Category Archives: Cayuga Nature Photographers

A Beautiful September Day

Had a workshop to teach on Sunday at Cornell Plantations, and it was such a beautiful morning that I arrived early to spend some time in the Herb Garden.  It is luscious right now.  The iron gate into the Herb Garden still has the brilliant red Clematis.

Inside the garden, I found some very rich colors. Continue reading A Beautiful September Day

The Harder Watercourse Garden- A Gardener’s Canvas of the Seasons

The Harder Watercourse Garden is a relatively new addition to the beautiful arboretum at Cornell Plantations.  I found it recently and find it a photographer’s dream of textures and changing colors as the season progresses. First, let me show you where to find this place. It lies just south of the Neuman Overlook at the first parking area just past the overlook.

The view when you park is inviting……

Continue reading The Harder Watercourse Garden- A Gardener’s Canvas of the Seasons

Water Lotus

The past weekend was hot in the Finger Lakes, but I found myself going from hot to hotter. It was not the best weekend to go to Washington, DC. I was focused on keeping in cool  AC in DC, but our daughter had on her mind to go the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens on the Anacostia River. It is one of the overlooked attractions.  See:

http://www.nps.gov/keaq/index.htm

Well, we got there by 8:30 am, but it was still brutally hot and the UV was intense.  Thankfully, the large pools of Water Lotus were in bloom, and dozens of other photographers were there.

I took a few images with both my Canon G9 point and shoot. I was first drawn to the center of the Water Lotus bloom.

Image

The greens and pinks and yellows are intriguing. There are literally thousands of blooms in multiple pools.

Continue reading Water Lotus

Canada Lilies- A Summer Treat

Canada Lilies (Lilium canadense) have become a rarity with the soaring population of Whitetail Deer in the Finger Lakes.  The gardeners at the Cornell Plantations would grow them in the greenhouse and transfer them to the Mundy Wildflower Garden only to have the deer destroy them. I recall finding my first bloom, and the whitetail doe brazenly standing nearby ready to trim it to the ground.

Continue reading Canada Lilies- A Summer Treat

It’s Showy Time!

One of the summer interns at Cornell Plantations asked me what my favorite wildflower is.  I have many favorites, but the one I anticipate most is the Showy Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium reginae.  So that is my best favorite.  The species name in latin, queen(ly), says it all.

The Queen of the Orchids

Shot with Nikon D800, 105 mm Nikkor Micro lens, f/11 at 1/125 second ISO 800. Gitzo tripod. Shaded the bloom to reduce harsh light.

So, for Cayuga Nature Photographer  members in the Finger Lakes region, the message is that it is Showy (Lady’s Slipper)  Time.  If you know of a population, this weekend is a great time to visit them.

I’ve posted a more details report in my regular blog at:

http://birds-n-blooms.blogspot.com/

Remember to apply tick repellent, my friend found one on her afterwards.

Paul Schmitt

Redtail Hawk Nest Today

After a fruitless trip to find Showy Lady’s Slippers this morning, I stopped by the Redtail Hawk nest in Ithaca. It’s been five days since I saw them, and the change is dramatic.

First, the chicks seem to be getting more demonstrative.  This chick seems to be giving the adult some demand in full voice.

The adult did not stay very long.

I noted two changes today.  First, the chicks are now have the strength to break open the Chipmunks without the aid of an adult.  That shows considerable progress.  Second, they are testing their wings frequently.

I am wondering how many more weeks before they take flight.  Likely, it will be a surprise.

All photos used a Nikon D800 with 400 mm lens and 1.4 multiplier.  Shot at ISO 1600 using aperture priority at f/8.  Noise reduction done in LR4.

Paul Schmitt

Black Swamp Warblers

I resolved to visit the Black Swamp area east of Toledo, Ohio after a terrific presentation at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology by Kim and Ken Kaufman.  I was not disappointed. The number of warblers and other spring migrants is overwhelming, and the ability to be at eye level with the birds remarkable.  My most productive time was along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh.  I will make this an annual outing for future years.

There were several warblers that particularly caught my attention.   First was the Prothonotary Warblers. Some were as close as 5 feet.  Try focusing on that!

I’ve posted high resolution images in a gallery on my website at:

http://pschmitt.smugmug.com/Birds/Perching-Birds/18761402_G84qx9#!i=1847010336&k=9Kdz6Gh

In the link above, you’ll also find a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Palm Warbler and  the Blackburnian Warbler below:

I’ve written a further commentary with more details in my personal blog at:    http://birds-n-blooms.blogspot.com/

Paul Schmitt

Just a quick post from today..

Have to post this one photo of a Chestnut-sided Warbler in full voice.  Went to a park very near  home and found the bushes alive with birds due to the spring migration. It was  mostly Chestnut-sided Warblers with a few Yellow Warblers, Wood Thrushes and Song Sparrows.  The  males seemed totally driven to out-sing one another, and to jump around trying to find their rivals.  Never saw a female, and wonder if the females, as with so many birds, trail the males by a few weeks.  Anyone know about that?

Perhaps someone can tell me why this seems humorous.  I did not know they could open their beak so wide, but something makes me think he is just a loud mouth doing some bragging.

Appreciate any comments.

Paul

Great Conditions for Nature Photography

The sun is shining, the reports of new birds are filling my email and a great weekend is coming. So, my message for CNP members is to be sure to set aside some time to get out and photograph. I only have to step outside my door to have wildflowers emerging in bloom, and birds singing.

Met up with CNP member David Duneau at the Mundy Wildflower Garden on Cornell campus this Wednesday.  I’ve posted a longer blog on my personal site at:

Birds-n-Blooms

To briefly summarize, we were looking for birds, but not having much luck getting close.   As we wrapped up on the parking lot, we saw incredible activity in nearby apple tree that was rich with blooms.   The most exciting was a fantastically colorful Baltimore Oriole.

A Northern Cardinal was also pretty cooperative.

For CNP members looking to try some bird photos for  themselves, I’d begin at the apple tree next to the Horticulture Building off of Caldwell Road.  It’s just to the right of the building.

We also saw an uncommon Nashville Warbler in the tree.  Warblers are harder for me because they are so often hidden inside the tree or bush, seem to move constantly and are very small.  Perhaps the richest place right now is the Hawthorn Orchard behind the tennis center on campus.  Seemingly dozens of different birds in the cover.

I’ll be unable to attend the next CNP meeting, but I hope to see reports of your success and perhaps a post here too.

Paul S.

My bad start ended up good.

In spite of the threat of rain, I headed out to my secret little farm ponds, hoping for Wood Ducks.  I was  hurried, and halfway down the woods road from the car I realized that I did not have my little three legged stool.  Sounds trivial, but it is basic to my moveable blind.  I sit on the stool, put the tripod in front of me, hook a bungee cord from one side of the stool and across my waist to the opposite side, and then drape a camouflage cover over me. Beginning out of sight, I can slip the tripod forward, than scoot the little stool forward without needing to take hold of the stool.  The bungee cord keeps the stool in place and my hands are always on the tripod for steadiness.  Like a caterpillar, I can slowly move into an exposed location with good visibility. Absent the stool today, I would have to make the approach on my knees. Not fun.  Then, I got to the pond and found three pairs of very vocal  Canada Geese patrolling right where I wanted to be.

It took forty-five minutes to get in position.  At times, the geese slipped to one side or another and I could move two or three slow steps on my knees.  Not pleasant. At other times, I could see they were all looking the other way and I would move. In the end, I was in full view, though in camouflage, and they took no note of me from 45 feet away.  I am thinking they have very short  memory for what is present in a particular place. It seems their vocalization is not in alarm but just making noise.  From experience, I know Wood Ducks are much more wary and would have made for a more difficult sneak. Now, I just needed the Wood Ducks to come in to the pond.

I first saw movement at the far side of the pond.  Putting my long lens on the area I saw a lone drake. It seems odd that there were no other Wood Ducks, especially no hens.  He seemed to be looking for company.

To my good fortune, the geese seemed to be drifting away to the other end of the pond and out of sight. Now, I needed the drake to complete the circuit and come around to my side.

It could not have developed any better.  The drake came right in front of me, only about  15 feet away.  Wow, they are beautiful!  And, to give a measure of their wariness, he heard the camera and did a U-turn to retreat a distance away.  I was relieved that he did not take flight, but over the next twenty minutes, he teased me. Then the rain appeared.  I took cover under a large hemlock tree to quickly cover my camera, lens and tripod head on a large plastic bag for a very wet hike back to the car.

These are my first bird photos with  my new D800 Nikon, and I am greatly impressed with the color based matrix metering and the continuous autofocus.

Overall, not a bad day. I kept the camera and lens dry in the rain, got a nice photo and my knees don’t hurt from the abuse. Next time I will  have a check list.

Paul Schmitt