Friday, May 10, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm

I postponed my visit Fontenelle Forest this morning to avoid the rain and mud so I'll never know what opportunities that I missed before noon.   My afternoon  visit was amazing. 

I had barely stepped out of the parking lot before I spotted a Swainson's Thrush.  I didn't even have my camera out so I had to stop to take it out of my backpack and assemble it.  Amazingly, the Thrush patiently waited.

Just past the  Thrush was a pool of rainwater with a bathing sparrow.  I took a couple of shots and the sparrow was replaced by an American Redstart.  A Rose-breasted Grosbeak couple were frolicking out of camera range another 20 yards down the trail.   In less than 100 yards,  I saw three birds for the first time this year.

As I turned onto the Stream trail, I encountered a young lady and her dog.  Apparently she missed the sign that said dogs were not allowed.  So much for stealth on my part, the dog was flushing everything in sight.

While I waited for things to settle back down, I observed my first Kingbird of the year.  I also saw a muskrat with a mouth full of grass swimming back to its home.

I didn't see a single Green-backed Heron in the forest last year.  Today was the day.  I'm always amazed at how different the same bird can look.  Compare these two views of the same bird.
The weather started to turn while I photographed the gaggle of goslings.

A Yellow Warbler played hide and seek with my lens.  Unfortunately the winds became strong and dark clouds were bringing rain.   The dead trees from the 2011 flood are a real hazard when the wind blows so I need to return to a safe and dry place. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spring Continues With A Warm Day

This marsh wren was searching for insects next to the water.

This white-throated Sparrow spent most of his time hidden on the forest floor.  I was able to capture this image when he jumped up on a fallen branch.

I'm not sure what this bird is called.  It moved like a warbler, but seemed a little too large.   It was searching for hidden bugs.

 If you enlarge this image, you can see exactly what this Spotted Sandpiper likes to eat.

This Red-headed Woodpecker is checking out one of the hundreds of dead trees that were killed in the 2011 flood.

Red-headed Woodpeckers Frolicking In Fontenelle Forest

Spring 2013 has been slow to arrive in Fontenelle Forest.  Today was the nicest day of the year and a pair of Red-headed woodpeckers were making the most of it.  I took a series of 5 photographs of them frolicking high overhead.

I used a Canon 800mm lens for these photos.  According to the data recorded by the camera, this sequence only took 4 seconds.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Gaggle of Goslings

The highlight of my Fontenelle Forest visit was watching several Canadian Geese and their goslings.  They were nibbling on the tender shoots of new grass.  The  proud parents were cautious but willing to show off their brood to me.

I had another opportunity to photograph a Yellow Warbler today.

The Common Yellowthroat Warbler nests in Fontenelle Forest.  This is the first one that I've seen this year.

The Yellow Rumped Warbler was moving from log to log near the stream.

This Northern Waterthrush was hunting for bugs in and near the water.

This Lesser Yellowlegs looks like it is standing on a giant toadstool  It is actually a stump that accumulated debris in the 2011 flood.  The Fontenelle Forest wetlands are still recovering from the flood.  In some places 90% of the trees are dead.

Before the flood, mink lived along the stream.  They were rarely seen.  Their habitat was completely flooded for months and I was afraid they was gone for good.  This morning, I spotted one again.  I wasn't able to get a photo.  When I do, that will be the highlight of another visit.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dark, Cold and Damp

It was tempting to remain in my warm bed this morning.  I got up, dressed, and put on a heavy coat and boots that could handle the muddy trails.  Early morning is a great time for nature photos.  This morning was an exception.  Fontenelle Forest was dark, cold and damp.  

The sun didn't penetrate the heavy overcast so I had to increase my ISO to have any chance of stopping motion.  My 800mm lens has an aperture of f8 wide open and doesn't focus very quickly in the darkness.  The birds on the water were too distant and the birds in the trees were silhouettes. 

I was able to take a series of photos of a Lesser Yellowlegs.   There were more than usual out this morning. 

This male was continually calling out.  I'm not sure if he was calling for a mate or warning the other to stay away.  He wasn't very social. He chased away every other Yellowlegs that approached.