Monday, 10:53 AM – I was hoping to add some new birds to my photo life list this year; and it has started off well!
I took a quick walk up to both shelter ponds just before lunch. Both are near entirely frozen over; the ice being thick enough to withstand the blow of a softall sized rock! That doesn’t happen very often here in Georgia. Although there is small opening of unfrozen water on each, the chances of new ducks arriving are decreased, at least for today.
My fingers beginning to freeze, I took just a quick jaunt down by the duckweed bog. I could hear the wrens and sparrows rustling in the grasses and around the tall narrow opening in one stump. But when of the wrens popped up into view, it wasn’t the typical Carolina Wren normally seen here. With a little searching in the field guide, and a confirmation from the Merlin Bird ID app, a Winter Wren, Troglodytes hiemalis, was added to my list!
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website perfectly and poetically described this little bird: In the tangled understory of eastern forests, a tiny ball of energy lets loose with a rich cascade of bubbly notes. This songster is none other than the Winter Wren, shaking as it sings its astoundingly loud song.
Walton County, Georgia
Saturday, 1:53 PM - On Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman of the Audubon Society, proposed a holiday tradition of a "Christmas Bird Census" that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. And every year Audubon promotes the Christmas Bird Count.
Typically being engaged in family gatherings each Christmas, I have found it a bit too rude to dismiss myself from the table in order to wander outdoors alone on a bird search. But there are multiple times a year that I simply sit at my backyard feeder for an hour or so and photograph all the “regulars” that come to feed. I never tire of spotting and photographing a Chickadee, Titmouse or Cardinal… even if for the fiftieth time! I am always amazed and stare in wonder at God’s little critters.
Early in the morning, across the street the Vultures are still perched each morning and evening from their roosts. I watch a crow through the long lens; the feathers on his back undulating with each caw, like large black scales. Later in the afternoon, as is usual, the Cardinal is one of the first visitors after filling the feeders. The Hairy Woodpecker prefers suet while the Chipping Sparrow, Titmice and Chickadees quickly empty the black oil sunflower seeds. New this year (for me in my backyard), a Yellow-rumped Warbler checks out the action. He never approaches the feeder, but poses for some pretty shots.
As I sit and wait under the swing set slide about 25 feet from the feeders, I muse about my journaling goals for 2018. I pencil some ideas: title pages, lists, diagrams, astronomical calendar, moon phases and more. I’ve always scribbled notes about my nature outings and photos, and I list all the dogs and cats I shoot for the shelter. But what about the stresses of balancing the intake and output of a “kill shelter” , the specifics of shelter photo shoots? Don’t these warrant deeper notes? After all, the day-by-day stresses and successes are a major part of shaping who I am.
Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
Tuesday, 4:02 PM - Of course, my camera went with me on our day-after-Christmas get together at my brother-in-law’s house in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Being a sunny day, we did the obligatory family photos out in his front yard. While getting those family shots, I kept hearing persistent and raucous Red-shouldered Hawk screeches from the backyard.
Going into the back to investigate, I first spotted a pair of Red-shoulders sitting side-by-side in silhouette against the lowering sun to my left. I was satisfied I had found the source of the caterwauling until more shrieks came from my right in the other neighbor’s yard. A second pair of Red-shouldered Hawks illuminated by the beautiful “golden hour” light!
As I watched the second pair, one bird remained perched while the other poked around in a bundle of sticks high in the tree. She then flew to a second tree and onto a much more developed nest. Using her talons, she fluffed up a bundle of grasses. It looked like it could make quite a comfortable hammock… if you weren’t intimidated by heights!
An equally loud Red-bellied Woodpecker perched high over my head wasn’t dissuaded from the area by the presence of these four birds of prey.
Four Red-shouldered Hawks in such close proximity? What would bring them here? Obviously it was the prospects of an easy meal should my brother-in-law and his neighbors let their chickens out of the coops to roam!
Gwinnett County, Georgia
“Stockings” was photographed for the Walton County Animal Control shelter on December 19, 2017 and placed on the shelter’s adoption website, www.waltonpets.net.
Tuesday, 5:31 PM – so stressful at the shelter. I’ve been hoping for the winter slowdown but the warm weather keeps the impounds coming in. A mother dog and twelve puppies came in today. But because they were Golden Retriever mixes a rescue was ready to take her in immediately.
On the way home from work I shot a quaint country home decorated for Christmas along Barnett Shoals Road in Watkinsville. I shot a bracketed exposure to try a little HDR for this sunset photo.
Oconee County, Georgia
Monday, 11:27 AM – “Noel” was a gorgeous girl that was picked up stray by a Walton County Animal Control officer on December 14, 2017. She was quite the unique looking girl with the narrow body and facial conformation of a Greyhound, and the merle coat of a Catahoula. When her ears were back, she looked almost like a pure-bred sight hound.
She had obviously had a tough go at life so far. She was very underweight when she arrived at the shelter (which added to her Greyhound-like appearance), had runny stools, and tested heartworm positive. A quick deworming at intake and several healthy meals through the weekend got her quickly on the mend. The heartworms would take some treatment, but with pledges rolling in from generous sponsors, her rescue hopefully wasn’t an impossibility.
The lifting fog created a giant soft-box over the late morning sun creating some great lighting to capture this girls beautiful merle coat and golden brown eyes.
"Noel" was photographed for the Walton County Animal Control Shelter in Monroe, Georgia on December 18, 2017 and placed on the shelter's website, www.waltonpets.net for adoption or rescue. She still awaits a new home.
Monday, 7:58 AM – in the upper forties at sunrise; much warmer than Saturday’s 28° morning. The warmer air made for lots of fog on the drive into work. Before starting my day, I walked up to the main shelter pond to check for any new ducks. A female Hooded Merganser practiced solo dives out in the fog; a Kingfisher was barely discernable. Heading back into the office, a Song Sparrow was watching my footsteps as I passed by the blackberry and Mimosa tangles near the shelter back door.
Walton County, Georgia
Wednesday, 10:10 AM – “Ursula” was a gorgeous, white pittie mix with blue eyes that was picked up stray by Walton County Animal Control on November 22, 2017. Her microchip revealed that she had been adopted from Gwinnett County Animal Control and was already spayed.
The shelter contacted her owner who said they’d come to the shelter to claim her. But after a full week, nobody had showed up. In fact, there were some social media postings stating that she was seen being dumped out of a truck.
“Ursula” made her photography session easy. All the white dogs turn out so well since their bright coats normally allow quicker shutter speeds. She also sat so calm and patiently as I fired away.
“Ursula” was photographed for the Walton County Animal Control shelter in Monroe, Georgia on November 29, 2017 and put on the shelter’s website, www.waltonpets.net, to be rescued or adopted if her owner didn’t show up to claim her. She was adopted on December 2, 2017!
Wednesday, 10:24 AM – this playful little low-rider pup came into Walton County Animal Control on November 27, 2017. They said they found him two days prior but couldn’t find his owner. Being a happy, short-legged, smallish-sized dog he’d hopefully get adopted quickly.
I switched to a wider angle lens to capture the fact that he was still a small puppy. When using the 70-200mm, it can make the smaller dogs look a little bigger.
He was happy to play and run around my feet, so I placed him up on an outdoor table to get his cute shots with toy in mouth!
“Elf” was photographed on November 29, 2017 for Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, Georgia and put on the shelter’s website, www.waltonpets.net, to wait for adoption or rescue. He was rescued on November 30 by Burlington County Animal Alliance of New Jersey! His rescue was sponsored by generous donations to the rescue group from Lane and Anne!