Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Diamond-backed Terrapin

This evening I went kayaking to a small salt pond nearby that is only accesible via kayak at high tide.  It was a pretty neat place as it's quite deep in the middle and held some decent sized fish (which I heard jumping) but the inlet is heavily shoaled so it's only accessible at low tide.  While I did find a Least Tern colony, I was more excited to spot this Diamond-backed Terrapin heading back into the water, presumably after laying eggs.  I have seen this species of turtle on very few occasions - almost always crossing the road - so it was cool to see one on land and then heading into the water.  A solid reminder that even though we have developed so much of this island, there are plenty of wild areas left to cherish.

After photographing the turtle I stopped to watch and photograph the Least Terns that were coming and going from the colony.  Then I saw a horseshoe crab move back from the shoreline into the water - which you see below.  The shorebirds in the photos were feeding on freshly laid horseshoe crab eggs so they have the fuel to continue migration or raise a family.  Such is the tough way of nature.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


While I love to photograph birds and mammals (even amphibians!) I have a soft spot for wildflowers.  On Long Island in particular, people seem to have forgotten the beauty of naturally growing flowers that dot our wetlands, grasslands and woodlands.  Too many suburban homes are filled with perfect gardens made up of non-native plants that we think we could only experience if we go to the store and buy them.  But if you keep your eyes open you can experience some of the natural beauty that surrounds us.

I visited Quogue Wildlife Refuge this evening and took advantage of the filtered sunlight (read: clouds) and  tried out my new Gitzo tripod.  I didn't find the starflower which is what I was really after but was happy to get these three species.  The Blue-flag Iris (top), Yellow-flag Iris (above) and the Pitcher Plant (below).  I hope you enjoy them and keep your eyes out next time you are on a nature hike for our natural blooming beauties.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Well, I'm off to Florida for a week so I won't be posting any more kit shots until I return.  Hope to see some nice wildlife down there - and perhaps I'll post a few photos!

Enjoy these shots from the past two days. . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Fox Den

As luck would have it - I recently found a second fox den (about 15 miles by way of the flying bird away from the other den).  This particular fox home has 4 kits (versus 3 at the other location) and is extremely accessible with no tall grasses in the way like at the other site.  The first time I spotted them I was able to get quite close (certainly closer than I was at the other den) and repeated this today.  I also took a venture into the woods behind this den to see what other activities there were and there is another major den (from the same family) with several small escape hatches in a really cool (photographable) setting.  Perhaps one day I'll be able to setup in the morning and capture them as they venture from den to den.

One of the kits is certainly braver than the others. . . as you can see in the images it has no problem lounging outside the entrance, sleeping, scratching, stretching - whatever while I'm around.  The others poke there heads out and may appear for a little but either return to the den or go to the other one in the woods.  The father fox (seen below) returned from a hunting trip the first afternoon I was there and had 3 mice in his mouth (you can see 3 tails hanging out).  When I saw this I knew it was time to leave.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Red Fox Kits

Two fox kits rough-house while their sibling looks on

It's been a long time since I've posted something on this blog (most of my time/attention has been spent photographing birds which can be seen on my sister blog Birds of Long Island) but I finally have been able to photograph something of interest that doesn't have wings and before long insects, frogs and turtles will once again be abundant.
Soaking up the evening sun

Last week a co-worker of mine found out about a fox den at an offshoot of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.  The area of the refuge where the den is was donated to the Federal Government some time ago by the Puleston family - longtime stewards of our natural lands along the South Shore.  Dennis Puleston was a co-founder of the Environmental Defense Fund which was instrumental in the ban of DDT and so it seems fitting that a few hundred yards from his former home lies an active fox den, an Osprey nest, nest boxes filled with several species of birds anda small herd of deer.
After waking up from it's nap, the Fox kit stretches and yawns

The first day that I visited the Den I only briefly saw an adult that then trotted off into the tall surrounding grasses - but the next visit yielded a fox pup seen above and below.  A trip there the following evening was much better with all 3 fox kits play fighting and trying to eat the remaining scraps off a duck carcass.  I must admit my girlfriend is a much better spotter than I as she had to continually point out that the Fox had come out from the Den while I fiddled with my camera or got distracted by birds. . . We tried again this morning but only 1 fox kit popped it's head up and it quickly disappeared.  It appears the best and most reliable time to see these guys in evening starting an hour before sunset.  I would assume the same is true around sunrise but have not made it there that early.  The photo below is one of the kits walking around while the other two played out of frame.

Sly Fox
And here is one last shot of the 3 of them. . . there are more to come from the first two shoots and hopefully a lot more from future visits.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Piebald Deer

A piebald White-tailed Deer @ EPCAL
Today I visited EPCAL (Enterprise Park @ Calverton) to see if I could photograph any of the interesting birds that frequent the grasslands (see this post on my sister site for an idea of what can be found).  I found  a few birds but no good photographs.  I took a spin over to the Eastern Runway which I normally never drive around on (because there is a sky diving outfit that uses a small adjacent runway during the warmer months) in hopes of finding something else.  There were a few decent sized herds of deer (10-20 deer) and one of them was certainly much different then the rest.  For now I'm calling this a piebald deer (which is different from an Albino because it still has pigment).  There are known populations of white deer @ an Army Depot in upstate NY and I've heard reports of white white-tailed deer herds in the Wading River area but I have not confirmed them. Enjoy.

I apologize for the lack of quality in the following photos but the light was fading, I was driving along the runway at about 20mph and the deer were running just as fast if not faster.

Still running...

Another leaping shot:

Another shot with a "normal" deer in the frame:

And lastly here is a big crop to see a little more detail:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Macro Magic

Two images combined in Potoshop for maximized Depth of Field
I apologize to any of you who follow this blog and wait and wait for updates.  The fact of the matter is there aren't a whole lot of non-birds on Long Island in the winter that are readily available to photograph (aside from Squirrels and Deer).  In the coming months when the weather finally improves (and we stop getting snowed on every week) I will make some ventures to Cupsogue and Montauk for Seals and before long it will be Spring time and frogs and snakes and the like will be emerging.  But for now, I'm going to post a few shots from warmer, happier times.

These images all benefit from "image stacking" which is the process of taking consecutive frames and layering them on top of each other to increase the area that is in focus.  With macro photograph, even with your lens stopped down to f/22 you are often unable to get your entire subject in focus.  The only option then is to stack photos taken at different distances to achieve a photo that is in focus from front to back.  There are several types of software that aid this process, including Photoshop (which I use) and mechanical and manual "macro" rails that move the camera and lens at specific intervals to assure proper stacking.  This works best with stable subjects - like flowers but can be down if your dragonfly or otherwise is patient enough.

The way these images were created was with a lot of dumb luck, some layers in photoshop and a good eye.  I don't own a tripod so I take all of my macro shots hand-held which makes it near impossible to do proper image stacking because I don't have the finite control to adjust the focal point of the camera.  However, when I take photos in rapid succession, my natural movements results in different areas being in focus.  I can then combine the images using photoshop.  It's not easy and it's not perfect but it can work with a little practice. The lead image is about 70% from one shot and 30% (the lower area in focus) from another.  Enjoy.

One frame had the eyes in sharp focus, the other had the body.  Together they have both!
This next shot was a little more difficult because I had moved ever so slightly so the dragonfly was actually larger in one frame then the next.  Using the free-transform tool (control/command T in PS) I reduced the size of the larger image to match the size of the smaller image.  I was able to get away with it because it was a pretty small discrepancy.

Similar to the above image, one hard the head/eyes in sharp focus, while the other image contained a sharp body.