Trumpeter Swans

Temperatures might still be below freezing in Jackson Hole with the lakes covered in a thick coating of ice and snow, but the Trumpter Swans find the perfect spot to keep warm and well fed — in the hot springs.

#trumpeterswans, #swans, #duck, #symbiotic, #snow, #hotspring, #hotsprings, #kellym #jacksonhole, #wyoming, #winter, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography
Constantly bobbing for food, these Trumpter Swans keep warm in the hot springs in Kelly, Wyoming. It is a challenge to capture a photograph of these two swans with both of their heads above water. March 2020.

There is a fine mist rising from the hot springs, as the air is around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The lakes and parts of the Snake River are frozen solid, showing moose tracks across the surface. Last night, we got 7″ of fresh snow.

It’s no coincidence that the ducks are swimming near the swans. They have a symbiotic relationship, as the swans foraging makes it easier for the ducks to forage as well. The swans reach underwater with their long necks, stirring up the underwater ecosystem. Both species can find plenty to eat here.

Incoming Bald Eagle

There is something bold and brave about the face of a Bald Eagle, don’t you think? When that eagle is flying straight at you that courage and confidence are especially evident.

#eagle, #baldeagle, #birdsofprey, #birds, #raptor, #florida, #parent, #adult, #inflight, #brave, #bold, #soar, #wingspan, #wings
Bald eagle in flight, showing its massive wingspan, soars directly toward the camera. Naples, Florida, 2020.

Leaving the nest to find some fresh prey, mother eagle will soon return to feed her youngster, who has grown nearly as large as its parent and is nearly ready to fledge at 10-11 weeks.

Bald Eagle: Mother and Chick

Young eaglet looks on as Mother Eagle flies away from the nest. We recognize the young eaglet by his dark feathered head and body, but he is nearly the size of an adult in just 8-10 weeks. Typically, he will learn to fly at 11 weeks, but in the meantime he relies on his parents to bring food to the nest. As mother bird flies from the nest in the morning light, youngster awaits her return.

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Mother Eagle will be back soon with fresh fish to eat, but until then the sole surviving eaglet awaits her return in the nest. Naples, Florida 2020.

At this bald eagle nest near Saint Leo’s Catholic Church in Naples, Florida, the fledgling has not yet flown from the nest. However, he has spread his large wings and practiced flapping them, jumping in place. At this stage, mother eagle leaves “junior” alone for some time while she goes out hunting for food.

Narcissus: Beauty on the Surface

This Great Egret is no Narcissist. He’s just foraging for fish on a Tuesday morning. But his clear reflection in the lake reminded me of the Greek Myth about Narcissus, the character who fell in love with his reflection. This moment frozen in time in a still image gives the impression that the egret may have stared at his reflection for a few minutes. Of course, this moment passed in an instant.

This morning the colors reflected in the water and the ripples surrounding our Great Egret gave this image a unique ethereal quality. The smooth white egret and its reflection contrast with the color and texture of the water, bringing our eye to rest on the bird and its mirror image.

#egret, #greategret, #mirror, #reflection, #colors, #ripples, #symmetry, #narcissus, #greekmythology, #naplesflorida, #naples, #naturephotography, #morninglight, #texture
Great Egret looks beneath the water for fish, while I quietly capture the reflections and ripples on the surface. Naples, FL 2020.

Egret in Profile

Wildlife doesn’t pose, and it doesn’t wait for you. To become a successful wildlife photographer, you need to be prepared, have some knowledge of animal behavior, be prepared and anticipate what may happen next. (These rules also apply to candid photography of people too!)

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Early Monday morning, this Great White Egret was fishing in this golf course lake. I was following his movements with my camera set at 1/1000 second and 600mm lens focused, poised for the moment that the bird stretched his wings. I was happy with the backlighting of the sun.

The other axiom I say to myself often is: the more often you go out, the luckier you get. Put another way, if you stay home, you won’t get the shot, for sure!

Speaking of Woodpeckers

The ecosystem of Southwest Florida also supports lots of Pileated Woodpeckers, and we spotted this one on an early morning tour of our golf course. I love this one with its brilliant red crown and interesting profile.

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Pileated woodpecker makes a brief stop at the top of this pine tree, turning his head from side to side as if listening for his mate.

Next up are my newest images of the Great White Egret. Follow this blog for views of sunlit white feathers for the next several days.

What the Red-Bellied Woodpecker said

While I was leaving Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at 5pm, I witnessed a dramatic ambush. A Red-Shouldered Hawk swooped into the woods and nearly took out a quick moving Red-Bellied woodpecker. As the hawk flew in and just as quickly flew away, the woodpecker, traumatized by its near-death experience, shrieked and jumped around frantically for several minutes. I recognized the behavior as a way of communicating, “HOLY —-. That hawk almost KILLED me!!!”

#woodpecker, #birdphotography, #redbelliedwoodpecker, #prey, #survival, #tree, #treeclinging, #bird, #outdoorphotography, #naturephotography, #corkscrew,
Red-Bellied Woodpecker has just survived an ambush by a Red-Shouldered Hawk in Naples, FL, 2020. Observing wildlife behavior is always a learning experience.

I set up my tripod as quickly as I could and made some images of the woodpecker as he momentarily rested on the trunk of this tree. When I got home to examine my photos, I was able to identify the type of bird he was. While the hawk’s behavior is part of Nature’s food chain, I could relate to the anxiety of the little woodpecker. That was one scary experience!