Saturday, March 12, 2011

Camera Critters: More Middle Creek Waterfowl

Tundra Swan Flies Over Feeding Area
In addition to snow geese and tundra swans, a lot of other species of waterfowl also pass through Middle Creek during the spring migration.  The best spots to photograph the smaller species are the potholes, which are scattered throughout the area, but access is severely limited and most birds sighted are too far away for dramatic close-ups.  The following photographs were taken with the Canon 7D and 500mmF4 lens, with 1.4X extender.  Images were severely cropped in Photoshop.

Male Ring-necked Duck
Female Ring-necked Duck

Female Wigeon
Canada Goose
Even though conditions for photography may be difficult at times, a trip to Middle Creek is nonetheless usually quite rewarding.

For more Camera Critters photographs, Click Here!

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Snow Geese at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

This is the peak of the late winter migration of snow geese and tundra swans from the Chesapeake Bay where the spend the winter, to the arctic tundra where they will nest.  Coy Hill of Country Captures and I traveled to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area near Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania, where we met my daughter Any Evans for a morning of photography.

I like to be in position along Middle Creek Lake before sunrise. Soon after daybreak, waterfowl begins leaving to feed in the surrounding fields.   I am featuring two extremely short video clips today, the first of which captures the moment as the sun appears over the horizon and swarms of waterfowl fill the air above the lake.

Sunrise At Middle Creek Wildlife Managment Area from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

Later in the morning we drove the road that passes around the north end of the lake and paused to photograph tundra swans and snow geese  flying overhead.

Snow Geese Flying North
Eventually we located a tremendous flock of snow geese feeding in a field, with more and more arriving as the morning progressed.

Coy Hill Photographs Flock Of Snow Geese
Snow Geese Prepare To Land
It was extremely hard to take high quality stills or video by this time as the light was very contrasty with a lot of glare and mirage, but nonetheless we remained with the large flock for over an hour.  Finally several geese began leaving and then the entire flock erupted in flight, which made for a spectacular sight, which is the subject of the second video clip.

Snow Geese Lift Off at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area from Willard C. Hill on Vimeo.

Each year thousands visit Middle Creek to view the spring migration, while others hunt snow geese in the areas that are open to hunting.  There is a special "conservation hunt" that runs from February 21--April 16th, in an attempt to reduce snow goose numbers to a level that does not damage the arctic tundra.  Some claim there are at least twice as many geese as the arctic habitat will support without damaging the environment, while other deny that this is the case, and that nature will regulate geese numbers if man does not interfere.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Winslow Hill: Bull Elk In Winter

6x6 By Roadside
Tuesday March 1, 2011, in Pennsylvania's Elk Country, and a young 6x6 grazes in a camp lawn on Winslow Hill as the rays of the mid-afternoon sun provide a welcome relief from winter's cold.  Some  consider this to be a large bull, but he is not--although he does have potential.

6x6 Up Close: Note Damaged Points
This situation was perfect for the 70-200mm lens as one was able to take an "animal in its' environment" type shot at the 70mm setting and a close-up portrait type when zoomed in to 200mm.

Later in the afternoon, I found a portion of the large herd that ranges Winslow Hill near the intersection of Tucker Lane and Winslow Hill Road.  There were two bulls, one a respectable 6x6, the other a raghorn.

6x6: Dudley's Meadow
Raghorn: Dudley's Meadow
They had a few brief sparring matches, but I was unable to film or take photographs of these encounters because of intervening cows.  The 300mm F2.8 worked quite well in this situation, although the 500mmF4 would have also been an excellent choice for a head and shoulders portrait shot.

I saw not one mature bull from Tuesday afternoon, until the end of the trip on Thursday evening.  It was common to see several  on Winslow Hill and in the Medix Run to Driftwood  corridor before the current elk season began in 2001.

All photos taken with Canon 7D.  Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.