Friday, October 31, 2014

Chincoteague NWR: A Great Place for Birds

Mention the name Chincoteague among a group of island goers and each may have different reasons for being attracted to this sea-side island.  For some it is the beach, others travel there for the fishing and boating while others enjoy the browsing the little shops scattered about the island, and all enjoy the restaurants and the friendly folks at the local businesses.  Among this group of Chincoteague enthusiast is a dedicated group of birders who value the Chincoteague NWR for the amazing birding opportunities it provides. 
I captured the following photos of Great Egrets and a Snowy Egret along the roadside during my recent visit.   Access here to some awesome wildlife photo opportunities frequently is only a few feet from your car's door if not out the window.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Assateague Beach in Black and White

My photography interest is centered around wildlife, however I welcomed the opportunity to shoot some beach shots in classic B&W while visiting Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

An Island Get-a-Way: Chincoteague Virginia

After a spring and summer with very little time to pursue my outdoor photography, my wife and I finally found time for a short vacation.   I had hopes of finding some interesting photo ops and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge did not disappoint.

While waiting for the sun to make its appearance a small sika stag crossed the shallow water of the wetlands.  The little deer didn't seem to bother the geese as it passed by.  This was my very first time photographing a sika deer.
A short time later a larger stag appeared in the wetlands opposite to where the first appeared.  This deer sported much larger antlers and a much larger body as well. 
 The stag paused a couple of times as it crossed the meadow.

I'm guessing that the sika rut is on as the stags seemed to be traveling with a purpose, much like rutting whitetail buck, a species which I am much more familiar with.

Sunrise over the Wetlands

And on the way out of the refuge another stag crossed the road and paused on the bike path.  While I had photographed the previous deer using the 600mm lens, this one I shot hand-held out of the car window using the Canon 100-400 lens.  After a number of trips to Assateague without so much as one photograph of a sika deer, to see four stags and photograph three, all in one morning made for a surprising outing!  

A few days staying on Chincoteague Island, photographing wildlife, and walking the Assateague beach were most relaxing.  I will be sharing more photos from this adventure in the coming days.


Friday, October 10, 2014

A Morning on the Elk Range

Our son Chad and his wife Sandy spent a week with my wife and I during mid-September.  Now living in the Orlando Florida area, this was the first Chad had been able to get back home in seven years and was Sandy's first visit ever.  Each day of their vacation was planned with Chad wanting to visit family and old friends.  While most of their time was spent together, Tuesday was a guys and gals day; a day where the guys went their own way to do their thing and the gals did likewise.  For Chad and I the plans called for a day trip to Benezette, the heart of the Pennsylvania elk range while the gals headed for a beauty shop. 
Chad and I were on the road by 3:30 am and arrived at our destination around 6:00.  As we climbed the hill, among the elk bugles ringing from the ridges I could hear the deep roar of Limpy, the icon of Winslow Hill.  Heading toward the roar, we soon encountered Limpy with a small harem of cows and a couple of satellite bulls nearby. 

 Limpy Roaring

 Limpy, named for a limp he developed after becoming injured in a fight during the 2010 rut, is a dominate mature bull.  I have been photographing him each year beginning in 2009.  His photographs have graced a number of Pa Game Commission publications including the current calendar and the Game News.

Chad photographing Limpy

Limpy is a completely trusting animal as shown here while passing between myself and a group of elk viewers.

The old boy paused to bugle with the onlookers in the background

This was Chad's first time on the Elk Range and it wasn't difficult to see that he was enjoying the shoot.

During the course of the morning we spotted a number of other bulls, however the overcast skies and the short mowed grass just didn't provide the conditions for outstanding elk photography that I was hoping for.
After the elk had retired to the woodland the leaden skies finally opened up with beautiful white clouds scuttling across the sky and their accompanying shadows dancing across the landscape painting in an ever-changing pattern of sun and shadow.

After stopping in at the visitor's center and another stop at the Benezette Store Restaurant for a Big Ben's Burger, it was time to head for home.

While in past years I have been spending the best part of a week on the elk range during the rut; this day-trip would be my only opportunity to photograph the rutting bulls this year.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Barn Wrap-up and Moving On

While the barn restoration will be an ongoing project for quite some time to come, we finally reached my goal for this year of returning the barn to a usable condition.
In early September I got some much needed help when Willard and his son-in-law Justin joined me for a barn work day.  Our work that day consisted of laying plywood over the barn floor.  Some of the barn floor was double layer boards while most of the mows were single layer.  Adding the plywood over the single layer areas gave it strong smooth floor.
Willard and Justin working up a sweat

A finished section

With the stable finished, the cattle was able to return.

A group of young animals penned, ready to be shipped to market.
I must admit that while caring for the small herd I became attached to these animal and it was with a heavy heart that I watched them go.
The year's barn restoration wrapped up just in time for me to enjoy the fall colors.  What is more beautiful on a foggy fall morning than some brightly colored leaves and a derelict country farm house.

Driving back to the site of still empty Meadow Grounds Lake I was pleased to see the above sign.  The Friends of the Meadow Grounds Lake continue to work towards the restoration and currently are in the midst of the fundraising campaign. 

The small pool remaining at the dam made the perfect background for a dew laden spider's web.
Thank you for visiting and stop back soon