Stakeout

Watching and listening.

My last meeting ended early and there was some remaining daylight, so returned to the meadow where I saw a coyote yesterday morning. I knew it would be incredibly unlikely the coyote would be there again – perhaps ever, let alone when I happened to stop by. But I grabbed my camera and long lens and drove up to the site, parking before the road bent and the meadow was visible, then walking quietly up the road and into the crunchy leaf litter beside a crumbling stone wall. I waited.

I’ve never been a hunter, and don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to be one. I find it difficult to stand and do nothing, and yet stay alert, perhaps for minutes or for hours. And yet, as I leaned on the crusty bark of a sugar maple, enjoying the way the last rays of the mid-October sunshine made the yellows and golds and oranges of the nearby trees glow, I found myself tuning into the environment around me. A nearby rustle signaled a chipmunk scurrying under the stone wall and through the leaves to scrounge for acorns. The flash of a grey tail behind a tree – is that a coyote? – no, just a squirrel. The stare of a brown cow, far across the meadow in the adjacent pasture. The distant coo of an owl, far down the road. The clear rings of a Vermont village church bell from across the river, reminding all that it was 6pm and sun would set soon. Even the falling autumn leaves made noise, a quiet ‘click’ as they touched down on stones of the ancient wall.

No coyote today, but a worthwhile outing nonetheless.

Duck season

Wabbit season!

As I carried my rowing shell down to the river side this morning, a warm October morning with the river so calm it looked like a mirror, and light wisps of fog clinging to the riverside trees, I tried to remember when Duck season was set to begin. I knew it was somewhere in the first week of October.

So it was not too surprising, as I sculled past the Wilder Wildlife Management Area, a half kilometer upriver, that a gunshot rang out. Close by! I looked toward the sound and saw a duck falling from the sky, and a puff of gunsmoke hovering over the wetland I knew was behind the row of riverside bushes. I paused, listened closely, and could hear the murmur of conversation a few hundred meters away, where the duck hunters were celebrating Opening Day.

Good thing I have a bright red shell and wear a bright red jersey when I row. Still, I think I’ll head downriver next time.

American Bittern

Some of our many neighbors.

I was out for a paddle along the Connecticut River near home, this afternoon, and took a side trip among the reeds and brush that form the ‘delta’ at the mouth of Hewes Brook. This area is popular with ducks, herons, geese, kingfisher, beaver, and countless other residents. Today, a pair of American Bittern posed for me in the brush of a tiny islet while I came by. More photos.

American Bittern, in the brush near the mouth of Hewes Brook, Connecticut River, Lyme NH.

Earlier this month I’ve seen white Egrets and Great Blue Herons feeding nearby, as well as Canada Geese, many varieties of ducks, and a pair of loons. Need to bring my camera more often!

A walk in the woods

A sunny day for a walk.

I try to reserve a bit of daylight, each day, to get out for a walk. When I’m especially busy, or lazy, I walk up the road and back, keeping an eye peeled for that bald eagle I saw over the river last week. But when I have a bit more time and energy, I don my pack and strike out up the steep hill on the other side of the road. These hills were formed several centuries ago when the Connecticut River was formed by the receding waters of the Pleistocene-era Lake Hitchcock, after the glaciers receded from what is now northern New England. The hillside is steep, but it’s a good chance to get my legs moving, to fill my lungs with fresh air, to follow my whims, and to see what I might find. What did I find out there today? read on.

Continue reading “A walk in the woods”

Zürich wildlife

An albino rat explores Bahnhofstrasse.

When your hiking habit shifts its attention to city streets, because of the pandemic, you need to take wildlife sightings when and where you can.  On Saturday morning I enjoyed a chorus of frogs in Zürich’s Irchel park. On Sunday morning I roamed the old streets of central Zürich looking for photographic opportunities.  On a deserted Bahnhofstrasse — the largest and swankiest street in the shopping district — one little opportunity scurried toward me on the sidewalk.  This rat, an albino, popped into a tree well to sniff through the debris left by humans who’d strolled by the day before.

2020-04-19-82674-2 Continue reading “Zürich wildlife”

Costa Rica workshop

A week-long wildlife-photography workshop in Costa Rica.

I had the great pleasure of spending a week on in southwest Costa Rica, participating in a wildlife-photography workshop run by Steve & Rose Perry of BackcountryGallery.com.  Anyone who follows Steve’s blog, or YouTube channel, or has read his excellent books knows that he is an incredibly knowledgeable teacher of photography and, specifically, of Nikon camera techniques. For me, it was a great opportunity to focus intensively on photography, surrounded by other photo enthusiasts and accompanied by a master photographer and deeply experienced wildlife guides. Read on, and check out the photo galleries!

Central American squirrel monkey, drinking from a puddle in the knot of a tree branch.
Central American squirrel monkey, drinking from a puddle in the knot of a tree branch.

Continue reading “Costa Rica workshop”

South Carolina

We’re just back from ten lovely days in South Carolina on the shores of Kiawah Island near Charleston.  With lots of family nearby and abundant greenspace around the island, I had plenty of interesting opportunities for photography.

  • A general photo collection, including wildlife, family, and the launch of Chinese lanterns on New Year’s Eve: [smugmug].
  • A surprise encounter with bottlenose dolphins in the straights next to Kiawah Island, while they were strand feeding:  [smugmug].
  • An attempt at dark-sky photography of the new crescent moon, Orion, and the Milky Way:  [smugmug].

    Christmas sunrise on Kiawah Island.
    Christmas sunrise on Kiawah Island.

Rowing the Connecticut

Summer is a wonderful time on the river, in part because the lengthy days allow me ample time to get out rowing.  I like to row well before breakfast, because the river is as still as glass and there are rarely any other boats.  Today, three days after returning from our canoe trip on the upper reaches of the river, I was treated to an unusual abundance of bird life.

Continue reading “Rowing the Connecticut”

Ranthambore National Park

A safari in the heart of India.

Ranthambore National Park [location], named for the 1,050-year-old Ranthambore fort within, is a sprawling 400-square-kilometer reserve for wildlife. It is most famous for its population of Royal Bengal Tigers, which currently number 36. We were lucky to see one up close, but there are many other beautiful animals and birds, including jungle cat, spotted deer, sambar deer, antelope, wild boarlangur (right), crocodile, turtle, egret, heron, stork, peafowl, treepie, kingfisher, parakeet, lapwing, and ducks.  Not to mention many, many homo touristicus, crammed into 20-seat topless buses and wielding cameras. Read on – we saw a tiger! and See lots more photos.

homo touristicus, in 20-seat open buses.
Continue reading “Ranthambore National Park”