I like mostly the pond
In the other shots the colors seem washed, I don't know why, I'm no expert
I don't think that cropping is a crime:-)
Sure, it's best to frame as good as possible at shooting stage, but if the shots benefit by removing distracting or not important elements, it should be done. That's the main benefit from your 18 Mp sensor, you can crop a lot. The owl would be much nicer, I think, with most of the rock cropped out.
Canon PowerShot S100
Canon 50D , SIGMA 10-20 f3.5 ,Canon EF 24-105 L IS USM, Canon EF 100/2.8 macro Canon EF 50/1.4 ,Canon EF 85 f1.8,Canon EF-S17-85 4-5.6 Old Tamron 28-300 inherited from my Canon Rebel G film camera