Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mid-June In Pennsylvania Elk Country

5x7 On Winslow Hill
I spent most of last week in Pennsylvania Elk Country, meeting with some of the members of The Support PA Elk Facebook Page and photographing and filming the wildlife of Pennsylvania Elk Country. This was my first trip there since late March and I wish to thank members Charlie Cropp and Paul Staniszewski for doing most of the work on the Support Elk page since that time.

Most of the calves have been born by now.  Each year a number of calves are captured to gather biological data, and the animals may be fitted with ear tags and in some cases radio collars.  This program was still underway  while we were there and we got to observe the team at a distance as they finished processing a calf at the Woodring Farm on Wednesday morning.

Team Processes Calf While Cow Looks On At Woodring Farm
 The team was composed of both professional conservation agency employees and volunteers, with the PGC Elk Biologist, and the KECA Biologist included on the team along with  Widlife Conservation Officer, Jason Wagner and Land Management Officer, Colleen Shannon.. According to WCO Wagner this was the last day they were capturing calves this year.

I saw a lot of calves at times. As is my usual experience at this time of year, they were a bit on the shy side and it was hard to get good photos or video, but nonetheless I did get a few usable still photos.  Both of the photos below were taken while I was standing watch from a parking lot beside a marshy area with ponds on Dewey Road, but they were taken on different mornings.  In the first case elk were feeding near the site of the old Gilbert House and for whatever reason suddenly came running down the hill and across Rucki Road.

Running For The Woods
I was in the same area briefly on Friday morning when a cow and her calf quickly crossed the wetlands.  In both cases the elk were far away and the photos are cropped substantially even with using the 600mm F4 lens. The second encounter was an especially challenging situation as the animals were in the shade, but the sun was shining in the top portion which made the highlights difficult to deal with.

Crossing The Wetlands
 Friday morning was the best period of  trip for seeing calves  but this encounter was the only one in which I successfully photographed one with the still camera that day . Shortly after dawn I filmed a large group of cows with several calves, with the Panasonic GH4..   I hope to complete a short video of some of the better footage from this trip in the near future  and it will hopefully include footage from this encounter.

The last photo of the day is of the 5x7, taken while he browsed on a multi-flora rose bush along Winslow Hill Road.

Browsing On Multi-Flora Rose
I hope to post a few more photos from the trip in the near future as well as the video.  By this time next month the antlers will be almost completely grown and the velvet will be shed in August. The calves are usually easier to photograph as they are no longer as fearful of predators as they can escape them easier, and the capturing and tagging period is now a faint memory..

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Ruth Hiebert said...

Great pictures.Those little ones are sweet.

Marci Geise said...

Glad you had a successful trip, Willard. The calves are always enjoyable to see. I especially love the multi-flora photo. Beautiful!

Donna said...

Sweet! I hope to see some calves when I go up next week. Thanks for sharing, Willard!

FAB said...

Super encounters Willard.

Looking at 5x7 his velvet is far more advanced compared to the Red stags I photographed here last week although they will have grown somewhat since then.

Jessica Allen said...

Wonderful photographs -- so neat to see the calves and to learn about the process of fitting ear tags. Thank you so much for sharing!

Willard said...

Thanks for the comments. Also a special thanks to Frank for the link to his post on red stags. I enjoyed it very much.