As the days are getting shorter, the mornings cooler and fall sets in, it will soon give way to snowfall in the Midwest. The cold and wintry days in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula mean one thing for us; winter finches, Grouse and most importantly, OWLS! The past few years have been pretty superb for Snowy Owls especially. This isn’t necessarily a good thing long term, however it has brought quite a bit of enjoyment to Midwest birders.
You’ve slowly acquired the gear, you’ve bought the computer & software and you’ve spent the last couple birding seasons shooting like crazy. Now what? Not only do you need to locate and post-process some of your finest images, but what about safe photo storage with a reliable back-up strategy? These things are often thought of as secondary but if spending time going through very old images yields good results years later, there may be a flaw in your file management process.
Here I am, see me here, look up here, over here… Seriously, what’s with all the singing from the Red-eyed Vireo? Do they have that much trouble finding a mate? Are they that crazy about protecting their territories? Anyone who goes in the woods in the Eastern United States from June through even as late as August is pretty much guaranteed to hear this drab Vireo singing his little lungs out. Some researchers have followed individuals that sing over 20,000 times in a single 10 hour period.
All around the United States, Warblers do their best to impress. For some of these meager beauties, it’s not a hard job as a number of their extreme colors and interesting behaviors steal the hearts of birders all around the world. Each spring, their amazing motions and curious sounds are what truly mean migration is on and summer is just around the corner. While Warblers can be found in many habitats and environments, there are a few hot traps around the U.S. that are superb.
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.