My name is Michael Heege, Welcome to my blog, thank you for stopping by. I'm excited to have you here and hope to share my outdoor experiences with you. I specialize in Nature Photography, my motto is" I love to photograph anything with Fins, Feathers, or Fur" LOL. I try to improve my photography every time I go out into the outdoors, so please feel feel to add any comments you may have. Please sign in my Guestbook or leave a comment on a post and give me some feed back on my work.
The Gray Jay
The Gray Jay lives in the northern forests in Canada, I have seen them in the bordering states as well. They are highly curious and always on the lookout for food. It will even landing your hand to grab a raisin or peanut, they horde food in trees to sustain themselves through the winter. Gray Jays are stocky medium sized bird with short stout bills. The Gray Jay nests during late winter incubating its eggs in temperatures that may drop below -20°F. I had noticed that all the Gray Jays and the Algonquin provincial Park have been banded, they are being studied by scientists in trying to determine the impact of Global warming is taking on the Gray Jay population. They all have the most amazing and lovable personalities, they will follow you from tree to tree while hiking through an area that they populate. They are one of my favorite birds to be around, there are more beautiful birds around but none are as endearing as the Gray Jay.
I had the pleasure recently to spend some time with some Sea Otters on the west coast. I must say they were so entertaining to watch from my Kayak. The way they played around with each other it reminded me of kids swimming up behind their friends and dunking them under water, and your friends chasing you after. They also are so cute, I was stunned to see how light the fur on their faces is when their fur dries, it’s almost blond. I just sat still there for over an hour they would come up to the Kayak to take a close look at me and after a while they were just floating on their backs like little old men sunning themselves in the water all around me. It was a memorial able day one that I will cherish. I when I first arrived the weather was over cast but a few hours in it cleared up and was beautiful. I was amazed at their size they average 4 feet long and 65 pounds. They have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years.
The Sea Otter is an aquatic member of the weasel family is found along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in North America and Asia. The sea otter spends most of its time in the water but, in some locations, comes ashore to sleep or rest. Sea otters have webbed feet, water-repellent fur to keep them dry and warm, and nostrils and ears that close in the water. Sea otters often float at the water's surface, lying on their backs in a posture of serene repose. They sleep this way, often gathered in groups. Otters sometimes float in forests of kelp, or giant seaweed, in which they entangle themselves to provide anchorage in the swirling sea.
These aquatic otters do more than sleep while floating on their backs. They are often seen with a clam or mussel and a rock that has been deftly snared from the ocean floor. Otters will place the rock on their chests, and repeatedly smash the shellfish against it until it breaks open to reveal the tasty meal inside. They also dine on such aquatic creatures as sea urchins, crabs, squid, octopuses, and fish.
Sea otters are the only otters to give birth in the water. Mothers nurture their young while floating on their backs. They hold infants on their chests to nurse them, and quickly teach them to swim and hunt.
Sea otters are meticulously clean. After eating, they wash themselves in the ocean, cleaning their coat with their teeth and paws. They have good reason to take care of their coats, it helps them to remain waterproof and insulated against the cold. Sea otters have thick underfur that traps air to form an insulating layer against the chilly waters, they have no insulating fat.
The Northern Hawk Owl was on my bucket list for ever, to me it is one of the coolest looking raptors on the planet. I could not believe my luck, I had just spent all day looking for this guy. I had done all of my research, I know the general area it was, the area was a boggy area that was approximately 20 square miles. I was on my way back to my car, feeling like I struck out again. When you have been chasing Owls for as long as I have you come up empty more times that you sight them. Even when you spot one, sometimes they are buried in brush and you don't get any great shots. With the Northern Hawk Owl I have never even seen one in the wild. The photo gods smiled upon me right in sight of my car perch in a pine tree was this little beauty. I setup my shot and lock in my focus and it flushes out, I was in awe of this little guy. To my amazement it lands 20 feet from me in a small tree that was about 8 feet high. I could not breath until I got a burst off, it stayed for less than 5 minutes and took off after some Snow Buntings that were all over. It was well worth the 3 1/2 hour drive and the 6 hours of searching, for 5 minutes of the coolest looking bird on the planet in my opinion.
In the harsh and bleak winter, with no real color in the landscape. There is a little winged critter that stands out its the Evening Grosbeak.In my opinion it is one cool looking bird and it stands out in the wintery northeast. If you are lucky enough to see one it will stop you dead in your tracks.Its color just explodes out of the snowy gray landscape. The Evening Grosbeaks are large, heavyset finches with very thick, powerful, conical bills. They have a thick neck, full chest, and relatively short tail. Adult male Evening Grosbeaks are yellow and black birds with a prominent white patch in the wings. They have dark heads with a bright-yellow stripe over the eye. Females and immatures are mostly gray, with white-and-black wings and a greenish-yellow tinge to the neck and flanks. The bill is pale ivory on adult males and greenish-yellow on females.
Being from the Northeast, we have Snowy Owls in our area during the winter consistently for the last 5 years or so. Their numbers aren’t massive like the last eruption, but we have a consistent small migration of them in our area, you can find them if you know where to look. They are beautiful birds, a marvel of migration really, they travel from the Tundra of Canada down to our area for the winter months and back during spring to their breeding grounds. The strongest and best Snowy owls do not leave during the winter months, that is amazing if you think about it, the brutal cold, hunting by sound and not sight because of the deep snow. The males when mature are virtually all white, while mature females have black barring on their backs and wings. What really grabs your attention is the eyes they jump out and mesmerize you, they just grab your attention. If approached right, you can spend in some cases hours with them. My favorite time to see them is sunrise, foot traffic is low their eyes are wide open and they except you being there with them. It’s sad to see people charging up to them and flushing them time after time. As the sunrises higher in the sky their eyes start to close down to a squint they may look closed but if there is any movement around the area they are in, you will instantly see their head turn to the area they see movement in.
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© Michael Heege Nature Photography
Recent PostsThe Love able birds of the North is the Gray Jay The Adorable Sea Otter Northern Hawk Owl, one of my Bucket list birds The eye popping and colorful Evening Grosbeak Close encounters of the Snowy Kind (LOL) The Great Grey Owl Backyard Visitors in the Winter Winter time on Long Island The Beautiful Red Fox (Vulpes Vuples) The Short-eared Owl