Taking In Life's Simple "Wildlife" Pleasures

June 30, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

It's been about two weeks since my last attempt to share a little of the natural world with you.  It's not that I haven't been doing anything.  Besides doing my daily job and helping to keep up the house and yard, I managed to get out in short spurts in search of certain wildlife.  Sometimes, I will pick a subject and a habitat that suits the species, and go there, sit, wait, wait a little longer, in hopes to catch a glimpse of what I went there for.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.  In the meantime, I usually see other interesting topics to photograph.

In this blog, I am going to share two week's worth of photographs that include shots that I searched to find and some photographs that were a complete, yet pleasant, surprise.  I'm warning you now, this will be wildlife overload.  But after you've seen the pure beauty of the wildlife portrayed in this blog post, you'll see why I couldn't leave anything out.

While watching across a narrow cove for a Wood Duck family to emerge from a thick growth of reeds, I was surprised by a swimming family of Mallard Ducks.  This family, led my mom, was on a mission.  That mission was to get past me in a hurry.  It was comical to watch as they zoomed across the lake with all their little heads bobbing forward and back in a synchronized fashion.  The setting sun provided a brilliant, green reflection of the trees onto the still lake.

Mallard DuckMallard DuckFemale with ducklings

Mallard Duck Female and Ducklings

 

Now, I have taken hundreds of photos of Great Blue Heron.  Most of the time I end up deleting them because of repetitive images.  I mean, how many poses of a GBH standing in the water can you have?  This one is perched high on a log to get a "birds-eye view" into the calm water.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

 

There are several Osprey nests in Moraine State Park and several towers were built to encourage nesting.  One of those towers was nearby and one of the adults, unhappy even though I was still a few hundred yards away, circled multiple times asking me to leave.  Two important "rules" of photographing wildlife is to NOT put an animal in danger and to NOT cause stress to an animal.  There are several others but that would be another post.  I moved on.

OspreyOsprey

Osprey

 

OspreyOsprey

Osprey

 

While the Red-tailed Hawk is mostly found in open fields and along roads, the Broad-Tailed Hawk is more at home in the dense deciduous and evergreen forests.  I was watching a clearing in the woods hoping to catch certain woodpeckers or small songbirds that like that habitat, when this Broad-winged Hawk circled once and landed in a nearby tree.  After about a minute, it's mournful, high-pitched whistle echoed through the woods before the hawk returned to the sky. 

Broad-winged HawkBroad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

 

This turkey hen had a large group of chicks.  As she stood guard, they all scurried into the thick brush.  Rather than photograph the chicks running away from me, I made this portrait of mom as she made sure they were safe.

Wild TurkeyWild Turkey

Wild Turkey

 

I'm not sure what I see and hear most, the Yellow Warbler or Common Yellowthroat.  Below is a photo of a Common Yellowthroat as it perches on top of the weeds.

Common YellowthroatCommon YellowthroatMale

Common Yellowthroat

 

This new mother, with her red, summer coat, maintains alertness while feeding in a soy field.  The fawn was nowhere in sight.

White-tailed DeerWhite-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

 

We have a pair of nesting Eastern Bluebirds in our yard.  I was mowing the yard one evening and noticed the male and female out hunting for insects.  They were jumping between branches and the ground as they would spot a juicy caterpillar or moth in the grass.  When I was done mowing, I set up my tripod and camera near the back of my house and waited for them to return. 

Eastern BluebirdEastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird (male)

 

As I watched the Bluebirds, a larger bird flew into the frame.  It landed momentarily on a large branch of a maple tree many years older than me.  It was a Black-billed Cuckoo.  I photographed a Yellow-billed Cuckoo before but this is my first Black-billed.  I can cross this bird off my life-list.

Black-billed CuckooBlack-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo

 

As the sun was setting, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird zipped between flowers in one of my perennial gardens.  Shutter speeds were too slow to capture its movement.  But then, it perched on the tip of a branch to soak in the setting, evening sunshine and I took the opportunity of stillness to make this image.

Ruby-throated HummingbirdRuby-throated HummingbirdMale

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

An ever present, summer resident, the House Wren, was singing happily near its nesting box.  The songs of the House Wren are what come to mind every winter when I dream of warm, summer evenings and trees filled with singing birds.

House WrenHouse Wren

House Wren

 

Can you guess what this bird is?  It is a female Indigo Bunting.  I watched a pair of Indigo Buntings feeding for about 30 minutes.  The female found some food for herself but she mostly stayed perched and chirped constantly while the male flitted about in the trees capturing insects.

Indigo BuntingIndigo BuntingFemale

Indigo Bunting (female)

 

A few times the male approached the female and fed his catch to her.  Most of that activity happened behind leaves and branches preventing any kind of photo opportunity.

Indigo BuntingIndigo BuntingMale

Indigo Bunting (male)

 

It was nice to see this Cottontail Rabbit in such a relaxed position in my yard.  It makes me think that the work I've put into my yard to provide food, water, and shelter has created a good habitat animals are comfortable in.

Cottontail RabbitCottontail Rabbit

Cottontail Rabbit

 

One evening at Moraine State Park, I stopped at a spot I like to watch for small birds.  In a group of large, leafy, willow trees I heard a racket in the branches.  It turned out to be a family of Hairy Woodpeckers.  Because of all the branches and leaves, the only photo I got was of this juvenile.   I believe it to be a male because if you look closely at the back of its head, you can see a portion of a red patch.  Females do not have a red patch. 

Hairy WoodpeckerHairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker (juvenile)

 

Cedar Waxwings are difficult to photograph.  They are not a large bird.  They average seven inches in length so comparing that to the ten inch American Robin, they are considerably smaller.  To get a nice, sharp portrait of a Cedar Waxwing, you need to be relatively close.  I found a small flock of four searching the trees for insects.

Cedar WaxwingCedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Below is a Cedar Waxwing sharing its "catch" with another considerably smaller waxwing.  Since a juvenile waxwing doesn't share the same colorful feathers as an adult, I'm going to guess its sharing food with its mate.

Cedar WaxwingCedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Whew!  That was a long one.  If you are reading this sentence then I know you've enjoyed the photographs and I'm glad you haven't, long ago, clicked the "x" in the top right corner.  Even if you don't get excited about seeing a bird species for the first time, a nursing whitetail and wondering where she has the fawn hidden, or a bird feeding its young, you can't deny the beauty of nature so I'm glad you stuck around.

Until next time,

Dan


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