Formerly a Professor of Enviromental Sciences at Morrisville State College in New York State, I retired to pursue interests in outdoor activities such as natural area management, hiking, hunting, fly fishing, nature study and outdoor photography. I chose to blog as a means of networking and sharing my passion for the natural world with kindred spirits.
The status of knapweeds (Centaurea spp.) as invasive species is very interesting and widely documented. However, it’s a topic that I’ve chosen to bypass in order to feature some of the many pollinators that swarm the knapweed bloom in the hot, muggy days of summer. I mow (brush hog) several sites once a year in order to arrest succession and maintain herbaceous habitat for wildlife. Grasses, goldenrods and knapweed dominate these managed openings. The knapweed bloom precedes the goldenrod bloom and appears to fill a void in the natural sources of nectar for pollinators.
Walking on a woodland trail in Spring is magical, especially in the month of May when hundreds of millions of birds are migrating. Early morning is the best time, and I’ve decided to share a few images from Central New York that illustrate my point!
We were blessed with a vivid rainbow on the last day of Winter, 2022. I was a little late to the party, but managed to catch the remaining half of the bow behind one of the large Red Oak trees at the edge of the property. Enjoy!
Photo by NB Hunter (19Mar2022). All Rights Reserved.
Late fall and winter are really good times to observe and photograph whitetails. During the autumn rut, deer are active throughout the day, often preoccupied and reckless. In winter, the availability of food declines sharply, forcing deer to throw caution to the wind and feed whenever and wherever they can. They’re apt to forage in broad daylight and in close proximity to humans.
“If we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the ordinary, we begin to see that all things are extraordinary” – Dean Koontz
When winter birding in the snow belt, observing backyard bird feeding stations is often more enjoyable, and more productive, than fighting cold temperatures and blowing snow. Several well-spaced feeding sites, maintained with grain, Niger seed and suet cakes, attract dozens of birds throughout the day. Early morning, mid day and mid afternoon are prime times and feeding always intensifies when the snow is falling. These are some of my favorite captures from January to the present (since my last post on the subject).
This winter season in the snow belt has been very unusual, with little to no snow cover. We must be a couple of feet below normal. Snow is finally arriving, but I must back pedal to January and February 2021, to tell this story.
Much of my winter bird photography occurs around the house and along adjacent trails in managed wildlife habitat.
The Central New York region has a rich variety of natural areas and bird life, so there is much to see beyond the backyard. Weekly excursions on the back roads that crisscross rural areas and wetlands can be a challenging, but rewarding, winter activity. Nesting eagles and visitors from the far North – especially snowy owls and snow buntings – are always subjects of interest.
Rarely do all of the stars align, literally and figuratively, as they did around 4:00 AM, EST, last night.
In Central New York, cloudy skies usually hide major celestial events, but, last night was the exception. As if on cue for connoisseurs of astrological phenomena, a clear, pitch-black sky revealed brilliant, sparkling stars overhead, with an amazing event unfolding in their midst: the longest partial eclipse and blood moon in 580 years!
At its peak, the spectacle was fleeting, less than 30 minutes to be sure, but the image of the night sky of November 19, 2021 appears in great detail every time I close my eyes.
Photo by NB Hunter, 19Nov2019 @ 3:45 AM, EST. All Rights Reserved.
The wildflower sequence of bloom in summer meadows is a daily reminder of the wonders of nature and, as Muir said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”.
This gallery of favorites features a Monarch caterpillar on milkweed and butterflies on knapweed, Joe-pye Weed and goldenrod. The bookends are a bumblebee on goldenrod and New England Aster.
Every now and then a Great Egret wanders into my viewing area in Central New York during the late summer/early fall migration. We are blessed with abundant surface waters and wetlands, ideal habitats for wading birds like herons and egrets. This year, a solitary egret chose the shallow waters and wetland habitats of a small mill pond to feed and rest. I set up in the morning light to observe and photograph this beautiful bird behaving naturally and must share the story. The gallery is a rough sequence of events as the egret left a log perch to hunt and forage in shallow water. It relocated once, hence the flight sequence. Enjoy!