A Winter Wonderland in January, 2019

Snowstorms, wind and bitter cold can greatly reduce wildlife sightings in our winter landscapes. Wildlife numbers reach an annual low, most surface waters freeze, and  animals conserve energy by moving less and living in sheltered habitats. Adding to the difficulty of wildlife viewing in winter is the ethical constraint that demands minimum disturbance of animals that are trying to survive four or five months of resource scarcity.

Sometimes I respond to the challenges of winter by photographing wildlife around backyard feeders, then shifting my focus to landscapes when out and about. Such was the case most of this month.

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Wave ice on a partially frozen pond

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The peace, quiet and virgin landscape that follow a heavy snow create the illusion of  the isolation and solitude associated with a wildland journey

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With the right perspective, blue skies dress up surface waters, adding color to otherwise monochromatic scenes

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Over time, spring water seeping and freezing over a limestone rock face takes on a life of its own

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A favorite cattail marsh, the tussocks accented with a blanket of deep, fluffy snow

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A small, nondescript creek morphs into a thing of beauty when buried in snow

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The visual effects of subzero temperatures and morning sun on local waters

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Dense vegetation along a fence row, performing double duty: wildlife habitat and wind reduction; these are drifts on the lee side (1 of 2 images)

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Powdery snow, blown and drifted across corn stubble on the lee side of a brushy fence row

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The sentinel: An old, battered sugar maple tree that refuses to concede to wind, snow, ice, salt and grazing cattle. She still sparkles in a coating of frost.

Photos by NB Hunter (January, 2019). © All rights reserved.

 

 

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Holiday Greetings from Central New York

Wetland in late evening; 2Nov2018

A mink, busy hunting frogs in a nearby stream and caching them in a den under tree roots; 2Nov2018

Winter arrives early, triggering a frantic search for recently buried red oak acorns; 15Nov2018

A wintry scene on the river; 23Nov2018

Shallow ponds are freezing quickly, leaving little open water for foraging muskrats; 28Nov2018

The main whitetail rut is winding down, but not over;  he’s tending an estrous doe; 29Nov2018

Eagles weathering the storm, with a watchful eye on ice-free surface water; 7Dec2018

After the storm: a red-bellied woodpecker probes dead wood high in the crown of a declining sugar maple; 9Dec2018

Photos by NB Hunter. © All rights reserved.

Happy Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day with images from April, 2018.

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Starlings searching for spilled grain on an active farm

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Mallard at rest on a wintry spring day

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Ring-billed Gull foraging in a flooded field

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Mature whitetail after a long, cold rain

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Turkey Vulture cleaning up a road-kill

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White-throated Sparrow with a kernel of corn

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Breeding Wood Frog in a vernal pool – today – a month behind schedule

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Wild turkey (a young gobbler or “jake”)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Melting Ice and Snow

Early Spring means melting snow and exposed fields, melting ice and open water. Wild animals, many struggling to survive, seize the opportunity to feed and recover. Others continue their journey northward as habitats and food sources become available. Photographers are also recovering and more mobile. After months of donning multiple layers, feeding the wood stove and hunkering down in storms, seeing winter in the rear-view mirror is a joyous occasion!

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Melt water enhancing a small stream and waterfalls in the hills

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Gull foraging in puddled melt water in a harvested corn field

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A pair of Wood Ducks at rest in a temporary pond (same as above)

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Canada Goose  heading for its nesting territory in a cattail marsh

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Canada geese at rest

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Great Blue Heron silhouette, one of two flying northward

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Open water in lakes and ponds means Osprey can go fishing!

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Large numbers of hungry deer are foraging in cultivated fields; these were alarmed by a barking dog but won’t go far.

Photos by NB Hunter (March – April, 2018). © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Diving Ducks

Faced with nasty weather, I took a short road trip in search of wildlife that might be out and about in freezing rain: perhaps an insulated, waterproof species, at home in the icy water. To my surprise, that turned out to be dozens of ring-necked ducks on a local reservoir. They were feeding, sometimes diving in unison. These little ducks are always a treat, but especially so in a cold and dreary landscape.

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Photos by NB Hunter (3April2018).

Hoodies

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.

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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.

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Open wetland with seasonal water

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Hooded Merganser in a hardwood swamp

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Muskrat feeding on submerged vegetation

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

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

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

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.