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!!

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