From "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



Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Beaver Family

For several years I have watched a beaver family with interest and enjoyment.  Their industrious nature and interesting family dynamics make them among my favorite subjects.

In the next photos a beaver gnaws the bark from a fallen tree, while another eats small branches gathered from the submerged portion of the tree...

 
 
Beavers don't actually eat the wood of trees. Instead, they eat the cellulose, or inner bark, twigs, leaves, tender young branches, ferns, aquatic roots and crops, including corn and beans.
 
 
 
 
A young beaver follows an adult and learns to bring food to the den...

 
It enjoys a small snack along the way...
 

Beaver families interact through play and cooperative work...

 
This one strikes a pose that reminds me of a statue of a mediating Buddha...
 
 
Next it poses like the "Thinker" by Auguste Rodin...
 
 
If you are lucky enough to be able to observe these interesting animals, take a moment out of your day to connect with one of the most fascinating creatures in the natural world.
 
 

Lilypons and Monocacy National Battlefield

Usually I visit a few areas on a daily basis hoping to find something of interest to photograph.  Two of my favorites are the Lilypons Water Gardens and the Monocacy National Battlefield.

Countless snapping turtles call Lilypons home.  Each Spring they can be seen searching for a spot to lay their eggs...



Osprey's frequently fly overhead, hoping to pluck a fish from one of the ponds...


 
The many bushes and shrubs hold a variety of small birds like this Song Sparrow...
 


 
Not too far from Lilypons is the Monocacy National Battlefield, usually a reliable place to see Whitetail Deer, birds and small animals such as squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs and sometimes even a coyote...









If one arrives early enough, the chance to see a spider web laden with dew drops is good...



I hope you have a chance to visit one of these local treasures and enjoy them as much as I do.

Turkey Gobblers Still Gobbling and Strutting

The wild turkey mating season should be over by now, but I recently came across a gobbler that was still hopeful of finding a mate.

He was strutting and displaying in a field about two hundred yards from the road...




A couple of soft yelps (hen calls) started him heading in my direction...


He came more than halfway across the field, then turned and went back...


He turned again, and took a route that would lead him across some standing water...

 
Finally, he stepped out onto the road where I was parked only a few yards away...
 

I always enjoy seeing these interesting birds and observing their behavior.
 




Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cades Cove Vistas, Predator and Prey

I think this will be my last post on Cades Cove.  Most of my photos have already been published and I am already looking forward to our next trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to obtain more...



One of the animals that the Cove is well known for are the whitetail deer.  We saw a few bucks growing their new antlers...


One surprise was the lack of fawns.  I believe that we were a little early for the fawn birth, most of the does that we saw looked pregnant...


 
We spotted this colorful fungi growing on a downed log.  I do not know mushrooms well enough to attempt an I.D. Perhaps a reader will be able to help with that...
 
 
Two photographers mentioned seeing at least one coyote each in the cove but they eluded us. That is until Thursday evening when we took our latest drive around the loop, beginning about 6:45 pm.  In a field right beside the road was a healthy looking coyote with a full tail and no sign of mange or other ailments...
 



We were able to watch him for some time, as he appeared to be hunting mice in the field...




This proved to be my best opportunity to photograph a coyote in the East.  I was happy to have been in the right place at the right time.

If you are traveling through Tennessee it would be well worth your time to make a stop at Cades Cove.  Don't forget your camera.
 

 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wild Turkeys In The Cove

It seems odd to me that as I write this I recall seeing photos of turkey poults (chicks) on the Internet taken here in Maryland.  Less than a week ago, in Cades Cove we watched wild turkeys displaying, fighting, and breeding.  I would have thought that breeding activity would have ended in the South by now.  Once again, there is always something new to learn about our natural world.

Two gobblers (males) are circling and displaying for a hen...

 
Each gobbler is hoping to mate with her...

 
 
After several minutes of the circling and displaying behavior the larger gobbler begins to try to intimidate his rival into leaving the hen alone...

 
When intimidation does not work the gobblers ensnare necks and begin flogging each other...
 
 
Size and experience prevail as the smaller gobbler backs off...
 
 
The smaller gobbler finally retreats, still trying to display for the hen...
 
 
 
Now the hen and the "Boss" gobbler can get down to the business of mating...

 

 
Gobblers in strut are impressive birds, with their tail feathers fanned to the fullest and their wings dragging on the ground, they march back and forth to impress the hens...

 
 
Their gobbles can he heard for a considerable distance, letting the hens know where they are...
 


When the breeding frenzy has ended, they are back to feeding...
 
 
Thanks for sharing this turkey encounter with me.  I think I have one more post to make with photos from the Cove.  You won't want to miss them.