Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bugling Time in Elk Country

Avoiding his advances, a cow makes a quick turn in front of the camera as the bull bugles

The Pennsylvania Elk rut draws photographers and wildlife enthusiasts from a wide area each autumn as the awesome bulls compete for mating opportunities.
I arrived in Benezette Pa. before dawn Monday morning during a light drizzle. Meeting up with Willard of Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer and Brad of Bradley Myers Photography I was ready to immerse myself in the world of the elk for four days.

Our first stop was lower parking lot of the Porcupine Run – Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area where we were greeted by this fine bull protecting his harem.

As with most elk who frequent the Winslow Hill tourist area this bull was totally oblivious to the presence of the group of perhaps twenty photographers huddled over their tripods as he moved to within a few yards of us while roaring out his challenge.

The weather on this trip was less than ideal with light rain on Monday followed by gloomy skies most of Tuesday and Wednesday and then heavy rain today.  The way the weather was panning out I began to think that I was going to return home without any stunning images. In the space of ten minutes Wednesday evening it all changed but that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Windy Autumn Morning

Saturday morning was very windy with sparkling clear air making for great contrast in landscape photos.  I snapped this image from the boat followed by processing effects in Photoshop.

I like the combination of effects and will probably frame & display it

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spotted Sandpiper, Autumn Plumage

While fishing the Meadow Grounds Lake Saturday morning I spotted a couple of sandpipers feeding along the shoreline.  Cautiously approaching with the boat I was able to move to within about twenty feet of this bird as it tipped and bobbed along looking for food.

I was puzzled by the bird as its actions as well as its bill, legs and coloration were consistent with that of the Spotted Sandpiper with the exception of the spots which were missing.  Research revealed that this is the autumn plumage of the spotted sandpiper.  I have encountered these birds during their spring migration but this is my first sighting as they pass through in the autumn.

The shoreline of this lake is surrounded by thick vegetation seldom allowing a photograph of any shorebirds however the water was recently lowered to facilitate dam inspection and possible repairs.  With a few yards of shoreline now exposed I am looking forward to more photographs such as this as the autumn progresses. 

Apparently spotting a tasty morsel the little sandpiper struck an interesting pose for this image.

A strong gust of autumn wind ruffled its feathers and soon will convince these birds to continue their journey southward.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Feeder Fussy: White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches can be very defensive of their food source.

This little fellow took exception to a tufted titmouse who repeatedly tried to land on the natural feeder directly below the it's perch.

I enjoyed watching how the nuthatch flared it's wings, tripling its profile, while swiveled to face the intruder.

The belligerent little nuthatch was successful, for after just a few rebuffs, the titmouse gave up retreating to the woodland.

For Critters of all Kinds
visit the folks at Misty's

Friday, September 24, 2010


While photographing wildlife I find myself concentrating upon trying to capture the image when the animal is doing something interesting.  This photograph is one of those moments.

For some time after shedding their velvet, bucks frequently feel the need to scratch their pedicils.  Here a nice eight-point leisurely uses his rear hoof to relieve the itch.  Soon he will be thrashing bushes with his new headgear; toning his muscle's while conditioning his reflexes for the rut that is still a few weeks away.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fulton County Youth Field Day

It is a widely known fact that the youth of today are not as interested in the outdoor sports as were previous generations.  To help counter the trend the Pennsylvania Game Commission originated an annual program which partners with volunteers to introduce young folks to hunting & fishing outdoor activities.   

Local muzzle loading marksmen operated a station where the youth were able to experience black-powder shooting first hand.

DCNR Rangers spoke with the kids about ATV safety and regulations.

Keystone Country Store provided an archery station complete with bows, arrows, targets, and staff.

The Tuscarora Longbeards, the Franklin/Fulton County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey federation demonstrated turkey calling along with passing on tips on turkey hunting and hunting safety.

Pine Ridge Kennels once again entertained both young and old with their awesome demonstration of highly trained Labrador Retrievers.

These dogs are simply amazing.  Their abilities and obedience is remarkable.

Here a volunteer helps a young girl with live firing a .22 rifle, possibly for her first time.

In addition to the above pictured station the kids were also given the opportunity to shoot shotguns at clay birds, representatives of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission discussed boating safety, and Willard & I introduced them to Outdoor Photography.

The event was funded by contributions from local businesses and Safari Club International.  

The day was both informative and fun for the youth and the volunteers alike.

Monday, September 20, 2010


At three months of age the fawns have grown considerably since they were wobbly legged babies back in early June. 

A closer view of another nursing session

Fawns will continue to nurse as long as the mother will allow.  I have observed fawns nursing well into December although by that time most are fully capable of meeting their nutritional requirements by foraging.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Country Captures visits SNP

During my recent visit to Shenandoah National Park I was treated to this scene of two bucks playing in the meadow.  After watching and photographing these bucks for a time it was plain to see that they were the best of friends.

With the exception of the rut adult bucks form bachelor groups numbering from as few as two to a half dozen or even more.  The group will spend their time together and will only be seen with does when they incidentally happen upon the same area.

Pausing to rest a moment the bucks struck a beautiful pose in the dry grass of the meadow.

The sighting of a black bear, although not a good photo op added immensely to the day's outing

For more Critters of all Kinds 
Visit the participants in this Week's

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bugling in the Fog

Pennsylvania, with its variety of wildlife offers much to the outdoor photographer but nothing else equals the awe inspiring thrill of the rutting bull elk appearing ghostlike through the fog on a cool September morning.

Reports from our friends in the Pennsylvania Wilds indicate that the elk rut is beginning and I can hardly wait until it is time for my annual visit to watch, photograph, and experience the thrill of spending time with these majestic animals of The Pennsylvania Wilds.

For up to date information on the happenings in and around Pennsylvania's elk range visit my brother's blog Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer and Support Pa Elk.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Camera Critters: More than a Mouthful

Apple trees are a great place to find whitetails during the late summer and into early autumn as they feast upon the fallen fruit.

I encountered this buck during a recent visit to Shenandoah National Park.  Being acclimated to humans the buck was toatlly unconcerned by my presence and allowed me to photograph him as he fed on the freshly fallen apples. 

For more Critters of All Kinds
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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Osprey: Catch & Release

While fishing a local lake during the recent holiday weekend I noticed an osprey hunting some distance away.  I readied the camera just in case something interesting happened.  No sooner was I ready than the osprey began its stoop plunging into the water below.

After diving completely under water the osprey surfaced and with great difficulty tried to lift its catch into the air.  The osprey continued to struggle, trying to take flight with its catch clutched in its talons, for over two minutes.

 Finally it either lost its grip or decided the fish was too large to handle and flew back into the sky resuming the hunt. 

Quality is less than my normal standard as these images shot with a Canon 100-400mm lens are severely cropped because of the distance involved.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Capturing the Moment

Gee Dad, will I really get big like you?

Wildlife photography is all about "capturing the moment", a fleeting moment when light, subject, and expression come together in a special way.

A herd of deer feeding in a meadow is certainly picture worthy and a good portrait of an individual animal is nothing to sneeze at but the very best shots happen when something a little out of the ordinary occurs.

Capturing the interaction between animals requires close observation and constant readiness.  Relaxing for even a moment can result in the photographer seeing the "perfect shot" and watching it pass while trying to make the required camera settings.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Velvet Shedding

As summer winds down the whitetail's antlers harden into the weapons with which they will do battle in the never ending evolutionary cycle of survival of the fittest.  The soft blood vessel laden tissue that carried minerals to build the antlers now cracks, dries, and peels away.  Sometimes shedding is a rapid process where a buck will strip the velvet away overnight while at other times the buck may carry shreds of velvet for a few days.

This buck apparently was bothered some by the shedding process as I observed him scratching at his antler pedicels a number of time over the space of a couple of hours.

For more interesting Critters of all Kinds
Visit Misty's

Friday, September 03, 2010

September SNP Morning

Willard moving in on a SNP buck

As summer draws to a close my thoughts return to the amazing whitetails of Shenandoah National Park.
The protection afforded by the park allows the whitetails to grow to maturity and their acclimation to human presence allows photographers a glimpse into their natural world as the deer go about their daily routines.

Willard and I arrived at Big Meadows minutes before the sun crested the horizon. With a hot day in the offing the deer were already beginning to leave the meadow moving toward the cooler shade of the trees.

The first buck we sighted paused along the wood line

In a display of exuberance perhaps brought on by the hormonal changes with the change of the seasons the buck treated us to an unusual photo opportunity.

This fellow even brought his front feet into play thrashing the overhanging evergreen boughs

A little later we again encountered the same buck as he fed on acorns still atached to the overhanging oak branches.

This was the first buck encounter of the morning but not the last.......
More to come in future post.

As light levels were still low all images in this post were shot at ISO 1000 with a Canon 30D.