Monday, June 30, 2008

Teasel: A Crown of Thorns

As I was composing this image, I was struck by the thought that the Teasel head appears as a Crown of Thorns.

Teasel, a prickly plant of the over grown meadows and roadsides is great to photograph but beware of touching. Last year dry brown teasel appeared many times in the blogs I visit regularly attesting to its popularity as a photographic subject.

Tom over at Wiggers World posted about it, describing its past use in carding wool along with photographs of crafts created by his better half. After beating the seeds out of the dried heads my wife has successfully used Teasel in her autumn flower arrangements.

However stately and beautiful a Teasel plant may be, I can attest to the fact that it is no fun to bare-handed grab a bale of hay containing dried Teasel.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reflections of Summer: Painted Turtle

As the boat slid quietly into a small cove I spied this pretty Painted Turtle basking on a log. The lighting was good and I easily maneuvered into the best position for this reflection shot.

Many of the wildlife subjects I shoot are wary and difficult to photograph but that is not the case with the Painted Turtles. As long as one doesn’t make sudden movements or approach inside of their comfort zone these turtles are content to be the subject of many a blog post.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Milkweed & Butterflies

Milkweed attracts a variety of butterflies. Monarchs depend up on it to feed their larvae and here a pair of what I believe to be Great Spangled Fritillary Butterflies feed upon the blossoms.

For more Camera Critter or
to post your own, visit our gracious host Misty

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Pretty Bird: Cedar Waxwing

There are so many beautiful birds that I hesitate to say which is the prettiest. Of course such a statement would only be that of my own personal opinion so with that in mind I can only state that in my opinion the Cedar Waxwing is high on my list.

My closest encounter with the Cedar Waxwings this year occurred on a day when our cherries were ripe. As I stood under the tree picking cherries, a pair of Cedar Waxwings busied themselves picking in the tree top. I could not begrudge the birds the fruit for many years ago the tree was planted by a bird and grew up wild in what was then a fence row. When I cleared the fencerow to make way for my humble abode over thirty years ago, I allowed the tree to stand. Since moving here the birds and I share the tasty cherries when they ripen each season.

The birds always get the lions share but that is as it should be, for without their ancestors the cherry tree would not exist.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

SkyWatch Friday; Close-up of a Thunder Shower

After capturing the image I posted last week of the distant thunder showers, I used the 400mm lens to capture this close-up. I was fortunate that these showers were to the east of my location at sundown allowing the evening sun to light them with a beautiful light.

For more Sky Watch visit Tom

Summer Flowers, instead of Birds

Birds, birds, and more birds; Today, for a change of pace,
I share with you a flower

Beginning with my late February trip to Florida, most of my post and the majority of images I have captured have been of wildlife. 2008 was my first spring shooting a DSLR. Combining the Canon 30D with the excellent Canon 100-400mm lens made bird photography possible. Following my return from Florida I began pursuing the waterfowl migrations by boat as they passed through my area. As summer approached and the waterfowl migrations dwindled, my attention was drawn to the many songbirds that frequent the area around my home.

I photographed this flower while stalking along a local creek in search of wood ducks. Unfortunately the ducks discovered me before I them. The ducklings ran up the overgrown stream bank while the mother played the “crippled duck” attempting to lead me away from her brood. As she reached a bend in the creek I saw her become airborne. A few minutes later she flew past and dropped into the bushes where her brood had disappeared.

The action broke rapidly and I never had a chance to deploy the camera. The flower saved the day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Idyllic days of Summer

A Whitetail Doe wades the creek on a warm June evening

Summer is a time of plenty for the whitetail deer. Food is plentiful, with cover seldom more than a few jumps away. The rigors of the winter, the rut, and hunting seasons are all in the past with blood sucking insects now being the major annoyance.

This doe seemed to be enjoying her stroll through the cool waters. Like the doe I too enjoy a refreshing wade on a hot summers evening.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hightailing it out of Here

If you never knew where the term “hightailing” came from,
well now you do

As my wife and I were riding my dad’s JD Gator along the hay field featured in my previous post with the dragon fly; a lone doe flushed from the high grass and made her escape across the field.
I’m sure she has a fawn or fawns stashed nearby but not wanting to disturb them we continued on our way with this image as a reminder of our close encounter

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Of Dragons & Flies

A Dragonfly rest momentarily on a stalk of grass

This morning I spent a considerable amount of time on the lake attempting to capture a Dragonfly in flight. Dragonflies are masters of fast flight and instantaneous directional change. Although I shot quite a bit, none of the images were of the quality I desired.

This evening while checking one of our hay fields which lies near the creek, I came upon this obliging subject.

For more Camera Critter or better yet to join up, visit Misty

Killdeer: Our most common Plover

Named for its call, the Killdeer is commonly seen in meadows, pastures, and golf courses over most of North America. This Killdeer was unconcerned about my presence while hunting worms in the soggy pasture.

Killdeer have drawn my attention from an early age. I well remember being enthralled with them from an early age. As a boy, I enjoyed watching them run about the pastures, always able to maintain a healthy distance between themselves and an inquisitive little boy.

When viewed up close their brilliant markings are striking but at a little distance those same sharply contrasting colors serve as excellent camouflage

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SkyWatch Friday: Silent Thunder

As the sun set on a hot sultry June evening, Thunder Heads reared their tops above the mountains to the east. The distant storms were out of ear-shot but after the sun set lightening could be see flashing through the clouds.

Checking the weather map on revealed that these two small isolated showers were 60 to 70 miles away.
Visit Wiggers World for more great Sky Watch

14 and Counting

Today marks our Fourteenth Wedding Anniversary

Fourteen short years ago today; on a hot Father’s Day afternoon, I married my soul-mate. Along with a wonderful wife I also gained a great son that day.

They say time flies when you’re having fun, so this marriage must be fun, for I don’t know how those fourteen years slipped by so quickly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Besides Photography……

In case any of you are thinking that photography (and blogging) is all I do; this photograph, which my wife captured, shows me otherwise occupied.

In my spare time, between photography and fishing, I typically spend sixty+ hours a week working and commuting. I normally help with cooking dinner and nearly always wash the dishes while my sweet wife dries and puts them away. I also have the seasonal maintenance of our home, lawn and 2+ acre lot, the occasional farm chores along with Honey-Do projects such as pictured above.

Sometimes I wonder how I find time for work :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hummer with a ‘Tude

When my wife viewed this image for the first time she exclaimed “that hummer has a ‘tude”.

I must agree with her, this Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird does not appear to appreciate being the subject of a Country Capture!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Action

While sitting on our deck and chatting with Chad by phone, I noticed a Mocking Bird fly down from our roof top and flare near the ground. After it had exhibited this behavior a number of times I thought this may be a perfect opportunity to capture it in flight. Retreating into our home as we ended our conversation I grabbed the Canon 30D with the 100-400mm lens.

Once the bird had my full attention, I soon found out what all of the fuss was about. A black snake was trying to cross our lawn only to be driven back in the high grass by the feisty Mocking Bird. As I photographed the scene the bird dive-bombed the snake numerous times being careful each time to peck at its tail. Not once did it approach the snake’s head.

I have seen Mocking Birds harass cats like this many times but, this is the first time I ever witnessed one taking on a snake. The encounter ended with the snake finally returning to the high grass and the Mocking Bird taking up station on our TV antennae where she could command a full view of the area.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Air Brakes: Great Blue Heron

With landing gears down and reverse thrust activated, a Great Blue Heron comes in for a smooth touch down.

I have photographed the Great Blue Herons many times over the past few months. They have been wading, standing, catching fish, flying, and taking off; but today for the very first I captured this magnificent bird as he was landing.

For more Camera Critters visit Misty

Friday, June 13, 2008

I’m Going Cuckoo: Yellow-billed Cuckoo that is

Prior to this spring and my foray into bird photography, I did not know that Cuckoos inhabited our area or even what they looked like.

A few weeks ago, I captured an unusual bird which my research proved to be a Black-billed Cuckoo. While reading the description of its call I realized that what I had been hearing throughout the evening was not the Black-billed Cuckoo in my photo, but rather a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I began to notice on subsequent evenings that I was hearing the Yellow-billed Cuckoos calling frequently; thus began my search for a good photo of the Yellow-bill.

Soon I located my first Yellow-billed but I was unable to capture a good image. Since the Cuckoos tend to stay in brushy areas; catching one exposed and well lighted proved to be a challenge. During many evening forays I heard the elusive Yellow-billed and on a few occasions was able to get identification quality photos, but a good quality photo eluded me, until last evening.

My wife & I visited my favorite lake. As I was fishing I heard a nearby Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling. Soon I located the bird sitting in some low trees along the lake shore. Upon retrieving my camera from the rear deck and checking the settings, I began approaching slowly. The Cuckoo flew from branch to branch searching for caterpillars. When conditions were right I began burst firing. The photo session ended as quickly as it began when the Cuckoo flew deeper into the woods.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

SkyWatch Friday: Red Sky at Night

An old rhyme my Grandfather taught me went: Red sky at night, sailors delight……

The following day was as beautiful as it is possible for a day to be. Granddad was right!

Visit my friend Tom for more Sky Watch

On the Brink

A log, stopped for the moment. A small rise in water level will send it crashing over the brink.

This image causes my mind to wonder. Does this log represent us, our nation, our economy, our world? Will another rise in energy prices send us tipping over the brink?

Our entire developed world economy runs on oil. From the automobile we drive to the truck that moves our goods, to the freighters crossing the oceans. We put oil into our engines; ride on tires, and burn fuel made from oil. The plastics we use every day are made from oil as is even the carpet on our floors.

From a low of around $9.00 and barrel in 1998 oil is now trading at over $130.00. The inflation of the price of oil is now moving rapidly into all of the good and services we consume. As you ladies know food prices have begun to skyrocket.

Are we like the log? Is our economy on the edge, ready to tip into recession or even depression? Will this imbalance bring an imbalance of world power tipping us into global war? Or can human intelligence and technology save the day?

Tell me what you think

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Outrunning the Storm

As a thundershower rapidly approached this evening; I found a neighboring farmer racing for shelter ahead of the cloudburst.

Growing up on the farm I often welcomed the cooling relief of a good summer thunder shower. Baling hay with the old square baler and stacking it in the barn was hot dusty work. A distant rumble of thunder or an approaching dark cloud held promise of a respite.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dinner Guest: Red-tailed Hawk

While my wife & I dined on our deck this evening I noticed two raptors in the sky. One was quite high wheeling in circles with the other much lower approaching directly towards our home. As the nearer bird passed overhead, I realized that it was a mature Bald Eagle. What an inopportune time for my camera to be in the house!

Hoping for another fly-over I retrieved my camera in time for the other bird, a Red-tailed hawk to pass by. This evening proved to be a painful reminder to never leave the camera behind.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are quite plentiful around our area. As they are a hunted game bird, our doves tend to be a little shy around humans. This dove only sat for a moment until it noticed me, giving me time for only one frame.

I realize that many of you may think that Country Captures has became a bird blog but please allow me to say that I don’t think that this is the case. I find that my interests go through different phases with this being my "bird" phase. I must credit my good blogging friend
Abe Lincoln with drawing my attention to the wonderful world of birds. I have sat in awe viewing his beautiful images collected in his backyard.

Thanks Abe for the inspiration and for opening my eyes to this wonderful aspect of nature.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hatchlings on the Move

Spring a time of new life, a time of renewal; is also the time that many fish species spawn. Today as I was boating around the lake I noticed a school of young fish swimming about a weedbed. The school swam as one, all facing the same direction and swimming at the same speed.

These fish are extremely small. I would estimate their length at between 3-6mm.

For this capture I used the 100-400 lens at 400mm
For more Camera Critters visit Misty

Friday, June 06, 2008

Red-bellied Woodpecker

I noticed this Red-bellied Woodpecker’s head is much sleeker than what I am accustomed to seeing. Thinking back, I realized that most of my encounters with these birds have been in the winter.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

SkyWatch Friday: Birds on a Wire

A pair of resting Barn Swallows against a clear blue sky

Since my earliest recollections, Barn Swallows have nested in our barn. I remember as a child checking out their mud nest attached to the sides of the support beams. I would wonder how they managed to stick them so securely to the beams using only mud.

I remember many times climbing up to check if they had young in the nest. I was always amazed at how quickly the little ones grew to where they too could join the graceful flock; wheeling and darting about through the skies above our pastures, hay and grain fields.

This evening while penning a few head of cattle for market, I took time to capture this image. The sight of the swallows flying above the cattle brought back some of my early memories of these beautiful, beneficial little speedsters.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Reflections: Wood Duck Box

While boating around a small cove, I was captivated by the reflection cast by the wood duck nest box on the placid water. While observing this delightful reflection I began reflecting upon the history of the lake.

This lake, which has furnished me with the waterfowl shots I have been sharing for the last two months, is a man made lake. The lake is situated on lands owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, built and maintained by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

Fulton County, home to many streams and creeks has no natural lakes. Thanks to the dream of Carl Jarrett, a former PGC Game Protector, and much political wrangling on his part, the 204 acre Meadow Grounds Lake became a reality in the mid 1960’s.

Carl passed away a few years ago but his legacy continues to provide habitat for wildlife and a quiet place for humans to spend many delightful hours enjoying the outdoors.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Singing from on High: Chipping Sparrow

A Male Chipping Sparrow sings while sitting high in a black walnut tree

Chipping Sparrows are normally found either on the ground or in low brush. During their mating season, males such as this one, perch high above the ground to sing their mating songs.

While gathering information on the Chipping Sparrows, I found that they commonly line their nest with hair. They will use any type of hair they can find and have even been observed picking strands of hair from sleeping dogs.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Understated Beauty: Gray Catbird

The subtle tones of the Gray Catbird require one to look closely to appreciate its beauty. An inhabitant of brushy areas, these bird make themselves at home in the shrubbery around our home. Often its soft mewing call is the first indication of its presence.

As my wife and I sat quietly in a small brushy area behind our home, this catbird busied itself hunting caterpillars. I was hoping that it was targeting our over-abundant gypsy moth, but as you can see in this capture it has found some type of green caterpillar,

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Upset: Female Robin

This Robin built her nest under my shed roof overhang. Whenever I approach the shed she flies out into the surrounding tree and raises quite a commotion flitting about and chirping loudly.

In this capture you will notice her crest raised; a sure sign that she is distressed over my presence.