Saturday, July 18, 2009

Camera Critters: A Win-Win Situation

It is that time of year when haymaking is in full swing in our area. At this time most of the meadows that are planted in grass are mowed and baled to make winter- feed for livestock.

While I do maintain one meadow solely for wildlife, another favorite spot is commercially farmed. Mowing usually destroys the natural or wild look of an area for a time so that it does not make for photogenic backgrounds. I looked at this spot closely as mowing time neared and realized that the "wild" look of photographs could be preserved if only a small portion was left in natural meadow grasses.

In a win-win situation, the farmer graciously agreed to this, so on mowing day I accompanied him and pointed out which area I wanted preserved.

Mowing With A Haybine

This machine mows the grass. After it dries for a day or so, the farmer returns and rakes the hay into windrows and then bales them into large round bales.

The "Business End" of The Haybine

Recently Baled Meadow

This morning a beautiful eight-point buck came to the meadow. The plan was a decided success as the photographs have the natural meadow background, yet behind and to the right of the animal is the hayfield. The key was in leaving the tall grass stand slightly past the crest of the knoll where the photo was taken.

Whitetail Buck Arrives

Whitetail Buck In Early Morning Sunlight

I wish to thank the farmer so much for his co-operation. For more Camera Critters photographs, click Here!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Morning In The Meadow

I watched a complex of meadows at dawn on Tuesday morning and filmed several respectable whitetail bucks, but sunrise found me wanting a change of pace, so I went to a meadow that is maintained solely for wildlife. It has a variety of succulent grasses growing, most notably ladino clover. I was tired of carrying my usual extensive array of cameras and lenses, so I selected a relatively light compromise-the 100-400mm Canon zoom with the Gitzo 1348 tripod. For good measure I took along a 25mm extension tube if the opportunity arose for some close-up photography.

The local rabbit population has been depressed for years, but now they have recovered for the time being and I find them almost everywhere I go. I had no sooner than entered the meadow, than I encountered this one busily munching away, and he continued to do so for ten minutes or more.

Rabbit Numbers Are Rebounding

For some reason there are few butterflies in the meadow this year, although there are plenty of the thistles, which ordinarily attract them in droves. I did encounter a small specimen, which I am reasonably certain is a variety of Skipper. My butterfly guide is not handy, so I cannot give a positive identification, but I think it may be Silver-Spotted Skipper (If anyone knows differently, please feel free to correct me).

Silver-Spotted Skipper?

When one has an enjoyable experience, it is tempting to try and repeat it, so that evening found me in the same spot. This time I encountered a Spangled Fritillary. Its' wings are somewhat damaged, making it a less than perfect specimen, but I couldn't resist taking several photographs.

Spangled Fritillary on Thistle

While thistles are considered by many to be a noxious weed, and are a problem in crop and pasture fields, they are an important plant to insects, and a wide variety of bees and butterflies may often be found feeding on them.