Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mink: A Stream Sitting Surprise

Much of my wildlife photography outings over the past year has been focused on watching areas along the creek bordering our family farm.  With farm chores keeping me close to home much of the time, I decided to utilize the creek as it attracts a variety of wildlife.  In addition to attracting wildlife and providing an opening where the creatures may be seen water, with its many reflections, adds infinitely to many of the images.

I was thrilled one morning this past week when I spotted a mink hunting along the creek and headed my way.  At one point I lost sight of it and then noticed a bubble stream moving rapidly about turning this way and that.  A few moments later the mink surfaced allowing me to capture the bottom photo posted below with its prey, a large crayfish, grasp securely.  The mink carried the crayfish into the weeds where I could hear crunching and soon reappeared to continue hunting.  It is memorable moments like these that keep getting me up and out in the early mornings.  

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tenth Anniversary of Country Captures

The Bridge
The first photo published on Country Captures 7-28-2006

As I was considering what to post it suddenly occurred to me that this week marks the tenth anniversary of Country Captures.  Back at the beginning as I stated in my profile I was rediscovering photography after having been away from it for a number of years. At that time I was exploring digital photography shooting point & shoot and bridge type cameras.  It wasn't long before I realized that wildlife photography was where my interest lay and that it wasn't just some passing fad.  Soon I began investing in more expensive DSLR equipment better suited to capturing wildlife and added the byline to Country Capture's header "photography on the wild side" to better define the material one could expect to encounter during a visit.

During the past decade I have shared my wildlife adventures both from here at home in rural Fulton County PA and from my travels. Country Captures has taken you from upstate Pennsylvania to central Florida and many points in between. 

 As the years rolled by my life has changed considerably.  At the onset I was working full time in manufacturing and part-time as a deputy wildlife conservation officer for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  By the end of 2006 I had retired my officer's commission and in July of 2015 I retired from my full time employment and now spend much of my time at our small family farm where I continue the cow/calf operation that was my dad's before his passing in early 2014. 

Social media has also undergone considerable changes during the past decade as has my use of it.  I find it much easier to pop a photo on Facebook than to write a a blog post and Country Captures has suffered as a result.  Such is life, always changing, sometimes for the better; sometimes not.

And speaking of changing, other than simply getting older and fatter, I too have changed considerably.  Ten years ago I was very much involved with consumptive hunting and considered myself a political conservative.  Today, while I find no fault with ethical lawful hunting and still harvest some wildlife for the table, I am very disturbed with the militant direction that some of the hunting fraternity has taken.  I have also philosophically parted ways with the 2nd Amendment crowd who with their in your face, "It's My God Given Constitutional Right" attitude portrays all firearms owners in a very bad light.  The less you rock your boat the less likely it is that you will capsize.  Some people just aren't happy unless they are making waves and then cry foul when their boat sinks.  And in case you haven't figured it out I am at odds with today's political conservatives and seldom agree with their stands on the issues of the day.

The bridge pictured above is located just downstream of the spillway of the Meadow Grounds Lake located near McConnellsburg Pa.  The lake was constructed in the mid 1960's by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and became my "go to" spot for waterfowl photography.  A wide variety of waterfowl used it as a feeding and resting spot during their migrations.  I was aware of some dam issues over the years and then in 2011 the lake level was dropped a few feet while tests were ran on the dam and a small repair was attempted.  The lake was brought back to full pool in the spring of 2012 and I hoped that all was well.  In late February of 2013 the unthinkable happened when the PFBC announced the indefinite draw down of the lake.  By early June the draw down had been completed with some fish salvaged and moved while many more were disposed of in a nearby pit. The lake bed sat empty save for small pool to cover the control conduit awaiting the estimated 4 million needed for repairs.  To make a long story short, after much work by a grassroots organization "Friends of The Meadow Grounds Lake" and our local politicians, we were elated this week when Governor Wolf officially released the funding needed for the repairs!   

In wrapping up this long post; at the time I had no idea of how fitting the photo of the bridge was for the beginning post for Country Captures and the past decade has certainly been a bridge for me.  A bridge that has seen me crossing over to places that I never expected to go in my personal life, political leanings, and my views on wildlife conservation.   For those of you who have been faithful followers of Country Captures, thank you for crossing the bridge with me and coming along for the ride!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Jamming with Japanese Wineberries

In recent years Japanese wineberries have become very prevalent in our area.  These plants are considered an invasive species and is much maligned by many folks voicing their opinion on the web.  There is no doubt that the wineberries do crowd out some native plants however they do minimize erosion, and produce a tremendous crop of soft mast without the need for any pesticides or herbicides Many species of wildlife take advantage of the profusion of berries each summer.

All I can say about wineberries is if you have them available, go pick a bunch and Jam It!