Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Late Spring In PA Elk Country

Late spring in Pennsylvania's elk range and outdoor photographers are concentrating on photographing the elk calves. There has been a lot of rainfall this spring and one has to keep close to the vehicle or be prepared to weather a severe thunderstorm.

Distant Thunderhead
Elk usually go in early in the morning to avoid the hot rays of the sun and come out very late in the evening, but an afternoon thunder storm may bring them to the fields earlier.

Herd Feeding In The Rain
An added bonus of this type of weather is the potential for dramatic landscape shots as the skies clear and fog lifts after the storm.

Fog Forms After Shower
While I was taking the photograph above, the sun was behind a bank of heavy clouds, but there was a clear spot that it had to cross before setting.  I anticipated dramatic interaction of the rays of the sun with the fog when it came from behind the clouds and I was not disappointed.

Late Evening Sun Adds Dramatic Cast To Rising Fog
Winslow Hill Sunset
I have seen several calves, but they have been too far away for the best quality still photographs or it has been too foggy.  The photo below was taken at extreme range with the 600mm f4 and 1.4x extender and cropped severely on top of that.

Distant Calves
Each year the PGC captures several calves and fits them with radio collars and/or ear tags for research purposes and a large number of the animals seen on Winslow Hill are wearing the tags.  It is normal for elk to be more skittish at this time of year to help protect the young  from predators, but it does seem likely that capturing the calves contributes to this shyness as does the influx of nature enthusiasts.

Originally published by Willard Hill at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer.