For the third year in a row, I photographed a beautiful Snowy Owl in or near my native Livingston County. I have shared these images with The Times mainly so that my mom gets a surprise when she opens up the paper. This guy was extremely cooperative that morning and allowed me to photograph him from multiple angles. When given this opportunity, I try different composition techniques. Here I framed him using the cross arms of the utility pole. I was most enthused by his intrigue when my shutter activated. He was as curious of me as I was of him.
I’ve decided to try the "52 Hike Challenge” this year. The goal is to get out and hike at least once a week for at least a mile. The soonest you can complete this is 52 days from the day that you begin. You can hike the same area each time or you can go out and discover new areas. I’ve notched one already as I hiked 1.45 miles of the John English Memorial Trail at Evergreen lake. 51 to go……
I love long exposure photography. Through the use of filters and experimentation, you can create some very beautiful images. I generally shoot at 20-30 seconds using a 10 stop neutral density filter. I adjust the aperture as I see fit. I came across this icy log on a recent hike. I loved the little stream running below and the way the light hit it was spectacular. You need a tripod and a remote shutter release to do this right. I also block my viewfinder to stop any light that may leak in during the exposure.
This image was shot at 20” @f/11 ISO 100
Last year, I decided to embark on a “little” quest where I would document, via photographs, all of the life forms along a .3 mile stretch on the south end of my beloved Evergreen Lake. It went well and was quite enjoyable. I’m way behind on editing photographs though. I hope to catch up in the coming weeks. I’m going to continue doing this instead of limiting it to just one year. I will now call it “Life Innumerable”. There are still a few creatures who have eluded me as well as many trees that need to be documented. I will post occasional updates.
This past weekend I participated in the 119th annual Christmas Bird Count (though it was only my 10th). Up until 1900, hunters would go out and shoot as many birds as they could. The person with the largest pile would be declared the winner. Finally, an ornithologist named Frank Chapman decided to do a bird census on Christmas Day instead. It continues to this day and grows more each year. It is a great way to protect species and their habitats. Locally, our groups counted 59 species which was down from last year. Foul weather in November may have pushed some species out of the area. The weather was perfect! I’ve added a few images of some birds that couldn’t avoid be counted. I often get Sandhill Cranes late in December- this was a first for our count circle.
American Bald Eagle
When, I get bored, I dig around through my images and find some new ones to edit. I wanted to share this image of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird who visited my yard in late summer/early fall. I often have several hanging around for a month or so as the Trumpet Vine and Zinnias are in full bloom. You may notice the pollen on his bill (this is an immature male) as well as a white substance on his head. The white powder is simply a build up of pollen. Obviously, he has gone quite deep to find the sweet nectar that he requires to make the long, upcoming journey.
I find this time of year quite enjoyable. The sunrises are often spectacular and I don’t get bitten by bugs! I also have great luck finding owls. I found four different Barred Owls over this past weekend- photographed 2, passed on one, and had another not quite as cooperative. I also love seeing the bucks strutting their stuff. The guy I photographed had a doe nearby. I got to hear a few grunts out of him as I took a few shots….stay hidden buddy- not everyone is like me.
A few years ago, a wayward Rufous Hummingbird showed up in a small town about an hour away from me. I didn’t chase it. I’ve regretted that decision ever since. About a week ago, a lady reported another on at her feeder in a small town 20 minutes to my north. I managed to get there in the late afternoon on Saturday to get my first ever views. It was awesome and the homeowner and I spoke for a bit. Sunday morning it snowed. I ventured back to her home to see if I could get a shot that I had imagined from the previous day. I sat and waited for about twenty minutes-no sign of him. The home owner then came out and brushed the snow off of the feeder- boom! Our little visitor came right to the feeder! I waited. Finally, he landed where I had envisioned. I got my shot.
Rufous Hummingbirds are tough little guys. They nest farther north than any of our other hummingbirds- all the way into Alaska. Hang in there little guy.
Talkin’ Birds is a weekly podcast that I listen to as well as promote during my birding class. After writing him, he gave my website a little promotional time. Thanks Ray!