Monday, December 19, 2011

Snowy Owl--Up Close and Personal!!

Click on any photo to see much larger!

As you might recall, I had my first 2011 encounter a few weeks ago with a Snowy in Chicago at the lakefront with some pretty good success. This time was different!

I found this guy in a farm field a few days ago, prior to this particular photoshoot, but the owl was really far away, but I knew I would be back! I came back the next day under gorgeous sunny skies...

I found him perched on a pole barn, so I thought maybe I would knock on the owners door to get permission to photograph him. They agreed. Yay me!

I was able to pull my car around and shoot from my window, and when he didn't flush with my disturbance from about 75 feet away, I decided to try to step out (slowly and without eye contact) and take my chances...

These last 2 are severely cropped but I wanted to show you the spider on its face. BONUS!!

I was very lucky that he tolerated my intrusion, so I didn't approach much closer. I was able to set up my tripod, put on my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS with the Canon 2x teleconnector and shoot from the only angle I had at 600mm, but with the crop factor of 1.6x, I was shooting 960mm. I will always take what I can get, and sidelighting is way better than backlighting in this case! What a day to find such a rare sighting, and to shoot so close! It was one of those awesome days that come pretty few and far between! Days like this are why I spend so much time doing what I do!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Order your 2012 Wildlife Calendar!

Get your Wildlife Calendar by yours truly now!

Includes 12 of my best photos of the year for:

$15 *includes shipping plus a freebie! (a little mystery gift I created for you!)

Leave me a comment if you want one and we will set up shipment!

Thank you guys for all of the support of this blog! I love doing it and appreciate you taking the time to visit!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Whooping Cranes!!!!!!! ....and my Birthday!

Click on any photo for a better larger view of entire set of photos!

I had to create a post for my birthday, and what better a subject than the extremely rare Whooping Crane(s). Nine of these creatures flew in for a restover and have stayed for more than a week now, waiting for favorable southerly winds to retake the skies. (Note: These birds are NOT the juveniles that have already migrated with the help of Operation Migrations ultralight airplanes this year. They are migrating on their own.)

Did you know that there are only 105 whooping cranes east of the Mississippi River? And here I am lucky enough to put my lens on these 9!

They are clearly banded, and with some research I have found out that these guys are from the 2009 hatch at Necedah Wisconsin's Operation Migration. Here is what they said in 2009: "On July 21, 2009, 11 Whooping Crane chicks were transferred from ICF to the nearb Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to make up the 2009 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) cohort. The DAR birds are initially isolation-reared at ICF and then at the Necedah NWR until the fall. All the chicks were wary of all the new sounds of bird life in the marsh, but adjusted well to the beauty of nature on the refuge. In September or October they are released on or near the refuge with older Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes, from whom they learn the migration route."

(Best photo to view large! Check out the expressions on these guys tiffing!)

It is beyond comprehension how to feel knowing I am standing before these 9 birds and knowing that I am looking at just about 10% of the eastern population. I also found out that whooping cranes are 2nd on the top 10 endangered species list.

In 1937, fewer than 20 birds remained, all in a population that wintered in Texas.
Today, with efforts made to stop these beautiful creatures from becoming extinct,
there are about 400+ in the wild.