Established in 1950, Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden contains about 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, and other plants presented in attractive displays. Though not the primary intent of its developers, it has become a first-rate birding venue. What I particularly like is the layout of the ponds, waterfalls, bridges, streams, and lake. They make the garden a birder’s and photographer’s dream because you can get close to birds without disturbing them.
I am fond of photographing Wood Ducks and have found them in great abundance here. I never tire of watching them take off, land, and fly by. From a main bridge, I’ve also had up-close encounters with Lesser Scaup and Bufflehead — birds that generally do not come near the shore. And at a smaller pond, I’ve had wonderful views of male Hooded Mergansers.
On a visit last February, huge flocks of Canada Geese flew by and landed, and I came across a male Eurasian Wigeon just a few feet from shore. Whether you’re observing or taking pictures, the garden is the place to be. — Michel Hersen
Michel Hersen is a retired psychologist and dean at Pacific University and a landscape, garden, and wildlife photographer. His photo of a preening female Mallard was a Photo of the Week in December 2013.