Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bucks Seeking Does...Here We Go!

Like annual clockwork...

With cold snaps, rain, full moons and the landscape laid bare, the mating season for deer kicks in. 

It begins with bucks seeking and chasing not-quite-ready-for-breeding does. And that means bucks start showing up right out in the open. This eight point was only 10 yards off the trail and noticeably torn between his fixation on nearby does and his instinct to run from me, especially when I raised my camera up to "shoot". Even as city deer, their genetic memory knows that gesture all too well.

Now's the time to keep your eyes open for big bucks, whether on the road or on the trail. They'll be cruising through a neighborhood near you.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Workshopping The Land

Last weekend I was blessed with the great fortune of running a workshop on nature photography at WMU. And all of us were blessed with a perfect mix of Fall weather: from rain soaked landscapes to breaking clouds and eventually piercing sun - all amid peak colors of the season. 

Below are the photos I was able to sneak in between instruction and guidance in the field. Very soon I'll be posting top pics from our talented participants.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blazing Bluestem

Fall's been blazing away and unfortunately I've been watching much of it from the windows of my car. Just this week I finally grabbed my Canon and seized the day.

In my walk-about, I was drawn not to the canopy so much as the ground. 

Next to the tracks that run along East Michigan Avenue was a fuzzy, swath of subtle rich color. Turns out it was a remnant patch of small bluestem, a native prairie grass that once grew in abundance before the great disruption of our landscape.

Although small and often overlooked, even grass has it's moment of glory in Autumn.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Photo Workshop!

I'm thrilled to announce the following photo workshop offered by me and WMU photographer Rebecca Brand. With Autumn in full swing, it should be a color-fest--come rain or shine--with plenty of beautiful and interesting landscapes to capture with your camera. Best yet, it's absolutely FREE!, courtesy of WMU's Environmental Studies Program. 

Come join us for a wonderful, two-day exploration into some of Kalamazoo's best wild spaces and the ever challenging and always rewarding pursuit of a great photo. 

Click on the following flyer and read for more information. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Down Goes a Giant...

Deer season is upon us and with that comes the ancient allure of big bucks. Since the opening of bow season just a few days ago, I'm sure scores of nice bucks have succumb to the arrow. But I was surprised to find this grand 14 point dead from another culprit.

A microscopic virus, carried by nothing more than a tiny little airborne bug, was able to topple this giant. A midge almost certainly transmitted the disease known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Desease (EHD), now sweeping through portions of Southern Michigan and leaving hundreds of dead deer scattered across the landscape.

Fortunately the disease is not tranmittable to humans, but there's little human intervention can do to prevent the spread of the disease among deer. Afflicting only wild ruminants, the disease does not carry over to other wildlife.

I found this buck at my favorite spot in Barry County, and it's final resting place in the water fits the characteristic symptoms of EHD:

A constant characteristic of the disease is its sudden onset. Deer initially lose their appetite and fear of man, grow progressively weaker, often salivate excessively, develop a rapid pulse and respiration rate, and fever (affected animals frequent bodies of water to lie in to reduce their body temperature) and finally become unconscious. Hemorrhage and lack of oxygen in the blood results in a blue appearance of the oral mucosa, hence the name 'bluetongue'. Eight to 36 hours following the onset of observable signs, deer pass into a shock-like state, become prostrate and die.

As a wildlife photographer, I'm moved by this scene and photo, but also very aware of the profound difference between a standing, live buck and a prostrate, dead deer. There's no comparison.

To think of all the impressive bucks and wildlife that have lived, and died, with no one ever photographing them or taking them as trophies. This is the parallel world of wilderness that lives on, irregardless of the human world.