Avian Scavengers

Last week a friend told me about a road-killed deer in a field, visible and accessible from a secondary road. A mature bald eagle, crows, vultures and coyotes were feeding on the carcass at one time or another, so I visited the site hoping to capture some scavengers at work.

On the first trip, a dense fog limited visibility but the chatter of crows around the carcass gave me the approximate location.

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The next day was clear and bright and by mid morning the site was a chaotic scene of swirling vultures and noisy crows, about 10 birds in all.

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There was obviously a hierarchy among the vultures because some were forced off the carcass or to the fringe to wait their turn.

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There are nearly one million deer in New York state and large numbers of deer inhabit heavily populated areas, so deer-vehicle collisions are a routine occurrence. 70,000 to 80,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur annually (and that is just the number reported as insurance claims). Property damage averages several thousand dollars per incident.

Photos by NB Hunter. All Rights Reserved.

 

Asters and Goldenrods

Leaves falling, geese honking overhead, frost in the air, deer hunting season around the corner; time for one last colorful meadow story before moving on and embracing autumn.

The aster bloom, a wonderful palette of white, blue, lavender and purple, follows the goldenrod bloom, with just enough overlap to create a memorable finale to the wildflower season…..

The September bloom, brilliant when the sun is just right, frames idle nest boxes,

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Fuels late season butterflies,

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A “Comma”, one of the anglewing group of butterflies

Hides a fawn,

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And its alert mother as well!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Farm Fields and Wildlife

An unusually warm and sunny September has lured me to local farms to watch and photograph wildlife. I have to share a few of the highlights from recent trips.

Sulphur butterfly on Teasel

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Young buck, blinded by the late afternoon sun, relying instead on his nose and ears to evaluate my presence.

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The difference between an adolescent, yearling buck and a mature, 4 1/2-year-old breeder can’t be fully appreciated until they’re seen in the same frame!

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An adult doe and her fawn. The first of several deer hunting seasons opens on October 1 and the fawns will have lost most/all of their spots by then.

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Three white-tail secrets for beating the survival odds:

1 — stay in the shadows

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2—never let your guard down

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3—-and, when all else fails, run like the wind!

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A hen turkey and her small flock of youngsters foraging on seeds and insects. They have incredible eyesight but lack a deer’s curiosity and tolerance of humans; in other words, they’re unapproachable! This mother hen knew something wasn’t right, but chose not to sound the alarm and run…totally out of character!

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“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”   – Steve Irwin

September sunset

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Meadows on Fire: Monarchs and Goldenrods

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Many of the goldenrods are going to seed now and temperatures are falling 20 – 30 degrees at night. Fall is arriving .. and butterfly season is coming to an end. Monarch sightings in September are now a special treat. Warm, sunny afternoons find them nectaring with a purpose and sense of urgency, fluttering from flower to flower, goldenrod to aster, in a fast-paced and unpredictable manner.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Mature White-tail Bucks

Deer are plentiful, a serious nuisance in many suburbs. However, mature bucks in their prime are uncommon and tend to be nocturnal. They are my new project. Following a lead on  sightings of a 4 to 5 year-old trophy, I investigated his territory last night to explore my options. I spooked does on my way in and was snorted at by a doe 10 meters behind me while hiding in the goldenrods.

I saw no antlered bucks and decided to capture the sunset before leaving.

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While reaching for my gear I saw movement in the dim light, apparently a deer at the edge of the hay field, about 150 meters away. It was the big guy!

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His antlers were surprisingly free of velvet and will now be polished in advance of the November rut.

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From my point of view, there’s much work to be done. Game on!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.