Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Eagles in the Park

Bald eagles have nested in a large white pine in northcentral Pennsylvania’s Little Pine State Park for at least 25 years. I remember looking across the lake at the nest way back when and being a bit frustrated because live limbs on the tree blocked all but a small part of the nest.

We visit the park a couple of times each year to see the birds and check on their nesting success. The original nest tree died and the birds continued to use the nest for a while. More recently the eagles built a new nest in another tall lakeside white pine. Last year a Canada goose chose to use the old eagle nest as a place for her own nest. A fellow photographer saw the goslings leave the nest, fall about 50 feet to the ground – they survived and head for the water. This spring the goose was again incubating her own eggs in the old eagle nest.

One misty morning I headed for the park again to see the eagles and try for some photos. From the vista in the park I looked across the upper part of the lake toward the new nest –

One bird, probably the male, was on a limb near the nest; male bald eagles frequently guard the nest from predators and rivals.

After a while he took off and flew (can you find him in the photo?) to a nearby pine –

He spent some time there before taking off again and heading down the valley toward Pine Creek.

As I waited and watched a great blue heron landed on the lakeshore –

After about 15 minutes the female eagle flew in to land on the same limb where the male had been. She called a few times but, due to the distance
(over 1000 feet), I couldn’t hear her. After spending some time there, she took off and heading upstream –

It wasn’t too long before she returned, carrying a large fish –

When she entered the nest she began feeding a young one.

Although it was really hard to see
at that distance, it appeared that there were two young eagles in the nest. The eaglet(s) is quite small given the late date when these photos were taken; l
ess than a week later the eaglets in a nest a few miles away were fully feathered and exercising their wings. After the eagle fed her offspring she ate some of the fish herself.

Then the female eagle returned to the limb and, as the morning’s drizzle turned to heavy rain, went back on the nest to shelter the eaglets –

As the rain increased even more it was time for me to seek shelter in the car and head for home and some food.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Beaver Tale

More than a month ago on a day that had dawned with a misty rain falling, a misty rain that continued throughout the morning and early afternoon. As we ate supper the precipitation ended and that was all it took for me to decide to head for a nearby beaver pond.

This is a beaver pond that I’ve walked past and where I’ve photographed waterfowl. The dam has been in good repair, but I’ve never seen a fresh-cut stump nor a lodge nor a beaver – although there are a lot of old stumps. The beaver pond is less than three miles from the house as the crow flies, but I’m not endowed with wings so I drove a circuitous route as far as I could and walked the last half mile.

Taking a seat at the end of the dam, I set the camera with its longest lens on my monopod. It wasn’t long before my expectations were realized and a beaver appeared –

From where had it come? At that point it was clear that the beavers didn't have a lodge but were instead what are called “bank beavers”, living in an underground burrow at the edge of the pond.

After a few minutes a second, smaller beaver appeared but it quickly swam behind a clump of arrowhead, a plant at home in wetlands and along the edge of ponds, and disappeared from view –

Meanwhile the larger beaver continued to swim in “S” curves and gradually work its way toward me –

It would get just so close and then turn, swim away and repeat the whole process. After more than a half hour it apparently had enough of that –

As I waited for the beavers to reappear I had plenty of time to look around the pond and its bordering wetland –

Far across the pond a Baltimore oriole hunted insect larvae in a tree –

A band of young wood ducks also hunted insects, but they searched among the pond lilies –

Not too far away a solitary sandpiper waded in the shallows –

The sun was setting and the beaver hadn’t reappeared so it was time for me to also head for home. On the way back to the car I came face to face with a cottontail rabbit –

The last wild creature of the day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Day by Day Throughout the Year - 2nd quarter

In this post are the photos taken day by day throughout the second quarter of 2024 as I strive to take an interesting or at least good photograph of the natural world each day; the photographs from the first quarter are in this post.

It had been spring for a month as we started the second three months of the year. Last winter was warm without much snow. Streams have been high, but not as high as in years with normal snowfall. There were few birds at the feeders during the winter and early spring, and few to be seen in forest and field as well – perhaps due to the reported 30% drop in bird populations throughout North America. Spring flowers have been blooming earlier than in past years and trees' buds opened earlier – climate change at work.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy these photos –

Spring wildflowers have come and gone, white-tail fawns and elk calves are quite mobile now, most birds have nested and their young are, or soon will be, on the wing. Summer has arrived with its heat, humidity and haze and I’m still taking photos
which will be posted in early October.

From my camera traps: 4/3, 6/3