"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, December 16, 2014

Sparrows And A Funky Chickadee

With most of the leaves gone from the shrubs and trees many smaller birds that are often overlooked are easier to see.  For me, they can still be confusing to identify.  Especially the roughly ten species of sparrows found in Maryland.

In the first photo a white-crowned sparrow and a song sparrow share a perch on a board fence...


The next photo is of a white-throated sparrow...


A song sparrow scratches in leaf litter for seeds...


The final photo is of a chickadee with mohawk looking color pattern on the back of its head...



    If you ever notice that I misidentified a bird please let me know. 
 
             Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.

Northern Harrier Hunting

Getting decent shots of birds in flight is always a challenge for me.  Trying to get the focal point on the bird as it soars, dips and dives can be very frustrating.

Following are photos of a female northern harrier (aka: marsh hawk) that I observed hunting over an open field last week...



 

For those interested in the photo data these photos were taken in aperture priority, 1/4000 sec, f 7.1, ISO 1000.

As always, thanks for visiting.
 


Hoping For A Different Pose

I have to admit that I take photos of the same subjects that I have already photographed hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times before.
Take the great blue heron for instance, because I check small streams almost daily I usually encounter several of these birds.

If they aren't actively hunting they usually look exactly alike...

 
When they are resting on the bank there is little change in their posture unless they have an itch...
 

While not as appealing as a shot of a fishing heron, I was happy to see this bird strike a different pose for just long enough to take a photo.
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Visiting Conowingo For Eagles

On Monday we made the drive to Conowingo dam on the Susquehanna River to photograph the eagles that are often present there.

The sky was overcast, temps were in the low to mid 30s, and the wind made things a little unpleasant.  Fortunately the eagles were cooperative and I managed to capture a juvenile fishing for shad...






In the next photo a couple of juveniles are play fighting.  Attacks on other eagles happen frequently when one has caught a fish and others go after it...


An adult soars low over the river looking for prey.  Bald eagles do not display the white head and tail until they reach about five years of age.  Many folks mistake the juveniles for golden eagles...


After catching a fish this adult landed in a spot where it could be photographed readily.  It seemed undisturbed by the number of long lenses pointed at it while it ate...





I can't begin to estimate the total number of eagles that we saw at Conowingo dam. The final photo in this post shows a group of eleven flying together.  If you would like to see them you should go soon. They may not hang around too much longer...

 
Thanks for visiting.

Red-shouldered Hawk and Kestrel

The arrival of migrant raptors, and the easier viewing of resident ones, are pleasant occurrences at this time of year.  The first photos are of a red-shouldered hawk...




The next two photos are of a female kestrel.  The small kestrel seldom holds still long enough to allow itself to be photographed...



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

Capturing Motion Blur Intentionally

While waiting for wildlife recently I noticed a rock formation in the creek that might lend itself to a motion blur photograph.  The object, of course, is to make the water appear soft and blurry to indicate motion while keeping the stationary elements of the photo sharp.

The first photo was taken at 1/800 sec, f 5.6 at ISO 800.  The shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the motion of the water...


In order to achieve the blurred effect I was seeking I took the second photo at 1/13 sec, f 32 at ISO 280...


This is not a difficult technique to learn. It requires a little trial and error to find the shutter speed that provides the effect one is after.  I took these photos resting my camera arm on the window of my vehicle.  Most people use a tripod to ensure sharp focus on the stationary elements.

Experiment a little and have fun trying something new.

Creek Side Critters

I spend a good deal of time looking for photo opportunities near small creeks.  Sometimes the outcome is predictable but the potential for the uncommon is still an appealing factor.

Today I found a great blue heron, very predictable for this area...

 
A belted kingfisher remained long enough for a photo attempt or two, usually these birds quickly depart when I arrive...
 


This squirrel was scampering about storing nuts for the cold weather ahead...
 
 
Osage orange fruits provide food for a variety of wildlife.  This one has not decomposed enough to make the tiny seeds inside accessible...
 

The uncommon opportunity today was in the form of a mink that appeared briefly...

 
 
If you have a small stream in your neighborhood you might be surprised by the variety of wildlife nearby.

 

Friday, December 5, 2014

After The Rut, Focus Shifts To Birds

At this time of year I find myself looking for wildlife to photograph and the ones that are reliably available are birds.  This male northern cardinal was a bright spot in the early morning...


Birds are where you find them, and this white-crowned sparrow was found on the edge of our yard...


I hope there are birds in your yard, too.

Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker

The pileated is the largest woodpecker in our area.  Big, loud and colorful they are hard to miss when in the vicinity...



The next largest is the northern flicker.  With much more subdued coloration and its smaller size you may have to look a little harder to see one...



Like most woodpeckers, they can sometimes be located by their loud drumming.

Thanks for visiting, be well and come back soon.

Whitetail Rut Is Slowing Down

The time of frantic activity in the deer woods has passed.  Most does have been bred and the firearms hunting season has started.  Buck activity will likely be nocturnal as they rest and recover from the efforts of the rut.

I found this young buck at first light not long ago...


Deer can still be seen in thick cover, but you might need a sharp eye to spot them...


Zooming in to 400mm allows a better view of this doe...


Just because the rut is winding down doesn't mean deer will not still be moving, especially at night.  Be careful driving and be safe.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Leaving The Colors Of Autumn Behind

I am always a little melancholy about this time of year.  The brilliant colors have faded and the dead leaves litter the ground, replenishing the earth with their nutrients...


The bright fruits of some shrubs sustain local birds as well as migrants...


 


 
 
 


Now we are entering the mostly gray time of winter.  One advantage for the hunter and photographer is that when the leaves have fallen it is far easier to spot the wildlife that both seek.
 
Thanks for visiting, be well, and come back soon.