Early Spring Wildlife

May 22, 2016  •  5 Comments

Most of my photo blogs have themes like a destination or a specific species of wildlife.  Sometimes, I have a lot of photographs that don't fit into a blog I'm writing at the time, so I save them.  I don't want to simply stick the photos into my galleries where they may never be seen so when the time comes, I combine many images together and share them in a blog that shows you a little bit of many subjects.

This is one of those blogs.  April and May gave me some great photo opportunities and I wanted to share the memories with everyone who loves wildlife.

While photographing waterfowl in early April I got many chances to photograph Muskrats.  Most of the Muskrats I see swimming are nearly underwater so they don't provide a very good subject.  This one was swimming pretty quickly keeping it a little higher in the water.  I thought this photo was pretty cool because of the way it is plowing the water.



Blue Jays are a pretty common bird but I find them difficult to photograph.  They move fast and they seem to be a bit jumpy.  So I must click the shutter when I find a cooperative one.

Blue JayBlue Jay


The Horned Lark is a bird that I have not been able to get a great photo.  I still don't have a great photo but this is my best to date.  They are best found in the fields in early spring, especially after the farmers spread manure.  You can see the tufts of feathers on their head that gives them their name.

Horned LarkHorned LarkMale


I knew if I looked hard enough I would find a female Horned Lark.

Horned LarkHorned LarkFemale


The American Pipit winters in our southern states and Mexico and breeds in arctic and alpine tundra.  During migration and winter, they can be found on coastal beaches and marshes, stubble fields, recently plowed fields, mudflats, and river courses.  I was happy to find this lifer in farm fields of Mercer County, PA.

American PipitAmerican Pipit


The Northern Cardinal, what can I say.  They definitely don't blend in well with their surroundings unless they are hanging out in a red flowering shrub.  Every morning and evening, when I go outside, I hear the males and female cardinals chirping as they search for insects in the trees.

Northern CardinalNorthern Cardinal


In early April, we had a warm spell followed by a very cold spell.  During that cold spell, I visited Geneva Swamp followed by Pymatuning State Park in western Pennsylvania.  While sitting at the swamp, I found this Savannah Sparrow rummaging through the ice for something to eat.

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow


As I arrived at a place called Miller's Pond in Pymatuning, I found several Wilson's Snipe along the road stabbing their beaks into the snow searching for what else, food.  This is a harsh reminder that wildlife cannot go to a grocery store and get whatever they want when they are hungry.  The next time you feel like you want to be mean to an animal, think about the struggles they already endure.  They don't need you making their life even more difficult.

Wilson's SnipeWilson's Snipe


Here is a short video of the Wilson's Snipe I made through the window of my vehicle.


I began this photo blog with a photo of a Musrkat scurrying across the surface of the water in a marsh.  As the sun climbed higher above the horizon and warmed the landscape, I made this video of a sleepy Muskrat.

Muskrat Dozing In the Sun


Although it wasn't making any noise, this Bull Frog was keeping its eyes on me.

Bull FrogBull Frog


During a vacation day from work, I drove west to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Brecksville, Ohio.  While standing along the creek watching a Bald Eagle nest on the other side, a couple Northern Flickers appeared in a tree between me and the eagles.  I thought it was nice to get two flickers in the same image.  By the way, the easiest way to differentiate the male from the female is the male has a black mustache.  Therefore, the male is on the left.

Northern FlickerNorthern FlickerMale & Female


Looks like a little teasing was going on as the male sticks his tongue out at the female.  Hey, it is spring!

Northern FlickerNorthern FlickerMale & Female


Once again, I didn't get an opportunity to photograph a spring gobbler in full display.  I guess I'm looking in the wrong places.  I did find these guys meandering through a cut corn field.

Wild TurkeyWild Turkey


As the migrant songbirds slowly began to come back north, I happened upon a different kind of migrant; a Solitary Sandpiper.  After wintering in Central America and most of South America, they migrate through Pennsylvania, on their way to Canada where they spend the summer and breed.  I found this one all alone, in a small creek, in Pennsylvania State Game Land 95 - The Glades.  What are the chances?

Solitary SandpiperSolitary Sandpiper


You didn't think I could forget the female Northern Cardinal, did you?  Although they are not brilliant red like the male, they have a beauty all their own.

Northern CardinalNorthern CardinalFemale


I don't know about where you live, but in Pennsylvania, the Canada Goose makes a home in almost every lake, pond, or marsh it finds.  Here is a pair swimming alone in the Glades.

Canada GooseCanada Goose


One morning, I was driving past a crabapple orchard and saw one of the resident Northern Mockingbirds that I see nearly every time I drive down the road.  On this morning, it was so busy hunting for the tiny insects hidden under the leaves, it barely noticed me.  I was able to get a few shots in good light.

Northern MockingbirdNorthern Mockingbird

Well, that wraps up this photo blog.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and check back soon for more stories from the field.

Thanks for looking,



Excellent images (as usual) along with the ability to tell the story!
Thanks for what you do, Dan.
June Lucas(non-registered)
Dan, I've exhausted my supply of superlative! Love your work.
Thanks for sharing; great photographs!
Ann Young(non-registered)
Always enjoys your photography! Such a talent.
Willard Hill(non-registered)
Another superb collection of images, Dan. Also excellent video clips.
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