Monday, May 31, 2010

Burns Valley Waterfall

My wife & I were invited to spend the afternoon picnicking at her cousin's cabin.  After too much good food and much good fellowship the decision was made to walk off the calories by hiking to a nearby pond.  Hiking past the pond we crossed a small stream flowing through a culvert.  Looking down stream I noticed that the stream dropped from view and from that point onward the ravine appeared much deeper.  

Totally hidden from view from the road the falls proved to be quite spectacular, certainly worth the short detour from our planned walking route. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Camera Critters: Wood Ducks

A Wood Duck hen searches for her Family

My arrival at the wetland scattered the Wood Duck family.  After concealing myself I waited quietly for the wildlife to resume their normal habits.  After about an hour the Wood Duck hen returned calling incessantly trying to reassemble her little family.

A pair of Wood Duck males arrived feeding along the water's edge.

And this tiny duckling swam to within a few feet of my hiding spot.  It knew that the clicking going on in the bushes wasn't normal and was brave enough to approach for a closer look.

For more Critters of all Kinds
Visit our friend Misty's

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wood Ducklings; Two Broods

When this duckling swam past my hiding spot in the wetlands I was surprised at how quickly it had grown.  Only a few days earlier I had photographed duckling that were little more than downy puff-balls and here I could see the beginnings of tail feathers.

A short time later this little duckling swam into view with the answer to the unusual growth rate.  Obviously there are at least two broods of wood duck duckling present with one brood being a little older then the other.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hooded Merganser Duckling

Last July after encountering a flock of immature Hooded Mergansers on our local wetlands I began wondering if the Hoodies were nesting there.  The question remained without answer until a week and a half ago when I encountered a Hooded Merganser female accompanied by her tiny brood.

This evening I returned to the wetlands in hopes of capturing some good duckling photos and was well rewarded for my efforts with both Hooded Mergansers and Wood Duck ducklings present.

This young Hooded Merganser was the first to swim past my hide.  Even though I was well camo'ed the duckling quickly was alerted to my presence by the sound of the camera shutter.

After fleeing either the same Merganser or one of its brood mates returned.  As you can see this bird has already perfected the merganser hunting method of swimming with eyes submerged allowing it a better view of the underwater realm.

A Green Heron was also hunting the wetland although it never gave me an opportunity to for a photograph.  At one point the heron took flight and apparently decided to land exactly where I was concealed.  As the bird flew through the narrow camera opening in the low growing bushes it realized its mistake and frantically began beating its wings as it made a hasty about face.  The heron was so close I could feel the gust of wind generated by its wings upon my face.  No photo was possible but instead a memory I will carry for some time from an exciting evening in the wetlands!

Monday, May 24, 2010


On a windless morning the lake was covered with a layer of pollen.  With grasses, trees, and wild flowers in bloom pollen is everywhere but nothing I have found demonstrates the magnitude of it better than the calm waters of a lake. Crossing the lake, the boat left a trail of clear waters through the scum covered water.   As the day progressed a light wind from the east pushed the pollen to the western shoreline.

As can be seen here the pollen gathered around any obstruction.

An even closer view

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Camera Critters: Wetland Critters

What better way to spend a warm sunny spring day than to hang out sunbathing with a waterfront view!

This painted turtle appears totally relaxed sunning its self on the rotting tree.  With water underneath the turtle can slide from its perch, plunging to safety in the blink of an eye.

Perched and the very top of a tree just beginning to leaf this Eastern Kingbird has an excellent view over the surrounding wetlands.

For more Critters of all Kinds
Visit our friend Misty's

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wood Duck Ducklings

Because of the drizzling overcast skies I didn’t arrive at the wetlands until midmorning. Not knowing what to expect I was elated to see tiny wakes cutting across the water’s surface with a little tuft of down at the apex of each V. Ducklings were crisscrossing the surface busily picking insect from the vegetation. The ducklings were a mix of Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers. The duckling pictured here is a Wood Duck.

Ever vigilant, my arrival was quickly noticed by the alert parents who called repeatedly in their attempt to lead their ambitious little charges to safety. The ducklings were slow to respond but soon the little flock disappeared into the surrounding cover. Once the ducklings were safely behind cover the adults flushed followed by the hen demonstrating the “injured duck” behavior in her attempt to lead me away from her young.

Concealing myself behind the willows lining the water’s edge I waited in hopes of the further photo opportunities. I didn’t have long to wait as within thirty minutes, one by one, the little wood duck began to reappear. With a few rays of sun beginning to break through the clouds lighting conditions were improving when I captured this shot as a duckling swam past.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mallard Family

This morning my longtime fishing buddy Paul arrived well before dawn in preparation for a day of fishing on Raystown Lake.  The lake is an hour's drive from my home so by the time we reached it the sun was already topping the mountains surrounding the man-made impoundment.  Keeping the camera handy proved worthwhile when we sighted this Mallard hen and her new family cruising along the shoreline. 

We didn't locate Raystown Ray but I couldn't resist passing my camera to Paul after pulling this nice crappie from its underwater lair.

For more Critters of all Kinds
Visit our good friend Misty's

Friday, May 14, 2010

Country Captures turns 1000

Country Captures began 1000 post ago with this image of a simple little footbridge.  Unlike the path that crosses the bridge I had no idea where this new endeavor would lead.

I would like to take this opportunity to review some of the images I have shared and the sights I have witnessed while pursuing this endeavor I call Country Captures.

Sharing my images via this photoblog encouraged me to seek out more and more photo opportunities and to spend more time afield.  With Whitetail deer common in my area and as a hunter it was only natural that I would find myself pursuing them camera in hand.

Whitetails are interesting any time of the year but during the rut with antlers polished and necks swollen, whitetail bucks are at their very finest.

Although the bucks are most impressive during their mating season can they really compare in beauty with that of a innocent newborn fawn?

Traveling to Elk County each autumn for the annual Elk Rut has instilled in me an appreciation for these majestic animals.  While I find myself immensely enjoying the time I spend with these animals I find myself at odds with the management agency who in the name of sport hunting is willing to trade this unique treasure of viewable large mature bulls with that of a younger herd who's bulls who are killed before reaching their prime.

Trips to Florida, where once were for the single purpose of visiting family now includes days spent afield photographing the amazing birdlife.  The Crested Caracara was a bird I had never even heard about before researching Florida birding areas.

A pair of Bald Eagles alighting in a tree swaddled in Spanish moss came courtesy of the beautiful Sunshine Sate

Even before I acquired my first DSLR a little Canon Powershot S2 IS allowed me to capture this image of a Killdeer guarding her nest.

Back home in Pennsylvania this fox squirrel posed for what is the best series of squirrel images I have obtained.

During the summer of 2009 Country Captures shared with you the wedding of Justin & Amy

And much earlier this shot of the historic Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church.  Virtually unknown outside of our local area, this church served as a Civil War military hospital.

Tonoloway Church may be unknown to most but all American have knowledge of the sacred ground shown here, Antietam Battle Field, Sharpsburg Maryland.

An old wooden boat lays in ruin near the little Virginia seaside village of Oyster

Autumn colors frame a picturesque barn near the town of McConnelsburg Pennsylvania

Even the cold lifeless days of winter have provided images worthy of sharing here at Country Captures.

I have enjoyed sharing my images and adventures with you over the nearly four years that it has taken to have accumulated these 1000 post.  Your visits and comments are what drives me to pick up the camera and head out in my quest for new material.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mystery Bird Revealed

I will be the first to freely admit that I am not a "birder" and certainly am not an expert on bird identification although I learned many of the birds common to our area during my earlier years. Since beginning Country Captures and finding birds an interesting subject for many of my wildlife photo quest I have learned considerably more. Referring to a bird guide after and encounter in the field with only my memory as a reference was never one of my strong suits. Digital photography changed all of that and now I frequently find myself in front of the computer comparing new bird images with images and descriptions in a couple of identification guides as well as searching the web for even more information.

With all of these resources at my fingertips this encounter with a new bird at the local wetland left me stumped. As I observed and photographed this colorful bird I noticed that in shape, behavior, and song the bird closely resembled the Baltimore (Northern) Oriole but the coloration was all wrong. After returning home and consulting my field guides the one bird that seemed a match-up was the Hooded Oriole. Upon reviewing the bird’s description I learned that the Hooded Oriole is a bird of the southwestern United States. If this was a Hooded Oriole he certainly was quite a long ways from home.

Realizing that I needed expert help I e-mailed the images to my niece Amy of Ashe’s Eye. Amy was stumped as well and passed the images on to some fellow members of the birders club that she is a member of.

The first response she received tentatively identified my mystery bird as an immature male Orchard Oriole, a bird who is right at home in Pennsylvania. The difference in coloration between an immature and a mature male is quite extreme and considering that the young of the year could not have fledged yet neither Amy nor I had considered the possibility of it being an immature bird.

In the past this encounter would have been one of noticing a pretty songbird in the tree. With digital photography, the Internet, and a birder niece this mere encounter was transformed into a learning experience, much more rewarding than that of just watching an unknown bird flitting about in the branches of a wetland tree.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

My wife asked to “borrow” Country Captures for the day to tell all of you about the illness that she has lived with for many years.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

I believe my first symptoms of Fibromyalgia began when I was about four years old; when my grandmother Anna gave me a gift of a plastic accordion filled with bubble bath from Avon.  I became ill after opening the cap and sniffing the contents.

As I became older and created things with Play Dough, I didn’t care for any of the colors except for vanilla; the other colors made me feel sick. While growing up I realized that I would have pain in different parts of my body and at night not sleep well and grind my teeth. I had and still have a low tolerance of pain, if I was playfully hit or would bump into things I would be in awful pain for a few minutes and maybe for the rest of the day.

I would get tired easily while playing and my legs would ache after running. I was told by my mother and family doctor that this was called “growing pains”. We now know in the 21st century there is no such thing.

When I became pregnant in June 1978 I felt absolutely wonderful; I didn’t have any morning sickness and I had energy! That was the only three months of my entire life when I felt great. Then about the fourth month, I had fatigue which stayed with me until I delivered Chad 2 ½ weeks early. Was it the hormonal change in my body that gave me those three great months?

I became fatigued more easily in my twenties than in my teens and I somehow learned to compensate for it. In my thirties I noticed more fatigue and some trouble getting to sleep. But, once I did get to sleep I was able to stay there.

The day after my 40th birthday I took my sister-in-law and niece shopping. In late afternoon I became fatigued more so than ever before. I honestly thought that after a good night’s sleep I would feel better in the morning. However, by the next week-end I still felt just as fatigued. I began to have unexplained pain throughout my body and became frustrated when the medical doctors couldn’t find the cause. Before I turned 42 I ‘retired’ from the work force.

Besides fatigue, pain and poor sleeping I am bothered by the scent of perfume and laundry detergent. I no longer wear perfume and I buy laundry detergent, dish detergent and cosmetic’s fragrance free and shower with Ivory Bar Soap.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome by a rheumatologist the summer of 2000; I finally have a name for the unusual symptoms that I am experiencing. With educating myself with books, talking with other Fibromyalgic’s and the internet; I have been able to live the best I can with this illness. I take shark cartilage for muscle pain, Benadryl for sleep, walk with Coy after supper, do yoga for Fibromyalgia and avoid aspartame.

My wonderful husband has been with me every step of the way; I am grateful for Coy; he has kept true to our marriage vows; for better, for worse. I want to say thank you for the use of your blog to let others know about fibromyalgia and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Friday aboard the Afternoon Delight

Some friends, coworkers, and I scheduled a day aboard the Chesapeake Bay charter boat Afternoon Delight captained by Hank DeVito. I have been fishing at least once a year with Captain Hank since 1998 and look forward to a day of visiting with him as much as I do fishing.

Leaving the marina before sunrise I was hoping to capture a good sunrise shot across the water. When the boat turned south as Danny the mate set out lines I decided to go for a sunrise silhouette shot. The sunrise starburst was the added bonus that made this shot really pop for me

Fishing was slow but by the time the biggest fish of the day hit, Eric, the youngest member of our party and first-time saltwater fisherman was up for a turn at the rod.

With the largest catch of his life in hand Eric beams with exhilaration

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Looking Up

Looking Up

Another image from my Saturday encounter with the Bonaparte's Gulls

Activity in the middle of the lake drew my attention to two loons actively fishing

It was apparent that the loons still sporting their winter plumage had located a school of baitfish near the surface.  The birds were diving repeatedly and swimming near the surface as I could track their progress by the small fish jumping out of the water. 

Taking a short break between dives the loon eyes me closely.

I always look forward to the spring loon migration and enjoy watching and photographing them during the short time they spend in my area.  From past experience I expect this may be my last encounter for the year unless they are still around come next weekend.  Normally they move on by the middle of May.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Camera Critters: Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte's Gull Close-up

While fishing the lake this morning I noticed a pair of birds a considerable distance away.  Checking with binoculars revealed a pair of Bonaparte's Gulls riding the waves.  As I approached them with the boat they insisted on swimming away, not exactly the view I was seeking for a photograph.  Suddenly a powerful gust of wind rippled the water and spun the birds nearly 180 degrees; CLICK....That was the shot I was looking for!

For more Critters of all Kinds
Visit our friend Misty's
Camera Critters Blog

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mallard Flush

I wondered what this colorful Mallard male was saying...........

Perhaps it was ............I'M OUTTA HERE!!!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Wetland Flight Shots

After a strong series of thunderstorms passed through our area beginning Sunday evening and extending through the morning hours Monday the skies broke giving us and incredibly beautiful evening. Not wanting to waste such an evening on mundane task around our home I instead opted for a visit to our local wetland.

A number of wood ducks and Canada geese were present but proved elusive upon my approach.  After reaching the western side I sat down at the waters edge partially concealed by the surrounding willows in hopes of a photo opportunity presenting itself.

While I waited a few wood ducks flew overhead as the bullfrog deep song reverberated across the landscape. Red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and numerous other song birds sang and flitted about with the occasional honking of the Canada geese joining in with the peeping of smaller frogs creating a beautiful chorus courtesy of the spring wetlands choir.

While soaking in the melodious harmony I spied a lone Dragonfly darting past when suddenly is stopped in mid-air and allowed me time to aim, focus and fire three frames; the best of which is posted above.

As the evening shadows crept across the landscape I began the walk back to the car. With all of the waterfowl present I was a little disappointed that I had been unable to capture a usable photograph when suddenly from a tiny pond a pair of wood ducks sprang into the air. Swinging the camera with the drake I pressed the shutter button and hoped for the best.

An evening in the wetlands always beats an evening of chores, a couple of decent flight shots is an added bonus!