Young White-tails

The “resident” deer on my property include a mature doe and her two fawns. I bump into them about once a week, usually when working in the woods or walking my dog. They’re unpredictable, especially when I’m on foot: sometimes they scoot off into a thicket, sometimes they hold their position and wait for me to pass. On this occasion, I was on an off-road vehicle, hauling a utility trailer loaded with crushed stone for trail improvement and erosion control. The fawn was browsing trail-side, oblivious to the noisy putter and approaching vehicle. I happened to have the camera around my neck and, when I shut the machine off, the fawn’s curiosity gave me a nice photo op. This young white-tail is about seven weeks old.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Mid Summer Nectaring

Fritillaries on Milkweed

Fritillary on Milkweed

Fritillary on Monarda

Tiger Swallowtail on Day Lily

Tiger Swallowtail on Day Lily

Photos by NB Hunter 20July2015. All Rights Reserved.

Foraging Bunny

A very young Cottontail rabbit – about the size of my coffee cup – has been living and foraging near my firewood pile and thicket at the far edge of the yard. After bumping into one another for a couple of weeks, I finally decided it was time for a formal introduction and portraits. The observations and photos gave me a good lesson in the feeding behavior of a youngster that hasn’t been out of the nest all that long. It was a weed-eating machine!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wildflowers: Summer Pinks

Early summer walks invariably lead me to summer pink: pinkish wildflowers in full bloom. Many are alien and occur in abundance along roadsides and waste places, but some are native, with specialized site requirements.

Herb-Robert; a native Geranium; moist, rocky woodland sites

Everlasting Pea; alien; roadsides

Wild Basil

Swamp Milkweed; locally common around wetland habitats

Swamp Milkweed

Musk Mallow; common weed

Queen-of-the-Prairie on the edge of a cattail marsh; a rare occurrence in the Northeast; native to the central and east-central part of the U.S.; wetlands; threatened or endangered status in 6 states where native.

Tiger Swallowtail on Knapweed

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Green Heron in Morning Light

The universal challenges of distance and light can be especially difficult when photographing wetland wildlife on foot. Moving to a better position to close the gap or improve the lighting is usually not an option. When I find myself in this predicament, which is often, I usually try to make the most of it. I hope for something good, but expect nothing.

Such was the case with this Green Heron, discovered while walking along the edge of a swampy pond in order to set up for a muskrat photo.

Little Green Heron in bright morning light

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Colorful Summer “Weeds”

When searching for subjects to photograph in the summer months, the colorful wildflowers (weeds?!) in cultivated fields and edge habitats are rarely a priority. However, sometimes a scene materializes that simply cannot be ignored. These opportunities often arise when I’m en route, walking or driving to and from a favorite wetland.

Mosaic of field crops and weeds adjacent to the Chenango Canal: corn, wild Black Mustard in full bloom, vegetable crops and grain

Cabbage White butterfly on wild Black Mustard

A “skipper” butterfly on Bird-foot-trefoil

Sulphur butterfly on Chicory

Sulphur butterfly on thistle

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wetlands: Like a Box of Chocolates

My early summer haunts are mostly wetlands: swampy places, vernal pools, undeveloped canals and small ponds.

Cattails, lilies and swarming insects at the edge of a Leland Pond swamp

These habitats are indeed like a box of chocolates. I never know for sure what I’ll find, and each experience is uniquely rewarding.

One of the more common predators in wetlands and sluggish waters: the Snapping Turtle. This one was foraging in the quiet, weed-choked waters of the Chenango Canal and is heading for shallow water near shore (and me).

A snapper basking in the midday sun along the edge of a farm pond; MSC Equine Rehabilitation Center

Family of Wood Ducks, adult female and young; Chenango Canal

I travel light and walk and stalk a lot, but also stop and get comfortable when things are slow. Detailed landscapes in the foreground then become the center of attention.

Fragrant Water Lily and damselfly (Bluet)

Green Frog in a tiny, seasonal pool

Swamp Milkweed on the edge of a cattail marsh

Following up on a tip from a former student, a midday excursion to a small pond at the Morrisville State College Equine Rehabilitation Center provided me with a rare opportunity to observe the foraging behavior of a Green Heron. Small fish, frogs and tadpoles are dietary staples; in this instance, tadpoles (probably Bull Frog) were the main target.

A happy heron, with fresh tadpole for lunch

Common Elderberry, approaching full bloom; thrives in open, moist habitats

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.