Lens Artists Challenge #225: Wildlife Close to Home

Stop. Look. Listen. Doing those three things will help you discover the abundance of wildlife you have nearby. You have wildlife in your yard, nearby park, local pond or lake and just about anywhere around you. We often overlook opportunities to photograph these animals because we are so used to having them around us.

We live in a community with beautiful green belts, old oak trees, a creek and the wildlife that enjoys it. I walk my dog, Gem, every morning. He and I are used to seeing a variety of animals each morning. Sometimes we even catch the nocturnal skunks if we’re out early like at daybreak during the summer. I’ve picked him up three times when I’ve seen coyotes. Twice, I’ve seen deer looking around for something to munch on.

Beyond my complex, I’m fortunate to live near parks and nature centers where wildlife abounds.

Let’s start with the pond we have in the middle of our senior complex. It has fish for catch and release, turtles and the usual geese and ducks.

Oh, we must give special attention to our wild turkeys that seem to take over the place only to be daunted by the coyotes. I’ve only seen coyotes while walking my dog and I’m without a camera. You’ll note that the last group of turkeys is not that sharp. That’s because it was taken with my cell phone, which doesn’t have a great camera. I just wanted you to see how they congregate. These turkeys are protected so there’s no thinking of enjoying a Thanksgiving feast with them on the platter.

Moving a little beyond my community, about 15 minutes away (I gage in time not miles!), is Effie Yeaw Nature Center. It’s right on the banks on the American River. It’s nature at its wildest. I’ve been there and seen deer carcasses that have been ravaged by vultures and other animals. On the brighter side, most of the time the deer know that humans are not their predators.

About the same distance, but in a different direction is the Gibson Ranch County Park. It has stables and a pond. On a recent visit, a family was feeding the squirrels. This one was a cutie. And I found a goose that was not a Canada goose.

Further down the interstate, about a total of 30 minutes away, is the Vic Fasio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. We find mostly birds when we go around the dirt route, and in this drought, they are even a rare sighting. Here are a great egret and blue heron I photographed during our last visit.

From squirrels to birds, wildlife is around us. What non-domestic animals live in your neighborhood or nearby? Do you have feeders to attract wild birds? Look through your archives or take a nature walk with your camera. Maybe some of those flowers have bees looking for nectar with which to make honey? Lizards, praying mantis or spiders may be lurking around the rocks. Oh, how about butterflies? Let us see your wildlife. Remember to link to this post and use the Lens-Artist tag.

I had fun and learned some new things while responding to Sophia’s Exposure challenge. I hope you did too. Next week I’m pleased to tell you that our guest host is Jude of Cornwall in Colors. Look for her challenge.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Lens Artists Challenge #169: The Ordinary

Before I started photography, I took nature for granted. While I liked pretty flowers, I never noticed their delicate intricacies. However, becoming a photographer changed all that. I now I look at the light shinning through the petals and the stamens holding pollen for the bees.

Guest host I. J. Khanewala‘s challenge is for us to discover the ordinary around us and cherish it. I do cherish nature.

It might be an eagle, hawk or deer.

Or maybe a landscape in the country, an ocean scene or a well known tourist spot.

But what happens when nature itself provides challenges like the wind storm we had last winter. It blew most of the almond blossoms off the trees in the orchards, devastating the almond crop. Ordinarily these trees would be full of blossoms.

But sometimes humankind provides the igniting spark that destroys what nature has taken so long to create.

In one fire season we went from a scene like this.

To a scene like this, taken yesterday. The results from the Caldor fire.

Let’s not take our extraordinary nature for granted any longer. Be careful to leave areas you visit just as you found it–beautiful!

Lens Artists Challenge #161: Feet and Shoes

Yikes! Ann-Christine’s topic this week is more than just one challenge for me! Explanation: My real challenge is that my toes are arthritic and I can’t wear many shoes except for Birkenstocks. I have managed to find a tennis shoe that I can wear for a few hours. It’s all subjective isn’t it! For some feet shoes can mean classy, dressy, casual, fun or barefoot. For me it’s Birkenstocks because of the support they give.

Now for photography, many things have feet (okay hooves) some even have shoes like this horse.

Most animals have feet although we refer to them with different names.

Dogs have paws. With some dogs we can see their toes, but some are covered. Can we say they have socks?

Wildlife like this deer have hooves (feet) but no shoes!

My Raggedy Ann has feet and shoes.

This egret flying up from a nest has claws (feet) but no shoes.

Last, but most important, are humans. No matter how they slide, they have feet and shoes!

So much for feet and shoes. Now it’s time to rest my feet without shoes on! Thanks Ann-Christine!!

Oh deer look at the swans: Effie Yeaw & Mather Lake

Living in the Sacramento area offers two nearby places for photographers to capture nature: Effie Yeaw Nature Center and Mather Lake. Both are less than 1/2 hour from my home. One March morning Ray and I went to both places.

First, we met at Effie Yeaw along the American River. The deer are very accustomed to humans and let us get close enough for me to use my 55 – 200 mm lens easily. This morning, unfortunately, we didn’t see any bucks, but there were a lot of does grazing.

We also saw turkeys and a tree branch that looked like an animal with a long neck. Do you see it too? Maybe a dragon?

After walking the trails in the nature center, Ray and I met Richard at Mather Lake. I wanted to practice carrying and shooting with my Nikon d7100, the prime 300 mm lens and new short monopod Ray made for me. This is a small lake and popular fishing spot. I had to walk to the back of the lake before I found swans close enough for me to photograph. At least I was able to carry the equipment easily.

It was a lovely morning of camaraderie, practice and exercise.

Hunting with a camera: Effie Yeaw

We were hunting deer when we went to Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael. The nature center is about 15 minutes away and is on the American River. It’s a beautiful natural wooded area surrounded by the river and a golf course. It’s rutting season for the deer and we were hoping to shoot some–with a camera!

While we didn’t see any males rutting, we did see a lot of deer that were close enough for me to get with my 55 – 200 mm lens. It was a great morning. When I complained that I was out lensed with my photo buddies’ 400 mm or more, one said that I shouldn’t complain since they were so close! But, I like to complain!

Here are some deer shots from that successful morning.

And Effie Yeaw never disappoints with its beautiful environment. We got there early enough to watch the last of the fog glisten in the sunlight.

Just a few more!

And finally some log art.

It was great fun hunting with my camera!

Goodbye 2019! Land Park & Effie Yeaw

Yes, goodbye to 2019!! I can’t say that it’s been the worst year, but it hasn’t been the best for me personally. I feel like my photography journey is on a roundabout and is unsuccessful in getting off to continue down the road.

I think my health is under control now, but with the beta blocker I’m on, any shooting beyond 8 p.m. is not happening. I just get too tired, but my heart is beating better. I call it my new normal!

December has been a rainy, cold, overcast and damp month which adds to the photo blues. I’ve tried to make the most of partly cloudy and sunny days, but they are few. Here, in California, December, January and February are traditionally our rainy months. The rest of the year is pretty dry, so we are hoping for more rain, and, of course, more complaining. My photo buddies and I are trying to think of more indoor places to take our cameras to. You might see some familiar places in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, let’s finish up some of 2019 with visits to William Land Park in Sacramento and Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael.

Jeanne and I went to William Land Park to catch some Fall Color in mid November. There was barely any left, but we did shoot for about an hour.

Next is Effie Yeaw. Marlene and I went to capture the deer rutting. They weren’t rutting that morning, but there were many deer.

Oh, I did get my calendars, and they look good. But, they are not exactly the way I wanted them to be as far as lay out. There’s always 2020. If I don’t blog again before, Happy New Year!!

Where we go for a local nature fix: Effie Yeaw Sacramento Nature Center

It’s a quick trip to see deer, coyotes, turkeys, hawks, and the river, so we go there often. It’s Effie Yeaw Sacramento Nature Center located in Carmichael along the American River. Actually, I’ve seen all of the above in my community, but we just have a creek, not a river!

But there’s something special about Effie Yeaw. I remember taking my younger grandkids there and while walking through the meadow, we passed a herd of deer, most of them bucks. Of course I was without camera! I find that my camera keeps me from enjoying the experience with the kids.

Recently I was there in October and November (this week). I usually see at least one deer, and if they are talented, they hide among the trees! Let’s look at my last two visits!

I love reflections!

The trees at Effie Yeaw are so expressive. And, in November we found some Fall color.

I did mention deer and coyote.

The pond is covered in some sort of algae right now. But, there are still ducks way back in the water.

Last, is the river. Last Saturday morning, it was beautiful with fog, and the sun periodically peaking through the moisture laden clouds.

I’m hoping that we have a wet winter so we’ll have green meadows and more deer coming out. I read in the newspaper that most of California is in a “low moisture” state. I’m hoping to show you a greener Effie Yeaw!

Frustration: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

My frustration has nothing to do with my outing to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SWR)  in Willows, California. It has everything to do with creating a calendar of my photos that I give as holiday gifts each year. It’s usually a joy to create this and would only take a couple of hours, resizing images and placing them in the calendar. This year it took about 5 hours and two calls to the Costco Photo website.

Apparently, they have a new website, and things don’t work the way they used to. My problem was that it kept warning me that my photos weren’t sized right. The two representatives gave me two different sizes. The last, the largest pixel count, only worked on the smaller images. So, my calendar is full of images three to six on a page.

I could go on, but it won’t help. Let’s concentrate on the wildlife refuge. I went with Laura for a full day of shooting. We started out at SWR and ended at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area for a sunset that did not disappoint.

I had my F/4, 300 mm lens attached to my D7100. It was a great day. We saw a deer that almost came up to the car, a juvenile bald eagle enjoying a meal, and the usual feathered wildlife.

SWR is a driving tour, and you can’t get out of the car. So quite a few times, this senior climbed up to the sunroof so I could shoot the birds on the driver’s side! Did you get that I’m a senior!

Anyway, take a look at what we found. And, next year I may not do a photo calendar. I don’t like frustration! I’m glad I have photography to calm me down.

 

 

 

Oh Dear, No Deer: Effie Yeaw, Carmichael

As the heat continues, we look for places to shoot that are open early in the morning to avoid the rising temperatures. We chose Effie Yeaw Nature Center for a recent Tuesday shoot. This is a nature preserve along the American River in Carmichael.

Typically the deer are out in the early hours. When I took my young grandkids there, we saw a full herd in the first meadow, and we found bucks on the other side. Marlene and I had the joy of walking (on a path) through a heard one time. But, this time we didn’t see a deer–not one. I wondered where do they go to hide? It’s not a large preserve. One was spotted near the pond at the entrance.

So, without our dear deer, we looked for other things to shoot. Lesson learned: there’s always something to shoot. It’s what you make of it! We walked and shot for a couple of hours and then went for an early lunch.

After lunch, we went back to the Vedanta Society’s pond to see if the Hyacinths we in the pond.  There were some but not a lot.  During lunch we talked about what other outings we could schedule with this summer being so hot. I think you’ll have to wait to see where we go next!