I can’t always take the credit for these amazing photos I capture day after day. I know what you’re thinking, who else could possibly get the credit for taking these amazing photos then? Well, lemme tell ya’, sometimes an amazing bird lands on an amazing limb in some amazing light and the photo practically takes itself. Such is the case with this Baltimore Oriole photo, everything about this shot is just amazing. It looks like a postcard to me. Just so we’re clear though, it’s usually my amazing camera work.
Every year about this time, my squirrels don these ridiculous looking chocolate milk mustaches. Knowing what I know about nature, which is probably just about everything, I can tell you without a doubt that these mustaches are caused by munching on black walnuts. Special thanks to one viewer (mom) for reminding me that I already knew this.
Continuing on my quest to illustrate to the world just how cool the common sparrow can be, I give you the White-throated Sparrow. Look at that black and white striped head with those yellow patches. I guarantee the first time you get up close and personal with one of these beauties you will be stunned by how cool he looks.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a big ‘ole dude, that’s the first thing you’ll notice about this bird. Next is his black and white coloration and that bright red breast patch; might as well be a bullseye because you’ll spot him from a mile away! Then there’s that beak, that big beautiful white beak, not gross at all if you ask me. To hear one sing, you’d swear you were listening to a robin at first, until those warbles begin to unravel with the kind of flair only a grosbeak could possess. And a Warbling Vireo. And a Baltimore Oriole. And most warblers. Anyway you get the point, they warble real good!
I watched nervously as an enormous and terrifying beast scurried through the treetops toward me. That thing must be a thousand pounds, what is it!?!? Just then it popped out onto an old dead tree that was leaning over precariously. Oh, squirrel. Whew. He seemed very excited, like every squirrel the moment before jumping out of a tree onto some unsuspecting human. Then he made his move, sliding head first down that tree and stopping halfway to make sure I was watching, then all the way to the bottom!
They’re loud, obnoxious, annoying, and they poop everywhere. Get too close to their nest and they’ll sneak up from behind and peck you in your rump region. Having said all that, in the hands of a world-class wildlife photographer such as myself, they really are quite photogenic. On a side note, these geese are in the exact same location as a photo I posted last winter, and if I didn’t know so much about nature, I’d swear they’ve been standing there ever since!
The Eastern Towhee has such a knack for breaking the silence with one of his sweet calls that I have to believe he’s doing it for my benefit. It never fails, I’m prepping my gear in the dark, getting ready to go into the woods, not a creature is stirring… and then “Towhee!” Or walking down an obscure little trail when the bog becomes eerily silent, suddenly a silky smooth “Towhee” filters through the treetops. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that towhees are named for one of their calls, and in case there’s any doubt about that, I’ve actually captured it on video and looped it a few times for your listening pleasure.
This is my other buddy at Bog HQ, let’s call him Carl. Whenever Carl sees me he comes a runnin’, right up onto the deck. Whenever he hears the back door slam shut, same result. In the event that he doesn’t see me, a tap on the window or a little wave gets his attention nicely. He’s always so excited to see me, his girlfriend however, not so much. The other day I was on the deck hanging out with Carl when she flew up and didn’t realize I was there. She scrambled to the far side of the deck and pitched a fit but old Carl would have none of it, he grabbed a peanut, walked over there, and fed it to her. Then he turned around and walked back to hang out with his buddy some more! And of course as I’m writing this he shows up at the back door, chirping to get my attention, so I gave him some peanuts. He’s out there feeding his girlfriend right now. That’s my buddy Carl, such a good little dude.
Yesterday during my Hallmark moment I heard a slight ripple in the water behind me. I turned around just in time to see one of the fiercest creatures in the bog sneaking up on me. Two beady little eyes, a tiny wet nose, and whiskers are all you’ll see of this ferocious beast snaking its way through the algae toward you. This baby muskrat swam right up and just sat there looking at me, even as I swung my gear around and tried to find a weed free position to get a shot.
A fresh coat of bright green algae has covered the bog since I was here last. As I approach the water’s edge, a mother mallard and her six favorite ducklings move away as quickly as they can through the thick green slime, leaving behind a wake seemingly frozen in time. A bit further out on the bog a pair of Green Herons are chasing each other around flirtatiously, plopping down on the algae periodically to look for fish. The sun is up now, filtering through the trees on the other side of the bog, and I realize I’ve been accompanied by an Eastern Phoebe. She’s in her favorite spot, preening and occasionally leaving her perch to ever so elegantly catch a passing insect, the way that only a phoebe can. A catbird is “meowing” in the brush nearby while a nuthatch crawls around on the tree in front of me uttering his standard call, “Meep, meep, meep,” which, loosely translated, means I like bugs, I like bugs, I like bugs. I can hear a Red-winged Blackbird singing in the distance and goldfinches flying by are filling the sky with their joyous noise. It’s times like this that I realize getting the photos is not always the most important thing. Just then- CROAK!!! Kersplash!!! What must have been a forty pound bullfrog hopped off a log behind me and belly-flopped into the water, scaring the crap outta me and completely destroying my moment! Thanks a lot frog, now I wish I would have gotten some dang pictures.
Each spring around the time the warblers arrive, dragonfly larvae begin crawling out of the bog and shedding their skin, becoming the beautiful winged creatures we see flying around all summer long. Dragonflies actually spend most of their lives under water, in their larval stage, and that means from two months to five years depending on the dragonfly! Pictured here are a pair of Blue Dashers, a pair of Common Whitetail Skimmers, and a Widow Skimmer.