worn down mountains of Pennsylvania, and Atlantic Puffins on a remote islandContinue Reading

SPECIES SPOTLIGHT : BALD EAGLE

  The Bald Eagle is one of the most recognizable and well known birds in the world, and when one catches a glimpse of this amazing bird it’s not hard to see why. I saw my first Bald Eagle in the wild just five years ago and I’ve been enthralled with birds ever since.  Continue Reading

GUIDES FROM THE WILD SIDE

  Greetings everyone! Another week has come and gone, and here we are for my next blog. After having such an amazing experience at the Biggest Week in American Birding, I thought I would create a new blog series highlighting our amazing guides and staff! From time to time I’ll be writing these blogs asContinue Reading

LOOKING BACK: THE BIGGEST WEEK IN AMERICAN BIRDING

  In my last blog, I wrote about the magic of the upcoming Biggest Week in American Birding festival. Looking back over that ten day span, it was a very big week indeed! From front to back it was an exciting, fun, and exhausting ten days.   While the Biggest Week in American Birding hasContinue Reading

LOOKING FORWARD : A VERY BIG WEEK

  In just a few days, birders from all over the world will converge on northwest Ohio. They will observe, photograph, and marvel over myriad spring migrants. Young and old alike will gleefully tick life birds off of their lists and share stories and photos of what they have seen.   The Biggest Week inContinue Reading

BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN: A STORY OF PROTHONOTARY WARBLERS

  With spring migration now well underway, I thought, what better subject for my next blog than the Prothonotary Warbler! One of the earliest of spring migrants, these bright yellow balls of awesomeness stole my heart years ago.     Magee Marsh and the black swamp hold a special place in my heart, as formativeContinue Reading

SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: YELLOW WARBLER

  Spring has sprung! As we shake off the cold and welcome in warmer weather, I thought I’d share a story and photos of one of my favorite neotropical springtime visitors. The Yellow Warbler!     Each year I visit The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival along the northwest shores of Lake Erie. ThisContinue Reading