Pungo & Alligator River

I'm wrapping up a busy two months of workshops & tours in the next couple of weeks. I'm kind of sad that my workshops are winding down, although, I'm super excited to go out and finally work on some photography projects I've been planning.

I'll be recapping each workshop in the coming weeks but for now, lets go back to early May. Candace & I went out to Alligator River for a morning trip and finished up at Pungo. We didn't see many bear but I was able to photograph this big guy as he was making his way in from his feeding area. It was a pretty neat experience to watch him as he would straddle the green bushes, depositing urine as he walked.

_A4A0735.jpg
 
_A4A0743.jpg

After a brief moment with the bear I discovered this barred owl. I spent a good 15-30 minutes with it as it hunted near the woods edge. It really didn't mind our presence and I could hear some owlets calling from deeper in the woods. (more on them later)

_A4A0852.jpg
 
_A4A0864.jpg
 
_A4A0923.jpg

After hunting for a bit, it began to preen. Cleaning each feather individually. I love owls!

_A4A0994.jpg

While watching the owl, I was surprised to see a beautiful cottonmouth entering the road about a 100 yards from where I was standing. I jogged down the road to capture a few photos before it finished crossing the road. I've only ever photographed this snakes once or twice and I've yet to create the photograph that I'm really happy with. But I'll take it!

_A4A0886.jpg
 
_A4A0888.jpg
 
_A4A1058.jpg
 
_A4A1078.jpg
 
_A4A1019.jpg
 
_A4A1029.jpg

During the spring, Wild Iris' bloom all around the Alligator River NWR's canals and Mill Tail Creek. I was photographing them when I noticed several types of bees collecting pollen. With the overcast day and dark shaded areas behind the flowers I was able to isolate the iris' from the background. Creating an illusion, as if I were in a studio using a black backdrop.

_A4A1039.jpg
 
_A4A0782.jpg
 
_A4A1276.jpg
 
_A4A1109.jpg
 
_A4A1130.jpg

After seeing several deer and beautiful young fawn we made our way to Pungo. We didn't see many bear, however, we did have an awesome encounter with a Clapper Rail. Three rails were calling back & fourth to each other, trying to find a suitable mate. The one below offered me some great photo opportunities as it preened, called and fed along the canal edge.

_A4A1141.jpg
 
_A4A1186.jpg
 
_A4A1200.jpg

It was an action packed photography day and I brought home many images I'm happy with. I hope you enjoyed the trip as well as the images. More trip recaps coming soon!

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil.

Published: OurState Magazine July Issue

Really excited to share that I will have an image in the July issue of OurState Magazine. It is always nice to have my work printed in any publication.

image1.jpeg

This image was created on the Pungo Unit of the Pocosin Lakes NWR during spring. The water lilies were blooming and the clouds were perfect! I made my way to the edge of this flooded impoundment, set up my camera and tripod to create this image. Red-winged black birds were calling for their mates, prothonotary warblers were searching for food along the edge of the canals. Have I mentioned how much I love to spring & summer on the Pocosin?!

_L1I2600-2.jpg

Be sure to grab an issue and check out pages 18-19!

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil.

 

BIG Male Bear, in the rain!

After finishing with the 4th annual North Carolina Black Bear Candace & I made a quick trip into the Pungo refuge. It was very dreary, raining and a little muddy. We saw a smaller bear cross the road ahead of us and not long after it crossed, out walked this big guy. I immediately knew the first bear we saw was a female. June-July is black bear mating season here in eastern NC and we were witnessing it first hand. The female was in estrus and the male bear was following her trail.

_A4A3282.jpg

This big guy slowly walked down the road straight towards us and not too far behind him was another large male. They kept walking straight towards us before it walked towards the edge of the canal and swam across. Once we were separated by the canal, I knew I had a good opportunity to photograph him as he searched for the female.

_A4A3309.jpg
 
_A4A3372.jpg

He would constantly check the ground & the air for her sent.

_A4A3413.jpg
 
_A4A3431.jpg
 
_A4A3449.jpg
 
_A4A3464.jpg
 
_A4A3504.jpg
 
_A4A3542.jpg
 
_A4A3563.jpg

After searching for her for a while he took a seat on the edge of the canal and waited. I took advantage opportunity and photographed him as much as possible before he ventured off. It was an amazing experience and easily one of my top 3 I've had on the refuge.

I hope you enjoy! If your interested in visiting the refuge with me and learning how to find and photograph these beautiful creatures, visit this link. I still have some spaces available and I'm always offering private 1-on-1 workshops/tours.

Until next time,

Cheers, Neil

 

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

Preparing for Bear Season

Hey everyone! Spring is in full swing with summer fast approaching. I've been traveling out to Pungo a lot lately searching for and photographing bear. This is going to be my busiest summer yet! With black workshops and tours scheduled every weekend from Memorial Weekend through July! I'm super excited! Below is video I created last weekend. I had an awesome trip out and documented 3 HUGE males making their way in from eating in wheat fields over the night before.

Below are a few images from that morning along with a quick recap from the past few outings since I last posted.

_A4A9860.jpg
 
_A4A9608.jpg
 
_A4A9633.jpg
 
_A4A9727.jpg
 
_A4A9787.jpg
 
_A4A9818.jpg
 
_A4A9842.jpg

I have space left in the May Ultimate Black Bear workshop a few for the June workshop. If your interested click below!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube

April at Pungo

April was such a beautiful month on the Pocosin. Early mornings were dominated with the call of prothonotary warblers along with gobbling turkeys searching for mates. Spring slowly morphs the dark brown forest into lush green gardens. Snakes are starting to venture out hunting for a meal. Flowers are blooming with insects flying about, dancing from one flower to the next. Farmers are out preparing their fields for crops and the bear waiting on those crops to grow. So for now they are searching the woods for fresh green leaves and grass shoots. Spring time is pure magic on the Pocosin

_A4A9528.jpg
 
 Bear forarging for fresh green leaves.

Bear forarging for fresh green leaves.

 
_A4A9962.jpg
 
 Male turkey strutting

Male turkey strutting

 
 Double Crested Cormorant

Double Crested Cormorant

 
 Double Crested Cormorant

Double Crested Cormorant

 
 Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

 
_A4A0500.jpg
 
 Prothonotary Warbler searching for food

Prothonotary Warbler searching for food

 
 Prothonotary Warbler searching for food

Prothonotary Warbler searching for food

 
_94A9578.jpg
 
 Ladybug on thisil

Ladybug on thisil

 
_94A9541.jpg
 
_94A9527.jpg
 
_94A5105.jpg
 
_A4A8150-Edit.jpg
 
_A4A8182.jpg

Bear activity is increasing by the day. Be sure to check out the next post. Lots of Bear! BIG BEAR!

Until next time,

Cheers,

Neil

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram & Youtube.

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.

_A4A5416.jpg
_A4A5421.jpg
_A4A5622.jpg
_A4A5486.jpg
_A4A5639.jpg
_A4A5521.jpg
_A4A5547.jpg
_A4A5555.jpg
_A4A5597.jpg
_A4A5569.jpg
_A4A5579.jpg
_A4A5655.jpg

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.

_94A9434.jpg
_94A9466.jpg
_94A9521-HDR.jpg
_94A9527.jpg
_A4A8459.jpg
_A4A8469-Pano.jpg
 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.

DJI_0025-Pano-Edit.jpg
 Hookerton, NC a couple miles from my home.

Hookerton, NC a couple miles from my home.

DJI_0075-Pano.jpg

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

 

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube

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. 

_A4A9022.jpg
 
_A4A9045.jpg
 
_A4A9133.jpg

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

_A4A9138.jpg
 
_A4A9178.jpg
 
_A4A9210.jpg
 
_A4A9228.jpg

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. 

_A4A9057.jpg
 
_A4A9081.jpg
 
_A4A9540.jpg
 
_A4A9478.jpg
 
_A4A9506.jpg
 
_A4A9518.jpg
 
_A4A9565.jpg
 
_A4A9613.jpg

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

 

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.