Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Buzzing Around

A Male Carpenter Bee busily defends his Territory

Male Carpenter Bees are notorious for staking out a territory and chasing off all intruders. Any insect that enters will be rapidly pursued. Once the intruder has left the area the Carpenter Bee will return to hover, sometimes stopping in mid air watching for the next invader.

This Carpenter Bee was quite the busy boy when I photographed him. The wind was blowing briskly and flower petals from my cardinal bush were blowing through his territory. This little guy would mistake them for another insect, chasing them to the ground.

I was trying to get a head-on shot but with a thunder storm approaching, I had to cut my photo session short and be satisfied with what I had. This image was captured with the Canon 100mm-400mm L lens

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nothing says Spring Time any better than..........

Lilacs and Butterflies!

I cannot take credit for having expended a great deal of effort hunting the very illusive rare Yellow Swallowtail and finally in the nick of time capturing an image that will be remembered for all time :)

Actually I was doing some chores around the house when I noticed the butterfly visiting the lilac bush beside our driveway. I popped in the house and grabbed my Canon with the 100-400 L lens still attached from my morning shoot and pressed it into close-up duty.

This lens is capable of focusing at 1.8 meters while zoomed to 400mm. The posted image has not been cropped. I can see that with this level of performance I will be using this lens extensively for butterfly hunting once the little critters become more numerous.

Monday, April 28, 2008

An Image of an Awesome Morning

This past Friday evening I posted the Immature Bald Eagle that I had captured while fishing/photographing the morning of April 12th. On Saturday morning I again visited the nearby lake. Upon leaving the boat dock I headed across the lake towards the western shore. Soon I sighted a duck swimming and began my approach. After a few shots at long range the duck tired of the game and flew away. As I looked around I spotted some white in a treetop and immediately assumed it was one of the Ospreys that frequent the lake; how wrong I was! A moment later it took flight, an Adult Bald Eagle!

The eagle flew to the south end of the lake alighting in a tree top so I slowly eased my boat that way but while I was still 300-350 yards out it again took flight, flying back to the western shore and again perching in a tree. Again I gave slow pursuit. This time when the eagle flew another adult joined it flying north. As the morning progressed I did some fishing along with photographing waterfowl, including the Wood Duck on Saturday’s post. An hour or so later I rounded a small bend in the lake only to see the eagle pair takeoff again, this time alighting in a tree near the north end of the lake, a dead tree where the week before I had photographed an Osprey eating its catch.

Again I attempted to approach by motoring across the lake concealing myself from the eagles with the shoreline. This allowed me to approach to within about 200 yards. As I again came into view of the eagles I began firing and quickly they took flight.

The angle of lighting is not what I desired and the distance too far for a great image but to me this photograph represents the memories of an awesome morning spent with these beautiful raptors.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nothing says Spring Time any better than……..

Dandelions & Bluegills

I find as the years roll by that my interest are constantly evolving. Some things that I once did with a passion are now only memories. A constant in my life has been that of my interest in and love of the outdoors.

I realize that I have not traveled nearly as extensively as some of you reading this blog. I have spent very little of my life in cities; preferring instead those out of the way places where paths are made by animals, not by man.

I have been fortunate to have traveled as far north as the Ungava region of Quebec in search of Caribou and Lake Trout. There for the only time in my life I enjoyed the serenade of the wolves while watching a fabulous display of the northern lights. I have roamed Central Ontario fishing in a number of lakes and doing some hunting as well.

I have traveled south to Florida where I have enjoyed photographing the birdlife immensely as well as visiting family. I have fished in the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Before the cost of fuel become unbearable I frequently towed a boat to the Chesapeake pursuing the trophy striped bass and sometimes flounder.

Having experienced these other places with all of their wonders I still enjoy a day spent on a quiet lake fishing for Bluegills. The only differences today from a few decades ago is that my boat carries an electric motor instead of oars and at no time do I go without a camera, my latest interest.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wood Duck Drake

A pretty Wood Duck Drake standing guard on a fallen log

I first noticed the Wood Duck pair as I was fishing in a small cove off of the main body of the lake. The drake with his bright plumage stood out against the soft green & brown background, the hen with her drab brown colors blended in very well. Before I could approach within good camera range they began walking through the woods. I knew the land they were on was only a narrow strip with another cove only about twenty yards away. This situation gave me hope for here they were in the shadows but the next cove caught the morning sun very well. As the Woodies passed out of sight over the slight rise I turned the boat and headed for the next cove.

As I approached I kept the boat moving at the slowest speed my electric motor allows and stayed near the shore trying to stay out of sight until I was as close as possible. Rounding a little bend in the shoreline I spotted the Drake standing high upon this log. Below him sitting on the water was his mate. The drake watched me closely and began pacing the log as I drew nearer. Finally he and his mate grew weary of my company and winged away to a less crowded part of the lake.

Friday, April 25, 2008

First Photo Encounter, Immature Bald Eagle

During one of my morning boating excursions I had the good fortune to encounter an Immature Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle sightings are becoming increasingly common in my area. As most know, the Bald Eagle fell prey to DDT poisoning. This along with the prevailing rural attitude of the past, many folks killed all predators on sight, including Eagles. During my growing up years, I never heard of anyone sighting an eagle.

From 1963 to 1980 there were only three known Eagle nest in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Game Commission began a reintroduction effort in 1983. Over the next seven years 88 Eagle chicks were removed from nest in Saskatchewan and placed in hacking towers here in the Keystone State. By 1996 twenty pairs were known to be nesting in the state.

Although I have sighted Bald Eagles a number of times over the last decade, this was the first time I had the opportunity to capture an image. On some issues I cannot agree with the Pennsylvania Game Commission but in the case of the Eagle I must applaud them for successfully returning this majestic bird to our skies.
Thank you PGC for a job well done!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SkyWatch Friday, Golden Sunrise

The Chesapeake sunrise that I experienced this past Sunday was so beautiful that I could not let it pass with only one post. Having lived my entire life in a mountainous part of Pennsylvania, I am accustomed to seeing the sun rise a considerable time after first light, however when viewing it over a large body of water such as the Chesapeake, the sunrise follows first light by only a few minutes.

This particular morning provided us with an interesting display. The eastern sky was partly cloudy, over head was nearly solid clouds and to the west dark storm clouds loomed. Although this is not that unusual what was unusual was that it stayed this way all morning and the heavy clouds and rain did not cover the bay until mid-afternoon.

During our drive home the cloudburst were so heavy that the traffic on the Washington DC beltway was frequently slowed to nearly a standstill.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Basking, Painted Turtles

Painted Turtles basking in the warm sunlight of a cool April day

I frequently see Painted Turtles exhibiting this behavior during sunny spring days. As turtles are cold blooded, they relish the warm rays of sunlight. When I first noticed this log it was covered with turtles basking in a line along its entire length. By the time I drew near enough for this shot, all had slipped quietly back into the water except for this pair.

A little research revealed that females are larger than males and that we are in the midst of their breeding season now. Most likely this is a guy and his favorite gal all snuggled up and quite hesitant to flee.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lonely Little Ruddy Duck

I spied a lone Ruddy Duck male on the lake Friday morning. As I had never captured a good image of a Ruddy before I made an extra effort to approach him. I soon found this was no easy task for like a Grebe he would slip under the surface only to reappear quite some distance away.

I would have loved to have gotten closer but I am content with this image captured with the Canon 30D and a 100mm-400mm L lens.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Trophy Striper

With heavy storms headed our way Captain Hank was hoping to catch a limit of fish and get off the bay before the weather turned bad. Season had just opened the previous day with many fishermen disappointed with their catch or rather lack thereof. Hank knew where a slug of migrating stripers were hanging out and cruised there before putting out the trolling lines. Although his sonar showed that we were over fish most of the morning the bite was sporadic. We were one fish short of a limit when the time came to pull lines and head for the marina. The best fish of the day was a nice fat 39” which put my 36”er in second place for the day.

Captain Hank is not your usual bay captain. If a customer just wants to catch fish Hank was glad to oblige and if your purpose was to learn to catch fish Hank would take the time to show you the tricks of the trade so that you could return on your own boat and fish successfully. Not only did he teach lure presentation and rigging but he would also pass along boat handling tips that made trolling many rods without nightmare tangles easy. At times, when I was unsuccessfully fishing; a short radio call or a jingle on the cell phone from Hank would direct me to where the fish were holding on that particular day. Of course the favor was returned if we happened to find fish on a day that Hank was struggling to fill his parties limit.

Some charter captains feel the fish are theirs and do not want the private boats to catch. Once I was nearly ran over by a charter out of Chesapeake Beach named “Why Knot” while I was working a small school of fish. When I mentioned this incident to Hank later he was quick to share his unprintable opinion of this particular captain. The first few years I chartered with Hank, my objective was to learn, but the later trips were to spend a pleasant day on the Chesapeake with a good man and a master fisherman.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chesapeake Morning

This morning found me on the Chesapeake Bay. My friend Paul & I had chartered a spring trophy striper trip with Captain Hank Devito aboard the Afternoon Delight. The weather forecast called for 100% chance of rain and we had driven through some showers during our 150mile drive to the Chesapeake. I was pleasantly surprised with this opportunity to capture a stunning sunrise.

This charter was a bitter/sweet experience. Paul & I have been fishing the bay for the last 10 years. Each year we book a charter with Captain Hank and follow it up with numerous trips on my 21ft Four Winns. This year is different. Due to the outrageous price of fuel I have made plans to not trailer my boat to the bay. This is bad enough but the worst part is that due to failing health our Captain and Friend, Hank is in the process of selling the Afternoon Delight.

Even if the day comes that I again trailer to the Chesapeake it will not seem right without Captain Hank on the water.

If you are wondering about the fishing, it was a slow bite but we did boat some quality stripers. Check back tomorrow for a catch shot.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What’s All the Flap About?

A Canada Goose stretches and flaps its wings before resuming feeding.

I played hooky from work Friday and have spent the last two mornings on my favorite lake. The spring waterfowl migrations are mostly past me now with only a few stragglers still passing through.

Today I spent more time fishing and less time with camera in hand. Nice Bluegills were popping on the surface and a little finesse with a Rapala Floating Minnow was all that was needed for surface busting hits.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

SkyWatch Friday, Touching the Water

As the sky cleared a single low cloud swept over the mountain top, dropping down until the bottom of it touched the lake surface; vapor touching liquid.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Seeking Protection

I first encountered this little Pied-billed Grebe a couple of hundred yards from shore. As I approached with the boat, it quickly scooted underwater and reappeared some distance closer to shore. The Grebe continued eluding me with this maneuver numerous times; never allowing me to approach within range until it reached the shore where a flock of Canada Geese were feeding.

Apparently the Grebe was seeking safety in numbers or perhaps safety from its large friends for once it reached the geese it allowed me to approach well within photographic range. After the geese had flushed I looked around for the Grebe and soon it bobbed to the surface quite some distance out in the lake. The Grebe was obviously deferring to the geese’s judgment as to what was or was not safe.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I first spotted the Osprey perched in a tree beside the lake. Approaching with the boat, I fired multiple images although the lighting was all wrong. I fully expected the Osprey to fly away from me as always but when this bird left its perch it glided directly overhead searching for fish.

The lighting of this shot left much to be desired. I had .7 stop of overexposure dialed in to compensate for the sky background and had to further lighten the Osprey in Photoshop to achieve a reasonable quality image. Close-up examination of this image reveals a considerable amount of digital noise. With that being said I am still pleased to have captured this unique angle of a Hunting Osprey.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Canada Flush

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t; this time the flushing shot was completely successful.

I first saw these geese as I rounded a point that opened into a small cove. The geese swam into the cove to avoid me and my boat. The wind was blowing into the cove so I allowed it to push my boat towards them with only minor direction adjustments with the trolling motor. As the boat neared the geese they became nervous and I readied the camera for the flushing shot I knew was coming.

The cove was very narrow with high trees on three sides so the only path of escape for the geese was to pass by me very closely. I considered attempting the shot at 200mm to 300mm as this would make framing the action much easier but decided to risk it all and keep the lens set at 400mm and either get a stunner or nothing at all. I used an F8 to give me some DOF. I hoped the 1/400th shutter speed was fast enough to give a sharp image while still allowing some motion blur.

This time it all came together!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Racing Mergansers

With beaks pointed straight ahead, crest laid back, eyes squinted and wings flapping these mergansers remind me of racing greyhounds.

While pursuing waterfowl with my boat, the closest shots are always at take-off. As I slowly approach (the slower the better) the birds first begin to show signs of nervousness. As the distance narrows they begin to maneuver for escape. Some species allow me to approach within range while others flush at a considerable distance.
These mergansers decided enough was enough at about thirty yards.

When shooting these sequences I make my camera setting during the approach. As the birds begin to show signs of nervousness I begin framing and firing rapidly until they have flown out of sight or range. Each encounter leaves me wondering if I have captured anything worthwhile until I can review the images on my computer. Some of these encounters leave me with nothing but motion-blurred or out-of-focus images but enough do work to keep enticing me back for another round until the spring waterfowl migrations have passed by.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pattering Buffleheads

The Bufflehead pair appears to run across the surface of the water, picking up speed in their rush to become airborne.

As has been my pattern lately; I again spent my morning quietly boating around my favorite lake in search of waterfowl and meal of fresh panfish and I was not disappointed.

Today was the first warm (50 deg F) morning I have been able to get out this spring. The highlight of the day was multiple sightings of an Immature Bald Eagle but sadly I was not able to get a good shot of it. One sighting that would have provided a good flight shot found me busy with my fishing rods while the camera was on the other end of the boat.

Mixing photography & fishing means that sometimes good images are missed because of fishing and of course some fish are missed as well but adding the Canon 30D & telephoto to my fishing kit has made my outings much more interesting.

Misty Dawn has began a new meme; Camera-Critters. If you would like to join in visit Misty Dawn's Camera-Critters and sign on Mr. Linky.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Vertical Take-Off, Leaping Quackers

No pattering here, a Mallard Drake appears to leap vertically into the air as I approached with my boat.

Boating for waterfowl this spring has been great fun. I have found the take-off techniques of the various species most interesting. Many ducks must patter during take-off while some like this Mallard are fully capable of near vertical flight.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

SkyWatch Friday, Backlighting

Backlit Clouds provided a brilliant hued sunset for this Capture.

There are few things more appealing than a bright blue sky but it becomes much more beautiful when a few clouds combined with low angle sunlight paints a stunning image across the evening sky.
Note: this image was captured with my little Canon S2 IS point&shoot

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Snapping Turtle

While venturing along a wetland I noticed a debris covered hump that wasn’t there the day before. Taking a closer look proved it to be a pair of Snapping Turtles mating. As the female was underwater, she is not visible in this photo.

Thinking back to my younger years, I remember mucking out the springs we used for watering the cattle. Sometimes a snapper would be swimming in the scoop of muck as we pulled it out with the tractor.

It is best to keep ones distance from the powerful jaws as they can easily snap an unlucky finger completely off. If you must pick up one of these creatures, pick it up by the tail and hold it at arms length from your body. As the turtle “snaps” at you, you will be amazed at the length of its neck. The only place on its body it cannot reach with its dangerous jaws is its tail.

Although I know that it is impossible for a snapper to reach its tail I am still hesitant to reach out and grab 20-30 lbs or more of fighting mad snapper so for this encounter I was most comfortable allowing the 400mm lens to do all of the reaching out and touching.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Palm Frond

No series of Florida photographs would be complete without that of a Palm Frond. The sunlight filtering through provided attractive highlights on this particular leaf. I captured this shot at Hollis Gardens which is located in Lakeland beside Lake Mirror.

I jokingly refer to Lake Mirror as the “cement pond” (an inside joke for those old enough to remember the Beverly Hillbillies). Lake Mirror is a small lake surrounded on three sides by a concrete wall & walkway and on all sides by city.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pirate’s Cove, Mini Golf

As Chad & Sandy bid farewell to each other, my wife and I ventured over to photograph the Pirate’s Cove Miniature Golf Course located beside Old Town. The effects of the rising fog made for a mystical scene. Click on the photograph to see the skeleton in the tree clearly.

I photographed this scene handheld on ISO 1600. I am well pleased with the way the Canon 30D and image stabilization handled this shot.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Carnival every Night

Old Town is a carnival every night. Rides and amusements are located about the premises along with shops, restaurants and watering holes. The streets are pedestrian only except during the weekend cruises. Old Town is a cool place to wander about and chill out.

This is a shot of one of the rides. I’m not much into chills & thrills rides so I really cannot tell you much about it other than I thought this made a cool image.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Country Captures presidential election. If this is any indication of how November goes it appears as if McCain will be president. Now we all must await the final outcome.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

New Love in Old Town

After meeting Sandy we strolled around Old Town together. Of course the young folks took the lead as my wife and I followed behind. This gave me the opportunity to catch a few casual shots of Chad & Sandy.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Cruising to Old Town

Monday evening of our Florida Vacation found us cruising East on I-4 with Chad at the wheel of his “Stang.

If any one part of our trip could be identified as the most important part, this evening was it………. We were meeting
Chad’s girl, Sandy for the very first time!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

SkyWatch Friday, Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Flying High, a Turkey Vulture soars with wide sweeping arcs in a perfectly cloudless blue sky.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Boot Scoot & Boogie

This pair of Canada Geese decided that I had approached too closely.

I discovered the geese on the creek that flows along our family farm. I approached them, camera at the ready, in hope of obtaining a good flushing capture.

Canon 30D, 100-400mm L, zoomed to 400mm, 1/125th sec, F5.6, ISO400.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lucky Boy, Hooded Mergansers

This Hooded Merganser Drake must be considered quite the looker for he has two girlfriends.

This is another capture from my weekend boating. I recently completed another task on my honey-do list; that of painting our living room and hallway. This image, framed and matted became a part of our new decorating scheme.