Urban areas aren’t typically thought of when it comes to exciting birds and places for Nature Photography, however, with a good eye and some knowledge behind it, you can create pleasing photographs that viewers would never have known came from a city environment. Many cities nowadays have rivers that attract ducks and often times can have nesting Peregrine Falcons so don't discount a trip to town with your camera.
Frogs have it easy; they can simply eat what “bugs” them! My question is how they have any time to eat when all they’re doing is calling! Each spring, we are delighted with the sounds of the many species of frogs and toads singing their hearts out for mating rights. This is always a wonderful harbinger of spring but when it’s still going well into May, I’ll be honest; some nights I’ve had my fill when all the windows are closed yet the intense sounds don't seem to go away.
Fall in the Midwest brings from the north the majestic, yet prehistoric, Sandhill Crane. It’s not too hard to go out for a country drive and see these awesome birds but there are a few spots in the Midwest where one can not only see hundreds, but thousands. If you have never experienced this kind of migration you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It will change you and provide an experience you will not soon forget.
Dragonflies are extraordinary fliers that can reach speeds of even 35mph. Light-years ahead of human flight, Dragonflies have even been looked at by aerospace engineers for ways to improve flight control in airplanes. It’s hard to believe Dragonflies begin their lives underwater but their same dominating hunting techniques prevail under the surface before emerging into fast-flying hunters above the water. A Dragonfly’s flight allows them to be tenacious hunters but also comes in handy for mating.
It’s no surprise that birding is among the most popular growing outdoor activities. It’s like a treasure hunt that’s new and different every time you go out. But what is it about these flying objects that make us so enthralled? I would venture to guess if people were asked the question, “what super hero trait do you dream of having?” the majority would pick flight. While it’s not exactly something we can do simply as humans, look at the amazing technologies our military and aeronautical companies have instituted in just over the last one hundred years.
There are many methods of photographing nature but one of my favorites is shooting from a Kayak. A great rule to live by in Nature Photography is “where there’s water, there's life” so it always amazes me how many photographers refuse to take their gear out on the water. The consensus seems to be fear and we all have an investment in our gear but avoiding amazing locations out of fear can rob us of capturing great moments in nature.
When hearing the word Warbler, most think of tiny colorful birds that eat insects high in the forest canopy. While most Warblers match this description perfectly there are some that work a little harder to be different. Worm-eating Warblers are one of these specialists that has a more unique type of prey and typically known to be “rare” in Michigan as they typically prefer the southern locales. However, in early Migration certain conditions can occur that cause them to “over-shoot” and end up further North than normal (at least for small periods of time).
An icon of the northern Midwest, as well as the Northern reaches of North America; the Common Loon has many traits to be desired among even non-birders. Lake owners and lovers of this beautiful species are somewhat fanatic and extremely protective of these birds. Their echoing sounds early in the morning and late in the evening make many hearts sputter as their song reminds us of the many memories of traveling north each summer.
When it comes to Frogs in the Midwest, one of the most often heard and easiest to find is the Green Frog (Rana clamitans melanota). Like most frogs, from dusk to dawn lots of calling can be heard and if stumbled upon slowly, this common frog will sometimes stay put for nice looks. They have what I view as one of the more classic looks for a frog. One of the distinguishing marks on a Green Frog is the tympanum (round spot behind the eye) which is actually larger than the eye in males.
The power of the night’s sky is truly something to behold. For centuries, stars have been looked at as Gods, points of light to navigate by, and even shimmering lights to simply enjoy. If you're like many of us, you don't live hundreds of miles away from unnatural light sources where long exposure night photography is more attainable. If you have an opportunity to take a grand star trail image but long exposures are gathering too much light from nearby cities, this technique may be a good trick for you.