Mid Winter Memories

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Frozen rain drops on White Pine needles

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A curious White-breasted Nuthatch

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Female cardinal

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Chickadee

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Red Squirrel with piebald coloration (leucism)

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Farmland whitetails foraging in a storm

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A dairy farm at first light

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Snowy Owl gliding toward a late morning perch

Photos by NB Hunter (January, 2018). © All Rights Reserved.

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The Color of Winter

We have four months of winter; I enjoy three of them. The earthy colors and vivid contrasts of uncluttered winter landscapes can be very appealing, even spectacular. Winter also affords us the opportunity to observe the behavior and coping mechanisms of resident birds and mammals as they struggle to find sufficient food and cover amidst dwindling resources. The “dormant” winter season is far from static; there’s a lot going on, and much to learn. I’ll share a few winter highlights from Central New York, captured in January, 2017.

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Northern cardinal foraging for grain near a backyard feeder

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Eastern wild turkeys searching for waste grain

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Round bales on a foggy winter morning

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Black-capped chickadee in a lake-effect snow storm

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Hilltop panoramic view of farms and woodlands

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American crow foraging on waste grain

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Morning sunlight on the Chenango River 

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Red-bellied woodpecker feasting on a commercial suet block

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Sunlight and Shadow

From my earliest days fishing mountain streams, I’ve been fascinated by the effects of sunlight and shadow on a scene. Regardless of the goal, catching trout or memories, the manner in which form, color, detail and ultimately perception vary with observer position always gives me pause.

These scenes illustrate my point, explain my passion: sunlit subjects with background snow and evergreen trees in shadow.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wildlife and the Winter Sun

We have less sun than Portland and more snow than Buffalo. So, when a nice January day arrives, I work it. The golden hours at either end of the day are certainly magical, but the winter sun is low in the southern sky throughout the day, and the 9 AM – 3 PM brightness allows me to operate within the sweet spots of my camera and lens when photographing wildlife. The Black-capped Chickadees are fond of the mid-day sun as well!

Black-capped Chickadee feeding on Staghorn Sumac fruit; 23Jan2015

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Native Shrubs for Wildlife

Staghorn Sumac is a native, thicket-forming shrub that can reach the size of a small tree. The fruit is very persistent, providing a source of food for birds throughout the winter. It is more an emergency than a staple food item, habitat that sustains some species in late winter when natural food sources have been depleted or are still buried in snow. I have, for example, observed small flocks of hungry (starving) wild turkeys and flocks of returning robins feeding on sumac fruit in late February and early March.

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Black-capped Chickadee foraging on a Staghorn Sumac fruit cluster

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.