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!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mood Swings: Eastern Wild Turkey

Some birds change plumage for different seasons.  Many species change their appearance considerable between breeding and non-breeding plumage.  The eastern wild turkey gobblers do not change plumage however they most certainly do change appearance when the mood strikes them.
 
 
A Eastern Wild Turkey gobbler stares down the lens. 
 
 
Some of the gobbler's bright colors can be seen in this capture. 
 
 
But it is only when a gobbler is in full strut that he fully displays his patriotic colors.

 
The blurry forms of other gobblers can be seen in the background of this close-up shot.
 


Although we are now experiencing the coldest temperatures of the winter, the gobblers are already anticipating the upcoming spring mating season.




Sunday, February 15, 2015

Unexpected Encounter

 
 
With winter fully upon us the creek that borders two sides of the family farm has frozen sufficiently that it is mostly safe for walking.  I took advantage of the ice conditions yesterday to hike along one side of our farm looking for photo opportunities. 
 
 
The perspective one gets from walking on the water is quite different than what is available most of the year.

 
And the frozen water lends a different look to the scene as well.
 
As I was taking this walk looking for landscape shots and not wanting to be burdened down with heavy gear, I was carrying a Canon EOS 6D with a 24-105mm lens attached.  With that outfit I was unprepared for what was to happen next.
 

As I approached a small area of open rapids I noticed a small animal swimming in the water.  At first glance I thought muskrat but a moment later as it pulled itself out on the ice I could see that it was mink!  Now mink are not uncommon in my area but seeing one certainly is as they are a very secretive animal.  As the mink hadn't seemed to have noticed me I continued moving its way as it hurried along the shoreline towards me, searching for a meal.  While the smooth ice allowed me to walk quietly I was surprised that the mink as so engrossed with checking the shoreline that it didn't notice me walking towards it with no cover whatsoever.  I was able to get to within about forty feet of it before the ice cracked under my weight, making a hollow booming sound as the pressure crack seemed to run the length of the ice sheet.


With that the mink took notice of me and after staring me down for a moment wheeled, ran to the open water, and slipped in.  The encounter was over as quickly as it had began leaving me with both memories and images of a rare sighting in the Pennsylvania Outdoors.
 

Monday, February 02, 2015

Two Photos, Forty Years

 
Today, while passing through a nearby dirt road I was drawn to the stark beauty of the old snag standing in a windswept pasture.

 
Forty years ago on a bright spring morning I photographed this very same fruit tree loaded down with blossoms.
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Feeder Fotos

When I awoke Monday morning the snow was falling at a rapid pace.  I decided that spending the day at the feeders was a more appealing option than driving the slick roads across two mountains to get to the office.
 
The following photos are the best shots of the day.  All photos were with a Canon EOS 6D, Canon 600 f4L IS USM.
 
Dark-eyed Junco

White-throated Sparrow
 
 Northern Cardinal Female

 Northern Cardinal Male 
 
 White-breasted Nuthatch
 

Tufted Titmouse

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January at 600mm

 
While I wouldn't usually consider the 600mm lens for a landscape photograph in this instance it came in handy.  One cold evening near sundown as dark clouds and rain squalls turned the countryside into a patchwork of shadows I spotted this unusual scene many miles in the distance.  With a lesser lens this distant spot would have been too small to have drawn ones attention.

 
The 600 finds itself right at home at the bird feeders, capturing small subjects at relativity close range.  This female cardinal was busy cracking sunflower seeds while keeping an eye on me and what I was doing.  A seed hull can be seen falling just to the right of her.


 
A Tufted Titmouse poses prettily in the fresh fallen snow.

 
And a White-breasted Nuthatch watches warily before hopping into the nearby feeder.
 
 
And keeping a close look-out from overhead, a Golden Eagle cruises past.
 
All of the photos in this post were shot with a Canon 6D and a Canon 600mm f4L IS USM lens.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mid-Winter: The Strutting Begins


Mid January, with over half of winter still ahead, the first indication of the wild turkey's spring mating season can be seen in the bachelor flocks of gobblers.



Gobblers spar throughout the year testing each others strength and determination.  At this time of year the sparring becomes more intense with the occasional fight breaking out.


 
The gobbler pictured to your left is using a technique I had never witnessed before.  Notice his left wing pressing upon his opponents back.  This bird held the submissive gobbler under his wing, circling continuously as the submissive gobbler tried to break away.  I have little doubt that this would have become an all out full contact fight if the submissive bird had resisted. 


While gobblers sparred, strutted, and occasionally gobbled this tom wandered a few yards from his companions and simulated mating.  When I first noticed his actions I was surprised to see a turkey mating at this time of year but a closer look revealed that he was alone. 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014, The Last and a First

As 2014 drew to a close today I had the opportunity to photograph three wild turkey gobblers as they sparred with one another.

After photographing the turkeys I drove by a stream where I commonly spot mallards during the winter months.  I was surprised to see that a pair of pintail males and one female were feeding with the resident mallards.

This is the first time I have ever observed pintail ducks in Fulton County Pa!
 
Wishing you and yours a healthy, prosperous, and Happy New Year!
 
 
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

As 2014 Comes to a Close

 
 
While 2014 was a year of considerable change for me personally, the appearance of the Meadow Grounds Dam remained for the most part unchanged.  The former lake sits empty awaiting funding for the design and repair of the dam and spillway.  This lake that once teamed with fish and was visited by many species of migrating waterfowl is now little more than a 200 acre grassland with a stream running through it. 

 
Early on a grassroots organization, Friends Of Meadow Grounds Lake, was formed by concerned locals to exert political pressure and raise awareness to restore the lake to its former state.  Our state politicians recommended that the group raise $100,000 to demonstrate the local community's commitment.  Fundraising began in earnest once the groups 501c3 tax exempt application was approved by the IRS in late August and on November 22nd the goal was surpassed!  With the local funding in place we are now looking to our state senator/s and representatives along with the our newly elected governor to approve the necessary funding to get this project moving.  With our state government facing a 1.9 billion budget shortfall it is questionable when money will be approved.   
 

 
Spotting a dandelion blooming in the pasture today reminded me of how in recent years having dandelions blooming around New Years Day is not uncommon.  I don't remember seeing these during the winter when I was a kid.  Is this a sign of climate change or was I not as observant back then?  I wish I knew!


With the passing of my father in February of this year I took on the added responsibilities of managing the cattle on our small family farm.  The above photo was taken in early April as two young calves raced across the pasture.

 
This photo taken today is of the calf bringing up the rear in the previous shot.  Four, as I call her for the number on her ear tag, is on her way to becoming a brood cow while the other calf went to market in early October.
 
 

Today I enjoyed spending some time with the camera at the bird feeders and the regular suspects were there to entertain. White Throated Sparrows will seldom get in the feeders but they are always ready to pick up what other birds spill on the ground. 


 
The Red-bellied Woodpeckers don't hesitate to grab whole kernel corn.  They fly to a nearby tree, wedge the kernel in the bark and break it apart with their sharp powerful bill.



And a White-breasted Nuthatch, cute as ever, poses momentarily before grabbing a sunflower seed and flying away.

I am looking forward to finding more time in the coming year to again pursue my photographic interest and to update this blog on a more regular basis.

Thanks for visiting,
Coy