“Fall Migration” a time for discovery!

Birds and Blooms

Fall Migration Titletype leafEach of our wonderful seasons can bring a variety of birding and avian photography opportunities, but the shorter days with the slightest hint of a chill in the air, will signal the return south for many species and the chance to observe and photograph not only our local resident feathered friends, but the many others that only pass through our area on their journey from their summer breeding grounds to their wintering habitats. This has to be my favorite time of year to get out and explore a few of my favorite nearby birding locations on almost a daily basis to see who might be passing through and/or taking a rest during their arduous trip south.

I concentrate my efforts with dedication and zeal during my exploration of my local haunts; spending hours looking and listening for the slightest movement or sound from the woodlands and grasslands near my home…

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“Wild Goose Chase”…The Quest for the Arctic Traveler

Birds and Blooms

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Greater Snow Geese
Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

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hat could be more exhilarating for a lover of birds than the visual treat of tens of thousands of Snow Geese launching from their over-night roost during the early dawn hours in an exploding massive cloud of white and painted with a warm glow from the rising sun!  And it’s not only a spectacle of sight,  but sound as well, which at close range can be quite intense to the human ear.  But it’s an experience of an audible magnitude that one will remember and cherish for the rest of their lives.

This “Blast-off” as many of us call it,  can be the highlight of the day and an overwhelming experience for the avid waterfowl enthusiast.  It only requires a journey to your favorite wildlife refuge or other location where these birds are present during the wee hours of the morning, and…

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The Short-eared Owl – Wetlands, Grasslands and Raptors Part 3

Birds and Blooms

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The world of “Avian Photography” is filled with discovery,  wonder and intrigue presenting a “never ending” learning environment as well as a sense of accomplishment after successfully pursuing and photographically capturing your subject…

Step one begins with research and careful study of your subject’s biology,  preferred habitat, seasonal movements and daily habits;  hunting, feeding, etc…  Once you accomplish the preceding,  it’s time to start looking!  Although sometimes quite fickle,  finding owls is not a difficult chore.  Most are quite habitat oriented during select seasons or year round.  Some are migratory and some are not.

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Above, with an intense stare, a short-eared owl patrols the winter grasslands of Adams County, Pennsylvania in search of prey.

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The Short- eared Owl,  Asio flammeus,  is a creature of our “open spaces”;  including the prairie,  meadows,  tundra,  moorlands,  marshes,  savanna, and scattered woodlands sharing the fore mentioned.  Short eared owls can be found on every…

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Life In Black & White … Woodland Warblers 1

Birds and Blooms

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Avian Photography is truly a passion and I honestly have to say,  of all the species I photograph,  the colorful and tiny wood warbler has to be my favorite.  The majority of my friends and  peers much prefer the majestic “raptor” and owls as their subjects of choice. While I enjoy photographing those as well,  and especially the rarest Accipiters and Buteos (Hawks) to my region;  I find trying to follow the tiniest of bird with a long telephoto lens; where the word “still” is a total misnomer in and out of the tightest of natural cover, “the ultimate photographic challenge”.  Then you add forever changing light,  from one extreme to another,  creating an exposure nightmare and adding a final touch to the feat.

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“Sitting Pretty”
A Michaux State Forest Black and White goes “Vogue” for the camera

This post will be the beginning of a series dedicated to the…

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Prairie Song … Woodland Warblers 2

Birds and Blooms

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For the past five years,  the coming of spring brought excitement and anticipation to the arrival of one of my favorite warblers to a location very close to my home.  Many of you have heard me mention,  or read about through my prior posts,  loving references to the Hanover Watershed Wildlife Management Area which shares its acreage with both York County Pennsylvania and Carroll County Maryland along the Mason-Dixon Line.  There is a special section of this area that sits on the Pennsylvania side just below the MD state line which was a clear-cut,  freshly planted with pine seedlings along with a thorny and brushy under story that seemed to be a highly prized breeding habitat of the Prairie Warbler.

Prairie Warbler 2This area had been a prior favorite of mine for the Indigo Bunting and the numerous sparrows present.  I kept hearing multiple symphonies’ of a rapidly ascending sweet trill including a “check note”…

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“Fish Hawk” the Osprey …

Birds and Blooms

Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Port Bolivar,  Galveston County,  Texas

One of America’s favorite and most unique raptors, the Osprey,  Pandion haliaetus can be found along our coastal plains and well inland on larger streams and lakes throughout the continental United States, south into Central America and South America where they winter and well into the Canadian Provinces during the summer and breeding months.  “Unique” describes their favored food of live fish and the ability to fly high above a body of water,  spot their prey,  begin a short hover,  then rapidly dive and catch their meal with their razor sharp talons, and then again launch themselves airborne and retreat to a safe place to consume their bounty.

The visual spectacle of the Osprey fishing is as gratifying to the observer as their meal is to them.  As an avian photographer,  capturing this activity is fun and exhilarating and requires a bit…

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In search of “Maggie May” … Woodland Warblers 3

Birds and Blooms

Magnolia Warbler,  Setophaga magnolia
Dolly Sods Wilderness,  West Virginia

everal years back while photographing spring wildflowers and exploring one of my favorite mountain ecosystems along the Appalachian chain,  West Virginia’s Dolly Sods,  I kept hearing the song of the Magnolia warbler at just about all my stops along the gravel road  that traverses the area through the stands of the wind-swept stunted Red Spruce to my amazement..  This was long before I did some research to discover their favored breeding habitat extended farther south than I had realized.  I had seen many wearing their dull colors during the fall migration, even right near my home and the Hanover Watershed WMA along the Maryland and Pennsylvania state line.


Magnolia Warbler, Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia

hotographing a Magnolia warbler in breeding plumage had been a long-time quest and I thought I’d have to travel much farther north to accomplish it. …

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