Finally, after three storms and several feet of snow, the sun came out. I buckled up my snowshoes and set out to accomplish three things: pack trails for future walking and access to the property; capture some unusual, late winter scenes; and share this lovely late-winter day with friends who might be unable or unwilling to navigate waste-deep snow cover.
My woodland walk started at the house, followed a trail dating back to the construction of a small dairy farm in 1854, then looped back to the house. The adventure covered less than a mile but was nearly two hours in duration.
Home; the “1854 House”
A Wild Apple Tree
164 year-old farm trail with a packed snowshoe path in the center (1 of 3)
Chickadee feeding on White Spruce seeds in a windbreak/wildlife habitat planting (1 of 2)
Return trip down the woodland trail
Wild apple tree in snow and morning light; mission accomplished!
I often travel on personal “auto” tours to view and photograph wildlife in winter. More often than not, this is the only practical way to capture wildlife images while minimizing hardship – to photographer and wildlife alike. My loops incorporate secondary roads and parking areas near good wildlife habitat (ideally, a variety of food sources in close proximity to dense evergreen cover; sunny, south-facing slopes are critical winter habitat as well). Specific routes depend on snow depth, time of day, road conditions and so on. Valley farms are the key component of most loops.
Rough-legged Hawk hunting farm fields (my first photo of this stunning species)
Mature Eastern Wild Turkey gobbler searching for wild apple drops in a storm
Wild turkeys foraging for waste grain (corn) during a January thaw (1 of 2)
Snowy Owl at rest in corn stubble (1 of 2)
A failed Snowy Owl search – but a landscape memory for the trip home
Photos by NB Hunter (January 4 – 11, 2018). All Rights Reserved.
Significant snow hasn’t arrived yet, giving us a fleeting opportunity to appreciate the full palette of colors in late November landscapes. I love the stark contrasts and simplicity of these scenes.
I hoped to find turkeys, but this cold, dark and wintry morning found me sitting roadside, watching hundreds of geese foraging on waste grain in harvested fields. They’d probably been feeding for an hour or more so it wasn’t long before they left, en masse, to roost on a nearby reservoir. Their exit was deafening and seemingly chaotic; geese being geese.
I don’t look up as often as I should. Yesterday, in the midst of whacking away at multiflora rose invading my trail right-of-way, I received a call from a friend: “Where are you?” half mile from the house, clearing trail, trying to avoid hornets. “Do you have your camera with you?” of course, in a fanny pack. “Look up – you can thank me later!”.
Minutes later, the entire scene was gone. I never got to where I needed to be, in order to do what I wanted to do. Love the way mother nature presents and teases with these fleeting spectacles.