Wednesday, March 25, 2009


O.K. so I am alittle embarrassed! I know that everybody makes mistakes and I am no exception but...I feel stupid! There have been times in the past where I think I have seen that rare species and get uber-excited, just to find out that the newly discovered Tiger Heron I found, is only a weird leaf growing out of a sunken log. I drag my friend over to see the thing, then laugh about it later. Or... That same friend of mine just KNEW that a Screech Owl was hiding in a tree cavity and using her truck bed to get the height we needed to see in, and it ended up being nothing more than an empty hole that had a weird shadow in it that looked like a face. There have been plenty of false positives over the years, but this time...

Cuttidad and I are driving along, when all of a sudden I see something in a field a couple of hundred feet away that looked like a coyote. I get alittle closer and change my mind on the identity of this creature. I can hardly gasp out the words...BOBCAT! Bobcats are not around these parts. You would have to go many counties southward to even hear a rumor of one. Anyway, here it is stalking something in the field, and here I am preparing to photograph the grandest of prized wildlife (in my own mind) this state has to offer! I creep in closer with my car and am perplexed by the sight. Is it? Or isn't it? Cutti looks through the bino's and says matter-of-factly: "It's just a kitty." I shoot anyway just to be sure, and then look through the bino's. Hmmm...It does look like a kitty, but the wide furry cheeked face...Trying to will this feline into a bobcat, I continue to question it's I.D. I focus with the camera now, take a few more snapshots, then concede to it's true identity.

Yeah, dammit, it's just a kitty....My bad! Oh well...Some day I will get my Bobcat...But for now, Cutti gets her laugh!

Sharing Resources

Spending time in another direction at a different state park than normal, looking for newcomers, a Red-belly and then a Cedar Waxwing eating berries high up in a tree was about all I could find.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend Roundup

Playing outside with my new Boxer puppy Emmi, some shadows flew over the yard, so looking up, I see American White Pelicans circling just above my treetops. I couldn't believe they were so low. I ran into the house to grab the camera and caught these images. A cooling lake is less than a mile down the road which attracts 100's of them every migration.

And one of the many reasons that are keeping me from blogging is this little girl. I got a new puppy on Wednesday, just a month after losing my first baby Maggie after 12 and a half years. The house felt so empty without Mag, that filling that void was inevitable. Alas, I found the perfect puppy! Meet Emmi!

And this was my old girl Maggie, who was an amazing girl in every way, every single day of her short life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Few Miscellaneous Scenics

I have no time for blogging! I hate that! We can hopefully return to your regularly scheduled program next week? In the meantime, I have these to share:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Ain't Fraid a No Snakes!

Walking through the woods in an attempt to sneak up on some wood ducks, not even gentle gliding footsteps could mask the crunch of the pathway, flushing the woodies pretty quickly. Checking my surroundings, spying a place to hide and wait for their return, I find a place to suit my needs. With the ground saturated, I had to be higher than I wanted and sat on the moist ground atop of leaves and waited behind some trees. There wasn't much to see but swamp, so checking my images and manipulating my settings kept me busy. Passing the time focusing on adjustments, my ears perk to a slight rustling sound nearby. I scan the immediate area looking for a squirrel or a bird, find nothing and go back to my adjustments. Then, it occurs to me: I didn't check for snakes. Scanning again, I find the source of the disturbance. It was coming directly at me from about 4 feet away. I quickly displayed plenty of my own movement to prevent him from coming any closer. He freezes and tests the air with his tongue. Cool! I try to focus on him but he is too close for my telephoto. He decides I am bigger than him and yields to my territory, heading straight for the water. He picks a spot at the waters edge about 10 feet from me. Time passes without wood ducks returning, so I decide I need a close up of the snake, since I have nothing better to do. I want a head on shot so I have to get up and move. As I do this, I almost step on another larger snake. Jeez, these guys are really testing my fear/no fear. I don't know exactly how long I was vulnerable to these guys, but the not knowing, then knowing can really freak you out. Next time, I am bringing a chair!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Getting Alittle Exciting Out There!

I'm seeing new migrants every day now:

Red-breasted Nuthatch!

American White Pelicans!

Tree Swallow!

And even Painted turtles!

Sorry for the short post, sometimes work gets in the way of fun!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Killdeer Couple

Finally getting close enough shots of killdeer, I was happy to shoot a pair on the roadside. They protected eachother from me by trying to distract me from the other. Aww! How sweet! I found this an interesting shot, for comparison purposes. I don't know if these are different sexes (I would think so), as books say the sexes are similar.

I tried for a good reflection shot, but the plovers were uncooperative. I settled for this one.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Few Juvies Hanging Out

Although the temperatures are warming, a few juvy bald eagles can still be found...

Approaching these massive raptors too close will spook them every time.

Sometimes my excitement puts me too close in proximity for their comfort. I hate when I do that!

I would like to think that respecting nature means to get in and get out without disturbing the animal when photographing or observing. I try to follow that as a rule, but sometimes I cross that line unknowingly. Sorry eagles!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And the winner is:

I chose this particular entry for it's homage to Ozzy Osbourne. So you might ask: Do you really like "The Prince of Darkness"? Well, thats a hard question. As a kid, a good friend liked his music, so I was listening to it quite a bit. I even went to a concert, but it doesn't mean I was one of "those" kids. Or...maybe it does...probably...I don't know. I grew up in the 80's, that's all I can say. I do love playing it on Guitar Hero. It's one of the best songs to play, and the hardest. So to answer the question, yes, I do like the memories of my teen years. I also like to sing his more famous songs (like "Crazy Train") in the spirit of Ozzy...It's quite a sight to see...not in a good way. But...soooo much fun for me! Anyway...

As for the Sword Ceremony... I will try to post pictures of the event soon...

Also...Dame Cuttidad does not have a blog, so linking to her site does not apply, making it easier for me to hold another contest in the near future. You people cracked me up, making it all worth while! Thanks to all who played!

@ Eve: Thank you for every entry! Thank you for being the first, second, and third & fifth entry! You Rock! Your enthusiasm is addictive, your cleverness is evident, and your humor is profound! And..Thanx for loving the picture! You win the "You Rock!" Award!

@ Shellmo: How did you know I was the Engineer on that train? I have no formal training, actually I stole the train! Funny photo that would have been...Thank you!

@ Craig Glenn: You must know how much I love owls, and to incorporate get bonus points for intimate details! Thank you!

@ Bird Girl: Quite simple the title was, and could have left well enough alone, but wanted to stir up some fun! Thank you!

@ Mike and Lizette: Funny how you say "Whatcha lookin at?" your photo icon has you both lookin like you are on a train...perfect! Also: I did fall asleep, you might say I was doey eyed after being hypnotized. Thank you!

@ Chris: No, not a train, they were waiting for ME to get out of THEIR way! Thank you!

@ Tina: It was Deer Street wasn't it? Plenty of ladies, so little time...Thank you!

@ Melissa Weisbard: That area is a really cool place. I can always count on seeing plenty of deer, but in all my years going there, I have never seen so many banded together at these tracks. I was wowed also! Thank you!

@ Troutbirder: Good question! I'm sure they are all embarrassed from dropping their racks! Thank you!

@ Jalynn: The funny thing is...I missed at least 10 deer that ran across before I pulled up. They missed the train! Thank you!

@ Tina: They were track stars because as I said to Jalynn, a bunch of them ran away before I could get there...These are the bravest! The buck was a star, being the only one that could handle all of these trophy women! Thank you!

@ Q-Ponz: You get "Best Nickname Award" and your clever caption almost took home the prize! I feel I owe you something...How about a shiny new Suit of Armor for your troubles? Or maybe some new Chainmail? Thank you!

@ Dame Cuttidad: You, my dear are F-I-E-R-C-E! ( I also want to add that I was not biased in my decision to choose Dame Cuttidad as the winner. She is my best friend, among many things, but her cleverness is what won, not her relationship to Hannibal. It was plain and simple: Her caption made me laugh the loudest!-Period!) Thank you!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

High Five!

While muddin my way through the woods and before I stumbled upon the wood ducks, I happened to catch a glimpse of some fluff sticking out of the top of a rotted tree trunk while scanning the trees for migrants. I knew exactly what it was, and rounded the tree to get a better view. What I couldn't see from behind the trunk was the paw sticking out lazily as the raccoon napped. Hearing my shutter fire, the furry arm tucked into the trunk hollow for safekeeping. I got the message, I left him to return to his napping. It doesn't look very comfortable though, does it?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Duck! It's a Wood Duck!

A nemesis bird and extremely elusive, the very shy wood duck has escaped his portrait for all of these years. I've been as close as the photo below, but only for a split second before squealing away on many occasions. These dabblers have keen eye site and flush extremely easily. I've spent many mornings dressed from head to toe in camo, setting up shop next to creeks under cover, and waiting for precious hours for them to float by. It has never happened. They have landed in the trees above me, but just out of site of the lens. They seem to outwit, outplay, and outlast me every time for years and years...well...until friday afternoon.

I was walking a soggy path, looking for early migrants on a gorgeous friday afternoon, with temperatures in the mid 60's, towing mud encased sneakers that were weighing heavily on my pace with every step. The only good thing about the sog was the silence it brought with it. The forest was so saturated, that the leaves were limp and the path was vacant of other footprints for days or even quite possibly...weeks. Given this information, I knew what opportunity might be ahead as I approached a favorite spot of the wood duck. As I snuck up to the creeks edge, I already had sound signals that they were there. I heard the zipper-like sound just a few feet away, and with a quick peek over the edge, I got the visual confirmation.
The drake was circling and calling to it's mate. Now here is my chance! I am crouched down, making sure my settings are close, and take another peek. As I do this, the drake is closer than I thought, and almost completely in view. I knew for sure that I blew it, but to my amazement, it did not flush! Hmm...very strange! Well since opportunity knocked, I am going to answer and fired off a few shots. I ducked down again, to check my settings, still amazed it didn't react to the sight of me. My next idea was to belly crawl to the edge which was a big commitment, given the muck. Was it worth it to attempt this? I pondered it for awhile, and then as I was about to fully commit, the wood duck caught site of me, recognized me as a threat, gave his warning call, and flushed along with 5 ( yes 5!) of his friends. Doh! Anyway, I did get a few shots, capitalizing on what I am sure was a courtship display in action. Even though I didn't end up being up to my elbows in mud, I sure wish I had that opportunity back and do it all over again. The weekend brought over 4 inches of rain, causing the rivers and creeks to flood, and any chance of revisiting the wood duck spot would be impossible for now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Pursuit of Spring

Yesterday held mostly sunny, 60 degree temperatures with some strong winds, but that couldn't stop me from looking for the newest signs of Spring. It was so odd, taking off my winter coat as I arrived at the park. It felt really good, but as soon as I hit the path, the soggy earth had me slipping immediately and keeping my eyes to the sky for birds wasn't going to happen. I spent the entire trek looking for the best footing along the trail. I depended on my hearing and came up with these two.

I thought I might spot some early warblers but the strong winds might have hindered that a bit.

Don't forget the Caption Contest! Enter by Monday for your chance to win! See "Deer Tracks" for more info.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hoodie Display

In a small unfrozen corner of a rather small backwater lake, a few male Hooded Mergansers were showing off for 1 lone female. Among the hoodies were 5 Great Blue Herons fishing the only open water. Since available space was limited, the hoodies circled the herons while putting on their show. It was an awesome show indeed, although having to shoot from such a distance away, proved to only wet my appetite for more.

Don't forget to enter the caption contest! See "Deer Tracks" for more information.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Deer Tracks

I could go "Wordless Wednesday" for this photo if I chose, because it's quite obvious what is going on here, but it would be a whole lot more fun to play a game, so...

Hannibals Animals announces her first Caption Contest!

Write a winning caption for the photo above and recieve an accolade to become a Knight! (including the sword ceremony!)

The right to use "Sir" or "Dame" before your name. The right to demand others to use "Sir" or "Dame" when speaking to you.

You will also recieve: An all expenses paid trip down Memory Lane

A "Hannibals Animals Caption Contest Award"

Your site posted on my "Caption Contest Wall of Fame"

Rules: Enter your caption in the comments section. You have until Monday, March 16th to enter. Winner will be announced Wednesday, March 18th. You can enter as many times as you'd like.

Small print: Participation in this contest must be met with at least 5 individuals to further this contest. If fewer than 5 individuals participate, the contest and prizes are void. If you are already a Knight, a higher value surname will be awarded. ie: Prince/Princess.

Good Luck! And...Thanks for playing!

Oh, and check out the antlerless buck on the left!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Better View of the Barred Owl

Remember that post about the Barred Owl I did a few weeks back? I thought it looked like a paper wasp's nest from a distance, at first? Well, he's back, but at a different roost. A better roost...way better!

On Friday, I took to the woods to try out my lens that had been ill. It was overcast, (aargh!) but I had to make sure the focus worked properly. I checked the regular roost spot of the owl, but he wasn't there. I checked a potential screech owl hole, and out of the corner of my eye, I see something out of place. Lo and behold, it was my barred, but he was NOT so well camouflaged against his chosen tree. Hmm...I wonder if he has used this roost before? I will keep my eye out for this new spot. Although it was a gray day, seeing this owl and testing my focus on him was an honor.

Two owls in one weekend...Now that is priceless!

Pocket Owl

The weekend was pretty damn good! I had 2 separate owl encounters, which should makes anybodys weekend a big success. For today's post, I am featuring the Northern Saw-whet Owl. What an amazing creature! But...before I get into that, I must say that I owe a big thanks to Rattlin Antler, who trusted me with the secret location. Thanks sooo much Don! (He is also a new blogger, so check out his site here.)

It was an overcast morning, and traveling over 50 miles just for a chance to see him made the grim morning alittle brighter when upon arrival, I find Rattlin Antler shooting along the path. Woohoo, the owl must be there! So I set up shop and find... the shutter lagged alittle more than anybody wants in these unfavorable conditions, so a few adjustments were in order. It was a tough decision to let the background burn or have an underdeveloped subject that I would have to photoshop later. I chose to keep it slow, crossing my fingers, that 1 or 2 images would come out sharp. Luckily I had a few. I shot these shots at ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/125 sec at 220 mm focal length on my trusty 100-400mm Canon lens that just got returned from the Canon repair shop.

I called todays post "Pocket Owl" because he was such an adorable little guy! I just wanted to pluck him down and stick him in my pocket and take him home! He is one of my very favorite owls for obvious reasons. The cuter, the better. The more elusive, the better. He definately qualifies for both.

A few facts about Northern Saw-whet Owls: A small owl (6.5-9") of all types of woodlands, the Northern Saw-whet Owl can be found roosting in winter in small, dense conifer trees, sometimes even in parks and gardens. Its defense upon discovery is to sit still and not fly, leading people to perceive them as "tame."

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a very small, short-bodied, Owl with a relatively short tail. The overly large head has no ear tufts and may appear distorted due to an asymmetrical skull. They look small when perched and tend to shuffle their feet, but in flight appear larger because of their broad wings.