Winter, the season some of us hate, while others seem to love. Just think about it. You can’t ski, sled ride, ice skate, snowmobile, ice fish, or any of many wintertime outdoor sports when it’s in the 80s. In the area we live, you just make the best of it, and remember, spring is right around the corner.
I’ve learned over the years that winter nature photography can be rewarding, not only for wildlife, but also for some beautiful scenic photography. Bird photography is always a great wintertime challenge during those long snowy, cold days. Actually, it’s an outdoor photography project you can do from the comfort of your house. If you have a bird feeder set up near a window with some trees or shrubs nearby, the possibilities are endless for great photography.
Some of my best bird photos were taken from my kitchen window, including some great hawk shots. I have often said that hawks love bird feeders, not for the seed, but for what comes to the feeders, rabbits, squirrels, and yes, songbirds. This is nature at its best, and all birds have to eat.Through the years I’ve photographed a variety of wildlife in or near my feeders. This would include, owls (great horned, barred, and screech), hawks (sharp-shinned, goshawks, and coopers), songbirds, including some great visitors like evening grosbeaks, redpolls, red-bellied and red-headed woodpeckers. You never know what nomadic wanderer might show up in your backyard. Just have your camera ready at all times.Then, no matter how bad, or cold the weather might get, the urge to get outside will overtake you.
Yes, grab that camera, and go outdoors. Most cameras made today will withstand extreme cold temperatures, but I always keep mine under my coat (just in case). An early morning drive around some local backroads will occasionally yield a surprise photo-op you might not expect. Turkeys foraging in the deep snow or a snow covered deer make for great winter photography. Find open water, or maybe a roadkill and it could easily yield a bald eagle or two looking for an easy meal. Watch streams on snowy winter days for signs of otters.
I once found a couple of otters guarding a fish, with two bald eagles above them, waiting for the chance to steal that fish. No, the eagles never tried. Snowy owls are in our area this winter in fairly good numbers. Look in open fields in farm country, or go to Presque Isle State Park in Erie. They are from the high Arctic Tundra where there are no trees, so look low.I have seen an occasional bear wandering through the snow. Just think of the photo op here, a black bear walking through newly fallen snow. Doesn’t happen often, but if the opportunity does arise, you have a shot of a lifetime.
Scenic snow shots can be beautiful, especially after a fresh snowfall blankets the trees, and trails. Improvise on shots if you get a chance. If you come to a snow covered trail with overhanging branches that needs that something extra, walk up the trail, then backtrack in your own footprints. This will create the illusion of a lone hiker walking the trail alone. If you have a friend with you, use him/her walking the trail. These make great winter photos.
I have seen many great winter photos taken with phone cameras. Why not, as the phones will fit comfortably in your warm pockets, and also take wonderful images. Whatever your preference is during the long, cold winter, get out and take some pictures. You will have a lasting memory of any winter, either mild or downright nasty. Who knows, you might just get a wall hanger.
Hope the New Year is a good one for everyone out there. Keep taking those pictures. You never know when that shot of a lifetime might come along. Until my next adventure…Questions or wildlife sightings, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org