Winter: the Leading Edge

Wintry conditions have finally arrived, as have visitors to the backyard feeders. The temperature in the image is deceiving: 20 to 30 mile-per-hour gusts of wind made it feel much colder!

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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A Wintry Scene

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.

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Photos by NB Hunter (27Nov2017). © All Rights Reserved.

Rutting Whitetails

The November rut is an exciting time for deer enthusiasts! It is a time when the wise  expect the unexpected: deer running and crashing through the woods; testosterone-driven bucks moving erratically, unaware of their surroundings (including highway traffic); mature bucks, invisible for most of their adult lives, moving about at all hours of the day and night. Breeding activity, specifically the chasing and tending phases, appears to have peaked last week. We’ll see the results in about 200 days – when the fawns arrive.

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Yearling buck searching for does on a frosty November morning

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Young buck coursing through the woods, searching for a doe

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2 1/2 year old buck scent-marking his territorial ground scrape

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Same buck “tending” a receptive doe during her 24 hour estrous (site is a fenced pasture)

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She might be at the end of her cycle because he didn’t breed her…

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Instead, his attention was diverted by the sight/smell of does entering a nearby field

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This guy is busy, with little time to eat! No wonder a buck can lose 25% of its body weight during the rut, especially when there are too many does in the herd

Photos by NB Hunter (early November, 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

 

October Memories

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

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

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

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The Harvest Moon reminded all of the landscape overhead

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Harvested fields were crowded with hungry geese

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

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

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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!

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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.

 

Monarchs in Motion

Warm sunny days are fueling carpets of wildflowers in abandoned fields. Nectaring butterflies – monarchs, painted ladys and others – complete the scene as they dart, flutter and glide about in a continuous and purposeful manner. It all seems right. And September is a wonderful time of year to be alive.

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