A Winter Wonderland in January, 2019

Snowstorms, wind and bitter cold can greatly reduce wildlife sightings in our winter landscapes. Wildlife numbers reach an annual low, most surface waters freeze, and  animals conserve energy by moving less and living in sheltered habitats. Adding to the difficulty of wildlife viewing in winter is the ethical constraint that demands minimum disturbance of animals that are trying to survive four or five months of resource scarcity.

Sometimes I respond to the challenges of winter by photographing wildlife around backyard feeders, then shifting my focus to landscapes when out and about. Such was the case most of this month.

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Wave ice on a partially frozen pond

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The peace, quiet and virgin landscape that follow a heavy snow create the illusion of  the isolation and solitude associated with a wildland journey

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With the right perspective, blue skies dress up surface waters, adding color to otherwise monochromatic scenes

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Over time, spring water seeping and freezing over a limestone rock face takes on a life of its own

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A favorite cattail marsh, the tussocks accented with a blanket of deep, fluffy snow

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A small, nondescript creek morphs into a thing of beauty when buried in snow

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The visual effects of subzero temperatures and morning sun on local waters

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Dense vegetation along a fence row, performing double duty: wildlife habitat and wind reduction; these are drifts on the lee side (1 of 2 images)

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Powdery snow, blown and drifted across corn stubble on the lee side of a brushy fence row

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The sentinel: An old, battered sugar maple tree that refuses to concede to wind, snow, ice, salt and grazing cattle. She still sparkles in a coating of frost.

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

 

 

Ice on Moss 2017

Spring water splashing and freezing over moss-covered rocks creates one of my favorite winter macros. I often photograph the same site, knowing that these are incredibly dynamic landscapes that never repeat. They’re also fleeting. I had hoped to do more with this particular formation but the next day found nothing but melting snow and rushing water – no ice.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Random Images of an Icy Spring

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Balsam Fir on a cold, snowy morning

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House Finch

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Cottontail in a cold rain, looking for supplemental feed; nest somewhere nearby

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Cottontail response to the rising sun: retreat cover

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Goldfinches, molting into their breeding plumage

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Frozen Beauty in Macro

An icy, water-drenched scene at the base of a tiny waterfalls interrupted my morning stroll. It was a bright and cheery little landscape, created by the mist and spray of a small stream tumbling out of a drainage culvert and splashing against rocks.

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I deviated from my morning routine for several days, pausing to observe and photograph the development and aging of this miniature phenomenon. One rock in particular, covered in moss and bead-like ice crystals, became the subject of interest.

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Viewed closely, the ice formations revealed dynamic patterns invisible to the naked eye. Crystal size, shape and color were in a constant state of flux; even with a burst of shots, no two images were identical.

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This post was fun, and the discovery of skulls, zombies, selfies, dragons and other mysterious things under the magnification of camera lens and transparent ice crystals was an added bonus. But, I was also mindful of the deeper, global meaning of the scene.  The key ingredients in the ice-art recipe — bare ground, exposed rocks, running water — were present because of the record-breaking warmth of this winter. I don’t ever recall scenes like this, in early February, during my 30 years in the snow belt.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.