I have always been the odd one. Now, that I am older I wear that badge proudly. One of my favorite pastimes is watching and photographing wildlife. Today, June 15, 2017, is Nature Photography day. I cannot be happier that an entire day focuses on the love of nature photography.
In my younger years, I would conceal my interests to be part of the group. Now, well, you may see me lying flat on the ground in front of a bug, turtle or sitting in the middle of the field to capture the perfect photo. I always love to watch people’s faces when I show them some of my photo work. Their expressions vary from amazement to you are definitely “off your rocker”.
When I am taking photos, I focus on my subject. The world simply disappears. Do not worry; I am too cautious to put myself in harm’s way. The invention of the long lens helps me capture specific scenes.
Turtles are my recent focus. During this time of year, turtles come out the swampy areas to lay eggs. I find the process amazing. Walking past my sliding glass doors, I noticed a creature slowly moving across my yard. The beautiful Snapping Turtle reminds me of a prehistoric beast. I can just imagine her large ancestors roaming the Earth. I also let my creative imagination work overtime. I recently intertwined a Turtle’s tale in my new children’s book. Time will tell if the story works well.
I personally have always loved frogs. As a child, I use to watch them jump in the ponds and creeks. I would imagine their worlds. I still incorporate frogs into my stories. I imagine them interacting with fairies and other woodland creatures.
As an adult, I still think about the frogs’ life. At the same time, I consider the frogs’ environment. Throughout the years, the push for modernization comes at a price. I would hate to see the frog population continue to decrease. The disappearance of frogs is just sad.
Even though I do not know the facts, I am sure the impact of the ecological system would be significant. In my area, the decrease in frogs would mean an increase in mosquitoes and other pesky insects.
My request? Take the time to learn about the frogs in your area. Find out how to help with your local environment. You do not need to join large groups to help the environment, plant flowers, pick up litter, small gestures by a large number of individuals will have a large impact.
In my area of Michigan, the water is still high. The increased water levels have both negative and positive aspects. I love the fact that I get to view so many different forms of wildlife. Swimming in an over filled pond, this pair of Mallards were fun to watch. They would dive and skim insects off the top of the very murky water.
The downside of the water…. my yard looks horrible. I can only mow certain sections. The uneven grass looks as if I was trying to mow paths to each standing water area. Oh well, at least I can enjoy the wildlife.
Today was the first time I was able to photograph a Pied-billed Grebe in the wild. I loved it. I could have spent my entire day watching this unique water bird. He (or she) kept diving under the water to catch fish or bugs.
I am sure this bird has been in my area before today. But I was so happy to capture the moment on camera.
Today, January 5, 2017, is known as National Bird Day. How can you not love an entire day dedicated to our fine feathered friends? As a nature lover, I find birds fascinating. Every species seems to have a unique personalities and behavior patterns. During the colder winter months, I sit and watch the birds from the warmth of my home.
When the feeder is low or empty, the little Chickadees are very vocal.
Whereas the little Sparrows line up and stare at me from the edge of the roof or the nearby shrubbery bush, both methods get my attention. I am usually adding seeds to the feeder immediately.
After the feeders are full, the Mourning Doves cautiously gather seeds on the ground.
When the Blue Jay comes to the feeder, all the other birds fly away.The Blue Jay’s presence always seems larger in life. The site of the deep red Cardinals against the snow covered ground is always breathtaking.
The older I get, the more I love to watch the birds. Yes, I photograph them too. But there are days where I just like to observe. Of course, my observations usually end up in one of my stories. I mean, how can you not imagine little fairies or other small woodland spirits riding on the back of the birds to defend Mother Nature and the rest of the natural realm.
Over the holiday season, I was able to photograph a beautiful Barred Owl. The sighting in the natural habitat was absolutely remarkable. I was on my way to pick up some stuff at my nephew’s school. The roads were snowy from the recent accumulation. Of course, I was in rush. As I drove by the wooded area, I spotted the Barred Owl just sitting there on a lower branch. Obviously, the beautiful creature was searching for his next meal.
When I first drove by, I did not have a camera with me. Not even my pocket camera which I had just taken out of my purse. Since I was close to home, I immediately turned around to go get a camera. The whole time, I was thinking, “there was no way the owl would still be there”. As I was rushing out of my drive, I proceeded to get my car stuck. After some time, I managed to get my car back on the road. By this time, I was absolutely convinced the Barred Owl would be gone.
But, sitting on the lower branch right off the side of the road by the Maple River was the beautiful creature. If I would not have been in such a hurry, I could have watched the Barred Owl all day long. The owl was not skittish of me. I managed to snap a lot of pictures. We just seemed to stare at each other. His black eyes were mesmerizing.
After all the years of living in the countryside, I had only witnessed an owl once before in the wild. The last time, I was a child. And, no, I will not tell you how many years ago that occurred. At that time, the owl was flying down to retrieve a dead carcass out of the road. I cannot tell you the type of owl we saw the night. But I can tell you, the initial sighting all those years ago was one of the reasons why I enjoy nature and wildlife.
I find owls completely fascinating. Well, of course, the Harry Potter series confirmed my love for the stunning creatures.
The time when everything bursts with its las beauty,
as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
Today, Thursday, September 22, 2016, is the first official day of autumn. While ushering in the fall season, the day marks the end of summer. I personally love this time of year. Even as a child, I just found the fall season fascinating.
The crisp fall air suddenly ushers in cooler nights. The sunsets occur earlier, bringing perfect weather for stargazing and bonfires.
The local football season is in full swing. Pumpkin spice is a major ingredient in various products. As the season slowly marches on, changing leaves bursts into vivid color across the Michigan landscape. Bringing one last moment of natural beauty before the blanket of winter engulfs the area.
Walking through nature, I can honestly view the signs of the wildlife preparing for the upcoming cold winter months. I love watching the squirrels and chipmunks gather acorns. The little critters scamper across the dirt paths in front of me. Of course, the chipmunks chatter loudly in my direction as if to tell me I am intruding on their personal space.
I try to enjoy these last moments of fall before winter brings nature to a quiet standstill.
So what does a person do when a swarming black mass appears in the water? Go investigate. Watching the mass move and divide was fascinating. They would move apart and slowly come back together. The mass would swim in formation for a short time. Then, dividing to start the entire process over again.
So of course, I had to get closer to figure out what was forming the swimming, swarming mass.
When viewing wildlife, I tend to move forward without thinking. During this specific time, I learned two valuable lessons.
Never wear shorts and walk through nettles.
After all the years of wandering around in the woods, you would think I would have this engrained in my brain. But…sadly no, the nettles seem extra itchy this time of year. The nettles were waist high. Well, I am short, so maybe they were not as high as I thought.
Remember the creek banks are slippery after rain.
Once again, you would think I would remember this fact too. The grass and mud on the side of the bank were an issue for about a second. I believe I recovered nicely; I did not fall all the way down, get wet or lose the grip on my camera. Wearing hiking boots really should be my priority.
The Black Swimming Swarm
When I finally was close enough, I realized the black swarm swimming in different directions was baby bullheads. I am certain the little black bullheads have a proper name. Sitting on the side of the creek bank, I was mesmerized by the swimming flow of the hundreds of baby bullheads.
“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful-
an endless prospect of magic and wonder”
I was out walking around the backfield when I came across this young doe standing in the middle of the Queen’s Anne. The little fawn still has spots. I truly hope she grows more before the Michigan winter sets in.