Posts Tagged: wildlife photography

A Peaceful Morning With The Loons, et al, June 8, 2022

Monday morning was a beautiful spring morning to visit the loons and friends. Provided one doesn’t object to paddling about in 42° weather. Let’s see what I found.

The Adirondack Loon Center is raffling off a Hornbeck Canoe to raise funds for loon preservation in the Adirondacks. Hornbeck boats are beautiful, very light weight boats, worth taking a look.

One of our pair of loons was patrolling the pond and foraging as the sun rose.
A few minutes later, the loon departed on an errand. The pond is surrounded by hills. Often departing loons have to circle the pond to gain enough altitude to clear the hills, giving me an extra change to get in flight shots.
A song sparrow went through his repertoire to greet the morning.
Mr. Oriole was busy hauling groceries to his nest.
A couple mergansers promenaded around the pond.
Even Mrs. Kingfisher was generous enough to hold still for a photo – quite the rare occurrence.
Our loon on nest duty took a break to stretch, preen, forage and nap after a time.
On the surface between foraging dives.
Settled in for a midmorning nap.

Toadapalooza! Toad Mating Season Is Here

Spring takes a while coming to the North Country. A couple of pretty good signs that the risk of snow has passed is turtles coming out to bask in large numbers and American toads gathering to mate. I recently ran across a knot of about 200 toads getting together to find mates.

An American toad sitting on a log in the water near a gathering of toads looking for mates.

Many of my images are available as prints at:

A male American toad calling to attract a mate. Toads inflate their dewlap to give a shrill trilling call to attract females.
Toads gather in groups in response to the male’s call. Here’s a toad floating not far from the brush pile where the toads have gathered.
A toad hopping out of the water onto a log.
Adult toads live most of their lives on land, coming to the water to mate and lay eggs. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles which will develop into toads.
The male in the foreground was sitting on a log calling when he was approached by another male.
Male toads try to grab onto any other passing toads to find a mate, sort of like a every frat party. If they realize they’ve grabbed another male, they’ll let go and move on.
male grasps the female from behind. She’ll lay her eggs in the water, he’ll fertilize them as she lays them.
A head on view of a pair of toads mating.
Sometimes many males will try to mate with a single female. They’ll grab on where they can, making a toad ball.
It was hard to tell what was going on with this toad ball. I think there were five toads involved when I found it.
The males will keep trying to improve their grip and to knock the other males off of the female. It is hard to tell who is whom while they wrestle.
The males continue their struggle to get closest to the female and drive the other males away. And, here, the toad in the foreground is a newcomer to the ball.
Take your best guess for how many toads are in the ball. They stayed together long enough that I began to worry about the female at the bottom of the pile drowning.

Turkey Shoot – Photographing Wild Turkeys

Wild turkey strutting

Wild turkeys are starting to strut here in Vermont. Strutting is a display by the males to attract the ladies. They’ll fan their tailfeathers and keep moving around to be in in front of the females. This is a great time to photograph them. Not only are the males showing their finery, but you’ll often see fights as the males try to drive each other away from the flock.

The light on turkeys makes or breaks the image. With low angle, early morning light, turkeys are iridescent and the male’s face and wattle are brightly colored. Wait a few minutes after sunup and they appear a drab brown. Shooting just after dawn is critical.

Finding turkeys is relatively easy. They’re sort creatures of habit. You’ll usually find a flock working through the same field(s) every morning. They roost in trees come dusk. You can hike along the edge of the field you’re planning to shoot the evening before to see where they’re roosting to give you an edge the next morning.

Turkeys are hunted regularly and are very wary of people. For the best photos, you’re going to need a blind. Fortunately, there are lots of blinds made for turkey hunters. They’re perfect for photography. If you have to hike in to your spot, a chair blind is easy to carry. If you’re shooting not far from your car, a larger tent style blind gives you more room. (Vermont is still chilly, having more room to pour some tea out of my Thermos is a big plus.)

You’ll want a relatively high, 1/1000th or faster, shutter speed to be ready when the kerfuffles start. Mounting your camera on a tripod with a ball or gimbal head saves the hassle of holding the camera and lets you pan to the action.

Be sure to check your local hunting laws, you don’t want to be in the field with hunters. If you’re on private land, you can usually coordinate with the landowner to keep you and the hunters apart.

So, get out and get some turkey pix. If you’re timing it right, you’ll be home early enough for a good breakfast.

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