Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Mornings May Bring Diverse Photo Opportunities

Wildlife is most active in early morning and late evening during the summer months.  While both morning and evening are good for seeing wildlife, I prefer to be afield at the crack of dawn and usually have the best opportunities of the day from dawn until shortly after sunrise.  I am usually primarily looking for big game animals such as elk and the whitetail deer, and it is always  a special thrill to come upon an exceptional buck or bull elk.

Mature 10 Point Buck
As much as I enjoy big game photography and filming, I find that one misses a substantial part of the outdoor experience if they concentrate solely on a few species.  Good deer and elk habitat also supports  diverse wildflower, bird, and insect communities, and dramatic scenery. One's outdoor experience is much richer if they take time to savor the entire outdoor experience.

Early morning is especially good for flower photography as morning dew may make the flowers look fresh and vibrant.  The flower photos below were taken a bit later in the morning after the dew was gone, but still show the beauty that may be found in a summer meadow.

Purple Cone Flower
Gaillardia or Blanket Flower
Most meadows are also home to a wide variety of birds, and I enjoy filming them as well as enjoying the chorus of birds song that provides a vibrant sound track against which the drama of the natural world unfolds. I believe the bird above is a immature Eastern Meadow Lark, but I could be wrong.  I welcome correction if I am in error.

Immature Eastern Meadow Lark
If deer and elk have not left the meadows before sunrise, they usually do so before the rays of the sun become uncomfortably hot. They often return to feed sometime in the evening.  This may happen before sundown on cooler days or it may be nearly dark on the hottest one, but their is no hard and fast rule.

Whitetails Leave Meadows At Sunrise
From the tenor of this post it would be easy to infer that all is well in the great outdoors, but sadly this is often not the case.  In particular I am referring to the superb 10 Point featured in the first photo today.  Within the next few days, I plan to write about the problems this buck and others in the area he was photographed  deals with each day and the uncertain future they face.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.