Saturday, July 17, 2010

Darling Run Eagles have Fledged

We were in the area of the Darling Run nest on Friday and decided to stop by to see if the eagles were hanging around even though we knew the three chicks had fledged.  We were surprised to see that all three emmies and both adults were still hanging around the nest area.  They were all perched along Pine Creek looking for fish.   It was heavily overcast and there was a haze in the air.  I had to shoot at higher ISO settings than I normally do for eagles to keep the shutter speed at acceptable levels for the long lens.  I tried the stabilization on and off and continue to find regardless of what either Nikon or Canon say about their new VR and IS controls--using image stabilization while on the tripod actually reduces sharpness of images.

Since the lighting was poor, I had to bring back the contrast in Photoshop to make the images appear as we saw the images with our eye.  This is one of the reasons that I shoot all my images in RAW only.  If I had shot them in jpg,  the images would have been worthless.

The eagles at Darling Run are very accustomed to people and they sit still while people travel up and down the trail.  They even sit on a branch over the trail within 20 feet of hikers and bikers at times.  The only time I have seen them take careful notice is when a horse goes by.  This adult seemed nervous when I could hear a horse coming and then when it came into view on the trail, the eagle "tracked" it until it was out of sight.

Here is one of the three immature eagles from the Darling Run nest-using a perch that the adults use often.   It is interesting how they are such creatures of habit.

It has already mastered the "eagle eye" stare.  There was a flock of geese floating around beneath it and it kept a close watch of them.

Until Next time....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Maine Sightings

Just got home from our summer trip to Maine for Moose calves.  This year we did not locate any calves. They certainly were there as we found the tracks and heard their blats!  Maine, like most of the northeast, got their vegetation about two weeks early this year and it indexed the feeding cycles for browse versus ponds early.  Most of the ponds had already turned "sour" this past week so finding cows with calves was tough.  We did find a number of yearling cows and bulls and of course we had a great time being in the woods (black flies and all).  Mount Katahdin still has some ice slides present on it.  We were fortunate enough to see quite a few warblers and had the good fortune to observe an adult pair of loons with chicks.

It was also refreshing to observe the difference in moose behavior in the highly human frequented Baxter Park ponds versus along the Golden Road and remote ponds we hiked in to in Baxter (2 miles or so from nearest roads).  I enjoy observing and photographing the moose that are wary far more than the moose that are human acclimated.  I can draw a direct parallel with the elk in PA.  However, I have yet to find a "wild elk" in Pennsylvania and I go more remote than most of the hunters in Pa.

This yearling moose befriended an older young bull after mom kicked him out to make room and time for a new calf.

This whitetail doe seems to be in the same area every time we go there.  She is a good example of a human acclimated animal.  She feeds to within a few feet of us and as one can see, she is not the least bit stressed.

This is one of a pair of fawns that we found and for most of the pictures I had too much lens. This picture was taken at 3200 ISO to keep shutter speed to a point so I could get a sharp picture in the dark Maine woods.  In the days of film this picture could not have happened.

Observing and photographing a pair of adult loons with their baby chicks was a highlight of the trip.  We had to wait for the right time of day because of the angle of the light then hope that they floated to an area that they had been earlier in the day.  We lucked out and were able to capture about 500 images of the chicks and mom with a few of dad included.  I was amazed at how ill informed some of the "eco friendly" campers were when it comes to animal behaviors.  A ranger in the park and some women staying in one of the primitive cabins were concerned that some one was stressing the loons as the mother would drop below them while they were on her back leaving them vulnerable and floating on the lake.  It was obvious that they did not understand that is how the chicks learn to swim and it is when mom goes for food that she then feeds them. These images were taken with a lens setup equivalent to a 22 power spotting scope.

Finally, Joan and I celebrated an anniversary of sorts when we were there.  40 years ago this past week was the last time that Joan and I were in a canoe together.  Lets say that the experience resulted in two very wet individuals!  I love canoeing and I was finally able to coax Joan into a canoe on a very cold Maine lake and we had a ball paddling through Moose Bog and into a beaver dam.   No-we did not take the good cameras and big lens in the canoe--I am not that brave yet.