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

Gull12Apr18#2322E2c5x7

Ring-billed Gull foraging in a flooded field

Deer19Apr18#2569E2c5x7

Mature whitetail after a long, cold rain

Vulture19Apr18#2615E2c8x10

Turkey Vulture cleaning up a road-kill

WTSparrow19Apr18#2666E3c8x10

White-throated Sparrow with a kernel of corn

WoodFrog22Apr18#2752E2c5x7

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

TurksGobbler21Apr18#2735E5c8x10

Wild turkey (a young gobbler or “jake”)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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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)

Goose13Apr18#2375E2c5x7

Canada Goose  heading for its nesting territory in a cattail marsh

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Canada geese at rest

GBHeron13Apr18#2411E2c8x10

Great Blue Heron silhouette, one of two flying northward

Osprey14Apr18#2462E2c4x6

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

Deer12Apr18#2367E2c4x6

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

Hoodie6Mar18#0150E2c5x7

Hooded Merganser in a hardwood swamp

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Muskrat feeding on submerged vegetation

SwampGeese9Mar18#0586E2c4x6

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

Muskrat9Mar18#0616E5c5x7

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

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Woodies6Mar18#0073E21c4x6

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

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron Anomaly

Wind chill temperatures have been below zero. The weather forecast predicts a week of daytime temperatures below 20 degrees (F) and bitterly cold nights. It’s Winter, surface waters are freezing and Great Blue Herons are supposed to have left most of New York State for warmer, more hospitable places.

I discovered this bird this morning, perched in the sun on the edge of a small, spring-fed pool. I quickly photographed it from my truck and left. It had to be stressed by the loss of foraging habitat to ice and I didn’t want to compound the problem. Would love to know the rest of the story.

Note: the light brown fluff in the upper part of the heron image is an out-of-focus plant, not abnormal plumage.

GBHeron26Dec17#6862E2c5x7

Photo by NB Hunter (12/26/2017). © All Rights Reserved.

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October Memories

Sunrise22Sept17#4006E2c8x10

Wisps of clouds and soft colors defined a warm and peaceful sunrise

LeavesFrogs10Oct17#4715E2c5x7

Natural rhythms were interrupted by unusually warm, dry and erratic weather patterns

LeafSpring10Oct17#4724E2c5x7

Early leaf drop and muted colors in woodlands shifted attention to the landscape underfoot

MoonHarvest7Oct17#4533E5c8x10

The Harvest Moon reminded all of the landscape overhead

GeeseGulls17Oct17#4865E2c4x6

Harvested fields were crowded with hungry geese

GeeseGulls17Oct17#4820E2c8x10

Gulls as well as geese foraged in dense, low fog on cold mornings

CanalRdPond24Oct17#5404E2c4x6

Searches for fall landscapes led to familiar haunts, like the old mill pond

BeaverMale19Oct17#5293E5c8x10

Driven more by photoperiod than the tricky warm weather, a mature male beaver prepared for winter by harvesting an aspen tree and stashing branches at the family lodge

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Staghorn Sumac was on fire!

ChickenOfTheWoods28Oct17#5590E5c5x7

A large ash tree, dead for many years, returned to life. An impressive mass of “Chicken-of-the woods” fungus fruited on the base of the snag and lit up a drab woodland scene.

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October reflections

Photos by NB Hunter (October 2017). © All Rights Reserved.