Sunday, May 24, 2015

Muskrats: A Glimpse into Their World


 Recently I had to good fortune to locate a family of muskrats in a location that lends itself well to photography.  Muskrats are both valued for their warm soft fur and detested for their burrowing that ruins man-made ponds.  This family of muskrats are inhabiting a stream where their burrows cause no harm.

Foraging and grooming as depicted in the following photos occupies most of the time muskrats spend exposed above ground.  Life is always uncertain for a muskrat as death can come at any time or place whether killed in its burrow by a mink or caught up by a passing eagle as it swims on the surface.  In the last photo you will see the pointed snout of a snapping turtle just breaking the surface.  When the snapper began lurking near the muskrat burrows the muskrat activity ceased, a sign that the muskrats considered the turtle to be a creditable threat.
 








 

 
 





Sunday, May 17, 2015

Look Ma, No Hands!

Wildlife babies can be quite entertaining as they explore their fresh new world.  An otherwise uneventful morning change for the better when a young fox squirrel followed its mother to the feeder.  The little squirrel busied itself climbing trees and hopping around while the mother stuffed herself at the feeder. 

 


 
 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Arrival of New Life on the Farm

A good friend recently e-mailed asking if everything was alright.  He lives quite a few states away and became concerned when he noticed that Country Captures had not been updated since March 31st.  Frankly time had slipped away without me realizing that nearly a month had passed since I had last shared with you.  This post is one example of the reasons why I have neglected the blog in the past months.
 
When I arrived at the farm Friday evening the first thing I noticed was the cow I had named Bandit standing apart from the herd.  It was obvious that she was in labor.  Notice how she is kicking her belly, a sure sign that labor has commenced.  While labor can run into hours, with a mature cow it can proceed rapidly if all is well.  The first photo was taken at 4:44 pm with the second taken just 33 minutes later.  While it takes a year or more for a newborn human baby to take its first steps, the newborn bull calf was standing up 26 minutes after birth and taking his first shaky steps just nine minutes later! 
 
So while I haven't been posting much recently, all is well and I am still enjoying observing and photographing the miracle of life outdoors.
 
 









Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Nose to Nose

Down on the farm everybody is nose to nose!

The spring has brought the wood frogs to the vernal pools to spawn.  Nose to nose, this pair seem particularly interested in one another.

A pair of young calves pause to nuzzle a moment before returning to cavorting about the pasture.
 
Being ready to capture special moments can make the difference between snapshots and memorable photographs.
 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Time Creek Sitting

Spring is officially here.  Sometimes it feels like it while at other times its hard to discern it from winter.
 
With half an inch of new snow on the ground, Saturday morning was one of those times that felt like winter.  The ice has thawed from the creek bordering our family farm and that is where I placed my little pop-up blind in hopes of photographing passing waterfowl.  During the course of the morning I was entertained by hooded mergansers, wood ducks, an immature bald eagle, Canada geese, a muskrat, and an early arriving phoebe.  Also present in good numbers were the usual year around residents; juncos chickadees', cardinals, titmice, and blue jays with red bellied woodpeckers drumming in the background.  The following are a few Saturday's better creek sitting photos.
 
 








Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Babies

Spring signals a time of new life in the world of wildlife.  And down on the farm the cattle are busy birthing a new generation just in time to take advantage of the lush spring pasture that will begin growing shortly.  Human, wild or domestic, babies just can't help being too cute!
 





Thursday, March 05, 2015

March: Wind & Snow

 
March, is a month of transition, some days are like winter while others are more spring like.  With snow falling today and tonight's temps to be in the single digits, one would never guess that spring is only two weeks away. 
 

Winter will soon be past but for some animals spring will not arrive soon enough.  Last year's growing season provided mast, grasses, and browse that wildlife depends upon to get through the winter however by now many of those foods are or will soon be exhausted.  It has been my experience that small fawns, weakened by winter, frequently will die about the time the grass begins to green in spring.


 Birds that flock to feeder are more aggressive now than they were a few weeks ago.

 
Earlier in the year the bird feeders were a nicety, a place for an easy meal.  Now with natural foods becoming more difficult to find fights between birds frequently erupt. 
 


Soon spring will usher in a new season of abundance, but until then many species of wildlife are facing their hungriest time of the year.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Snood Mood

Today's post focuses upon the snood of the Eastern Wild Turkey.
 
The snood, the small fleshy protuberance on the turkey's forehead, changes length and color depending upon the gobblers mood.  When the bird is not aroused as pictured here, the snood is short and pale.

As the bird begins to become aroused the snood begins to lengthen.

In conjunction with the lengthening of the snood the gobbler's head changes colors from being predominately red to varying shades of red, white, and blue.

I have read of research where snood length directly correlates with mating success.  Studies have shown that females preferring gobblers with the longest snoods.

If that is indeed the case, this long snooded bird should have no problems finding a mate come spring!




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter with the hope of Spring

Southern Pennsylvania remains locked in winter.
 
The above image is a ten image pano shot vertically with a Canon 6D, 600mm f4 IS USM, stitched and processed with PS CS5.

But the hope of spring can be seen in the mountain laurel buds waiting for the first warm days.

And in the increased strutting of the local wild turkey gobblers.

  While we experienced the coldest temperatures of the winter during the past week, in just a few short weeks spring will be bursting forth with new life.  I can hardly wait!!