February Wild Weather

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February is supposed to be one of the snowiest months in New Jersey; however it might end up being one of the mildest Februarys on record in the Garden State, according to New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson, who teaches at Rutgers University. http://www.nj.com/weather/index.ssf/2017/02/7_strange_facts_about_february_2017_weather.html

The month of February has seen a mix of weather conditions.  Typically it is one of the coldest months of the year and the swamp and pond usually remain frozen.

Yet, this year February has seen numerous days that  were  extremely warm. For example a couple days the temperature was in the 50’s causing the frozen swamp and pond to thaw out.

One day later we had a sever snowstorm bringing eight inches of snow and bitter temperatures.

Also, there were even several days where it reached the 60’s; which brought out lots of wildlife on the Backyard Wilderness property.

While looking out the window I noticed a Chipmunk run across the porch. It was the first Chipmunk that I’ve seen this year.

Next the oddest site; at first I was not even sure what I saw, and then I realized it was a Ground Hog with lots of leaves in its mouth. I took photos as it approached the house and went under the porch.  Guess there may be baby Ground Hogs this spring.

Every year a couple of Canada Geese mates hang around the front of the property. (In the spring they have their Goslings. Typically they have five to seven Goslings and the Goose family spends several months near the front of the house.)

The real treat came on the last day of February. It was sunny and the temperature was about 60 degrees. While looking out the window a Great Blue Heron landed in the swamp. I quickly grabbed my camera and photographed the Heron out the window.

As I have mentioned so many times in prior blogs one of my favorite birds to photography are Herons. I love watching their graceful movements. While making a few photos I noticed there were a couple of large Turtles sunning themselves on the edge of the bank. They are the first Turtles I have seen so far this year.  You are able to see them in the close-up below.

Wonder what weather the month of March will bring us.

Winter at Backyard Wilderness

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 The month of January was a pretty mild month as winters go. Backyard Wilderness did get a little snow this month as you can see in some of the photos that follow:


One milder day in January while I was looking out the window I surprisingly saw five Wild Turkeys walking in the yard. Wild Turkeys do not visit the Backyard Wilderness property often, so I quickly grabbed my camera and decided to take photos through the window.

Next I quietly went outside, so I would not scare the Turkeys away. Unfortunately the Turkeys did not stay long and off they scurried into the woods.

Bye, bye:

Backyard Wilderness Year End

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 It has been awhile since I found time to do wildlife photography (which I love).  As 2016 ends I decided to take time for myself and do some photography. Even though it is winter and I am not fond of cold weather I was lucky because there were several mild days at the end of the month of December; which made it more inviting for me to be outside.

On Christmas day while looking out the window there were some Canada Geese near the swamp blind in the afternoon. I quickly gathered my photography equipment and walked to the blind. The blind is set up on a small strip of land between the swamp and the pond. During the winter the water in both the swamp and the pond is typically frozen, however, because of the recent warm days the water is only partially frozen.

As I approached the blind I walked slowly to try not to scare the Geese away. Unfortunately as you can see in the photo below my plan did not succeed.

I decided to sit in the blind to see if there was possibly any other wildlife activity. Unfortunately there was not much except for one Song Sparrow. I first noticed the Sparrow on a reed.

I watched the Sparrow for awhile as it moved from place to place.

It appeared as though the Sparrow was in search of food as it moved around. Once the bird flew away I decided to end my photo session for that afternoon.

Three days later I chose to go back out to the swamp blind; but this time I thought it best to photograph in the morning when wildlife on the Backyard Wilderness property is more active. It was about eight thirty in the morning as I began walking out to the blind. At that moment I heard the Geese as they flew overhead and then I saw them land on the frozen pond. I slowly approached the blind and got in as the Geese began to walk off the ice.

I even noticed a Downy Woodpecker pecking at a tree limb.

This visit I had decided to bring a little bird seed with me which I dispersed on the frozen swamp. Next I waited a little bit and was happy to see a few song birds land on the ice.

It felt great to make wildlife photographs again; always a peaceful experience for me. I was happy I made time for myself to do something that gives me so much joy.

We all have very busy schedules but an important New Year resolution is to make time for yourself to do something that you enjoy doing. We all need to recharge and take time for things that really matter in our lives. Wishing all of you a happy, healthy, prosperous and meaningful 2017!

John Hewes - January 1, 2017 - 7:52 am

Great job as always Jody! Keep up the excellent work and I am happy you like to share your pictures. Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2017. John Hewes, Lyons, NY

Backyard Wilderness Visits Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Florida

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Went to visit my mom in Florida a few weeks ago. Of course I brought my camera equipment because I love to visit the Wakodahatchee Wetlands when I am in Florida.

The fifty acre Water Reclamation Utility land has been transformed into a wetlands ecosystem http://www.pbcgov.com/waterutilities/wakodahatchee/what_is_wakodahatchee.htm.  The name Wakodahatchee is derived from the Seminole Indian Language and means, “created waters”.

It is an amazing place, especially for a wildlife photographer. There are over a hundred species of birds that are listed on the Wakodahatchee web site http://www.pbcgov.com/waterutilities/wakodahatchee/

The three-quarter mile boardwalk that runs through the wetlands enables one to view the abundant amount of wildlife.

Below are some images I made during my visit in October. The first photo was taken just after sunrise of some birds resting in a tree, which is a very common sight at the wetlands.

My favorite birds to photograph are Herons. Below is a Great Blue standing at the top of a tree.

The next photos are of a Tri-color Heron.

Watch out Heron there is an Alligator lurking nearby.

In Florida a common bird and sight is an Anhinga with its wings spread out to dry.

As I walked further along the boardwalk I came across a bunch of Cattle Egrets resting in a tree.

Also I photographed a Double-crested Cormorant at the top of a tree.

Next, notice the Double-crested Cormorants in the trees. Look carefully at the photo. The female Cormorant is on the nest and there is a juvenile Cormorant in the nest.

Wow, look at the close up, there are two juvenile Cormorants in the nest; what a treat.

One of the juvenile Cormorants puts its mouth into the female’s mouth, which they do in order to get a drink of water.

In the photo below the young Cormorant sticks its beak way up in the female’s throat.

This concludes my excursion at Wakodahatchee. It is truly a wonderful place to visit.

Summer Swamp Days

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There has not been as much wildlife activity on the Backyard Wilderness property this summer as in past summers. Below are some photos I was fortunate enough to make while in the swamp blind on several different days. The first is a photo of several Painted Turtles sunning themselves on an old tire in the swamp.

There was also Dragonfly activity that day. I believe the photo below is a Common Whitetail Dragonfly.

On another day I noticed some Hawk activity off in the distance on a high tension tower. I am not sure but I think the Hawk flying in the photo below is a Red-tailed Hawk and the Hawk sitting on the tower may be a Northern Harrier. It appears from the picture that follows that the Red-tailed Hawk does not want the Northern Harrier on the tower.

However, the Northern Harrier does not want to give up its spot. Also, notice at the bottom of the photo there is another Hawk in the area.

On the same day while I was still in the swamp blind a Green Heron landed in a bush above the swamp, which made it difficult to get a photo of the bird without branches and leaves blocking the view. I love photographing Herons unfortunately this summer there have not been as many as prior summers.

The next day I was in the swamp blind and I was thrilled when my favorite Heron came to visit-a Great Blue Heron. I love photographing the many positions a Great Blue gets into as you can see in a few of the photos below.

Arlene and Howard Beroff - November 16, 2016 - 9:53 pm

Thank you very much for sharing your talents with us!! I loved seeing all of the wild life.
Arlene B.

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