Sunday, August 5, 2012


click photos to enlarge
No, not a storm.  Its early morning on Douglas Lake (The Mud Hole.)  
The nice thing about early morning is that the houses that line the lake in rows are not as apparent.  I enjoy being on the water before anyone else.  The surface is smooth and silky as if it were a dark mirror.
We were driving on the same section of lake as yesterday.  Odd to be scheduled on the same water two days in a row at the same shift times - morning.  At least its a different day.  We headed toward Henderson Island and the first cove to the right just below it.

I thought I may as well pull horizontal to the shoreline back here in the cove and let the sun rise a little further and give fishermen time to get on the water.  I eased the side of the boat against the shoreline and pulled out the binoculars to have a look around.
I have a pair of Nikon Monarch 10X56's.  These binoculars are indispensable for searching out wildlife.  I can find critters on shore without stopping the boat.  Shade took off down the shoreline while I stayed on the boat and scanned everything on the shoreline.  Driftwood, rocks and sandy places as well as grass, trees and even floating logs were scrutinized.  I noticed a little brown spot that hopped straight up in the air on top a log.  It did it again and was moving down the old piece of wood.  I hopped off the boat and strolled over to the dead snag.  There I found a well camouflaged toad.  He was just a tiny little guy.
Look closely.  He's tiny.

Southern Toad

And, no - toads won't give you warts.
These photos were taken with the 500 mm lens.  It is an awkward lens to tote around in the woods or to even carry anywhere.  The focal length is too long also.  I have to stay back away from the subject as the lens will not focus at close quarters.  I have a 70-300 mm that would be perfect for insects, amphibians and reptiles.  A lot of people feel that a macro lens is essential for butterflies and small creatures.  Not so!  There aren't many critters in the wild that will hold still while you walk up to it, hold a camera over it and focus on it.  Even this toad would not have stood still for such nonsense.  Macros have their places, mainly for stationary subjects but, for live critters they are deficient.  A short to medium telephoto is more practical.  Look at the butterfly below:
 A little difficult to see?  Lets crank up the focal length a bit.  Below:
Still not close enough?  We'll increase the focal length even more.  Below"

And, finally we have it in all its glory:

Above:  Gulf Fritillary
Telephotos aren't the last word in wildlife photography but, they are the primary lens of use.  The tele part of the word means it adjusts to different focal lengths.  Oh well - if you wish to capture intimate, microscopic detail then, the macro is the lens of choice.  If you wish to photograph critters in their element without disturbing them then, the telephoto would be the lens of choice.  Photography is a super hobby.  Wildlife photography is a challenging vocation that requires an understanding of the critters one seeks to capture in the little memory box as well as a good understanding of how the little memory box works.  I like it.
 An american crow thinks its a black vulture as it tears a dead fish apart.
A turtle basks in the sun but, ever watchful for danger.

 He appears to be an eastern box turtle.  Turtles absolutely will not tolerate human intervention.
During all this intense photographic action I managed to cross the lake and interview a few fishing boats.  The morning shift was almost over.  I was cruising along the right shoreline and scanning ahead of me with binoculars to determine if boats were of the fishing or pleasure ilk.  I also watched the edge of the water.  The binoculars passed over a critter sitting back in a hole in the bank.  It was a little duck.  He had a really nice little hideout.
 As it turned out, the she is really a he.  She's a little female wood duck.

She is the first wood duck I've seen on this mud hole.  What's more odd is that she is totally alone. Wood ducks are gregarious critters.

She left her cave and climbed up on the stone wall and stopped.  This is very odd for a wood duck.  She may be sick or old and unable to fly.  She blended in well with her background.
 The little duck on the barron stone wall appears as a flower would on an endless desert of sand.
We turned the boat toward the ramp and I looked back at her one final time, her smallness so obvious, and thought to myself,  "your mother will care for you little wood duck or, she'll bring you home to her.  You are the child of Mother Nature and she forgets none of her children.

A storm is raging tonight as I write this.  The camping gear is loaded in the truck and all that is required is to hook up the boat.  I want to go to Calderwood Lake for a camp out with Shade in the morning.  Rain is in the forecast over the next few days so I'll check the weather in the morning for any storm predictions.  We'll see what happens.