"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold

"THE TABLES TURNED"

"COME FORTH INTO THE LIGHT OF THINGS. LET NATURE BE YOUR TEACHER"....William Wordsworth


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Barred Owl and Wild Turkey

If you are not a turkey hunter you might wonder what a barred owl and a wild turkey have in common.  The call of the barred owl, "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all" is often used by hunters to stimulate gobblers to sound off in the Spring...



In the next photo the owl is making it's typical call...


Today happens to be the third day of the spring turkey hunting season in Maryland.  I didn't use an owl call to entice this gobbler to head my way. Instead, I used a friction slate call that I have owned since 1973.  Whether armed with a shotgun or a camera, it is exciting to watch a large gobbler make it's way toward the caller...



This guy was so convinced that there was a hen in the truck with me that he came right up to the door to take a look...



Turkeys throw caution to the wind during mating season.  Hunters and photographers can use this trait to their advantage.



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Great Horned Owl and Owlets

After learning of the presence of a family of great horned owls near the walking path of the Rivermist/Monocacy River Trail, Cheryl and I went over to have a look.  On our first visit we only spotted the adult...



To be honest, we were happy to see and photograph the adult.  Since the weather for the next day promised to be agreeable we returned early in the morning and were rewarded by views of the all three owlets as well as the adult...





As we were leaving, we walked past a tree with a huge hole in the trunk.  On the day before I questioned what might live inside.  On the second day we found out...


We would never have known about the owl family if it had not been mentioned on a Facebook page for Maryland birders.  If you are interested in finding birds I would encourage you to sign up for any similar sites for your area.

As always, thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

Many Bird Sightings This Week

It has been an unusually good week for bird sightings.  I found this common raven on Monument Road...


Two Canada geese were sitting on eggs, and trying to keep a low profile...




A female cardinal posed nicely in early morning light...

 
 
I find warblers difficult to photograph because they so seldom remain still for very long.  This yellow rumped warbler was no exception...
 



A brown thrasher was drying off in the morning sun...


This male red-winged blackbird is hoping to attract a mate...



A juvenile red-tailed hawk soars from it's perch...


This red-shouldered hawk watches a field for prey...


Last but not least, a blue-gray gnatcatcher provided me with photo opportunities early one morning...



 
 


I hope the birds in your area are being cooperative, too.
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Snorkeling Merganser and Colorful Wood Duck

While parked near flowing streams I often have ducks float past without taking notice of my presence.  Common mergansers are especially oblivious of what is on the banks of the stream when they are fishing...


Every once in a while they have to come up for a breath...

 
I find these birds among the most difficult to photograph. The extreme coloration differences always challenge me with the question..."should I expose for the light areas or the dark"?  As you can see, I usually let the light areas blow out in favor of retaining at least some detail in the dark areas.
 
Wood ducks, with their large range of colors, offer their own unique challenges...
 
 

 
The diminutive song sparrow has no difficult colors or contrast issues to be concerned about...
 
 

Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.
 

Always Have Your Camera Handy

So often photo opportunities are sudden and unexpected.  Two days ago I rounded a turn on a rural gravel road and saw a bald eagle soaring across a field.  It landed in a small tree on the passenger side of my truck.  I barely had time to step out and find it in the viewfinder when it took flight...


As luck would have it, the eagle flew almost directly over me...



If my camera had not been on the seat beside me, with the settings already dialed in for the days lighting conditions, this would have been a missed opportunity.  How many times have you thought "if I only had my camera"?



Lousiana Waterthrush

Over the last few days I have noticed several Louisiana Waterthrushes along Catoctin Creek, not far from the Park and Nature Center.  These cheerful little birds are always fun to observe and photograph...




In spite of their name, they are members of the warbler family and are usually seen near flowing water.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Miscellaneous Birds

The following are some birds that I have not published before.  The first is what I believe to be a cackling goose.  Note the short neck and bill.  If there are other field marks that I am unaware of, or if I have misidentified the bird, please let me know...


The next are two photos of a red-tailed hawk in a forest...



Yellow-bellied sapsucker (juvenile) located near Jefferson...


 

This red-tailed hawk has just captured prey near a busy road...



The last photo is of a feral cat.  I have seen this cat in the past on the grounds of the Catoctin Creek Park and Nature Center...

 
I always assumed that it belonged to a park neighbor until I saw it slide into a hole under the rock it is sitting beside...
 
 
Whether domestic or feral, free roaming cats pose a huge threat to song birds and small mammals as this publication from the Smithsonian explains:
 


Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.