Monday, May 30, 2011

Changing Seasons

After an unusually cold and wet spring, summer arrived on the tail of a series of vicious storms that downed trees and knocked out power across our area.  The heat began to build on Saturday and by today those spending Memorial Day outdoors were greeted with a heavy morning ground fog giving way to bright blue skies and +90 deg temps by afternoon.  This doe seems to be taking it all in stride as she watches other deer drift into the meadow.

This is the season of newborn fawns.  I have yet to observe a newborn this season but one look at the udder and thin flanks of this doe tells me that some fawns are about.

Wednesday evening the 25th I experienced my last encounter with the red-breasted mergansers who seemed reluctant to continue their migration to the summer breeding grounds.  I happened upon them just as the sun was caressing the western horizon.  I love the pose and the lighting, a fitting last photo.  I looked for them Friday and today without success.  No doubt they have headed out on the last leg of their journey as the seasons change calling them northward to continue their part in the never ending cycle of the season and of life itself.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shots from the Lake

A Great Blue Heron allowed me to approach while it watched intently under the stump.  I was hoping for a great catch shot but whatever it was watching apparently escaped without giving the bird the opportunity to strike.

The pair of Red-breasted Mergansers are still here and are becoming quite accustomed to my boat approaches.  As acclimated as they have became they no longer take flight when pressed closely; choosing instead to swim away.  The great light here gave me what may be my very best ever "on the water shot" of a RB Merganser.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Unsual Sightings: Sunlight & Tern

After seemingly weeks of cloudy, foggy, cool, rainy weather; Saturday morning dawned with the glorious sun burning its way through the fog.  The warm morning light highlighted the new growth and spiders web on the evergreen.

Spending the day fishing on a local lake I noticed an unusual bird circling about.  At first I thought it was a gull as they infrequently are seen here but I was even more surprised when a closer look revealed it to be a Tern, a species that I don't remember ever observed at this location.  

Checking my bird references I believe this to be a Common Tern however if this is wrong please advise. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mallard Family

As spring progresses new life is bursting forth and a wetland is just the ticket to a ringside seat where one can observe, photograph, and thoroughly enjoy this wonderful time of year.

Quietly hidden away along the shore I waited in hopes of photographing passing waterfowl.  After observing adult Canada geese, adult wood ducks at a distance and young hooded mergansers feeding along the brush choked shoreline I suddenly noticed ripples on the water coming from my right.  A moment later the mallard hen and her ducklings swam into view about thirty feet away.  Knowing that the click of the shutter would draw her attention I waited for a good composition before pressing the shutter button.

Instantly she was aware of my presence and began gathering her brood.

And quickly led them away to the safety as the entire family disappeared into the partially submerged willows.

As I have noted before these ducks are totally wild and will flee at the slightest hint of danger.  Only fifteen seconds elapsed between the first image that caught her unaware and the last where they are approaching cover as they flee from the perceived danger.   

Mallards are just as wild as they need to be to survive.  In parks they think nothing of waddling around looking for handouts but here where hunting and predators thin their ranks they are as wary as any other waterfowl, even as wary as the elusive Wood Duck. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chesapeake Memories

Spring means different things to different people but for the angler it is the new dawn of another year of fishing.  Dawn, viewed from a boat on the Chesapeake, can be a moment to remember. 

With the planer boards and lures still in the boat we head out in anticipation of what the outcome of the day will be.

When you are trolling the Chesapeake you will not be on the water alone.  Sometimes though you may feel like you are in the smallest boat on the bay!

Passing the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant one is remined of the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan. 

Spring migratory stripers are the name of the game.  Here a successful fisherman beams with pleasure after pulling in his first big striped bass.

Its been a tough spring for fishermen targeting the spring migratory stripers in the Chesapeake.  Season opened with windy conditions spawned by toronado storms that ravaged the south followed by dirty water from the flooding of the Susquehanna and surrounding rivers.  What has been difficult for the fishermen has in turn been good for the fish by reducing the harvest of the large spawning fish. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Still Here: Red-breasted Mergansers

Mid May and the Red-breasted Mergansers are still here!  The mergansers arrived shortly after ice-out.  By early April I could expect to see twenty to thirty during my boating forays on the local lake.  Their numbers have been dwindling since early May and today I located just two.  I expect this lonely pair will soon be winging their way north to the breeding range in Canada. 

Many of my attempts to get close-up on the water shots end with the birds taking off.  Mostly they fly away giving only butt shots (and nobody wants butt shots!) but in this situation the merganser crossed in front of the boat.  My only frustration was that I didn't get the eye as sharp as I would have liked.  Never the less the photo does illustrate the bird's take-off technique as it patters across the water.

In addition to the mergansers I also observed an immature bald eagle and a single loon, however no photo opportunities presented.   

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday Evening Surprise

Finding a couple of free hours Sunday evening I headed to the local wetlands eager to see if any young ducks were about. As I moved into position I spotted a wood duck hen leading a large brood along the water's edge screened by the overhanging brush.  Disapointed that I was unable to photograph the young woodies I hid along the shoreline hoping for activity to develop.   Some time later this colorful male swam into view just long enough for a couple of quick clicks before he sought safety elsewhere.

Fifteen minutes later I was caught totally off guard by this family of Hooded Mergansers as they swam into view at close range from my left; the blind side of this shooting location. Try as I might I could not find them in the camera's viewfinder until they were nearly out of sight leaving me with a shot that is not nearly as sharp as I desired. Even though I failed in obtaining a "print" quality image I was still pleased to be able to document this year's first encounter with the young hoodies.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bufflehead: Immature Male

While fishing today with by good friend Paul I spotted a small lone duck some distance away.  After grabbing the camera we headed the boat its way.  Running at a fairly slow speed it took some time to close the distance.

Take notice of how the bufflehead has its bill tucked under its wing.  To those unaccustomed with the bufflehead's evasion tactics one would assume that it is resting but they would be dead wrong!  Look closer at the image and you can see a wake spreading to either side of the bird.  This bird, while giving the impression of sleeping, is in reality swimming away from me at a good rate of speed.  

Although I first identified this bird from a distance as a hen I  realized as we drew nearer that it is an immature male beginning to transition into its adult plumage.  Take note of the iridescence above its eye and the white bar beginning to form at the top of what will be the white patch behind its eye.  Buffleheads usually flush before I am able to approach within good camera range but this individual amazingly allowed me to maneuver the boat to within thirty feet!

Finally enough was enough and he took to the wing only to fly a hundred yards or so before landing.

The Bufflehead photos were the prize of the day but the fishing wasn't bad either!  I kept this nice small mouth bass out of the water just long enough for Paul to make a quick snap before releasing it.  The bass were very aggressive today as they are in the early stages of the prespawn period when they are staking out their nesting territories.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Chipping Sparrow

While looking for the larger more impressive species it is easy for me to overlook little birds like this gorgeous little Chipping Sparrow.  This evening with only a short time available to attempt to get my photo-fix I headed to a nearby overgrown fence row. 

Upon my approach I noticed that my movements were being observed closely by the sparrow perched in the dead branches of a blow-down.  Watching the bird's body language I slowly moved towards it holding the camera and tripod erect stopping frequently.  When the bird began to exhibit a slight bit of nervousness I decided it was time to set up and make the shot.

Little doubt but what the sparrow was guarding a nearby nest. 

Other birds sighted during this little outing included robins, catbirds, starlings, goldfinch, and turkey vulture.  Out of all of these birds the little sparrow was the only one that offered the opportunity for a nice image to remember the evening by.

Monday, May 02, 2011

This and That from around the Lake

Bonaparte's Gull

My wildlife photography has not been all that productive lately with all of the bad weather, other obligations and interest taking up much of my free times so for this post I dipped back into images captured earlier this year. 

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed gulls occasionally visit the local lake.  I usually only observe them perhaps two or three times each year.


Since the Osprey's return I have been seeing them during each of my lake visits.  This osprey can be seen clutching a nice sized pumpkin-seed sunfish in its talons.  Not close enough to make a great image the shot is a great reminder of a pleasant morning spent on the water.

Osprey Take-off

A shot I made last year and never got around to posting.  Now that I feel like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel to find images to post I guess its time to get it out.