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. 

A little non-macro practice: Gibson Ranch

I knew Gibson Ranch Park in Elverta wasn’t the best place for macro shots, but you can use a macro lens for more than just close up photography. Yes? Well, I gave it a try when Marlene, Linda and I went to to the park. I hadn’t been there for a while, and I wanted to practice with my new macro lens for the Fuji camera. It performed well.

There were the usual amount of ducks at the pond.

And there were geese!

And a squirrel enjoying a peanut tossed by a young boy.

And Gibson Ranch has other animals too.

There are also stables where horses are boarded. In one area, trail rides are offered.

Oh, yes, I did manage to get a couple of close up/macro images too.

Now I have to find some flowers and bugs to practice on!

You never know what you’ll find when walking the dog: Mushrooms

Gem (my dog) and I walk every morning. He’s a schnoodle and habit is most important to him. Most times, we log in 2 miles. It’s his joy. My doctor once asked me how long it takes me to walk a mile. I told her it depended on how many times Gem stops, smells the area and goes potty. With geese, ducks, skunks, coyotes and other dogs around, there is a lot to smell.

Sometimes I’ll notice something and wish I had my camera, but this is Gem’s time. His walking needs keep us both healthy and moving. But, one morning I noticed some nice mushrooms and promised myself to get my camera and return immediately. Yes, I’m that lazy that I have to promise myself!

I did return with my Fujifilm XT3 and new macro lens. Here’s what I got.

One thing, when you lie down on the grass face down with your camera, you’ll get lots of concern from your neighbors! I love the accordion effect these mushrooms have, and think my new lens performed well.

Yep, you never know what you’ll find when walking the dog!

Our new normal: My camera took me for a walk!

You know you’re addicted when your right index finger wants to press the shutter button and your left hand wants to steady the lens barrel. It was more than a week since our adventurous ride and I needed to get out and take some pictures.

So…. I my camera took me for a short walk around the neighborhood. The long 2-mile walks are reserved for dog walking. First, there are many front yard gardens with beautiful flowers. I made sure I didn’t go on property and just shot what I could from the road’s edge.

We have a lot of wild turkeys here, and the males are telling us it’s the season to show off. These two actually started to move when I lifted my camera, but stood still when I yelled at them not to move!

Last, are our current Canada goose family. These are the only geese to have goslings so far at our small lake. There will be more. And when there are, the dads will guard their families with fierce hissing and may actually run after you if they think you’re coming close to the goslings.

That was yesterday’s walk. My camera is calling me again. I think there’s more neighborhood and more pictures to take!

Wildlife? Mather Lake

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expected like our May outing to Mather Lake in Sacramento County. We expected the typical wildlife that we’re used to finding there, but we only found swans and fishermen! But, we’ve learned to make the best with what we get.

I was there with my Tuesday group, and we walked as far as we could around the lake. I was carrying my Nikon D7100 and my F/4, 300 mm lens. I do need to go back to using two cameras. I also need to get to the gym so I can do it! This left me sort of handicapped for landscape or wide focus shots. I made my Fitbit happy by taking some extra steps backing up to get a good compostion. While I like the results from my 300 prime lens, it is limiting,

Sometimes, when you’re not busy shooting, you experience the most outstanding interaction between birds. A swan was protecting his mate and his cygnets from a goose. The interchange was hilarous. Too bad I couldn’t catch it. My lens was too long and my reflexes too slow!

Take a look at what I saw that morning!