June: Something for Everyone!

The month of June bridges seasons and showcases the best of two worlds – Spring and Summer. There’s a surprise around every turn that appeals to our senses of beauty and wonder and connects us to the natural world.

My journey through this wonderful month always begins with a camping trip to the Deep Valleys Section of the Allegheny Plateau. An annual renewal of mind, body and spirit begins in this place, where largely forested watersheds and deep, shaded valleys spawn cold springs and freestone streams and a delicious sense of wildness.

Pink Mountain Azalea usually greets us on the approach to our destination.

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul” – John Muir

Unspoiled, forested watersheds – a threatened natural resource to be sure – support diverse aquatic ecosystems that include mayflies and the wild trout that devour them. In these settings, catch and release fly fishing provides Zen-like experiences where one is completely absorbed in the moment.

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in” – Henry David Thoreau

The appeal of small, mountain streams is much more than the drag-free drift of a dry fly and the explosion of a fooled trout. The sights and sounds that envelop and animate these environments enrich and complete the overall experience.

Great Blue Heron foraging in a wetland habitat

A Fisher, our largest member of the weasel family, hunting squirrels in the early morning hours

Upon returning home, I’m still surrounded by the myriad wild things and events that make June so special. But, there’s also a backdrop of civilization and the constant reminder of its profound impact on the natural world.

A Catbird guarding her nest in a nearby thicket.

Tree Swallow at the entrance to her nest, guarding the helpless babies

A young Cottontail from the first litter of the year, looking all grown up

Cultivated farm fields bustle with activity in June. Fields of corn, hay and oats dominate the landscape and animals adapt quickly to the cycles of planting, growth and harvesting.

A whitetail family group foraging in a hay field. The fawns are no more than three weeks old and facing the steep learning curve that is critical for their survival.

A mature doe in uncut hay; her fawns are invisible in the tall grass.

Young animals are vulnerable to the operation of big farm machinery in fields, as well as predation and other mortality factors. However, A carcass in a recently cut hay field doesn’t go to waste. In this instance, several crows and an immature Bald Eagle made sure of that.

We met, eye to eye, on a recent summer evening. While walking along the edge of a developing corn field to set up for pictures, I surprised two antlered bucks munching on the succulent new growth of corn stalks. A mature whitetail buck in velvet is a beautiful thing!

“An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity, but great fulfillment.” – David Attenborough

Photos by NB Hunter (June 1 – June 28, 2020). © All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Farm Fields and Wildlife

An unusually warm and sunny September has lured me to local farms to watch and photograph wildlife. I have to share a few of the highlights from recent trips.

Sulphur butterfly on Teasel

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Young buck, blinded by the late afternoon sun, relying instead on his nose and ears to evaluate my presence.

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The difference between an adolescent, yearling buck and a mature, 4 1/2-year-old breeder can’t be fully appreciated until they’re seen in the same frame!

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An adult doe and her fawn. The first of several deer hunting seasons opens on October 1 and the fawns will have lost most/all of their spots by then.

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Three white-tail secrets for beating the survival odds:

1 — stay in the shadows

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2—never let your guard down

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3—-and, when all else fails, run like the wind!

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A hen turkey and her small flock of youngsters foraging on seeds and insects. They have incredible eyesight but lack a deer’s curiosity and tolerance of humans; in other words, they’re unapproachable! This mother hen knew something wasn’t right, but chose not to sound the alarm and run…totally out of character!

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“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”   – Steve Irwin

September sunset

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

White-tails in Summer

It seems to be much too hot to do this but in the world of White-tailed Deer life goes on; business as usual. I’m sitting in a fence row, my back to a large old Sugar Maple tree. A strip of camouflage burlap draped over a line of parachute cord provides cover. I’m downwind of a huge dairy farm and the powerful aroma of liquid cow manure masks my scent. In this setting, my only predatory weakness is the annoying click of the shutter of my camera. On a quiet evening, with deer in close, it sounds like a chainsaw.

I’m watching a field of cut hay, hoping to see deer and other wildlife; would love to have a close encounter with a fox or coyote.

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Young doe approaching a mature doe and her fawn; submissive posture

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Yearling buck in velvet

Photos by NB Hunter. 22July2016 © All Rights Reserved.