As promised, this post will conclude my review of some of the warm-weather critters who have come to me for portraits this year. I started small with the four previous posts in the series, and now I’ll share the fruits of my encounters with larger folk…
In January we were in New Zealand with our daughters, and one of our side trips was to one of my favorite places, the gannet colony at Muriwai, a drive of 45 minutes or so from Auckland. There’s an observation point on the cliff above the sea stack on which many of the gannets can be seen at this time of year. (The first one above is, of course, not a gannet, but rather a white-fronted tern.)
During her summer visit to our cabin in northern Minnesota last year, Squiddy exercised her impressive patience and succeeded in enticing several of our eastern chipmunks to approach her and eventually to take sunflower seeds from her hand. They warmed up to the rest of us, too, and I was delighted to find that at least one of them remembered our bond and came to me this past spring.
Tree frogs are not as common as the wood frogs in the forest around the cabin, but I usually see several over the course of the warm season. This one was perched on an old stack of wood.
Between the cabin and the nearest town, there is a marsh containing a grove of dead trees containing a dozen or so nests made by blue herons, and a single one to which an osprey always returns each year to rear a new chick or two.
We were very concerned for the health and welfare of the loons, whose antics and haunting calls are essential parts of the magic of the north woods, as their typical migration to over-winter in warmer climes takes them to the Gulf of Mexico, which suffered greatly from the massive oil leak off the coast of Louisiana. But many of them were back, to our great relief and joy!
While fishing from my little one-person canoe, I saw this painted turtle basking near the shore, and approached stealthfully with my little Pentax ready. I was so successful that it didn’t move until the prow almost contacted its perch.
We love to watch the frolicking squirrels each year. Our very favorites are the little pine squirrels, about twice the size of the chipmunks, but in recent years they have been inter-breeding with the much larger grays. A few blacks have also been around, too. I’m pretty sure that these four are (rather fine) examples of the pine-gray hybrids. All in all, a good year for the critter cams!