Harbingers of Spring (2017)

The Red-winged blackbirds arrived here several days ago and are now staking out territories. This male has settled in one of my favorite wetlands – a cattail marsh.

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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Scanning the Stubble

Certain that the arrival of cold, wind and snow would lead to sightings of migrating snow geese in fields, I’ve kept a watchful eye on proven habitats: harvested corn fields. Crows, Canada geese and barren landscapes have been the rule; no snow geese to date.

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Crows in the stubble

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Wild Canada geese on a dairy farm

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Pasture tree in a storm

Photos by NB Hunter. ©All Rights Reserved.

Flying High

I walk for wellness but this morning I came home with a stiff neck! I watched wave after wave of geese flying high and with purpose, all moving in a northerly direction. Three or four thousand birds passed overhead in an hour, many of them so high they were more easily heard than seen, dark specs strung out across the puffy white clouds.

Some flocks were Canada Geese…

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while others were Snow Geese.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Ice on Moss 2017

Spring water splashing and freezing over moss-covered rocks creates one of my favorite winter macros. I often photograph the same site, knowing that these are incredibly dynamic landscapes that never repeat. They’re also fleeting. I had hoped to do more with this particular formation but the next day found nothing but melting snow and rushing water – no ice.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Highlights, Feb. 2017

Most of our snow will be gone by the end of the week. There will be more, but I feel the need to post these wonderful winter snow scenes while they’re still fresh in my memory!

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Harvested corn field in winter

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Eastern Wild Turkey foraging for waste grain

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Spring-fed stream and geese, with a mature oak tree in the center

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Groundhog emerging from hibernation, 20Feb2017

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Woodland trail after a heavy, wet snow

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Young whitetail doe

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Small woodland stream, framed by mature hemlocks and sugar maples

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Mourning doves taking flight

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Woodland trail in sunshine and shadow

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A shed deer antler exposed by melting snow

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Starlings

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So, why feature a European species in consecutive posts, a species considered by many to be an invasive nuisance? I guess because I have the means, opportunity and motive. Even though they number in the millions (all originating from 100 birds released in New York City in the 1890s), this is the first time that I’ve seen starlings at the feeders for any length of time. And, to quote Cornell’s All About Birds fact sheet, “…they’re still dazzling birds when you get a good look”!

The aesthetic appeal of a starling lies in the striking contrast created by white-tipped, black feathers – the winter plumage.

 

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Most of the white spots will be gone by the summer breeding season, a phenomenon referred to as “wear molting”. The spotted feathers aren’t replaced, the white tips simply wear off.

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Starlings can be aggressive and sometimes compete with native birds for cavity nest sites. In this instance, they met their match: a Red-bellied Woodpecker fended off three starlings (one above, out of the frame) for feeding rights to a block of suet.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

After the Storm

A bright, sunny Valentine’s Day arrived after our latest snowstorm. More snow was on the way, so I had a brief window of opportunity to capture the beauty of a snow-covered landscape in sunshine and shadow.

My search ended with this scene, a small stream meandering through a swampy wetland. Unfortunately, the image is incomplete: I couldn’t capture the surreal peace and calm associated with this beautiful place.

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Photo by NB Hunter.© All Rights Reserved.