Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mid-May Brings Whitetail Deer and Wild Turkey Sightings

Mid-May Countryside: Canon40D-EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Mid-May, and most trees and shrubs are in full leaf.  It seems only a short time ago that the countryside was drab and brown. The whitetail deer are very ragged looking as the thick, brown,winter coats slowly give way to the thin, red hair of summer.  Within a few weeks these animals will be sleek, beautiful creatures once again.

Young Doe With Ragged Winter Coat: Canon 5D Mark III-Canon 24-105mm F4 IS L

The does are in the late stages of pregnancy and a few of the fawns have already been born, although I have not yet seen any.  The local herd does not usually have their fawns until the last few days of May, with the vast majority being born in early to mid- June.  The first fawn sightings are always a special thrill.

Adult Does: Canon 40D-Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
While the does are getting ready to give birth, the turkeys are still engaged in mating activity, but one is not nearly so likely to see a mature gobbler strutting as they were a few weeks ago. Rather one may flush them while walking through the woodlands or see them as they feed in the meadows.

Young Gobblers a.k.a. "Jakes": Canon 5D Mark III- Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS USM
But sometimes one is lucky enough to see a mature gobbler in full courtship display.  Almost invariably there is a hen feeding nearby and the gobbler usually struts as long as she remains in the area.

Mature Gobbler Strutting: Panasonic GH3-LUMIX G- 100-300/F4.0-5.6 @ 300mm

While I usually use the 5D MK III and the 7D for still photography and the Panasonic GH3 for video, I find I the GH3 is also very good for still photography and is much better in that respect than its' predecessor the GH2. The GH3 has a 2X crop factor compared to a full frame sensor camera so the 100-300 is the equivalent of a 200-600mm zoom on the 5D MK III. It is not as tack sharp and has more distortion, etc., but l it is still a very usable lens.  The gobbler was quite a distance away and I cropped the image  significantly  to make this photo.  Unfortunately I did not have the 5D MK III with the 500mm lens set up on a tripod, as I would have liked to get some shots with it to have a good comparison of quality, but the bird did not tolerate me getting this rig into shooting position and left the meadow.  I also would have liked to had the 500mm on the Panasonic for this photo, but I selected the 100-300mm when I set up that evening as I was concentrating on capturing video and wanted a lens that was capable of covering a wide range of situations.  As it was I got a decent portrait of the gobbler and many very satisfactory video clips.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.