Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blending In

A yearling deer lies in a grassy meadow.  The deer's coat, now faded to a light tan, blends in perfectly with the faded browns of last year's grasses and fallen leaves.

A look back at early November reminds one of how bright and vibrant the deer's winter coats were when they were first growing in.  A glance at the deer's surroundings also reminds one of the vibrant colors of the vegetation at that time of year.

 I find it remarkable at how well wildlife is adapted to survive in their natural environment.  These two photos illustrate one example of how the whitetail deer changes with the season to be able to blend into the background and pass unnoticed.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weather is Slow to Warm but Wildlife Photography is Heating Up

So far this spring has seen below normal temperatures with a snow storm brushing by us to the southeast yesterday.  Even though the warm-up has been slower than normal and the thermometer only reached 32F today, migrant birds are showing up everywhere. 

This evening, as I made my rounds on the farm, a large flock of robins were hoping about the pastures.  Saturday afternoon I spotted my first phoebe for the year, last evening the seasons first woodcock and this evening a pair of wood ducks on the creek where it borders our farm.  Unfortunately I was unable to bring the camera into play in each instance.
While I have not been able to capture any strutting photos lately, the turkey activity is escalating. 

Soon the hens will become receptive and the wild turkey mating season will begin in earnest.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Stepping in Spring

A crow caught in mid-stride
With the change of seasons underway I like to think I caught the crow "stepping into spring".

While the fields are still mostly brown, down on the farm, the new calves are arriving regularly.

And the fast moving killdeer are busy running about the pasture

With the wet areas showing the first green growth of the season
Yesterday I heard the wood frogs calling for the first this spring and today spotted a meadow lark and a wood duck pair.  While snow is in the forecast for Tuesday there is no doubt that the change of the seasons is underway.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Strutting Their Stuff

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/400 ISO-800
As spring grows nearer wild turkey gobbler's are being seen more frequently strutting and gobbling. 
I have not observed any interest on the part of the hens yet but it won't be long before they will join in and the mating season will begin in earnest. 

The normal impression of a wild turkey seen at a distance is that of a large bald-headed black bird, but when seen close-up in good light the iridescent feathers of a mature gobbler glow as if illuminated from within with a multi-colored sheen.  

I am always amazed at how quickly a gobbler's head can change colors.  Normally a dark drab bluish hue with some red mixed, in the turkeys head can change colors in a matter of seconds as he becomes excited.

Right now the strutting and gobbling appears to be all about establishing dominance between the gobblers both within an individual flock and between flocks of males.

However in the near future as the hens become receptive the male's displays will be all about attracting hens.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Opossum Encounter

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5, 1/250 ISO-800
Opossums are most active during the hours of darkness thus they are not frequently seen when natural light photography is possible.

As the snow pack began to recede a few weeks ago I spotted this opossum foraging in the field behind my home. Since that initial sighting it has become a regular visitor, coming out in the field a little before sundown, nosing about and consuming the occasional morsel, until darkness hides its movement.

Any attempt at approaching the animal will send it fleeing however one evening when it approached our home I was able to photograph it from the deck.  While it became concerned that danger my be near, raising its head and sniffing the air as seen in the first two photos it did not detect me perched above it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Strutting in the Snow

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/250 ISO-1000
Often in casual conversation around this time of year someone will ask, "are the turkeys gobbling yet"?  And the answer is always "yes".  Wild turkeys do not wait for spring or even spring like weather to begin gobbling.   While a male turkey may gobble at any time of the year it is during February that they begin to show interest in the upcoming mating season. 

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/1000 ISO-1600
As the month progresses the strutting and gobbling intensifies as illustrated by this big tom photographed on February 20th of this year.  While the males are ready to rumble now and are engaging in establishing dominance, it will be a few more weeks before the hens will share their mating interest. 

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/200 ISO-320

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Trusting Titmice

The tufted titmice that visit our feeders have become exceedingly trusting.  One cold afternoon, wanting to try something different, I put the 24-105mm lens on a Canon 60D and placed a couple of sunflower seeds in the hot shoe on the other camera.

Since I hadn't refreshed the seed in the feeders the titmice wasted no time in beginning to feed from the top of the camera.

The ultimate though was feeding them from my left hand while holding the camera and shooting with my right. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Captures of Winter

After experiencing mostly mild winters for the past two decades, this winter has seen sustained cold and snow.  I captured the photos posted here before a brief warming spell melted much of the snow pack a week ago.  Now with snow and 0 deg. temps in the forecast for tomorrow there is no doubt that we must wait a while yet until winter loosens its grasp.

Canon EOS 6D, EF 24-105mm f/4L USM @28mm    f/5.6,1/800/ISO-160

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/100 ISO-320

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/400 ISO-800

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/2500 ISO-320

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/125 ISO-320

Canon EOS 6D, EF 600mm f/4 IS USM   F/5.6, 1/160 ISO-320