OHIO TRIP AND LOON NEWS

There are two loon chicks of approximately two weeks old doing well on my little lake!  With all my limbs and digits crossed I hope for their success!

 

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During the second week of May I participated, once again, in one of Matthew Studebaker’s Photo Tours.  This tour was the most difficult of his that I have done.  More walking and some of it over rougher terrain than some of his other tours.  Also, some of the locations were crowded as there were five participants rather than four. Matthew always knows where to find the birds and get them in front of your camera so we had good opportunities.

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We had both male and female Blue Gray Gnatcatchers and I really like the perch this guy chose.

 

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This Bobolink gave us some great views both front and back and on several perches.

 

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I have long dreamed of having images of Eastern Bluebirds with blossoms and we got both male and female with these budding blo0ms.

 

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Orchard Orioles were one of the species I specially hope to photograph on this trip and there were lots of opportunities for males but few for females.  Having both is one of the goals of my photography.

Of course we photographed more species and went to some interesting places.  One of the nicest things that happened on this trip was getting THREE big smiles from Matthew’s baby daughter while I got to hold her.  It has been quite a few years since I got to hold a baby.  A precious one, she is!

All the photographs in this and all my blogs are the property of the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any purpose with my written consent.

PLAYING IN THE POOL

Playing in a vernal pool, that is.  As the weather began to warm up a bit at the end of April it was time for me to check on one of the vernal pools on my property.  This pool had been severely damaged by the construction of a snowmobile trail and I had hopes of discovering whether or not any amphibians were using it.  Getting in there was difficult as there was lots of snow left and it was getting soft.  That meant that I had to be very careful that I didn’t go through the top level and wrench my delicate knees.  The first night I took in my gear I saw Spotted Salamanders!

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I had been told about their “dance” which is when the males move around a female to entice her to breed.  Unfortunately this occured under some vegetation and no photographs were possible.

I had researched the ways of counting salamanders and the next evening I took in a minnow trap one  before it rained to see if I could get an idea of how many were breeding in the pool.

First thing the next morning I went back with my camera gear, spray bottle, large plastic container and my walking stick.  It was just a short distance but difficult for me with many loose rocks, broken branches and logs.  To my great surprise there were thirty-three Spotted Salamanders in the trap.  Also, I had caught a couple of large water beetles and a caddis fly larva in its case.  I put all but three salamanders back in the pond immediately and watched them quickly disappear under the vegetation.

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I sprayed a nearby mossy log with water, sprayed my hands with water to make sure I didn’t damage their skin.  Carefully, I placed one of the salamanders I had retained on the moss.  I was able to get a few photographs before putting all three back into the pond. Once again they were sprayed with the pond water before their release.

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Note the snow in the background as salamanders begin to move from the surrounding forest into the vernal pools with the first warm rains.

After several more night visits I had photographed a few of the other creatures found in the pool and those are for another time.

This was quite an exciting and memorable experience!  Now that I know that there are many Spotted Salamanders using the pool I will not attempt to trap any again and plan on using the egg mass count method to judge the health of the breeding salamanders. They are really quite handsome creatures!

All the images in this and all my posts are the property of the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any purpose without written permission.

FIRST LOONS OF THE SEASON

The ice didn’t leave my little lake until Saturday, April 26, 2014.  That is the latest date since I bought my place in 1998.  The next morning at 5:20 am I heard a male loon calling.  Spring is really here!  Two days later the female arrived and now their two voices call out during the night.

 

This morning the men who put in my kayak launcher and my dock ladder did their thing and by late this afternoon I was out on my lake checking things out.  The water level is the highest it has ever been and the loons will have a difficult time finding a nesting site.  That doesn’t seem to slow them down, however, as late yesterday afternoon I saw them mating.

 

During my paddle I saw two Wood Ducks fly in and four Canada Geese along a back shoreline.  They don’t appear to have a nest but they have been around since before the snow melted and the ice went out.  The loons may have changed their nesting plans.  Found one frog egg mass.  Could be spring peepers as they have been calling.

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First loon images of 2014 taken with my Canon 7D and the 70-200 @200.

The fall-like colours are from winter kill of some of the pine needles.  Along with the dark red of the leather leaf the reflections in the lake are rich and deep on this shoreline.

 

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The beavers have taken down a few small pines to reinforce their lodge and I think their may be only one family this year.

As I paddled in from my inspection the sweet song of a Hermit Thrush floated over the lake and a distant Barred Owl made its presence known.  It was a very satisfying excursion with hopes for many more and a successful breeding season for the loons.

 

the images in this post are the property of the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any purpose without the written permission of the copyright holder.

GREAT GRAY OWL – PART TWO

I am now sharing the second part of my Great Gray Owl experience in northern Minnesota a few years ago.  I photographed this owl over about 1 1/2 hours as it hunted along the side of a little traveled road.  I was quiet, stayed behind my car and/or photographed it from the car window.  Eventually it flew off and I didn’t see it again that day or the next.

 

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It is so well camouflaged that it would be difficult to find if you didn’t know it was there!

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Ready to take off it flew to yet another perch where I was able to photograph it again.

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This last one is my favourite.  It reminds me of a Rousseau painting!

 

I had great plans to duplicate this trip in June this year but other exciting things are coming up that will bring me home instead.

 

All the images in this and all my posts are the property of the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any reason without my written consent.

IS ANYONE ABLE TO AGE THIS SANDHILL CRANE?

This morning four Sandhill Cranes spent about 1 1/2 hours on the ice on my little lake.  This bird was attacked several times by one of the others although they were all together most of the time this one did isolate itself and flew away.  It did come back and all four flew off together.

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I heard Sandhill Cranes calling most mornings for a good part of last summer.  I am wondering if two of the four birds could be last year’s young.

MANY THANKS TO GRIPS!

An invitation to speak to the members of the Grand River Imaging and Photographic Society on April 14th gave the opportunity to put together a new digital slide presentation titled “Photographing Wildlife in Spring”.  Spring is the time for those of us in the northern parts of our hemisphere to rejoice the arrival of migrating birds and their breeding behaviour, nesting and new life for all our native mammals and birds.

I am available to give this presentation to photography and nature groups.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and thank all for their hospitality!