Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Meadow Grounds Lake Update: Great News!

An empty hole in the ground is all that remains where the beautiful Meadow Grounds Lake once lay. 

Pa State Senator Eichelberger and Representative Topper attended last night's Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake monthly board meeting to deliver an update on the repair and refilling of the lake.

Senator Eichelberger pointed out that the geotechnical study of the dam is completed and awaiting review by PFBC officials before being made available to the public.  Secondly and perhaps most importantly, the PFBC had committed to funding the $400,000 design phase of the project.

Senator Eichelberger advised us that the recently passed transportation bill provides for a steady stream of revenue to be used to repair high-hazard dams across the state.  He also noted that government funding for the repair of the dam will likely come from a number of sources.  Along with government funding the community is expected to raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 of a local match.

The direction of the FOMGLis now changing from raising awareness and political contact to fundraising as we move into the design and funding phase of the project.

Meadow Grounds Lake; the way it was and will be again!

As we move into the design/fundraising phase, I am excited to think about being able to document the repair and refilling of the lake soon to come!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snowy Owls: The Sightings Continues

While the awesome snowy owl irruption of 2013-2014 has faded from the news, the sightings continue.

I have been able to locate at least one owl most times I have tried to find them near Mercersburg but usually they are too far from the road for good photography.

When I first spotted this snowy before sunrise one recent morning it was sitting in a field some two hundred yards or more from the road.  After watching it for a few minutes it took flight, landing on top of a barn vent.  While it was not the most "natural" appearing perch at least it was very near the road allowing me to approach closely and shoot out of the car window.
I watched and photographed this owl over about an hours time.  During this time the owl kept a sharp lookout over the surrounding countryside, casting its eyes upwards and swiveling its head following passing birds.  While watching the owl swivel its head, I was most struck by the fantastic range of motion.  A quick visit to Wikipedia revealed that they have an approximate 270 degrees of motion!

From what I have read we can expect the snowies to begin returning to their tundra home later this month or sometime early next.  As for myself I am thankful that these amazing birds of the northland chose to venture south making this a very special winter indeed!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Winter, a Challenge to both Wildlife and Wildlife Photographers

A gobbler stands on one leg while resting and warming the other
Mid-winter; a time of freezing temperatures, snow and ice makes survival in the wild a daily challenge for wildlife.   Without the cover of leafy foliage to hide behind and with the ground covered by white snow, many species of wildlife are more easily spotted now than at any other time of the year.
Adult Wild Turkey
During this past week we experienced two winter storms, first a wet snow on Monday followed by a snow and ice storm Wednesday.  Following Wednesday's snow and rain the temps dropped, turning the heavy wet snow that blanketed the ground into ice.  Neither deer nor turkeys are able to break through the resulting crust and cannot reach the food below.
A yearling buck stands with his coat fluffed to ward off the cold morning chill.

During weather like this deer spend a considerable time each day browsing.
And nibbling at dried grasses that remain uncovered.
Winter also presents its own set of challenges for the photographer.  Aside from how to keep warm enough to spend time outdoors and what we must do to keep our photographic equipment functioning, snow presents a challenge of its own when it comes to properly exposing a photo.  As anyone who has spent any time on Facebook can attest, most of the snow photo posted are exposed much too dark.  With the exception of some snow-scene photos taken in bright sunlight, the camera's built-in light meter will under-expose any photo shot on auto.  
Manual exposure, exposing strictly for the subject, or exposure comp can be used to nail down a good photo.  Since I usually shoot in aperture preferred I use the exposure comp wheel and watch the histogram to assure that my exposure is within the proper range.  I used exposure compensation of +.3 to +1 stop to nail down the exposure for photos in this post.  

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Feeder Photos

 During the bleak days of winter I often daydream of traveling south to shoot the splendid birdlife of Florida.  At other times my mind drifts to Maryland's eastern shore and relives a winter daybreak in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.  While photo trips to more distant places are fun and often quite productive, many a winter day can be brightened by spending time focused on the visitors to a backyard feeder.
The following photos were shot at our naturalized feeders using a Canon 6D, EF600mm f\4 L IS.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
 White-breasted Nuthatch

 Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow

Red-breasted Woodpecker.