The 2016 Winter solstice, in the Northern Hemisphere, will be at 5:44 AM on Wednesday, December 21st. To many people, that means winter is just beginning. To a wildlife photographer, it also means we’re going to have a couple additional minutes of sunlight added to each day.
Those couple minutes add up quickly and soon I’ll be able to photograph after work again and not be forced to wait until the weekend. With the 2016 autumn coming to an end, I thought I better share some of the photographs I’ve made in the last couple months. Once again, it’s kind of a catch-all photo blog because wildlife is too special to not be shared.
When the Crab Apple is ripe in October my backyard is flooded with birds taking their turn to pick the tart treat. There are a lot of American Robins but I really like photographing the Cedar Waxwings.
One day this year we had about 100 little beauties in the trees. They took turns going to the Crab Apple tree.
Here are a couple waxwings sitting on a rock near my backyard fish pond.
Time for a drink.
Here is a short video compilation of the activity in my back yard.
One blustery, cold morning I was at Moraine State Park when I saw a small flock of Hooded Mergansers floating near the shoreline. I slowly made my way toward the shore while keeping trees between me and the ducks. Hooded Mergansers seem to be frightened very easily so I wasn't surprised when they all took off out over the lake. I walked along the woods to a picnic table where I sat up on the edge of the bench a couple feet from the shore. As I sat there watching a few gulls fishing in the distance, this male Hooded Merganser swam out of the wooded shoreline and headed toward me.
Thrush's are usually a difficult bird to find but this fall I saw several Hermit Thrush. This one was found in a wild grape vine.
Hermit Thrush enjoying the fruits of the wild. Hermit Thrush
Most of the time I see Gray Squirrels busy doing something from finding nuts to breaking open nuts to burying nuts in the ground. I seldom see them at rest.
The Brown Creeper climbs trees from bottom to top, in a circular motion, looking for insects in small crevices. If you think about it, nature is amazing. A nuthatch does the same thing except in the opposite direction. They circle the tree from top to bottom. Between the two, they find insects that the other misses because of their direction.
The Blue Jay is one of the loudest and most boisterous birds in the forest. This one was making his presence known.
The Field Sparrow has to be one of the cutest little birds in the sparrow family.
We have to wait until autumn to find a White-throated Sparrow. When they come, they come in large flocks.
Even though the Yellow-rumped Warbler loses most of its beautiful colors during the summer, there are still enough left for an easy identification.
I was watching a small herd of White-tailed Deer when this doe's attention was diverted by a nearby noise. She began to flag her tail before running over the hill.
Here is a small family of Sandhill Crane. Young Sandhill Crane have dark eyes and as they get older, their eyes become yellow-orange to scarlet.
A youngster is leading the flock on this tight takeoff.
The Ring-necked Pheasant is not native to Pennsylvania although they are a popular game bird. It's always a treat to find one that doesn't run off into the dense weeds.
Wish I had this crowing male on video but I don't. Maybe next time.
There was a second male with a longer tail but he stayed hidden most of the time.
I hope you enjoyed viewing the photos in this blog posting as much as I enjoyed making them.
For the second year in a row, I was fortunate to spend a few days photographing America’s national bird, the majestic Bald Eagle, during migration at Conowingo Dam in Darlington, Maryland. I am working on a photo blog to share my experiences and photographs so keep checking back, watch for an email or Facebook notification after it’s published.
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Thanks for looking,