Happy Thanksgiving 2019!

When winter weather and deep snow cover arrive, chipmunks retreat to their burrows and cached food and more or less disappear from the landscape (they’re not true hibernators). This year, mild weather and the absence of continuous snow cover have kept them above ground, foraging and storing food later than normal. Chippies are a joy to watch and just one of the many things I’m thankful for at Thanksgiving.

Photos by NB Hunter (Nov., 2019). © All rights reserved.

Nest Building – Chipmunk Style

A natural landscape – one with a chemical-free lawn, stone walls, brush piles and weedy edges – provides habitat for a surprising array of wildlife species. Add bird feeders to the mix and the response from seed-eating animals can be overwhelming. The Eastern Chipmunk is one such critter. Stone walls become condos and dirt-free entrances to burrows, tunnel systems and nesting chambers seem to appear overnight.

Despite decades of observing chipmunks underfoot, I was unfamiliar with nest-building  behavior until April of this year. A chipmunk popped up from a tunnel entrance in the lawn, checked for threats, then scurried a few feet and picked up a dried oak leaf that had persisted through the winter.

Ok – now what? That leaf is difficult to carry and too big for the tunnel. Of course – chew it up and use the cheek pouches for storage and transport!

The oak leaf project was repeated over and over again. The shredded leaves appeared to be the primary nest-building material and I assumed the work would be done when the last shredded leaf made its way into the tunnel.

I was wrong. Should have known. Shredded oak leaves aren’t all that warm and cozy. The nest needed a liner, and the solution was soft, dried grass, literally plucked from the lawn.

Chippy spent the best part of a morning hauling leaves and grass into its hidden, underground chamber and constructing a nest….in the dark! That was several weeks ago, so I imagine the hard work is now paying dividends.

Photos by NB Hunter (early April, 2019). All rights reserved.

 

The Joy of Spring

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Skunk Cabbage leaves unfolding

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Chippy after a field trip to the bird feeder

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The female flower of a Norway Spruce tree

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Eurasian honeysuckle, an invasive shrub, in full bloom

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A mature doe reaching above my protective fencing to nibble on the new growth of a young apple tree; deer are losing their winter coats and look pretty ragged

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Morels in a maple-hemlock woodlot

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A fat and happy Red Squirrel framed in dandelion seed heads

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Osprey after an incredible 30 meter dive into the shallow water of a large pond

Gone fishing………………………………….

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Woodland Details

So many irons in the fire – fox dens, beaver lodges, blue birds, wildflowers – but so little happening! When things are slow and Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, I often resort to macros. They fill the void, capturing and illuminating unseen beauty.

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American Beech leaf, long dead but refusing to fall

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Strands of moss suspended from a fallen tree limb

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A cute and curious chippy, confused over the cold weather and its hibernation schedule

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Chipmunks and Stone Walls

Chipmunks travel, loaf and hide in and around loose stone walls. These members of the squirrel family are widely known, easily approached and plentiful, sometimes too plentiful. So, why bother to photograph them, repeatedly, through the seasons? Well, they work the camera with a repertoire of poses and looks that is seductive and limitless! I simply can’t ignore them and succumb to the cute factor.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Happy Halloween!!!

Frosty mornings, foraging critters, flaming foliage, a bright moon lighting up the night sky, corn harvesting, piles of pumpkins, scary stuff…..yikes! There are so many choices for my photo journal and Halloween greeting from Central New York. I’ll present these fresh images, for no particular rhyme or reason. It just feels good!

Hunters’ Moon, early evening; 26Oct2015

Farmer and his truck, both a little tired

American Beech on fire, over a background of Red Oak

A chunky chippy, pondering the challenge of getting a 10-inch pumpkin into the 2-inch entrance to its underground burrow

Hunters’ Moon, late evening; 26Oct2015

Zombie White-tail

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Harbinger of Spring: A Personal Favorite

Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Spring Peepers, ducks on open water – everyone has a favorite indicator species or event that signals the arrival of Spring.

This adorable little critter just might be my favorite.

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After hibernating for months in an elaborate underground burrow system, with an enormous cache of my bird seed for occasional snacks, Mr. Chipmunk appeared this afternoon – via a Red Squirrel snow tunnel – for the first time since late October, 2014.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Leaves and Landscapes

Recent wind, rain and falling temperatures have added a sense of urgency to my fall photography. The oaks and aspens are approaching peak foliage color, but many deciduous trees and shrubs now have a late fall, November look, i.e. bare or mostly so.

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Eastern Chipmunk caching food in its den under a pile of rotting firewood in a woodlot

I’ve created this gallery of images, past and present, in an attempt to capture and share the splendor of autumn in the Northeast.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Late Spring Highlights

Late spring is a dynamic, transitional time with seemingly endless opportunities to observe and photograph nature. There are so many things going on, all competing for attention: animals in beautiful sleek summer coats; awkward, gangly youngsters learning the ways of the world; a continuum of blooming wildflowers and woody shrubs, the latter resulting in soft mast that will nourish late-nesting and migrating birds; and of course the cold-blooded reptiles and invertebrates, responding to the warmer days that fuel their life activities. I love it all and often find myself frozen with indecision, wanting to be in dozens of different places at the same time! Anyone who has fly-fished and observed the water boiling with surface-feeding fish knows the feeling. 

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A carpet of Buttercups in full bloom on the floodplain of a small stream.

This post features some of my favorite photos from this magical time of year, roughly  the third week of June in central New York. For the most part, the photos are random shots resulting from numerous “discovery walks” where I tried to capture the full range of natural events that represent the season.

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Common Wood Sorrel

I listened to a wild turkey gobbling this morning, weeks after the prime mating and nesting season. He seemed reluctant to let go of spring and move on to the more mundane business of summer feeding and dust bathing. If that’s the case, I share his reluctance to let go, and must preserve the memories with a season-ending photo gallery.

Photos by NB Hunter. ©  All Rights Reserved.