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A Wonderland

June 19th, 2012

A Wonderland

As I was driving on Airport Rd to Pondicherry I saw a pair of ears in a field of tall grass. I slowed to make sure my eyes were not deceiving me. The wheels slowed to a halt leaving me parallel to the supposed ears. I turned off the car and saw the ears twitch. I simply sat watching and was quite sure I was being watched as well. The ears moved and up popped a beautiful deer. At first, it stood staring back at me and then the tail went up , a snort was sent my way, and off into a series of jumps it went.

My camera snapped away but I realized the deer was moving erratically. Instead of just fleeing it really wasn't doing anything but trying to distract me. I was getting a free jumping show but as we know very little is done without a purpose and this is very true of wildlife. I decided there was a reason for it to want me to move and while I did not understand it would still be best to listen to the communication being offered. I started the car and headed on to the lot for Pondicherry where I stopped and quickly reviewed the images.

In the first two frames something caught my eyes in the grass where the deer had been hiding. A fawn was there on the ground. It's polka dotted coat was obvious on film but blended perfectly from the road. Mom did have a very good purpose to distract me and I was right to move onward. Such a magical treat to start the day. This is so often the way of a trip to Pondicherry as gifts from Mother Nature are there if you are open to see them. I have seen fox and bear wandering on the fields off of the road and also seen some amazing birds in Airport Marsh. A simple prelude of beauty to the jewels awaiting you at Pondicherry.

I now readied myself for the journey into Pondicherry. The main trail in is fairly wide and curves a bit over its initial beginning before straightening out for the rest of the main trail. The journey in reminds me of being in a parade of champions. As you walk down the route you are called to from so many directions by different species of birds. Cheering you on to the beauty that awaits and seems to grow with each step forward. Songs of happiness and even a little snicker or two from a Red Squirrel who would prefer you do not walk on his parade path. Butterflies and moths fly around you in dazzling displays of colors and often land so you can admire their true beauty of patterns mixed within their wings. Dragonflies serve as news helicopters following your every movement. No song to sing but plenty of color and quick movements to entertain you.

Some green, some blue, some with clear wings, and some with spotted wings too. A World moves with you as you move onward. Alone in a sense but in a crowd of Nature's amazing creations too. Sometimes a snowshoe hare or something neat crosses the trail before you. Onward you go until a decision comes upon you now that your parade is finished.

Choices are yours to make and for once in life there is truly not a bad choice here. Only a choice that leads to one enjoyment or another. One place is no better then the other. One treat as tasty as the next. Each awaits before or after another for you to explore to your heart and souls content. Straight is the trail to Little Cherry Pond and right leads you to the beautiful platform over looking beautiful Cherry Pond and the stunning mountains just beyond. You can also go past the platform to Moorehen Marsh. Ah the choices before us lead to different places but beauty at each.

Onward we go to the Little Cherry Pond path not far down the rail bed. There is a side path or two that you may take and see out into Cherry Pond from different points. You will also pass a spot on the left that if you stop and listen will provide you with a variety of different woodpeckers searching the trees for food. You hear their drumming and calls as these new performers do their thing for you.

The Little Cherry Pond path is a nice loop that brings you through a forested area that offers many treats. New sounds of song can be heard and some new birds will fly past as well. A porcupine or a fox are to be found in here too. A treat that keeps your eyes wandering from one beauty to the next. Looking and searching for the source of the beautiful sounds. The forest floor looks like a carpet in places with some beautiful flowers and plants poking on through. A Painted Trillium, Red Trillium, Lady Slippers, and Pitcher Plants are just a few that await you. As you make your way along the planks and out to the pond you may see signs of a beaver or two.

Take a seat on the bench and enjoy the view. A small pond but it does not lack in life as ducks are here and there with other birds flying in and out too. You can relax as this scenic view is just for you and the scenes playing out before you are the purest there is to be seen. Mother Nature shares a glimpse of this World with you. You may step off the platform onto the grass before you and now you are floating on water as the little grass island is floating and so are you.

As you walk back out listen for the Winter Wrens call this home or maybe be treated to the sounds of the Black Backed Woodpeckers who enjoy this little area too. Northern Parulas can be heard here too and if you look closely you may see their nest in the trees above you. Paradise it seems can be found right here but for us there is more to see.

Back to the rails and back to the platform we go. Not far but beauty is there with every step you take. Soon you arrive at the Tudor Richards Platform and get to see a sight that a man not so long ago dreamt would be shared with more and more. So his dream lives with you. You look out and see the beauty of a pristine pond. You may hear the call of the resident Loons or maybe see Canada Geese fly in or out over the course of the day. Movement far across the pond catches your eyes and soon you look through binoculars to see a big ole moose eating grass on the far side of the pond. A little surprise that only adds to the beauty and purity that is all around you.

As you sit on the bench and have your lunch you can be entertained by the clouds that seem to dance over the White Mountains. Forming here and transforming there before disappearing to be replaced by yet another. You can see the towers on top of Mount Washington from where you sit. As you look around you can imagine the past that is not such a distant past here compared to other places. The World evolves quickly but in beautiful places that are out of the way of the human machine time moves at a different pace. A pace that is far more natural then that of the other World. Here you walk the in the shadows of great people such as David Govatski ( a true naturalist and Pondicherry visionary), Tudor Richards ( a legendary man and Mr. Pondicherry), and Indians who lived on this very land not so long ago to name just a few. All of our paths cross as we enjoy the greatness of the outdoors. A dream and a vision of a World that is pure that is shared and passed on through generations. Time does not stand still but you are looking at the same mountains and the same pond that has given life, taken life, and inspired dreams.

After your wonderful lunch at the platform it is off to Moorehen Marsh where a whole new habitat awaits you. The Moorehen for which the marsh is named have now gone but others live in the reeds that reach for the sky in the marsh. You may here the call of a rail or a wren coming out of what seems to be no where. A Common Yellowthroat or one of many sparrows may call to you are well. A loan raptor soars through the sky and one must wonder which one is it on this day? A hawk or a falcon and which species of those it is but on this day it is too high to see for sure. On any given day at any given moment it can be one of many and some days there are many too. Not long ago it was a pair of Northern Harriers chasing one another in what was likely a mating ritual as they soared and dove and spun and simply put on an air show right here over the marsh as I stood and watched in amazement. The marsh has much to offer as there are many frogs calling and sometimes even a rare one can be found such as a Mink frog found a few years ago on IBMD. True treats await those who's eyes, ears, and mind are open to take it all in.

The species of butterflies, moths, and dragonflies can be completely different then what you have seen elsewhere today. It sometimes feels like the marsh is yet another World within a World at Pondicherry. Explore and enjoy as there is something to be found everywhere.

Time to head back to the platform as the sun begins to set and a magical time nears. At the platform you can see the clouds on the mountain begin to change as the sun lowers and the types of clouds become different then those of midday. The sounds around you slowly begin to fade and change as the daylight comes to an end. A headlamp and the moon will guide you out. Yet it is not time to leave yet.

The sun continues to fall and the scene continues to change quickly. Light fades and colors replace it. The mountains and the pond are turning magical as sunset now envelopes everything. The reds, oranges, pinks, blues, and other hues just jump from the sky as if it is being painted right before you. It is not a dream and it is not your imagination as the kaleidoscope of colors continues to slowly change. A blink of an eye and the scene has changed. It is easy to feel as though you are lost in a dream as this takes place. Soothing sounds from the brook and dazzling colors in the sky. It ends all too soon.

Darkness now has taken its places and the moon lights the pond softly and it is time to go. A headlamp and the moon are your sources of light. The frogs call loudly now and a Whoop-a-will calls in the distance. As you reach the trail that was once a parade you realize that now it is a path of darkness that leads to home. A planetarium of sorts as the stars above fill the sky everywhere you look and there seem to be more than you have ever seen before. As you walk you can now hear your feet crunch the ground below and a noise in the bushes sounds ten times louder then it really is but there is nothing you can do to ease the feeling. You are on edge but it is a good feeling because you are alive and filled with peace. A Woodcock calls out before you and as you approach it takes to the sky in a seeming explosion of power. It's wings sound so loud and it gains height only to land again just out of sight. Soon you will repeat this process again and again as it seems to guide the way to home.

The walk goes quickly with the stars and the woodcock. The sounds of the night are different then those of the day but here at Pondicherry it is just as beautiful. A serenade in and a serenade out are part of the beauty of this place.

A place off the beaten path that offers a World within the World. A place that offers you the chance to see many of Natures beauty and to hear it as well. There is not a part of you or me that leaves unchanged. It is not possible to come to such a place and leave it without feeling closer to just being a human in a World of life. A human in a World that is not fast paced and where everything has a place and a purpose. A place where you are not judged and where you can leave judgements behind. Everything here is equal now just as it was when the Indians first walked into this place, as it was when Tudor Richards first came here and fell in love, and when David Govatski walks it now. A place to be equal and a place that begs you to fall in love with it. A place that lets you know it is ok to be you while you are here in this World of peace and serenity. A place where nature lives as it should and a place worth visiting, worth loving, and worth protecting.

Awe So Cute

June 14th, 2012

It is that time of year again when you are likely to stumble upon something in the woods that makes you say "Awe so cute!!". This is a right of spring that happens all too often. So what am I talking about?

This is baby time of year in the World of wildlife as many creatures have their young in the spring. Life begins again with flowers growing and blooming, fields stretching for the sky, and leaves bursting as the World wakes up from a long winter. It is a great time to be outside.

Keep your eyes open and stop to listen as you walk the trails. You are likely to discover some truly beautiful sights. One thing you need to remember though is to allow nature to be nature. Things have evolved over time and the wildlife has adapted to safely take care of their young.

So when you see those cute little birds in a nest or that baby fawn laying on the ground and the parents seem to be nowhere to be found, just remember to let them be. Mom is likely not far away and will return. Some times it is quicker then others and each species varies. If the animal isn't obviously injured then you are likely doing it more harm then good. Even animals that are injured factor into nature being nature as not every baby is supposed to make it. It is a part of population control and part of why some species have so many young at one time.

Some species can actually reabsorb the fetus into the walls of the womb if times become tough and it is likely not to survive and at the opposite end there are species who have hundreds of eggs hoping a few defeat astronomical odds to make it. Nature has it under control.

That fawn is likely doing just what it is supposed to do until Mom returns and that could be a few minutes or even hours. mom needs food to feed the baby and thus she at some point has to leave the baby alone. There is a species of seal that nurtures its baby till the Mom almost starves to death and then she must leave to feed. She can be gone as long as a month! The baby must make it on its own and faces a daunting challenge but this is all built into Natures plan and we must let it happen.

So when you see a baby try to remember that it likely isn't lost or Mom hasn't abandoned it either. The process of life is just playing out and no matter how much noise the baby makes or how cute it is that you really need to just leave it be. Nature will do what needs to be done as it has for so long.

Enjoy the view and walk away with a cute story to tell and now something in your arms that now is definitely without a Mom. As soon as you pick it up and walk away you have altered the fate of the little one. It is best left as is to the fate destined by nature.

Enjoy the experience.

A Blur

June 12th, 2012

I sit here on the shores of a river flowing.
Now as always the river runs.
Life around me caught in a virtual time warp.
Roads and cars signal today and moving forward.
Lush forest and birds song are calls of yesterday still holding on.
A land still loved in a World with no time.
Wildlife walks the trails and flies the skies.
Cars whiz by over the roads that don't seem to fit here.
Trails beg of man to do as he has seemingly forever.
One foot then another through the World.
Instead we drive by at speeds where there are only blurs.
Blurs of green and blue.
Today moving towards tomorrow.
In a place where yesterday still belongs.
A time warp for one and all.
Man will move at his own pace.
Nature can only hope to follow.
Can only hope to not be forever left in a blur.
Time moves on.
Sometimes just too fast for those easily left behind.
Simply a blur in World changing to fast.
Leaving yesterday behind.
A blur....


June 7th, 2012

One of my favorites quotes from the movie Gladiator that Russell Crowe says, " what we do in life, echoes in eternity" rings so true to me. It has gone from a cool line in a favorite movie to a true call for us all to heed.

In this life we live we leave our mark for eternity and we have a choice on what that mark is and how significant it is as well. Shall we leave one that endures in a positive ripple or one that leaves a negative wave? Our choice and ours alone to decide which way our lives shall impact the fate of others and their eternity just as those before us have continually alter the reality we live in.

How can this be so you wonder? Some people made great inventions, others made great discoveries, and others made nasty weapons but they all share a piece of the altering of eternity. Even the common folk have this very power. How did you raise your children? How did you treat other people? How did you treat the Earth and it's creatures? A destiny that was is not the same because a choice you made or maybe even didn't make has changed fate, has changed eternity.

As humans we have more control over eternity then any other species on the entire planet. We were given free will and it is with this free will that we make these choices that echo through the ages. A ripple if you will that continues through time just as it would through water if we dropped a rock in it.

So when it comes to nature and wildlife we must be stewards of their World. They cannot effect change as we can and we must choose to either be positive or negative in that World. Looking back over the course of time we can see both good and bad. Too often we have played God with horrible results.

We know more now then we did before but in the end we are only more dangerous with this knowledge. Our first generations of humans hunted to feed themselves and learned many things by watching the ways of wildlife. We learned ways to protect ourselves from danger and we learned what we could eat or not eat by seeing what they ate. On and on went the learning from them until as we progressed the need for greed crept into our World. Man wanting more then he needs has only led to bad things for the World and it echoes loudly through eternity.

Species have been hunted to extinction for reasons that are mind boggling. We may have called it sport or in the case of the buffalo a way to control another race of humans, the Indians. We kill now because we can and not because we need too. We take space not because it is something we must do but more because we simply want it. We do not consider the long term effects because they do not seem to affect us. All these decisions echo through eternity.

This is not to preach that we must have debates before we cut any tree or build any road. This is simply stating that we have the power to be aware of our echoes and we should treat them as if each last for eternity and will change the reality of those who follow us. There are many things that are gone forever that now only live in books or photographs. They are simply memories as there echoes are fading from eternity as they no longer make a ripple to carry onward. What a shame that our future generations do not get to have anything but a memory because we choose not to care and not to keep in mind what echoes in eternity we are making. Each and everyone of us will make many of them.

Which will you choose? Why will you choose it? "What We DO in Life Echoes in ETERNITY !"

The Singing Tree

June 4th, 2012

The Singing Tree

The day had already been an amazing one with so many blessings from Mother Natures creatures that I could not want for more. It could be that true peace that had reached deep in my soul that opened the opportunity for something that was beyond explanation to happen. A magical moment that still brings a smile to my face and a pleasant song to my ears that warms my heart and soul. I believe it will every time I remember it for as long as I live.

I was at Rotary Park in Biddeford continuing a day of birding that had already included many beautiful moments and birds. I was at peace with my soul soothed as I started to walk up the hill. I was here to see an Indigo Bunting as a friend had seen one elsewhere and I knew they were here each spring and summer. Their blue sometimes seems so iridescent that it defies your mind as you look at them. I often have seen them at the top of the hill in the trees there.

I began to whistle as I walked towards the trees. I was not whistling anything in particular but more of just random noises. I paused to take a breath and I was surprised to hear a few birds now singing their songs from the top of the hill. I reached the top of the hill and looked for what I was hearing. I could not see any of the birds but I knew one of them was the Indigo Bunting.

I looked and found where it was singing from and took a few pictures before it flew off. I was satisfied and began to whistle again. I saw movement in a large tree beside me and there was a Brown Thrasher in the middle of the tree and it soon began to sing. Slowly it made its way to the outer part of a branch. It was much easier to see the bird there and it's song was strong and beautiful. It was watching me and I was watching it sing. It stopped and I began to whistle again as the bird turned its head towards the left and right as if it was trying to understand me. I stopped and it seemed to be trying to mimic some of what I had done before reverting back to its familiar song. It paused and just as I was about to start again the Indigo Bunting flew to a branch a bit lower then the thrasher and started singing. Now both the the thrasher and I were watching the iridescent bunting sing it's beautiful song. It went on and on.

Finally it stopped and I started to whistle. I looked at each bird and they were both looking right at me. We seemed to be having a little jam session. A new bird flew into the tree and at first I could not see it but as I continued to whistle it came out too. It was a Cedar Waxwing which is another truly beautiful bird with a nice song. I wondered if it would sing if I stopped. I stopped and it sang loudly and now the other two birds and I listened.

The waxwing stopped and I began to whistle my tune, the thrasher jumped in with his, the bunting added its song too, and of course the waxwing began to sing as well. We were all doing our own songs and I looked from bird to bird trying to take it all in. It was simply amazing!
I stopped whistling and then the waxwing stopped singing and flew off towards the thicket. The bunting stopped and it flew down the hill disappearing in the trees. I fully expected the thrasher to do the same but it kept on singing.

It stopped and looked at me as I looked at it. I began to whistle and it twisted its head again and then tried again to mimic my whistle. I stopped and so did it. It took one last look and then flew into another tree across from where we had been. There was no easy access to that tree so I simply stayed where I was and looked hopefully at the tree. I was hoping for more song. It seemed our moment was over and feeling full of life I decided to walk back to the car and continue my journey for the day.

I whistled as I walked and had a huge smile on my face. I was almost to the car when a bird flew ahead of me and landed in a tree I would pass. Soon the thrasher was at the top of the tree singing it's song. I stopped whistling and enjoyed the thrasher. It sang until I reached my car and then stopped. I looked up and thanked the thrasher. Off it flew.........

Nature Lives on Big Friday

June 4th, 2012

Nature Lives on Big Friday

There are days when you visit many places and it seems so quiet that you begin to wonder where all the creatures have gone and if there is something wrong with the area you are visiting. Hours upon hours can go past with not even butterflies or moths or even a spider is seen. The World seems to have gone quiet. Then there are those days when things just are thriving and it seems you can't keep up with everything.

The forecast called for rain coming in for multiple days and thus I decided Friday June 1st would be Big Friday and I would go out early and stay out late to make the most of it. Some 1200 pictures later I would say I made the best of the Big Day. The pictures certainly do it justice but at the same time I think words are needed to complete the pictures. So these are the words.

I started the day down at Laudholm Farm in Wells as I had heard there were Piping Plovers on the beach and I wanted to see if the chicks had hatched yet. It is a great place to walk with many miles of trails and a small fee of only $4. There are many habitats but I was making a straight line to the beach, albeit slowly. I come to a junction and there is a bird house but that is not what caught my eye. In the brush under the birdhouse there was something moving about. I stopped where I was to listen and look to try and figure out what it was that was there. A cheerful song with trills and chirps told me there was a House Wren somewhere to be found in the brush. I stepped a little closer and knelt to the ground to have decent angles to look in the brush. Sure enough there it was looking at me and singing away. Seemingly happy as can be on this sunny day.

I looked through the lens and found the sport where I could get the wren without all the twigs in the way and it called again before it flew to a better position for pictures. I swear some wildlife are just simply hams when it comes to having their pictures taken. I snapped a few more shots and then off it flew to the top of the nests and out flew another wren and in flew that one. So a nice nesting situation for them with brush right under their home. Considering House Wrens will nest in about anything including old shoes or boots or even cans if they find them around your yard or garage this was an ideal spot. I decided to move on before I wasn't welcomed anymore. It was a great way to start the morning.

After about a hundred yards I was able hearing lots of singing around me with movement in the trees too. I heard the call of a Northern Cardinal and looked in that direction. I was looking up and spotted the bird but before I took a shot another bird began to sing much lower and closer. I looked and ther was a Brown Thrasher right beside me. I aimed the lens but couldn't focus as I was too close. I had to back up and then took a few shots. A squirrel came running through the bushes and off went the thrasher.

I stopped here and there to listen and too look as I made my way to the beach. The tide was quite high so I carefully made my way down the beach making sure I didn't come upon a nest and scare any birds. Most places with Piping Plovers or Least Terns are roped off but the birds do not stay in the roped areas and can be found far away from them nesting or exploring with chicks. Leaving them feeling safe and at peace with their surroundings is important. It is with any wildlife. We encroach enough on their space as it is and we should be extra cautious during breeding seasons.

I make my way to the end and see a man fly fishing and the familiar roped off section of the beach. I was excited and I also noticed across the channel was a ton of bird activity. A quick look through the lens told me there were many terns, gulls, and likely some plovers too. I asked the fisherman about the other side and he explained it was hard to get to but told me what he knew. I thanked him and then headed slowly towards the roped area. I looked and looked but didn't see a thing.

The funny thing is I know exactly what I am looking for and how well they can blend in with their surroundings. I stop and just slowly scan the ground until something seems different. I study it and realize I am looking at an adult Piping Plover in the sand and rocks but from behind which makes it even harder to pick out in its surroundings. Then out of nowhere comes the other one of the pair and it makes a noise to get my attention. It heads away from the one laying down to obviously divert my attention. I back up a little and slowly follow. This is what the bird wants and I accept that. Away we go and I take some shots. I step back further and watch as it keeps an eye on me and on the sky. It removes around peeking out from behind grass and other things as it goes. I slowly back away and am thankful for the shots of these beautiful birds.

I make my way slowly back off the beach and take a different path back towards the parking lot. It is on a wooden boardwalk. Sounds are all around from slithering snakes by the boardwalk to chipmunks and red squirrels chattering to many birds singing. I simply take it all in with each slow step. A cat bird whines and a Blue Jay calls loudly. Other birds chirp too and some fly away while others across in front of me. A splendid walk and I leave the camera by my side.

This path leads out to the junction with the wren house. As I approach I hear the familiar call of a Eastern Towhee and I stop. It hops out from the shrubs and I raise the camera. I begin to push the button and off it hops back into the bushes and out onto a path that meets the junction from another direction. I walk to the end and turn the corner. It calls and hops back through to the other side. It feels like a game and the towhee seems only to happy to go back and forth. I smile and stop at the junction and it decides to stay in between. The wrens come out and sing. I laugh out loud and move on.

I finally get back to my car and look at a map to see how to approach the other area. I quickly figure it out and off I am to Parsons Beach.

I would say a few things about Parson's Beach that are positive and negative. In some ways it is so typical of Maine beaches and lakes these days. As a person who has lived in the state my whole life I fail to understand why so many beaches are private or parking fees are outrageous. There is no benefit to living in the state as far as going to these places. You can go in the winter with no major issues but summer forget it. Parson's is a large beach and yet there is parking for a mere twenty cars at best. No fees and that is great but you are treated to a nice sign that says "private road" before you enter the bech. Do not block and do not drop off here and certainly do not come down the road. As you get onto the beach it is a true gem but as you walk towards the right you end seeing a sign that says "walking only beyond this point". Seriously, I can only walk? Not sitting and no enjoying. I get to the end where a fine home sits and the only way around it is on the rocks. I normally would not go past but I know this is where the birds are and there are no signs restricting access as long as you stay off there property. I do all of this and get to where I need to go but why so many rules on something we should all simply be able to enjoy. I have never understood it and never will.

As I approach the obvious fenced and roped area that serves as protection for the Piping Plovers and Least Terns that are nesting here I see just how much activity there is here. An amazing amount of terns flying to and for with small fish in their mouths landing near females and trying to impress them enough to get a mate. So many choices though for the females. As I walk I near a noise off to my right and there is a little baby Piping Plover running in the sand. They can be so hard to see and blend in very well. I stop and unslung the camera as I kneel to get lower for this tiny cotton ball on a pair of twigs running around. Soon I see Mom and two more little ones. I make sure to keep my distance as I do not wish to disrupt their happy World. Mom settles and I know I am far enough away. I take pictures as the little ones run here and there without a care in the World it seems. So precious are these moments that I am able to see and treasure. Then they hunker right down as a Black-backed Gull appears and circles but can't seem to if d them. I stand and move along as the full could just be trying to see what I am looking at.

I continue my slow walk at the tide line and again I hear noise to my right. Yet another set of beautiful babies and two parents. I do the same as before and watch as the little ones have a game of chase and blend in very well will dried seaweed and sand. So much fun but I know I need to move on and promise to find them on my way out. They are quite far from the roped area but they do not know what the ropes are for and will go where they go. As it should be.

I approach the roped area but I am staying away from that area as there is more then enough to see down here with many terns flying about and many more on the ground awaiting the approach of a male with a fish. I stop and do not even point the camera for a good five minutes. I take in the calls of the birds, the rumbles of the waves, and the essence of the ocean in the air. It is a magical World that I am sitting in right now. Truly it could have been June first of 2012 or June first of 1712 and what I was seeing would be the same. Time changes so many things but every once in awhile you can find a magical pocket where life is still simply life as it has always been. Here was that special place and I just soaked it up.

I finally take the camera and start taking shots of terns flying this way and that, landing and taking off. Some land near females and a brief exchange takes place as she looks him over and looks at the fish. Sometimes she loudly calls at him and sometimes she lunges at the fish, both of these always seem to send the male flying off to another place signaling a non match for those two. Sometimes two males bring fish to the same female and both are rejected too. Then I see one male land next to a female and she acts very different. She looks at the male but only calls softly. He approaches slowly and she calls again. This repeats until he is beside her and then he nuzzles beside her and slowly the fish is moved behind her head and then I. Front of her face. Sometimes with a quick jerk to send the fishes tail straight up in the air and the. It falls like a pendulum. This practice goes on for sometime and the nuzzeling continues too. She flattens and opens here wings slightly as if for balance or to provide more stabilization and suddenly his wings flap and he is now on her and the movement of the fish co to use as par tof this new dance. She moves her head and he moves the fish. He almost seems to tease her with it before finally giving her the fish. She holds the fish in her mouth as he moves on top of her and tries to keep his balance. At times using his wings and others his bill to hold her in place. Finally the beautiful moment passes and he slides beside her with his head sliding against hers before he lifts it high and proud. A call is given as he sits beside her while she finally eats the fish he gave to her. They seem to sit in peace.

Truly a beautiful natural and pure moment of nature. I am truly in awe as I flip through the images to see it all again. Then I move on and let them be in peace. Others are still trying to find their mate. Common Terns and a Roseate Tern or two are also here with various gulls. I look back and sky is black with birds movi g towards me. Crows? No, not crows as these are much larger birds and they are getting closer and closer. As they near I can tell they are Cormorants. There must be a hundred of them flying straight to where I am and all the birds seem to notice at once. The mood changes and I can feel it in my own senses too. A heightened awareness comes as the birds around me take to the air and call loudly. Warning others of the dark cloud approaching us. My fight or flight instincts kick in but there is no threat to me from the Cormorants and it is just merely the vibe of the other birds resonating through to my soul. Birds are circling and the Cormorants are comi g straight for us and the hair on my arms stands. At seemingly the last second they vere back towards the ocean and land en mass. The ocean now has a large dark spot and the birds around me begin to call less and land sporadically. Soon all is come again and the tension eases as the Cormorants begin feeding on the same little fish the terns keep catching for their attempts at finding a mate. I too settle back down and photograph a bit more.

I decide it is time to head back to the parking lot which is a long walk away. I walk and am thinking about everything that has happened this morning as it is barely past Noon now. A truly magical day so far and it has seemingly just begun. I hear a call to my left and remember the little ones down here that I had promised to see before leaving. It is as if they wanted to remind me of my promise. I slow and kneel again.

I begin to take shots and then one of the babies heads towards Mom and lays before her. So precious and cute. They are endangered but if others could see this beautiful site how could they not help in their fight for survival? Not a survival of a single bird but a survival of a species and a beautiful part of our World. The baby nudges the Mom who lifts slightly and under her it crawls. Suddenly it is gone from site and had I not seen it through my lens I would be none the wiser that a bird is under the adult Piping Plover. Soon Mom gets up and takes a few steps and looks back at the baby who is flat on the ground. It's dusty brown matching the sand perfectly. It doesn't move and I begin to wonder if something had happened to it but then Mom gives a very soft call. The baby pops up and a seems to slowly shake of the sleepiness from its body. It looks in my direction and I feel a connection. It feels as though it asks me to remember what I have seen and to help it. To remember the plight of the Piping Plovers and the Least Terns. To remember the beauty and the truth that nature lives even when we don't take notice. That it only asks that we do not destroy everything it needs and that we give it space to live too. That we share a World, an Earth that once had room for all things big and small. I nod to the little one and promise to spread the word. Nature Lives!,,

Photographing Those Crazy Warblers

May 10th, 2012

Photographing Those Crazy Warblers

Photographing Those Crazy Warblers

In spring bird migration into New England can be breath taking with new birds arriving from April through June. The colors and feathers are the best they will look all year. Flowers blooming, trees budding, and beautiful birds singing away. How could one want for more?

One of the most beautiful groups of birds Warblers and we have around 25-30 different ones that come to New England with some stopping to breed and others moving on into Canada. These tiny birds, about the size of a Black-capped Chickadee, are full of beautiful and vibrant colors that go along with an energy that seems endless. Watching them is extremely fun and at times dizzying too. Their movements are not predicable except for the fact that they will move and move and move again.

So getting a pair of binoculars on them can be tough but after awhile it works out just fine as you realize not to zoom in so close that any movement by the bird throws it out of your view. That is a trick that works for binoculars but often is one that leaves these tiny birds too small for a great picture. To get a good image you have to get closer with a long lens or by walking towards the bird or even just finding a good spot and waiting for them to come to where you are. So how do you get that great picture?

There are a few things you can do and some are easier then others. In the next few paragraphs I will share some of the techniques and tricks I have learned to use over the years. I hope that they offer you something new and fun to try. Results vary and you may take these and adjust them for your own type of photography or comfort with them. Nothing is set I stone in any of these but in general these work well.

This seems really simple but so many of us simply do not do it and I honestly hardly do it anymore but I am a larger guy which generally allows me to hand hold any lens and still get good shots. A tripod with a nice swivel is essential to keep up with the movements and combined with image stabilization on most lenses will work well.

ISO ISO ISO.... An easy mistake is to set this too low and it will result in a blurry shot. Many of today's cameras can handle higher ISO's extremely well without ruining the image with noise. Add to that many programs out there can reduce or almost eliminate noise and there is no reason to be set so low. An ISO of 100 will not work often for most Warblers as they just move so fast. You could of course have it set at 100 and fire away with bursts of shots and quite possibly get a good one but those clicks add up on the shutter. So consider trying a range from 250-400.

Flash or no flash? I have tried both and decided against flash but it is strictly a personal choice. Flash slows down the whole process and causes you to often wait for it to recharge. If you are taking shots during the recharge then whys use the flash in the first place? The Warblers move so much that there is no reason you can't simply find a place with better light and wait for them to come, pishing would aid in them coming as well. You can also use exposure compensation and lighten the picture the camera will take but I do not suggest going above one. I usually only push it a notch or two on the dial.

Try shooting in Tv mode and set your shutter speed to 1/1000 which captures movement nicely. Then set your ISO on one of the following, 400-800-Auto. Auto is the best as the camera will snap quickly and no other adjustments will be made. You may end up with noise but as I said earlier it is easy enough to fix these days. If you are using a tripod or are steady and the area is well let this setting works really well. It is not great for cloudy or shady days. Those conditions increase the ISO on auto.

Place the camera on the P mode and set the ISO to auto and switch the exposure to daylight or shade or cloudy. This setting seems to work the best from my own personal experiences. You can also set the ISO lower as you get a feel for what is needed for the day. I also adjust the exposure compensation up a little with this setting.

These settings can be tweaked to something that you feel works for you. A truly important piece of the puzzle is for you to be comfortable and confident with what you are doing.

A key in most of these is adjust the setting to either daylight/sun or shade or overcast as it truly changes the results you would get from auto. It does seem though that doing this and selecting the wrong one will set the color of the image off. In some cases you may like the results but often I doubt you will.

The equipment I use for Warblers is a Canon 7D with a fast card and a 100-400 Canon lens.

In any event simply try these and play around with them. Have fun with it and remember Warblers can be frustrating on even the best of days but capturing one perfectly can be the highlight of your week.

Book Preview Cozy As A Fox

May 4th, 2012

Book Preview  Cozy As A Fox

As some of you may know I am currently writing a book about the experiences I have had in and with Nature. The book is comprised of stories such as the one below (first draft) and chapters that give useful information on being in Nature from my own experiences. The book will be filled with the photographs that are part of the stories. Some have called me "Dr. Dolittle" or " Grizzly Adams" because of the connection and closeness I experience with wildlife. It the not too distant future you will have a chance to help me publish the book but more on that another time.

There are times in life when you just feel like you have struck gold or won the lottery. This story is one of those times when that was the case an still today I have the same feeling. It is a rare thing to come across a person or an animal that you know just was meant to be in your life and that no matter the time apart that the next time you see each other it will be just as wonderful as the last and that it will seem as time has not past at all. A truly blessed feeling you treasure forever.

I was traveling with my friend Naomi the first time I met the pair of foxes in Crawford Notch on the start of Crawford Path. The male was not shy as he was out in plain sight to be seen. I immediately started talking to him and he was extremely curious. It was pretty clear he had found that hikers have food and that he was cute enough to get some if he just looked cute and he did that very well. I didn't have anything but my camera so I was just talking and taking pictures and he was sniffing the air to try and get a whiff of something delicious that I could offer. You tell there was some disappointment that he couldn't smell anything. He turned and walked towards a tree and decided to settle down beside it. I was being given the puppy eyes and was quickly falling in love.

I felt bad and then out of the corner of my eyes I saw her and knew that she was something truly special. She was staying just out of direct sight but now that I had seen her I knew she was around and could find her soft gentle eyes upon me. I pointed her out to Naomi but she had seen her too and we both just stood there and enjoyed her playing peek-a-boo with us. I snapped a few pictures.

I believe these two are brother and sister and part of generations of a fox family that is known to live in that area of the mountains. There is plenty of food in the wild for them to eat but there is also a line of hikers traveling trails almost every day of the year so free food is available too. It isn't recommended to feed wild animals for many reasons but that is a point I will not debate one way or the other here. The simple fact is these fox have been fed for years by hikers and others.

We had been with them for probably a good half hour now and it was clear they were comfortable with us and we of course were enjoying them. I decided to pull out a few shelled peanuts and sit on the ground. As soon as I sat the male got up and came closer to me but not close enough to not be able to get away quickly. It was great to see they still had a fear of humans. The female came out of the forest but not any closer and she was not interested in getting any closer then she was at that point. About thirty yards away and never any closer.

I tossed a few shelled peanuts towards the male and he quickly grabbed them up. I look at the female and was talking to her but she was not interested in coming to get the food. She was weary of the whole thing a d that truly is a good thing. The male kept his distance but wanted more and was playful in trying to get my attention. A few more were tossed to him and then time just sitting and observing.

The female seemed to disappear but then popped out of the woods from behind the male and tapped at him as she sniffed the ground. I made a move to toss some for her but she bolted as soon as I moved. She was a timid one and that was fine but it also explained why she was smaller than the male. She was not aggressive in taking steps to get her free handouts. This was a good thing in that not every human will feed them, not every human feels comfortable with wildlife near them, and if they became dependent on humans for food then they could become a nuisance and have to be moved somewhere less populated. So many things play into this but in general on the hiking trails most would consider it a treat to see wildlife and have a fox come around.

In fact one of the main draws on a few trails is the Gray Jays that meet hikers at known rest areas to try to grab a bit to eat. They will eat from your hand! This behavior is now part of their life and is passed down generation to generation just like I believe has happened with the fox that live near the trails around the Crawford Notch Highland Center. And over the years though things have changed in the area as humans have built more and more homes to go with ski areas and such that Natures backyard and humans have become the same. So the fox that once was only near trails is now near homes and the dynamic has changed into one that is a lot less safe for the fox to look for handouts. I will go over that a little more later in the story.

I finally got up and went to the area I had seen the female the most and set some nuts on the large rock there. Then I went back towards the male who had stood up and watched me. I got his attention and tossed a few his way so she could get them without him taking them from her. Slowly she made her way out and climbed on top of the rock to grab her peanuts. I smiled as she looked at me the whole time she was eating. As soon as she consumed the nuts she jumped down and was off out of sight again.

That was it for giving them food. We just enjoyed watching them as they began to play chase and hide n seek it seemed. After they were done with that it was time for naps. The male was fairly close to us and the female was at a very safe distance and in a spot where she could quickly disappear but for now was in easy view of us.

The sun was setting and it was lighting the male fox in a perfect way that it looked like he was wearing a vest and one of my best selling shots was born at that moment. The "Vested
Fox" has been a best seller and this story of the time spent with him is a favorite of mine to tell. The female was also in some great light and shots of her were taken too but the male was just glowing.

Soon it was time to leave as it was getting dark out and the fox can see well at night but Naomi and I were not so lucky. So with some sadness we said goodbye and headed off with a truly wonderful experience to last a lifetime. A sure memory that would always bring a smile to our faces and a picture that would warm others hearts with the beauty of the fox. A great day that would not be forgotten.

Winter came and finally went after what seemed like forever. I took a drive as I often to do in search of wildlife and anything else beautiful in nature. I was not planning a hike on this day but still went to where the fox had been last fall. I hung around but saw nothing and then poked around a little more. Still there was nothing to be found and no immediate signs of recent activity either. I left smiling though as I was remembering the experience of the fall.

I continued my drive through the notch and stopped at various places taking pictures of rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and even a moose. It was time to head for the long drive home. I was passing near the fox spot and something inside me said to try again. I pulled over and went up into the area. I saw nothing and waited for about a half hour enjoying the birds fluttering and singing around me. Then I heard a noise in the trees off to the side. I stared at the Bristol and saw a head poke out. It was her; the female fox was still right there and poking her head out. I felt a wave of emotion come over me as I felt like I had just found a long lost friend. I said "hey girl" in an excited voice a few times and to my amazement she came out from her spot and hurried towards me. She stopped about ten yards away and sniffed the air. She stood there just looking at me and I decided to sit down at the base of a tree. She seemed to be studying me and trying to figure out what to do. I simply continued to talk to her.

In my hast to go check out the area I had left my camera behind and while I at first I felt a sense of disappointment of not being able to capture the moment. This did not last long though as I knew what I was experiencing was truly precious and that it was meant to be just for me. I know that everything is not meant to be captured and shared with the World via photography. Some of these moments are meant to be part of my heart and part of my life forever. The beauty of the moment is to be shared though the joy I have in telling the story.

She came a little closer and sat down. As I talked she turned head back and forth as if she was trying to understand me. It was truly one of the cutest things I had ever seen in my life. I asked were her brother was and how her winter was and basically had myself a one sided conversation. It may sound funny or odd but it truly did not feel like a one sided conversation. She was listening to me and it felt like she somehow understood that it was a special moment as she laid down and continued to watch me. Slowly though she was fading to sleep as cozy as a fox. I just sat there quietly as first one eye closed and then her second. She was sleeping and I was smiling. It felt so wonderful to be trusted and to just enjoy this time with her. No camera and no food to make her stay either. Just a fox and a man sitting in the woods equaled peace and tranquility.

Suddenly her eyes popped open and she stood. Her head turned towards the trail. I stained to hear what she was hearing but I simply could not even with my eyes closed. She looked back at me and then took off into the brush and trees hardly making a sound. Seconds later I began to hear the sounds of voices and stood up. A few hikers were coming down the trail after a day’s hike up to the summits. I walked back out to the car feeling like I had just had a piece of heaven on Earth.

I would return to this same spot several more times over the summer and fall but I never saw her again. I never saw her brother either and wondered what had become of them. I wondered if I would ever see them again or if I would be just left to wonder their fate. I had memories to treasure and ones that would last a lifetime.

Winter came again and eventually spring too. My trips would again pick up in number from the slower winter months. I went to the same spot a couple times and yelled, "hey girl", in hopes of seeing her again. She did not come and each time my heart felt a little sadness. Where had they gone and were they ok? On one of my trips I saw a Rangers vehicle in a lot near the trail so I pulled in and talked to him for a bit. He said he had heard of a fox recently hit by a car down near the Highland Center and inside my body rumbled with emotions. He had not heard anything about any other fox in the area but did know that this trail was one that was known for them being on it or around it looking for handouts. He agreed it was likely generations of them and the comfort with humans was handed down and not something new. Fox and other animals cross roads because we put them in their habitat and they will always have the chance of being victims of getting run over the same as all animals. We claim more and more land leaving them less and less which makes our run-ins with wildlife simply unavoidable. The talk with the Ranger was a pleasant one and if you ever get the chance to have a chat with one do so as they are extremely knowledgeable and do a terrific job.

I had a tough time the rest of the day concentrating on looking for other wildlife or truly seeing the beautiful scenery as I was caught up in wondering if it was one of the two foxes I knew that had been run over. I knew in my heart that it was likely that it was one of them.
I was driving back into Crawford Notch and had that feeling again that I needed to be awake and alert. Then I spotted her on the opposite side of the road lying in brown grass. I put on the brakes and backed up. I rolled down the window and she was up and heading towards the woods in a hurry. I yelled, "hey girl", and she stopped and looked back at me. I said it again and she turned around and came towards the road. I put up my hands and yelled "stop"! She seemed to understand and did not move any closer. I pulled the car around to her side of the road and got out. She was hiding behind a bush and looking up towards the sky as if she were praying. I remember wondering if she was thinking of her brother who must have been the one killed by the car. She had moved down the road quite a ways from where I had seen her the past two times. It was almost like she was moving on from the other place in a slow yearly journey. She looked skinny too and when I got out I grabbed some hikers snack and my camera. I snapped a few pictures as she looked at me and then sat down. I softly called to her and she came with her head down and I thought she must be really sad. I talked to her in the gentlest voice I could and she came closer. She looked up and our eyes met. I could see she was sad and yet I knew she was happy to see me. She sat about ten feet away and I did not offer her any food or anything but just continued to talk. In fact she didn't even sniff the air and I have no doubt she would be able to smell what I had with me. We just sat there with her seemingly content to be near me and me content to know I was near her.

After fifteen minutes or so she moved closer and then closer. She was close enough that I could reach out and touch her. I talked softly to her and she lay down beside me. I slowly extended my hand and set the food about a foot in front of her. She watched my hand but did not move and then I had both my hands on my lap as I sat with crossed legs. She was too close for a picture and it honestly did not seem like it was time for one. This moment wasn't for that anymore. This was a time just to be savored with her being close and relaxing. I just think maybe she didn't want to be alone right then. That even though I was a human and could not truly console her she knew that I was also not just another human but one that cared and one that could feel what she felt. I understood and I know she knew that. She finally moved forward enough to eat.

An SUV pulled over up the road and both of us looked at it for a moment but it did not move some went back to enjoying each other. In a couple of minutes the SUV began to move and as soon as it did she looked up at me and sprinted off into the woods. I watched her go and felt truly sad as she disappeared. She definitely knew this SUV and it was not something she wanted anything to do with. I looked up and saw that it wasn't just another SUV but it was a police officer.

He stepped out and walked to the edge of the road and waved me over. I got up and walked to him. He was not smiling and I was not exactly sure what was coming next. He asked if I was just sitting with a fox and I of course said yes. There was no doubt he already knew this but he gets to ask the questions. He asked if I had fed it and I said I had given it some of my snack. He told me that it wasn't a good idea to feed wildlife and that he could give me a ticket for doing so. I told him the story of the fox and I and he smiled when I was finished. He said he understood but I still should not feed the fox. He told me he would just give me a warning this time but not to let him see me doing it again. He said I can't tell you not to be close to the fox but I can tell you not to feed it. I agreed to not give the fox food anymore. He left and I sat back down.

I called to her for a few minutes and then just sat for a half hour but she did not return. He was obviously someone she feared. It was good to know she still feared humans but I wonder what he had done to make her so fearful of him. She was obviously moving and I truly felt like this would be the last time I would see her. I was happy and sad about that. A truly awesome thing to be able to be close to the same animal each year but for her being deeper in the woods away from all the development would be the best thing.

I went again this year but have not seen her. I did hear of a fox though that is in one of the developments and being fed by some of the people that live there. They feed it cat food and other human foods. In my gut I know it is her and I may try to find her but in some ways so don't want it to be her. I want her to be wild and free, safe from all the possible conflict that awaits her if she stays in the development.

As I said earlier the notch has changed over the years and is certainly different from when the fox’s ancestors first encountered hikers who offered up some of their snacks. The notch was still part of the wilderness then and the area still wild. Over time it has become developed and that development has taken away areas that used to below to nature and it's creatures. It is the animals that get blamed for encroaching on the developments or becoming habituated to humans and yet we are the ones who are in their backyards now and we offer them food. This is why it is not good to feed them. We want them to be as they should be, wild and free. They do not need to depend on us for food as that only leads to bad things for them from simply an unhealthy diet to possible death because someone fears the animal an shoots it. Every situation is different and I am no saint in this myself but please do not feed them.

I am truly blessed to have been able to share in her life for three straight years in such an intimate way that I treasure now and forever. The pictures and the story will be shared often. Her fate is something that is uncertain at best. If it is her in the development then I fear a sad ending for my beautiful friend. If she has gone into the wilderness then her fate shall be as it is supposed to be as part of a wild animal living in the wilderness and not a wild animal living In a fickle human World where she is precious and novel one moment and a nuisance and danger the next. Wherever you are my friend a piece of me forever roams with you.

Backyard for the Birds

April 24th, 2012

Backyard for the Birds

The spring has been all over the place temperature wise and yet we are behind on rain. Animals and birds are off track with some doing things earlier then normal and others arriving earlier from migrations only to find some of what they need not ready for them. Birds in particular migrate here because our bug population provides them with abundant food to breed. The bugs were out for a day or two but now seem to have disappeared for the most part. Your backyard becomes and important place now.

Attracting birds to your back yard can truly be as simple as putting out a feeder and filling it with feed. That will get some birds to visit but most likely only chickadees, a few types of sparrows, white-breasted nuthatch, and a few others. To really get your back yard up and cranking as a little bird haven there is more that needs to be done. It can bring beautiful song to your yard, beautiful variety of birds, and even be educational.

So where would you begin? A few different types of feeders would be a good start and there are many to choose from these days. You can go from fairly inexpensive to very expensive ones that promise to keep squirrels out which often proves to be extremely tough. As far as squirrels go I have found using poles combined with baffles works best but the key is too make sure this set up is away from anything the squirrels can use to jump from onto your feeder. They are smart and acrobatic. Since I have repositioned mine the squirrels no longer have access to the feeders and only eat off the ground which I find to be helpful in cleaning up anything dropped by the birds at the feeders.

For feeders, the ones I recommend are a platform from which many different types of birds will use and this is one of the few feeders that opens things up to larger birds suchs as Blue Jays and Cardinals or maybe even a treat like a Evening Grosbeak or Scarlet Tanager! The issue that arrives with this type of feeder though is if it rains or snows the seed gets wet and can quickly become moldy so it should be dumped after a rain. You can normally brush the snow off and still be ok. Don't toss the wet seed in the trash though as it can still serve a purpose and feed other birds. I dump mine near two brush piles I have created and birds will eat it as they use the brush piles for cover. If you do not have a brush pile you can still dump it and birds or the squirrels will find it. There are many types of birds that prefer to eat off of the ground.

Next are tube feeders. I find these silos to be quite useful as you can get singles , double, and even triples together. The sizes of the feed holes can also be different but the standard allows you to put in either a mixed seed or black oil sunflower seed. This gives birds a place to perch and grab a bite to eat but is generally for the smaller birds. Tube feeds stay the driest of all feeders I have used.

You may also want a hopper feeder where you dump the food in the top as this will also give a variety of birds a chance to perch. In general this opens the chance to mid sized birds and small birds. Another plus is that the food stays dry and only what is at the outside base of the hopper may get wet and need to be dumped or simply brushed away.

Specialty feeders can also be purchased for specific types of birds. There are feeders for thistle that attract mostly Goldfinch and Siskins,Oriole and Hummingbird feeders that basically hold sugar water are great additions as well. Orioles also love grape jelly and will eat it regularly but usually are best attracted at first with oranges. Suet feeders are great at attracting various woodpeckers and other birds. They serve as an important source of fat and protein, especially in the winter.

So there are a long list of feeders to select from and a great source on feeders and types of feed for specific birds is Casey Hynes at the Wild Bird Center of Falmouth. He is a great guy who is more then willing to share his knowledge with you and show you all the various options.

Another thing you should consider is placing a few bird houses in your yard. There are a few things to consider here as well. Let's start with the simplest which is the size of the hole in the house. Anything 1 1/4 inches or smaller will be for the smallest birds like a chickadee. Anything above that and it opens the door to larger birds. So a variety is nice and gives you a shot at getting different species to nest in your yard.

I have found that figuring out which direction the wind and storms seem to come from is important as well to get birds to nest. Set up the birdhouse so the opening is away from that direction and thus winds and storms would hit the back of the house. You wouldn't want that blowing in your face while you were relaxing would you?

You can also add a brush pile or two if it fits in your property. They are great places for birds to hang out and use as cover. I have found that since I have added these to my yard the diversity of birds keeps increasing. A bird bath or other water source is also an important addition. The easier it is to get water the more likely they will hang around. If they have to travel for water then it uses the energy just gained by eating at your feeders. So the more you can make your place a one stop shop then the better for the birds.

You should also consider adding some flowers to your yard that attract different types of birds an of course also look nice. Again Casey would be an awesome resource for ideas here.

So with a little work and a little money you can make your own backyard bird haven. It truly is simple to do and can offers some wonderful moments. Plus the help eat the bugs flying around you!!

What is photography to me?

April 22nd, 2012

What is photography to me?

Photography to me has evolved over time and become clearer over the years. I sold my first picture back in 1995 and had been clicking away for a few years before that. The camera has been a part of my life for a very long time but at some points more involved in my life than others.

In the early years I took photographs just to remember certain things that caught my eye or maybe pictures of friends. There was no real reason and I can't say I brought the camera with me everywhere. As the years went on that certainly changed and the camera now is part of my everyday life and part of me. There are very few times when the camera and I are far apart now. It isn't a hindrance to me and doesn't feel like I am always working. I just love taking photographs and if I do not have the camera then I can't take the image and undoubtedly there will be something I will have wished I had it with me for. I guess this way I just feel ready to capture whatever it is that strikes me.

Over the years what I capture and how has certainly changed as well. I was never taught how to take or create beautiful images. I have learned by doing and trying. I now can easily change between one image to the next to accomplish different things with the camera. The camera is my tool and to me is similar to a paint brush of an artist. In fact, I do think photographers can be artists. The image is something that is created by using the light, colors, angle, subject placement, and settings of the camera. There is so much you can do right there on the spot with your camera to create or capture the beauty that is before. Over time I have learned to see things so differently that I really do not know how to look at things without seeing the beauty or seeing it in different ways.

Many things have changed in the World of photography with the major one being a switch from film to digital. I think the switch has many advantages but there are some draw backs as well that have truly changed and hurt the industry. It is much harder now to try and make a living as everyone can take a decent image with today's cameras. They are smart and fast which enables many to see something and just fire away at it. It is hard not to get something decent. There are some things that still play into being a good photographer versus someone just out there taking pictures. I think having and eye to see things differently is still extremely important. During the film days photography could get costly if you did not know what you were doing. You would not go out and just keep shooting. Things were planned as film was expensive and then you had to either develop it yourself or get it developed. If you were getting birds flying or things moving you had to know how to do it rather then just clicking away as you would be out of film and have nothing to show for it.

So what does photography mean to me? It is something that I feel has evolved into a gift that allows me to share a World I see and experience with others who do not see it the same way or do not get out enough to enjoy it. Photography is something that frees me and allows me to just be myself without the worries of the World on my shoulders. I look through the lens and it is almost utopian for me each time. In the wild it is something that feels awesome to be with Nature and I truly feel the gift I am given is to see things and interact with nature in ways many others can't. Nature allows me to capture it and share it with all of you. It is such a good feeling to capture an animal and feel connected with it and have that show up in the image. Photography allows me to fill my soul and replenish my spirit. I get true joy in sharing this and when one of these images makes someone smile it truly warms my soul. Photography has allowed me too share a my true self and my pure joy with others in a way I have never been able to do before in my life. The camera is truly apart of me. Photography and my interaction with nature is a gift that I can share with others. I truly feel blessed. Photography and I have become much of the same thing in that it is me and I am it. I hope to continue bring the joy to all of you.


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