Last Weekend of Winter

I was finally able to make it out to Pungo over the weekend. For only spending a half of day, it was, well,.. AWESOME! We saw so much wildlife it was crazy. Otters were swimming everywhere, deer everywhere, turkeys, ducks, doves & herons. We saw one bear and a red wolf! They didn't offer any photo opportunists but it was great just witnessing them.

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The first day of spring is tomorrow and I can't be more excited for it! Normally, I'm a huge fan of fall/winter but the older I get, the more I thoroughly enjoy each season. I will be traveling to the refuge more & more in the coming weeks searching for signs of bear. Stay tuned for what I'm hoping to be my best year yet!!

Also, there is still a few spots left in my Bear workshops, don't miss out!!

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil.

 

Camera Trapping Update

I've finally discovered a bobcat! I even got a photograph! If you've been following, I've been working the last 4 years, trying & hoping to photograph a bobcat with my camera trap. Here is a brief video I created recapping the setup and when I checked it.

 
 Large Bobcat

Large Bobcat

I didn't expect the bobcat to come from this direction so he is not quite in the focus area. Also there was fog that affected the image quality too.

 
 Raccoon

Raccoon

 
 Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

 
 Black, brown and white Fox Squirrel.

Black, brown and white Fox Squirrel.

 
 Grey Squirrel in the rain

Grey Squirrel in the rain

We're currently on day 21 of this set and I'm in this one for the long haul. I plan on building a new camera trap specifically built for this location. I'm really hoping and thinking this cat will come back in the next few weeks. I'll try to keep you updated when I return.

Until next time,

Cheers,

Neil

Around Home in Snow

I was like a kid on Christmas morning! We woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland. With work being closed, Candace & I set out to photograph the years first snow fall. We visited several old barns in the county and anything that caught my attention. In preparation of the snow fall i put out some bird seed. After returning from the morning outing I photographed several different species of birds.

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 Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

 Female Cardinal

Female Cardinal

 Male Cardinal

Male Cardinal

 Male Cardinal

Male Cardinal

 Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

 Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

 Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

I also brought my drone along to create some aerial photographs. I photographed the Contentnea Creek which runs near my home.

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 Hookerton, NC a couple miles from my home.

Hookerton, NC a couple miles from my home.

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I really enjoyed photographing in the snow and I'm secretly hoping we get at least one more good snowfall before spring. I hope you enjoyed my images!

Until next time!

Cheers, Neil

 

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Wilson's Snipes & Woodcocks

A few weeks back, during our first snowfall of the year, I was lucky enough to photograph on the Pocosin Lakes. My previous journal entry, Snow Bear, was from my second outing. On my first outing I was amazed at all the Wilson's Snipes and Woodcock activity.

With most of the impoundments and ponds frozen, most of the shorebirds moved to areas where the water was still in a liquid state. All that was left, that I was able to find, was two canals inside the refuge that the water was still running. I had an absolute blast watching their behavior as they fed, bobbing their bills in & out of the mud in search earth worms and other small invertebrates. 

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These two snipes were very comfortable with me. This one began preening and both rested for a while before returning to foraging for food.

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The American Woodcock, a resident of the Carolina's is an illusive bird during the most of the year. Most sightings are during the winter months, like my sightings here. Most of their time is spent hidden, foraging for earth worms in dense woodlands. They are very well camouflaged and when standing in the leaf litter you can barely see them. 

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This was one of my favorite days I've ever spent on the refuge. Part 3 will be up soon. All about swan!

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil

 

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Snow Bear

-3 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes. -3 degrees! But that didn't stop my determination to try to photograph a bear in the snow. Today was really my last chance of photographing in the snow, at Pungo, before it melts. Here in eastern North Carolina your're never guaranteed snow, so you have to take advantage while you can. So Candace & I made the trip down and I made the long walk, towards where I knew the bear would be, by myself. Candace said it was too cold and waited for me in the nice warm truck. So after getting pretty close, I noticed a sow & her cub slowly making their way my direction. I got into position and patiently waited for them to arrive. I wasn't exactly sure where they were going to cross the canal but I knew it would be one of 3 trails. I sat in between all three and hoped that they would cross to my left, that trail had the best light. After about 15 minutes I began to notice, two round black shapes making their way through the standing corn field. They were here!! On the exact trail that I hoped they would be on! I started to photograph every few seconds, hoping they wouldn't hear my camera shutter, but then they caught my wind. After smelling the air trying to figure out if I was still there or not they turned around and walked to another trail, this one about 30 yards further. But still in good light. They slowly came out and crossed within 75 yards from where I was sitting. Success!!! I finally photographed not 1, but 2 bear in the snow! I have been dreaming of this day for so long!  Below you will find 10 images from this morning. I would love to know you thoughts! 

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil

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Wintering Waterfowl

Happy New Year! 2018 has started out brutally cold. As I'm entering this entry ice & snow is currently falling outside and all I can think about is making the drive back out to Pungo in hopes of photographing waterfowl & bear in the snow! Fingers crossed the roads are clear and the snow sticks around long enough for me to get back out there. So for now, I decided to reflect on my last trip out. I lead a small workshop on the first Saturday after Christmas. It started well below freezing, leaving most of the canals & impoundments completely frozen. At first light, we found a small group of tundra swan resting on the ice. After photographing the beautiful sunrise we began our search for the snow geese. Luckily it didn't take very long and boy did they put on a show!
 

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We watched & photographed them for several hours as they fed in the cut corn fields. They would all take off, circle the fields and land in a different spot. Allowing for great opportunities to create photos from all angles and to experiment. Most photographers are dead set on using extremely high shutter speeds, freezing the action completely. Sometimes it's nice to slow things down a bit and drag the shutter. Not sure what that means? Its just a phrase photographers use when using a really slow shutter speed.

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Slowing the shutter speed down allowing to show motion in your photograph tells a better story. In the photo above with ever goose completely frozen in place is nice but when you drag the shutter and you can actually see the movement, the chaos, the story. This technique requires some patience and practice.  You need to pan smoothly and just the right speed to make sure that the heads of the birds are in focus and their wings along with everything else has nice blur.

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We were also lucky enough to photograph a family of bear. If you look closely you will notice its the same family group I photographed all summer last year. It was great seeing them again!

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At the end of the day we watched snow geese land just outside the refuge. We turned our attention towards the beautiful moon and noticed the geese were flying in front of it. We began photographing them continuously until we lost all available light. We had a great workshop and I'm looking forward to the next one!

So until next time,

Cheers, Neil

Also, the snow is now covering the ground!

 

 

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Year in Review: 2017

2017 was a great year for photography. I have been extremely blessed over the last twelve months. Traveling to new locations here in North Carolina and photographing animals I've seen but had never photographed.  As far as east Cape Hatteras to Franklin, a small town in western North Carolina. 2017 was the year of the black bear, photographing more bear than ever before. I led several photo tours & workshops, which led me to meeting some really awesome people & photographers.

2018 is looking to be an even better year! I would like to thank everyone that has supported me & follows my work. I plan on traveling more this year, photographing more and maybe even creating more videos. I hope you had a great year as well and even better New Year!

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil.

 

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Camera Trapping

I decided to make a few videos about camera trapping. I still don't do it nearly as much as I would love to. I'm slowly working it, perfecting the craft and slowly building up enough equipment to be able to set multiple sets. Just for fun I decided to do a two part series around one subject that I was able to capture. Part 1 you will find below and Part 2 will be released very soon. With the new year right around the corner this will more than likely be the last until January sometime. So for now here is the first installment, showing the scouting, deploying a trail camera, what it captured and then finally checking the actual trap 20 days later. Overall this video is a little over 40 days in the making.

I would love for you to comment below and let me know what you think!

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil.

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Raccoon eating Persimmons

A few weeks back I made small/short trip out to the Pocosin Lakes. I didn't see much but what I did see & photograph was pretty special. I made a short video to re-cap the trip. This raccoon is preparing for winter by eating persimmons. Did you know that deer, bear, opossums, squirrels, raccoons and even coyotes eat persimmons? They are sweet & delicious, as long as you eat a ripe one.

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Fall is here and winter is coming! Over the next few weeks the waterfowl will start slowly arriving. I would love to know your thoughts.

Until next time!

Cheers, Neil.