I made the trip up to Petenwell Dam near Necedah to photograph the wintering Bald Eagles. Although the dam was not ope, which resulted in a very limited supply of fish, there were around 50 eagles present. They did limited feeding and most of that was not anywhere near the shore. Despite that, I was able to get a few decent pictures.
I made the trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin during a snow storm on Sunday December 11th to see the Green Bay Packers play the Seattle Seahawks. In a nice case of perfect timing, a first-year Black-legged Kittiwake was reported at the mouth of the Fox River (only five miles from Lambeau field!) the day before. Needless to say, I left an hour earlier than I had planned to so that I could try for this rare visitor from the arctic north.
It took me about five minutes to locate this beauty once I arrived as it was very close to the shore and would fly right over my head as it searched for fish. Despite dozens of ring-billed gulls in the area as well, the kittiwake really stood out with its distinctive “M” pattern on the back of its wings.
Following are some of the images I was able to capture of the Black-legged Kittiwake, a Common Merganser and a Ring-billed Gull in the snow storm.
I have been absent from birding and photography for the last couple of months as I was in the process of purchasing a house, moving and getting settled. I was finally able to get over to the convention center and photograph several migrating Common Loons as they hunted right at the steep drop-off that is just offshore. I seem to always get much better pictures when they are in their rather drab non-breeding plumage but they are still great birds to interact with. Below are several of the images I took.
I was able to go out to the Southwest (and Northern Mexico) for 17 days during the latter half of July to do some birding and landscape photography. I began the trip spending six days with Gordon Karre seeing a lot of Southwestern Arizona and at Rancho el Aribabi in Northern Mexico. We spent two days in Madera Canyon, during which we also saw Miller Canyon, Ash Canyon and spent time on Mt. Lemmon with Chris Rohrer. During the trip from Madera Canyon to Miller Canyon we saw a Bobcat (my first ever) cross the road in front of the car. Then, while walking up Miller Canyon in pursuit of a Mexican Spotted Owl, I saw a Mountain Lion walking parallel to us just above us in the canyon and about 70 feet away! When it realized I had spotted it, it nonchalantly loped away. I was definitely very excited to see my first Mountain Lion but would be lying if I did not say I did look behind myself much more frequently during the remainder of the hike.
Gordon and I then sent over to the Chiricahua Mountains to look for some specialty birds, including the Mexican Chickadee which, in the United States, can only be found at high altitude in the Chiracahua Mountains in Arizona and the Animas Mountains in New Mexico. After a very difficult ascension to the very top of the Chiracahua’s, we were able to briefly spot two of these birds, which, becasue of the difficulty of accessing their territory, made them one of the absolute highlights of this trip for me.
Chris, myself, and Gordon at the top of Mt. Lemmon after seeing Olive Warblers
Days 1-6: The Phoenix Valley area and Southwestern Arizona
Juvenile Yellow-eyed Junco (note the dark iris)
Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard
Rancho el Aribabi, Mexico
Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley
I have always dreamed of seeing Anasazi ruins and thought it would be at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico if I ever did get the chance. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to see and visit several ruins at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley (pronounced Canyon Day Shay). The only way to get into any of the ruins at mesa Verde is via ranger led tours so I did two of them. The following are some of the images of the these fascinating pueblo dwellers.
One of the things I really tried to prepare myself for (both knowledge and equipment-wise) was landscape photography. I really wanted to learn how to create panoramic photos and how to do quality sunrise and sunset photos. I was pretty much up and somewhere every morning for the sunrise and in place for sunsets as well, providing there were no monsoon storms going on. In some of the following images, I have captured some sunrises and sunsets. For being completely self-taught and new at this type of photography, I was pretty pleased with the results and feel iI did a good job of filtering some of the light while enhancing the land features. The picture of Horseshoe Bend at the top of this blog was also shot at dawn while using ND filters.
Other images of Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley.
Monument Valley, Utah
The Grand Canyon
I am adding some more pictures out of two sets I accidentally misplaced. They are both from my time in Southeastern Arizona; Miller and Ash Canyon and the Chiricahuas.
On June 25th, I made the trip up to Sheboygan to look for the reported Laughing Gulls which I do not have in the state of Wisconsin. I did not see any Laughing Gulls but did stumble upon a Alewife (a small herring-like fish) die-off that had American White Pelicans, Caspian and Common Terns, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Bonaparte’s Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls in a feeding frenzy.
I found myself in a perfect situation for some great high speed photography with the Caspian Terns as they dove into Lake Michigan to feed on the Alewives. They were close, the lighting was fantastic and they continued to dive for at least three hours. I decided that I wanted to get a picture of a tern right as its bill first broke the surface of the water. I took over 1,400 pictures that afternoon and I had many pictures right before and right after but had to really work to get the EXACT moment I wanted.
I begin with the huge but graceful American White Pelicans which were doing quite well fishing in their own right! They have a nine foot wingspan and weigh sixteen and-a -half pounds! One of the largest birds in North America.
I did see quite a few gulls, including Ring-billed Gulls.
There were a few of the very large Great Black-backed Gulls as well.
There wee many Bonaparte’s Gulls all over the place.
I saw a few of the small Common Terns as well.
But the star of the afternoon were the Caspian Terns. Because the lighting was so great, I was able to shoot with a shutter speed of 1/3200th of a second and that, combined with my 11 frames per second shutter speed, allowed me to freeze the motion during their dives.
Caspian Terns are the largest of all the worlds terns.
And finally the ultimate shot! This Caspian Tern has just broken the surface of Lake Michigan with its bill. Ever since I began photographing birds, I have hoped to be able to take this very picture.
My daughter Dominique and I took a trip to Baxter’s Hollow to look for a reported Black-throated Blue Warbler and then to the Spring Green Preserve to find Lark Sparrows. While we did not find the warbler, we did see a few butterflies, dragonflies and a grasshopper species I am not able to identify.
At the Spring Green Preserve we found two male Dickcissels engaged in a war of words even before we got in the preserve.
This Yellow-bellied Racer suddenly darted out of the grass chasing a Six-lined Prairie Racerunner. They both ran right over my feet. The Prairie Racer then froze in the middle of the trail and the Yellow-bellied Racer could not find him. The snake was so intent on looking for the lizard that it was not even aware of my presence for several seconds. The fastest snake i have ever seen.
On June 5th, 2016 I made the two hour trek northeast to do some birding at the Emmons Creek SFA in Portage County and on Marsh Road in Waupaca County with my good friend Chuck Petters who graciously guided me around the area. I actually met Chuck two years ago while up in Freedom, Wisconsin photographing Snowy Owls and we have had several birding adventures since.
My target bird was the elusive Mourning Warbler, which has always been a warbler I have heard but only had a brief glimpse at. As I drove up to meet Chuck in Waupaca, I remember thinking how satisfied I would have been to just get one decent picture of this warbler. Little did i know I would be in for so much more.
The first bird we got fairly good looks at was a tail-less Blue Winged Warbler. Lighting was not very good but that is the way it is for wildlife photographers, you make do with what you get.