"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




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Snowy Owl Watching, the Way It Should Be


As many know already, 2018 has been exceptional for snowy owl sightings.  The popularity of these arctic visitors, and the resultant inconsiderate behavior among humans, has raised the ire of many birders.

 Yesterday I enjoyed one of my most pleasant birding days ever; and I spent nearly four hours observing and photographing a snowy owl.

Because of the thoughtfulness of a birder, whom I have never met, I was alerted to the presence of a snowy owl on Currie Rd. in Ranson, WV.  The location is only 30 minutes from our house.  A welcome change from the 3.5 hour drives to Asssateague Island, which did not produce any owl sightings on the day of our visit.

When I arrived the owl was resting behind a rock pile with only its head visible.  This is what it looked like with my lens set on 150 mm…


Zooming out to 600 mm made things a little easier to see…


The other images in this post have been cropped...


This owl appeared to be a little sleepy...




Almost immediately upon my arrival a truck stopped and asked what I was seeing.  Both occupants had long looks through binoculars and each took photographs...


  This was the beginning of an afternoon during which six cars, and a school bus, stopped to inquire about the activity they had been observing lately on Currie Rd.  Several of the motorists were incredulous that an owl would fly so far.  I shared my limited knowledge with them, and encouraged them to use Google to learn more...


The school children were the most enthusiastic, not to mention the school bus driver!  Almost all of them expressed interest in learning more about snowy owls…


Hopping from behind the rock to the top of it was the closest thing to a flying sequence that I was able to get...










 Apparently when this individual owl gets bored it likes to pick up a stick, drop it, pick it up again, over and over...


Sharing bird locations with other birders, and encouraging non-birders to get involved, is the true spirit of birding.  In my opinion, it doesn't get any better.

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

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Snow and Ice

After the freezing rain we had a day ago my usual haunts turned into magical sculptures of nature coated in ice...





To say that the usual sights were now breathtaking would be an understatement...









Even the seed pod from a Sycamore Tree showed more texture...


  
This lightning rod lost most of it's ice coating when the morning sun shone on it...



Lichen on a tree with remnant ice...



An eastern bluebird does not appear happy with the conditions...



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

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ice Bells and Birds

Being able to watch a small stream freeze and thaw and then freeze again can provide a beautiful window on the wonders of nature.  I have long been intrigued with the tiny formations called "ice bells"...





Sometimes ice refreezes into interesting shapes...



Many are probably familiar with well known image of the "mad bluebird".  Yesterday I had an opportunity to create my own image of one...



The vegetation was encrusted with freezing rain. The morning sun passing through the frozen drops created the background highlights seen in these images...







On another morning in a different place, a mourning dove enjoys basking in the sun on a rock...



Thanks for visiting, feel free to share, be well and come back soon.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Winter Flocking Fruit Eaters

One of the most enjoyable aspects of birding in the winter is the opportunity to locate a bountiful food source, such as berries and crab apples, and to watch as the flocks of fruit eating birds arrive, in this case robins...



Robins are social birds that tend to flock together in winter.  More eyes makes it easier to locate food and detect predators...





Very often, while observing robins, I have encountered large flocks of cedar waxwings arriving to enjoy the bounty...





Cedar waxwings and robins seem willing to share food sources without animosity...



When these feeding frenzies take place the birds eat so much fruit that it often passed through them without completely digesting.  Don't ask me how I know this...


These photos were taken over the course of several days under various lighting conditions...




I especially like the early morning light and the rim-light effect it can produce...








Another species that can be considered a winter flocking fruit eater is the European starling...


When these raucous interlopers arrive the other birds often depart for more peaceful locales...


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

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