Sunday, May 4, 2014

Turkey Encounters

I have been concentrating on Eastern Wild Turkey photography and filming since returning from my trip to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in late March.  When many think of turkeys strutting and gobbling they think of April and May, but a great deal of this happens in the winter also.  I have seen little strutting strutting or gobbling in summer or fall (except for late June). Below is a flock of turkeys photographed at around 300 yards on January 19th. This is only a portion of  mixed flock of hens, young turkeys born last spring, jakes, and mature gobblers.  It is likely these are the same gobblers featured in the other photos below.

Gobblers Strutting-Mid-January: Canon 7D-Canon 600mm f 4.0 L IS- ISO-400- 1/160 sec. f4.5
Gobblers Strutting-Mid-January: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 500mm f 4.0 L IS- ISO 1000- 1/640 sec. f4.5
It seems that most winter strutting and gobbling is not directed at the hens and is common when two or more flocks of gobblers converge on an area to feed.  The gobblers strut and gobble at each other for a time and then the opposing flocks may pitch into each other and a noisy brawl results with a lot of running about, kick-boxing, and flogging.

Attention shifts to the hens sometime in March and early April and it is common to see one or more mature gobblers putting on an impressive courtship display  for them.

It's All About The Hens: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f4.0 L  IS+ 1.4x extender-ISO 400- 1/6000 sec. f  8.0
Woodland Hen: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm f4.0 L IS- ISO 640- 1/250 sec. f 5.0
One of the ultimate turkey experiences is  when a mature gobbler comes close in the woodlands. 

Mature Gobbler Approaches: Canon 7D -Canon 55-250 mm f 4-5.6- ISO 400- 1/250 sec. f 5.6
When I was younger, my heart rate increased dramatically in this type of situation and I felt under intense pressure to get the photograph. But since retirement  I have spent so much time afield and photographed so many gobblers- or  the same gobblers so many times- that I no longer get so excited. Instead I feel a deep sense of satisfaction when everything comes together and one captures an exceptional image--not to mention that it is so rewarding just  be afield at daybreak and watch the natural world come to life.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Linda G. said...

These are wonderful photographs of the turkey. With the exception of turkey's in captivity, I have yet to capture a good picture of a turkey.

Unknown said...

Great photographs Willard. I particularly love the four-gobbler lineup. Reminds me of high school dances.

Ruth Hiebert said...

The shot with the four lined up,looks like they are posing for you.Great images.

Lindsjö taxar said...

Amazing Pictures....Lovely.
Very interesting because we dont have them here