Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Planning for January 2010

One thing I've been doing more of this year is reflecting and planning. It can help, and point to things that worked, and has helped me to try new things.

What I look to do in my planning thought process is to:
reflect on past successes
plan for new locations or approaches

A month or two ago I got around to tagging all my images with month tags. Here's my tag for Jan (or January) sorted by interestingness...

A bunch of those are from the Zoo - like the pandas, lions, tigers...

But what matters to me and my wildlife trips are the mating foxes, and foxes in the snow and ice, which were at Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware.
Together, they rejoiced! . . . . . . . .  (Red Foxes at Bombay Hook, National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware - 9 of 9, full story)Foxscape

Wildlife at the zoo (ie non-captive animals, visiting to catch a meal) included hawks:
Red-Shouldered Hawk - 1/13/2006Cooper's Hawk @ US National Zoo (wild)

And finally a couple of photos from Blackwater NWR in Maryland:
a GOOD morning - Two Bald Eagles @ Blackwater NWRWhite Pelicans Landing @ Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

The wintering white pelicans were an oddity that happened for a few years in a row, and I have seen one there this year, but just one. It is possible the flock of 20 or so are around but I've missed them. In recent years brown pelicans have been captured and rehabed due to winter exposure to the cold, where they had frost bite and damaged their feet (if I recall correctly).

Ok, so mating foxes at BBH. Eagles and white pelicans (if lucky) at Blackwater. And wild hawks at the DC Zoo.

This year (2009) in January I embraced the weather on a number of days. I drove 100 mile to BBH to try to see the foxes mating again, in the snow this time, but struck out. I saw foxes but no mating - the foxes included the momma fox, and both kits I think:
Fox In The Snow
Winter Be Gone!

Odds are I will go to Bombay Hook and Blackwater Refuges again. They've worked well in January. When I go somewhere like these places I ALWAYS GET THERE BY SUNRISE, OR BEFORE!. To show up around noon and spend an hour or two there is to waste the trip. Seriously. Sunrise or sunset will have the best light, and I seem to catch the action then when the animals wake up and do stuff, or when they catch their last meal of the day. Usually I'm there in the morning.

The 'get there by sunrise rule' works even better in the summer when it gets hot. The animals don't like the heat either, and will perform their hunting tasks early if possible.
Light is Life

What to plan that's new....

Well I just started to shoot from a blind and I will try that for the first time in January. Given the right setup, that can yield some closer than normal encounters. But as I noted in my blog post, I need to hide from people too, not just the animals.

Last January I found a new spot or two, including my Osprey spot - it's a low traffic area and fairly unknown. I'm going to continue to research and search for new spots to me, which haven't been discovered the way so many spots I go to have been.

MD Osprey OOB   (+osprey flight/landing animation)

While I'm not sharing some of my new spots, I will share this. What I'm looking for are places within a couple hour drive or 100 miles. Places that are public, allow for access via car, and have wildlife like eagles, osprey, foxes, owls, geese, ducks, etc.

I made public so many places that I go to that it is not a rare thing for someone to ask me while out shooting somewhere "are you Jon?"... Seriously, and it has happened in some strange and unexpected places - like hunkered down in the grass at Centennial lake a couple years ago while shooting this. I have to wonder how many people that roughly look like me and shoot nikon get asked "are you Jon?"... Lol. It's happened at the zoo a number of times, at the dam, and I think even at Great Falls.

Anyway, with people watching and following like that, it's hard to go places and share the locations and expect to be left alone and see the wildlife in such a way that doesn't bother the wildlife. I'm not saying I don't like people saying hi, I do, I find that to be great, like my images are reaching people and maybe getting them out. But, to see unbothered wildlife takes a calm and solemn approach, one that has to be done solo.

Maybe that will be one of my plans for 2010 - to only go shooting alone. That's how I do mostly shoot, but I often feel like I *should* go shooting with friends... I don't think that works, so I'm going to make an effort to even more so shoot alone.

And after January, there's February and Eagles at Blackwater will be doing their courtship and I can try to get a good version of their cartwheeeling as compared to this one:
Happy Valentine's Day (w/ animation)  :D





ToadMama said...

It's good to know you strive to do better. Like getting a better version of the eagles cartwheeling. Seriously? It gets better? You must be an overachiever!

I love your latest fox pix. Especially the one with a meal and the pouncer. Great stuff!