Spring Arrivals: Vultures

Almost Spring? A deep, crusted snow lingers on a bitterly cold, four-degree (F) morning. Old Man Winter has a death grip. Soon, there won’t be a hungry vulture in the county.

This sequence, my second sighting of vultures this season, was captured at a small abandoned barn and traditional vulture roosting site.








Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


A Winter Walk (March, 2018)

Finally, after three storms and several feet of snow, the sun came out. I buckled up my snowshoes and set out to accomplish three things: pack trails for future walking and access to the property; capture some unusual, late winter scenes; and share this lovely late-winter day with friends who might be unable or unwilling to navigate waste-deep snow cover.

My woodland walk started at the house, followed a trail dating back to the construction of a small dairy farm in 1854, then looped back to the house. The adventure covered less than a mile but was nearly two hours in duration.


Home; the “1854 House”


A Wild Apple Tree


164 year-old farm trail with a packed snowshoe path in the center (1 of 3)



Chickadee feeding on White Spruce seeds in a windbreak/wildlife habitat planting (1 of 2)



Return trip down the woodland trail


Wild apple tree in snow and morning light; mission accomplished!

Photos by NB Hunter (15March2018). © All Rights Reserved.


While digging out from the third Nor’easter in two weeks, my thoughts drift to recent wildlife sightings and survival in the wild. Hooded Mergansers are popping up wherever surface waters are free of ice and seem to be weathering the storms well.




Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wetlands in Ice and Snow

Deep snow, rising melt-water and stressed animals have caused me to observe and photograph from a distance, often using my truck as a blind. Two storms and forty inches of snow blanketed the landscape in early March, leaving an interesting mix of “signs of Spring” … ice … and a blanket of snow.


Open wetland with seasonal water


Hooded Merganser in a hardwood swamp


Muskrat feeding on submerged vegetation


Hardwood swamp teaming with wildlife (location for the remaining images)


Muskrat in a hardwood swamp, browsing Northern White Cedar (1 of 2)



Wood Ducks cruising along in a hardwood swamp; 1 of 3



Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

March Snowstorms and Wildlife

Before the storm. Taken during a hike on February 28, this photo of migrating geese marked the end of a winter thaw and bare ground.


The storm. Over the next 24 hours, “Winter Storm Warning” messages appeared, predicting the collision of two approaching storms, high winds and the accumulation of deep, heavy snow. We escaped the damaging winds, but received 25 to 30 inches of snow on March 2. Hazardous roads and a travel ban kept me home, but that worked to my advantage. I shoveled often and took frequent breaks to observe and photograph wildlife around the bird feeders.

Blizzard photography. Photographing wildlife in a snowstorm is no small feat. I was photo-bombed three times! First, by a “white-out” of blowing snow that ruined a cardinal portrait……..


Then, by a another cardinal that blocked an attempt at a starling portrait….


And, finally, as often happens when there is a lot of songbird activity in late winter, a Cooper’s Hawk decided to visit my “fly-through restaurant” and hunt songbirds. This is the most dramatic sort of photo bomb, because dozens of songbirds can disappear in a wink when a hawk appears… and they’re in no hurry to return.

CoopersHawk2Mar18#9921E2c5x7 CoopersHawk2Mar18#9918E5c8x10

It was nearly an hour before things returned to normal. The feeders were again bustling with activity, and I got some portraits.



After the storm. Lengthening days and more intense solar radiation soften the impact of these late winter snowstorms. The snow melts faster and lots of critters are thinking ahead to Spring. This chipmunk tunneled through deep snow near the feeders, assumed a vantage point on the high ground, and “chucked” repeatedly, as if to say “Spring is in the air…and this is my breeding territory!”. The snow didn’t seem to be quite as deep or heavy after this heart-warming encounter.



Photos by NB Hunter (Feb. 28 to March 3, 2018). © All Rights Reserved.


Squirrel Watching

Faced with a 30 degree drop in temperature and the arrival of a snowstorm, we all turn to our survival checklist. I was headed to the woodshed. Cream Puff, the resident red squirrel anomaly, was busy eating – and burying – sunflower seeds.

The firewood could wait – I had to watch and photograph Cream Puff in action. She had an impressive routine, which she repeated for an hour: grab a bite at the feeders, put a sunflower seed in her mouth, sprint 40 feet, bury the seed, sprint back to the bird feeder, and so on. She moved fast and the light was poor, so I tried my best to “pan” the action, swinging the camera at her pace.









At one point the snow was so heavy that it overwhelmed my auto focus. It was winter again and the squirrels were fat, happy, and well prepared. On the other hand, I now had to shovel several inches of heavy, wet snow in order to get firewood to the house!


Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.