My 2011 Favourites

Yes, I’m just a bit slow at getting this out! Lots of challenges in 2011 and, so far, in 2012. They have to slow down sometime, right?!!!

Most of my photography this far into 2012 has been a “what” question. Same feeder birds as last year. A fox and a fisher are around. Not much snow and, until this past week, not much sun. The amarylis I hoped to work on died before it bloomed. That was a something new! My orchid has bloomed again for the fourth time in three years. I wish I knew what I was doing right. It is a treat!

The images included in this post are favourites for different reasons. Some have stories and some just are.

This Pine Marten was taken last winter in Algonquin Park. My trip was with the hopes for this species and Boreal Chickadee. Both were new species for me. The story is that a man and woman arrived after I had got to the Spruce Bog trail. They had been there the day before and knew where the martin’s best spots were. By following their lead I was able to get a few images of this species and was thankful for their expertise. It turned out they were Janet and John Foster, well-known Canadian videographers who have done work in Algonquin Park and around the world for many years. They were my idols in the early days of my interest in wildlife photography and I taped all those nature programs on TV hoping that I could do the same thing. My photography efforts started with video, changed to stills and now, with the new digital cameras I’m back doing bits of video again.

This image is included for its behavioral interest not for it technical quality. Yes, I know it isn’t sharp! While leading “Loons in the Morning Mist” at the Wings Over Muskoka Festival in May this loon landed right by our boat. As often happens the images before and after this one were sharp. The reason I have included this is that I had never before seen a loon land with its feet straight out back like this. I can only hope I’ll get another chance.

The next two were taken at the Vince Shute Black Bear Sanctuary in Orr, Minnesota. I drove there in early June and spent three days photographing the wild black bears that come in to visit. This is a fabulous experience. Even though the bears are habituated to people they are still wild and come and go as they please. The cubs from the previous year have been sent out on their own by their mothers who are ready to mate again. They are wary of the adults and the other yearlings.

These two images will be good for my Muskoka cards.

The second of the bear images looks like the cub is watching the rain falling but is, in fact, eyeing the elm leaves above his head. Several times I saw yearlings eating beech and elm leaves. I hadn’t known they did that. Could be a reason we see lots of beech trees with claw marks here.

I was thrilled to find a Great Gray Owl just where all the Minnesota breeding reports say they could be. This one allowed me to watch and photograph it for about 1/2 hour.

Although this doe looked pretty shaggy I liked the leaping series I was able to get.

I have been trying to photograph Clay-colored Sparrows at Carden Alvar for several years without luck. These were fairly easy to find at Sax-Zim Bog but they do try to hide.

Lincolns Sparrows were easily heard in Michigan but not so easy to photograph. I have images of juveniles but the adults are new for me.

I was thrilled to be able to get Olive-sided Flycatchers in Minnesota and Michigan. I used to hear them in Muskoka but not for a few years now.

After spending most of six weeks in Toronto it was a special treat to be able to get out on my lake to spend time and to photograph the loons. No nest again but some good photography mornings. I consider this one to be a photographic version of the many, many iconic prints of loons now found everywhere.

This is my favourite loon image of 2011. It makes a good print from 18″ to 48″ on canvas. It would hold up longer than that too.

Last but not least, this otter put in an appearance on my lake while I was out with another photographer who was photographing me. Otters are always special.

New subjects or the same ones in new ways beckon. Seven Wild Turkeys just walked by the house and I have food for them so hope they’ll be back!

Chickadees were practicing their spring songs yesterday and the end of February is in sight. I’m ready!