Saturday, July 31, 2010

Morning Rituals


 Shake it Out


And off we go to start a new Day!

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

Thursday, July 29, 2010


July has been a very long month.  With home improvement projects, family health issues and trying to get to the bottom of some health issues of my own I have found little time for wildlife photography.  I have spent more time with doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in the past two weeks than I probably have in all of my previous years combined.  

Hopefully August will usher in a change for the better.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Whitetail Fawn

A Whitetail Fawn soaked with morning dew pauses after cavorting about the fog shrouded meadow

Its attention becomes riveted on something just out of my view

Now that is certainly something to get a litte fella's attention!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mid-Summer Critters

A Wood Duck hen takes her little family on an evening feeding cruise.

 Mid-Summer is a delightful time to be in the fields, forest, & wetlands barring biting insects, heat, humidity, and poisonous snakes.

Mating Dragonflies utilize submerged vegetation as a resting place appearing as if they are standing on the water.

A Whitetail Fawn wrinkles its nose while posing nicely for its portrait.

Soon the cool autumn breezes will begin blowing ushering in a new season with new opportunities but for now I am very contented to enjoy the beauty that mid-summer blesses us with.

For More Critters of all Kinds
Visit our friend Misty at

Thursday, July 22, 2010

As Close as it Gets: Bullfrog

Usually the first indication that a bullfrog is close by is a peep, kersplash, plop as the frog leaps for the safety of the water from its hiding spot.

I located this frog sitting out in the open of the wetland amid the vegetation growing in the shallow water.  By approaching slowly the frog sat as if transfixed while I maneuvered into range of the 400mm lens with a 25mm extension tube attached.

As I photographed the frog the only detectable movement was its throat movement as it breathed.  Note the two small leaches attached to the frog's throat.

Once finished photographing I backed away to maybe 20-30 feet before turning around to walk away.  As soon as I turned I heard the distinct peep, kersplash, Plop!  The frog had waited until I was no longer making eye contact to execute his evasion actions.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Camera Critters: Raspberries & Copperheads

 Noticing that the wild raspberries along the roadsides were beginning to ripen my mind drifted back to a large raspberry patch I had located while deer hunting a couple of years ago.  Tossing the high boots, bucket, and chainsaw onto the pick-up bed I headed up the old logging road to check it out.  Three trees had fallen across the road but the Stihl chainsaw made short work of them and soon I was surrounded by an abundant crop of wild raspberries.  I soon noticed that I wasn't alone as quite a few birds were busily flitting about the fruit laden brambles and a couple of areas revealed the unmistakable sign of a bear having gorged itself with the bountiful harvest.

Wading into the berry patch filling my bucket as I went I was brought up short when I noticed this snake lying just above a bunch of berries I had just picked.  Notice the three berries in the right foreground and the fruit pod to the right that I had just picked.  This encounter was just a little too close for comfort, the distance from the snake was scarcely a foot!

Slowly moving back to a safer distance, I picked my way back to the truck where I left the berry bucket behind returning with the camera instead.  The snake was still in the exact same position as what it was when I first sighted it.  Look closely and you will see the Copperhead's head pointed directly away from the camera.

 Moving to the snake's left I was able to get a decent view of its head.  As Copperheads so commonly do, this snake chose to remain totally motionless during the entire encounter.  Copperheads are not aggressive snakes but neither do they normally retreat at signs of danger.  Stepping on a Copperhead can lead to a serious situation when the snake lashes out in self defence; and so to can picking berries too close to a hidden viper.   

A close-up shot shows the snakes head and the heat sensing pit located below and in front of the eye. 
The Copperhead is classified as a pit viper because of these heat sensing pits.

I made this shot using the 400mm lens with a 25mm extension tube attached.  This combination allowed me to capture a good close-up image while maintaining a safe distance from the venomous snake. 

After reviewing the image on the camera's LCD and finding that I was satisfied with the results I returned the camera to the truck and resumed berry picking in a different part of the patch. 

At an earlier time in my life this encounter would have ended differently but with a growing appreciation for our natural environment and the native creatures that inhabit it I have developed a much healthier attitude towards our fellow creatures.  If the only choice presented was to sustain a bite or kill the snake, undoubtedly I would kill the snake.  Here the choice was easy; move away that we both could live to another day.

For more Critters of all Kinds
Visit our friend Misty at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wetlands: The Other Ducks

While the Wood Ducks are the most commonly observed duck at the local wetlands, they are not alone.

I observed a hen Hooded Merganser with a brood the same evening as when I seen the first Wood Duck young although I was unable to capture a suitable image.  During each of my visits I have been able to locate at least one young Merganser and occasionally have been successful photographing it.  The Merganser young are often widely separated, not flocking together as the Wood Ducks and Mallards are prone to do. 

This young Hooded Merganser caught sight of me as I moved into position one recent morning.  After spending nearly an hour concealed behind a small island it finally moved into view checking to see if the intruder had left.  After only a couple of clicks of the shutter the young bird submerged.  Fortunately for me the bird had chosen a spot with good lighting to check from

A few minutes after the Merganser encounter this flock Mallards who had flown in a few minutes earlier checked me out from nearly the same location.  I believe this to be a flock of juvenile Mallards as immature birds and hens are very similar.  The bird farthermost to the right may be the mother although the oly difference that I can see is that its bill coloration is somewhat different from that of the others. 

Again with only a couple of frames exposed the Mallards scooted to safety, this time behind the nearby vegetation.  In this location I was not hidden nearly as well as I would have preferred and once the camera drew the duck's attention to me they wasted no time in retreating. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More than Birds

More than birds visit the natural bird feeders.

This little Chipmunk has visited the natural bird feeders with the big glass focused upon him so often that he is no longer camera shy.  Posing cutely for the portrait he probably wonders why he's receiving so much attention.

While unconcerned about the cameras and camera men he still keeps a sharp lookout for the hawks who occasionally disrupt an otherwise peaceful morning of raiding the till.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Camera Critters: Wetlands Morning Cont....

As I stated on Monday's post, although the muskrat gave me the best image of the day, that encounter was only the beginning of a very productive morning.  I was pleasantly surprised when I observed this Wood Duck hen with her small brood.  I was to find a moment later that there were at least two hens with very young broods.  I assume that their earlier nesting had been unsuccessful and these tiny ducklings were the result of their second nesting attempts.

Soon after observing the small ducklings this Wood Duck hen with much larger immatures swam into view at the same spot.  The sharp eyed hen caught me moving the camera into position and hurried her growing family out of my view. 

After relocating to another part of the wetlands an immature Wood Duck male followed by an intermediate size duckling swam past my observation point.  The various stages of wood duck development captured in this series illustrates that this year's hatch was spread out over a number of weeks. 

Moments after photographing the previous pair a worried hen swam circles between me and the immatures while they made their escape.  As soon as they were safely out of sight she disappeared into the vegetation surrounding the wetland pool.  With the natural lighting being nearly perfect she gave me an excellent series of images as she placed herself between the perceived danger and her young.

For more Critters of all Kinds
Visit our friend Misty at

Thursday, July 08, 2010

SkyWatch: Hay Making Skies

The dry sweltering heat that descended on our area recently is perfect weather to dry this year's hay crop.  Farmers are hurrying to get the crop in before the drought destroys what nutrient value the grass still holds.

As the evening sun caressed the western horizon its warm light falling upon the windrows of hay drew lines of dark shadow along their length.  Lying in the grass, I framed this shot from a low angle to capturing the lines of light & shadow against a sky of white fluffy clouds.  I also used a circular polarizing filter to increase the color saturation.

For more great Skies from Around the World
Visit the Sky Watch Team at

Monday, July 05, 2010

Morning Suprise: Mink Encounter

Deciding to accompany Willard for a morning wildlife photoshoot at the meadows, I arrived there as he was finishing setting up his equipment.  Soon after settling in comfortably I noticed a cottontail rabbit running away from us down the access road.  After going maybe twenty yards it made a 90 degree turn disappearing into the high grass.  Thinking nothing of it I looked back to the meadow only to hear Willard exclaim "Look at That!"  I turned to see a mink running down the path the rabbit had followed.  Swinging the camera into position I was ready when the mink paused where the rabbit had made the turn.

In a moment the mink figured out the rabbit's evasive move and again took off on its scent trail.

 A few minutes later movement to my left caught my attention and I turned just in time to see the rabbit running full out pass by directly behind us.  The rabbit was in full panic mode as it sped past only a few feet away disappearing into the old barn and only a couple of seconds later the mink followed in pursuit.

The action was breaking so fast that I was unable to achieve focus as the mink rushed our position!

When only a few yards away the mink suddenly became aware of our presence; stopping momentarily before reversing direction as rapidly as it had approached.  Here you can see the initial escape leap as the mink began fleeing.

Thinking of this encounter I believe that the little rabbit owes its life to our presence this morning as there is absolutely nowhere that a rabbit could go where the mink could not follow.  And then again looking at the encounter another way I guess the mink could blame us for its hunger pangs brought on by a missed meal.

I was fully intending to continue today with yesterday's wetland encounters but after this heart racing encounter with a creature so rarely seen I simply had to share this extraordinary encounter today.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Wetlands Morning: Muskrat Encounter

As the summer progresses the wetlands are in a state of constant change.  With no appreciable rain fall in well over two weeks the water level is receding rapidly leaving much of the previously flooded areas dry and baking in the hot sun.  The change of water level along with the vegetation growth forces me to change vantage points frequently.

This morning I chose a position overlooking a small pool that would be subjected to strong sunlight coming from my left once the sun rose.  Shortly after sunrise I spotted vegetation shaking about in a shallow portion of the pool.  A moment later I was able discern a muskrat swimming rapidly towards me with a bundle of leaves in its mouth. 

Photographing the muskrat continuously as it approached; the best shot of the session occurred as the rat turned to is right allowing the sun to light its head along with the leaves it was carrying.  Before I could trip the shutter again the muskrat dove out of sight; but not before leaving me with the my very best muskrat capture ever.

If this image had been the only good image I came away with this morning it certainly would have been a worthwhile outing.  Instead it was only the beginning of what was to be a very memorable morning spent in the wilds of the wetlands.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Camera Critters: Bunting & Baby

Indigo Bunting

This morning I decided to join Willard for a morning of wildlife photography.  Although relatively common the Indigo Buntings are very elusive anytime I try to photograph them.  This morning a male came to Willard's natural bird feeder posing nicely for his photograph.

 With its coat soaked by the morning dew an innocent little fawn pauses to surveys the photographers.   A moment later it bounded away to explore and learn more about its new world full of wonder as mom grazes peacefully in the background.

For more Critters of all Kinds
Visit our good friend Misty at her

Thursday, July 01, 2010

SkyWatch: Double Sun

Double Sun

I always love to watch the sunrise; no two are the same.

For more Skies from Around the World
Visit our friends,