Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wild Wings 1

We get a lot of wild birds on the Museum property and sometimes they are just as much fun to watch as the animals we have on exhibit.  For example, while walking the Outdoor Trail, I'll happen upon a wild great blue heron as it wades around the pond looking for fish or frogs to spear with its long beak:
I've seen up to three wild great blue herons on the pond at one time.  I'm pretty sure at least one individual resides here all year long.  Most of the time, they don't move very fast--unless they're catching food, then they can be lightening fast as they jab their prey!  But for the most part, they seem unhurried, walking with deliberate footsteps in the shallows of the pond.  Sometimes a great blue will calmly land on a hand rail along the trail to sun itself--in this photo, you'll see that it tucked a leg up tightly up against it's belly so that it appears it only has one leg:
Sometimes guests might notice a wild great blue heron sitting on top of our Outdoor Aviary.  Does it talk to our heron?  I don't know....but it might stay for a while to groom its feathers:
If you're really lucky, you might hear it vocalize as it throws its head back--a weird loud squawk:
If you're really, really lucky, you might get to see it launch off the top of the Aviary and fly off across the pond--all with an economy of movement and very little flapping of its wings.  As it launches itself into flight, it initially looks a bit gawky and ungainly, but that changes in an instant, as it spreads its broad wings--with an impressive 6-foot wingspan!--and glides noiselessly across the pond:
On some days I might wait up to 45 minutes to see it launch into flight--and then I only have a few seconds to take photos--you'd be surprised at how fast it can soar across the pond!  I hope you enjoyed these photos--I'll try to capture more shots of this magnificent creature and share them with you in the future.  More off the beaten path in two weeks!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Fine Fall Day 2013

Fall is probably my favorite season.  I love when the temperature drops a bit, but it's still comfortable, like on the sunny mid-October day when I shot these photos.  Some of our animals, like our river otter, use it as an excuse to play.  The second photo shows him diving into his pond:
Some, like our female raccoon, prefer to find a sunny spot to curl up for a nap:
Wild animals were also out basking in the sunshine, like this pond turtle:
Small birds, like this yellow-rumped warbler flutter through tree branches as they migrate through this area:
The leaves also flutter....down to the ground, like this brilliant red sweetgum leaf:
Catching the late afternoon sun, these sassafras leaves glint with warm amber shades.  (Thanks to Judy Molnar for pointing these out to me!):
Blending in with the autumn-colored leaves that drifted to the forest floor, this male common yellow-throated warbler looks like a yellow leaf with legs!  Thanks to Susan Summers for helping me identify this gorgeous little bird:
This time of year, persimmons start to ripen....
...while turkey tail fungi fans out in beautiful shades of orange, tan, brown, and pale purple.  I stood on top of a tree stump and pointed the camera down to take this shot:
Hope you get out to enjoy the small wonders of a fall day, where ever you might be!