Saturday, February 19, 2011

Camera Critters: Mourning Dove

The mourning dove is a common species here in southcentral Pennsylvania, but I seldom get close enough for a good portrait of the species, as they are quite shy.  With that in mind, I erected a pop-up blind close to the bird feeding station and eventually one landed and posed long enough for me to capture two shots.

Mourning Dove

Dove Spots Me In Blind
Neither photograph is quite what I wanted, as I find the weed stem across the bottom of the tail in the first photo to be distracting.  I removed it with photoshop in the second, but I am not completely satisfied with how it turned out.  I will remove the offending object before I set up again to photograph in this spot.

Both photos taken with Canon 7D and 300mm F2.8 with 1.4 extender.

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Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

As Winter Relaxes Its' Icy Grip, Wildlife Sightings Increase

There is still well over a month to go before winter officially ends, yet a change is in the air as Pennsylvania enjoys a winter thaw.  Even in years with a heavy snow cover and bitter cold, it is quite common for the situation to be much improved by late February or early March.  A period of relatively warm, beautiful weather is often followed by a heavy snow storm, but now as the sun moves further north and the days are longer, snow does not linger as long.

Wildlife sightings may dramatically increase as herds of elk and deer tend to congregate in areas where the sun has melted the snow cover away, exposing desirable food sources such as the food plot below located on a reclaimed area of SGL 311 in Elk County.

Bare Areas Appear As The Snow Cover Recedes
Bull Elk Sparring In The Early Morning Sun

Many are anxiously awaiting the shedding of the elk's antlers, and some are expecting them to fall off any day now.  While there may be a slim possibility of this, there is little likelihood of finding antlers until the end of February, and I have seen many large bulls still carrying antlers at the end of the first week in March.  In most cases, the large bulls loose their antlers first, with the smaller bulls loosing them later.  It is common to see large bulls with significant new antler growth, and raghorns still carrying last year's antlers.

Unlike elk, whitetail deer in Pennsylvania shed their antlers in a period ranging from December to April, but the great majority have lost them by early February.

Most PA Bucks Have Shed Their Antlers By Early February
Regardless of one's particular field of specific interest, be it photography, hiking, shed hunting, etc., these periods when winter relaxes its' icy grip are great times to be afield.

In Winter, Animals Prefer Sheltered Areas Exposed To The Rays Of The Sun
Soon the tempo will pick up even more as snow geese and tundra swans arrive, to be followed shortly by other species of waterfowl.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill