Thursday, October 08, 2015

Great Egret, Chincoteague NWR

Today we'll wrap up this series of bird images from Chincoteague NWR with a few Great Egret images.  The images show here as well as the ones from the two previous post were all taken with yards of each other along a small roadside tidal creek.  While one may mistakenly believe that to capture such images one would need to be hidden away deep in undisturbed territory the fact is that automobiles, bikers, and pedestrians were passing by only yards away. 
I hope you all have enjoyed my birds of Chincoteague NWR and hope to visit there again very soon.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Double-crested Cormorants & Immature White Ibis

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to photograph a great variety of birds in a short amount of time.  The species available will vary with the season as many species spend their nesting seasons here and move south for winter.  As some species move out others move through while for others it is a preferred winter destination.  Chincoteague NWR is an important Eastern Shore wintering grounds for many species of waterfowl.
Double-crested Cormorants are voracious fish eating birds and the fish filled tidal creeks of Assateague Island attract them in large numbers.  When not fishing the cormorants can be found hanging out near the water either resting or with wings spread wide, drying their plumage.
White Ibis, a long-legged wader of the deep south is also found here.  On this particular visit all of the White Ibis I encountered were juveniles.  These birds seemed to be particularly trusting and allowed me to move cautiously about capturing beautiful close-up images. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron

While visiting Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge I was busy photographing various water birds along a small tidal creek when I noticed subdued movement in an overhanging tree.  Watching closely I was soon able to make out the shape of a bird that blended superbly with its surroundings, an immature Black-crowned Night Heron.  Sitting quietly and watching intently, I picked out more of these well camouflaged birds as the morning wore on.  While these birds are known feed alone from dusk to dawn and roost in flocks during the day.  I consider myself fortunate to have found myself in a spot where these well hidden birds had chosen to spend their day. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Pennsylvania Elk

Photographing the Pennsylvania elk rut has become the outdoor highlight of the year for a great many people.  Pennsylvania has a growing elk herd that currently draws thousands of people to the elk range each autumn to enjoy observing the frantic activity of the elk rut.
I was originally planning to spend a few days each of the last two weeks of September in the elk range.  Problems arose causing a change of plans but finally I was able to get two days free.  Of course with my luck it began to rain as I approached Benezette Tuesday morning.  The light rain turned to a downpour by afternoon causing flooding during the night.  By morning the rain became light allowing a good morning of photography before my departure of home after lunch.
While the trip was short and rainy I returned happy with the outcome, some decent elk photos and a chance to catch up with photog friends like Odie, Buckwheat, Charlie, Tom, Dave.  I was also a pleasure to meet fellow outdoor blogger Dan Gomola


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Raystown Lake

Since the Pa Fish and Boat Commission drained our local Meadow Grounds Lake in the spring of 2013 I have been forced to travel elsewhere for boating/photography and fishing.  The Meadow Grounds offered good fishing, excellent wildlife photography, and convenience as was a short 15 miles from home.  With it gone I began to travel to the next nearest lake, Raystown Lake, in neighboring Huntingdon County.  No more can I hook up the boat and take a quick run to the lake for Raystown is fifty miles one way.  The fishing at Raystown is different then the Meadow Grounds with more species to target however it falls short with the wildlife photography.

Raystown is a much busier lake and where the MGL was electric motor only, Raystown is unlimited horsepower and heavily used by pleasure boaters.  The waterfowl that I have encountered there is typically much more wary of boats, seldom allowing a close approach.  Large waves from the wakes of speeding boats can be unsettling if not down right dangerous while trying to photograph wildlife.

With that said, there are still occasions where keeping the camera handy on Raystown pays off.

The following are a few images captured while fishing Raystown Lake.

I was surprised to encounter this swimming squirrel a long way from shore one recent morning.  If memory serves me well this was the only time I have ever observed a squirrel swimming. 

A Great Blue Heron stalks the shallows

And lastly, a pied-billed grebe swims away through the fog.  This is the first p-b grebe I have spotted since the spring migration.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Visit with a Waterthrush

I identified this bird in the title as a waterthrush.  This much I know is accurate however I am unsure as to whether the bird pictured here is a Louisiana Waterthrush or a Northern Waterthrush.  After studying the bird's markings I am leaning towards the Louisiana however anyone's input would be much appreciated.  I read on one site that the song was the best way to differentiate between the species but alas the hearing loss I suffer denies me that means of identification. 

I remember well my first encounter with a waterthrush.  A few years ago my wife and I were visiting with my niece Amy and her husband on early spring day.  After lunch it was suggested that we go to a public natural area near their home that was quite popular with wildflower enthusiast.  As we were hiking along the trail Amy began looking intently at a nearby stream and soon spotted the Louisiana Waterthrush.  Its singing had alerted her to its presence.

A couple weeks ago while crossing the creek that borders our farm, I began spotting a waterthrush frequently.  One evening last week I decided to make an attempt to photograph the bird and was pleased to find it seeming cared little about my presence as it hopped about the rocks bobbing its butt and flipping leaves in search of prey.  I enjoyed the time spent with this member of the warbler family and hope that you enjoy the images I came away with as well.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

SNP Whitetails Revisited

 On a recent morning my brother, Willard, and I ventured down to Shenandoah National Park to check on the whitetail situation.  SNP once was our go-to place to photograph mature whitetail bucks however two years ago an intensive collaring/tagging and CWD testing program brought our buck photography there to a screeching halt.  Practically overnight all of commonly seen the large bucks were sporting large collars with even larger number placards and transmitters or large white ear tags while others had strangely disappeared.

Fortunately this day was to be different.   Well before sunrise we encountered a large buck that allowed us to trail along photographing him for over an hour before finally retiring to the woodland to bed up for the day.  What began as a day with low expectation turned out to be a exceptionally memorable morning with a beautiful animal!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August Whitetails

With summer heat at its peak, already signs of the approaching autumn are beginning to appear in the Whitetail deer.  Fawns have grown quickly since being born in late May and early June. The fawn's spots are beginning to fade and the some of the adults are losing their red summer hair as the soft gray hair of their new winter coat begins to appear.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Photo Session with a Green Heron

Green Herons are often found hunting along the water's edge meets heavy cover.  I was fortunate to find a open area where Green Heron were hunting nearly every morning.  Taking advantage of the opportunity I set up before daylight and waited.  As the morning began to brighten a heron arrived and began stalking the shallows long before there was enough light for photographs.  Fortunately the bird stayed allowing me to observe and photograph it for nearly two hours. 

 Fluffing, or shaking




 And more stalking

 Making the catch

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August Projects

Those who regularly follow Country Captures will recall a series of post last year showing the repairs to the inside of our barn.  This year the focus would be on the front.  

The weatherboarding remained in decent shape however the sliding doors were badly rotted.

I decided that the best approach would be to build new doors, install new door track, and face the barn with metal siding.

The metal siding changed the appearance of the old structure considerably.

One cannot forget the garden during the month of August with so much good stuff ripening and maturing.  The red beets did very well this year.  

When all was done on beet canning day we had pickled 49 quarts.