The rain storm a few days ago brought down most of the remaining leaves from the Red Oaks that line the route on my morning walk. A few tattered hangers-on, almost unrecognizable as oak leaves, caught my attention with the morning light shining through them yesterday. For once I had a camera other than my phone camera so I stopped to capture the moment.
Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park in late fall is at once very hot and very cold. The water that bubbles through the springs is heated to more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the surrounding snow where there is no hot water running is below freezing. The disparate elements create a stunning scene.
Spending time in Yellowstone National Park watching a Red Fox going about its business and ignoring those of us who were there documenting it, was an incredible and memorable experience. This vixen was gorgeous and her red fur was dazzling in contrast to the white snow. You couldn’t miss a move she made. We were lucky that she had become acclimated enough to people that if those people did not harass her, she acted as if we weren’t there. What a privilege it was to observe this gorgeous wild creature in her natural habitat.
The colony on Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s in Newfoundland is a cacophony of calls and a mass of white and gold as tens of thousands of Northern Gannets congregate there during nesting season. It’s an incredible sight especially because the birds are packed together so closely that there is little space between them. Nevertheless, these large sea birds, who mate for life, find their mate and their nesting sight and stick the landing with the precision of a gymnast. This bird is preparing to do just that.
The boreal forest is the world’s largest land biome and is comprised mainly of coniferous tree species such as pine, spruce and fir with some broadleaf species such as poplar and birch. Boreal forests grow in high-latitude environments where freezing temperatures occur for 6 to 8 months of the year. This past February, I visited just such a boreal forest in Minnesota called Sax-Zim Bog. One of the denizens of Sax-Zim Bog is the aptly named Boreal Owl. While we were there, the temperatures dropped to a bone-chilling negative 31 degrees in the daytime. The owls, including this Boreal Owl, were often perched in trees, feathers fluffed against the cold, dozing in the daylight and occasionally opening their eyes to peek at the groups of photographers watching them and to watch beneath them where uncrusted snow under the trees facilitated access to prey.
Despite the horrific state of the world in 2020, I have had many memorable photographic journeys this year! Among my many fantastic adventures was my first visit to the beautiful state of Maine where I fell in love with the lighthouses there. I saw and photographed eight of them, including the Portland Headlight. This is a view of that lighthouse from the back. I took most of my favorite shots of this lighthouse from the opposite side using long exposures but for this shot, there weren’t many clouds to blur and there were no crashing waves. What caught my attention was the light reflecting off the structure onto the water and I took the photograph with my Nikon Z7 set to the monochrome picture control.
Red Foxes are quite graceful as they leap into the air prepared to plunge head first into the snow after a tiny vole they have sensed is burrowing there. We watched this vixen leap over and over as she roamed the large meadow in Yellowstone National Park last month. Most of the time she emerged with a snow-covered muzzle and jaws grasping her meal. She was so successful that she didn’t eat most of the voles we saw her catch. Instead, she cached them around the meadow, pushing her quarry into the snow to keep it hidden and safe for her to retrieve later.
When the sun rose above the horizon on Caddo Lake, the entire sky turned a brilliant orange. With the orange color reflected in the water and surrounding the Bald Cypress trees which were silhouetted by the sun, the resulting effect was a striking with only two colors, orange and black.
This Great Egret was on a mission, stalking something to eat in the shallow bayou water. The egret’s neck and body show reflected patterns from the water as it surveys the area. The surface of the water is covered by a noxious plant, the Giant Salvinia, an invasive species from Brazil discovered in the lake less than 15 years ago. It can double its biomass in days and threatens the health of the ecosystem in which it thrives so potentially this Great Egret could be adversely affected by it. There are currently modestly effective efforts underway to control the weed.
The early morning colors of the sunrise over Caddo Lake are breathtaking. Slowing drifting by on the water gives an up close view with Bald Cypress silhouetted against the glorious backdrop of reds, oranges, and maroons.