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The Fawns Were Out Today, 07-08-18

Up at 5:30 this morning to try to beat the heat. It was already 63º when I got to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve.

I was hoping to see some newborn fawns out there. At first, Nature was playing “keep away”. It would lure me in and get a photo lined up, and then the animal would take off. Sometimes nature photography is soooo frustrating! Why doesn’t everything just stand still for me? Hah! After a while, though, things started cooperating more.

There was a family of Red-Shouldered Hawks flying all over, they parents working to teach the kids hunting techniques. I got photos of two of them when they landed in different trees along the trail. I also got some photos of a couple of different squirrels who posed for me, one of them on the stump of a tree. And I found the tree-cavity nest of some Ash-Throated Flycatchers and got a few photos of them.

Aaannnd, a male Anna’s Hummingbird decided to dance around in front of me, “nectar rob” some nearby Evening Primrose flowers, and then sit to rest. Photos, photos, photos…

I’d been sort of watching a Black Tailed Deer doe that I thought was pregnant over the past month or so, going to the spot where she liked to hang out to get photos of her. Today I saw her again… and she had a fawn with her. Awwwww! She was really good about hiding him, but I did get a few photos of him when he lifted his head up over the top of the high grass. And it’s probably my imagination, but the doe looked extra gorgeous… I’m not sure, but I think this was her first baby.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

As I was heading out of the preserve and had stopped to take some squirrel photos, I saw another doe walking out from under the shade of the trees. She crossed the trail in front of me… and then I realized she had two newborns following after her.

The babies weren’t too sure about crossing the trail while I was there, so they stayed where they were when mom crossed. Then with them on one side and mom on the other, the babies started mewling (tiny tries that kind of sound like kittens mewing). Mom waited patiently for them, and after getting some photos, I stepped back to give them more room to cross the trail. When they felt safer, both of the fawns stotted across the trail into the high grass and ran after their mom. They are so freaking CUUUUTE! Made my day.

I walked for about three hours and by then it was already 77º outside (too hot for me to hike), so I headed back home.

Testing Out My New Camera, 07-08-17

Around 5:30 this morning, I headed out to the William Land Park to try to get a walk in before it got too warm outside… but it was almost too late to avoid the heat. When I got into the car the outside temperature was already at 77º! There was also a little bit of an overcast, so it was humid, too. (It’s supposed to get up to 106º today. Climate Change sucks the big one.)

I’d gotten a new camera (a Nikon one that’s about half the price of my beloved-and-now-deceased Fujifilm camera) and I was anxious to check it out. All of the buttons are in different places than they were on my Fujifilm but the functionality is about the same. The focal depth for macro (super close up) shots is a little better on the Nikon than it was on my other camera, so I’m actually able to get in closer than I could before, but I need to work on just HOW close “closer” can be. [Some of the close-ups turned out awesome; some were fuzzy because I was “too close”.]

I also have to learn all over again, how to get the camera to focus on what I WANT it to focus on (and not on what the camera wants to focus on itself.)

The WPA Rock Garden at the park is a good place to work on stuff like that, because it offers a wide range of close up and distant photo opportunities.

You can see the album of photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157683856518290 

I got some awesome “bug” photos of a Yellow-Faced Bumblebee, Praying Mantis, a Longhorn Bee sleeping on the face of a sunflower, and a Wolf Spider whose eggs were hatching (and the hatched-out little spiderlings were clinging to mama’s butt.) I also came across a large Bold Jumping Spider, and wanted to see if I could get a photo of its iridescent blue-green fangs – and I did, but the focus wasn’t right, so I ended up with the petals of the flower in focus, and the spider in a soft blur on top of them. Gotta work on that.

The telephoto capability of the Nikon is slightly better than my old Fujifilm camera, too. (It’s a 60x, and the Fujifilm was a 50x.) The Nikon is a little “sluggish”, though, in moving the lens to the correct position, so if the subject isn’t sitting still, the camera has trouble tracking it and adjusting the focus. Practice will help me figure that out, though, I think. I tried “chasing” several hummingbirds around… That was humorous. Blurry fuzzballs everywhere.

There was a young Anna’s Hummingbird that was testing out its wings and trying to drink water from the leaves in the garden (which must’ve been watered overnight; the paths were totally muddy). When it sat down on a branch, I was able to get some pretty good shots of it (at about 20 feet away), along with a video snippet of it preening itself. I didn’t know how to set the speed for the video capture, though, so it came out in slow-motion. I’ll have to read up more on that…

I checked out the garden’s milkweed plants – they have Narrowleaf and Showy Milkweed growing in there – but didn’t see any signs of Monarch eggs or caterpillars. Maybe in another week or so…

I also came across some Wood Ducks with babies, a gaggle of Canada Geese that included some fledglings who were half-in and half-out of their baby fuzz, and a Green Heron that was fishing along the edge of the small pond. The heron wasn’t using lures, but it was using a great “stealth” technique (getting down almost on its belly along the edge of the pond to sneak up on tiny fish). It was pretty successful; caught at least three fish and a tadpole while I was watching it… And, of course, there were the ubiquitous Black Phoebes everywhere, and an American Robin with a beak full of bugs for her babies…

I’m so glad to have a camera again!

I walked for about 2 hours and then headed home.

Early Morning at the Park, 06-17-17

Up at 5:30… mostly because it was already warm in the house and I don’t sleep well when it’s hot.  I decided if I was going to get any exercise today, I’d better head out fast before it got too warm outside to do anything, and I was shocked to find that it was already 71º outside!  And it was humid.  What’s up with that? It got up to 101º today…

CLICK HERE for the album of today’s photos.

I headed over to the WPA Rock Garden and William Land Park, because it was a short distance away and I hadn’t been there in a while.  There were still flowers in bloom there – including the giant artichoke thistles which I think are so pretty – and the walk was shaded for the most part.  I came across one young Anna’s Hummingbird that I think was either just testing out her wings or was totally last, I’m not sure which.  She would hop-fly to a branch near flowers, have a drink of nectar, hop-fly to another branch, have a drink of nectar, hop-fly to a leaf cluster, have a drink of nectar.  I saw her fly out a few times, but didn’t see her hover to get a drink at the flowers for any length of time.  Maybe it was too warm for her already, too, and she didn’t want to exert herself…  Her sitting in the branches, though, made it easy for me to get some photos and a video snippet of her…

There were some Canada Geese by the middle pond with goslings that were still in their yellow fuzz; and I found a mama Mallard with three fuzzy babies.  They had all just come out of the water and were cleaning off their feathers/down.  Then the babies tried climbing under mom. Even though they were still in their fuzz, they were really too big already to fit under her neatly, so their little heads and butts poked out from all around her.  Hah!  I’ll post photos next week…

Because of the humidity and the fact that the air was heating up fast, I only walked for about 2 hours and then headed back to the house.