Saturday, August 30, 2014

Young Foxes Playing - Pure Joy!



Three young Gray Foxes show how to really play. The energy - the pure joy of life - you'll wish you were a fox. I discovered a fox family whose life is centered around a high Smoky Mountain meadow next to dense forest with an old sour peach tree as a centerpiece. Mom and Dad are out hunting while the young ones born in spring get plenty of exercise and find the small, hard sour peaches endlessly fascinating as they pick them from the trees and play with them like balls on the ground. This is late August, soon they will have to strike out on their own. You can see them practice their hunting skills by stalking and sneaking up and jumping on each other. This is just three minutes but they go on for hours each night - such energy and joy!

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young Gray Foxes playing

Remembering My Stray Sheltie Friend



A stray Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie lived high in the Great Smoky Mountains and brightened my day with her infrequent visits for over  five years. This past October I saw her disappear into the dense mountain forest for the last time. It was a hard winter and she was getting older and bad in the hips and had trouble chewing and I feared she wouldn't make it through. No sign of her this summer and the only film and video I have is in this short tribute. In truth, she probably had an "owner" of sorts, but she lived outside and traveled a large territory of probably several miles over several days before returning to home base - in the process making a few friends along the way at the scattered high mountain cabins that are empty much of the time. The Sheltie would hang out with me for a few hours and enjoy a good meal and some conversation and then simply disappear into the woods without a sound - moving on. It was no doubt a hard life - Winter must have been especially rough times - but it was her life and the Sheltie was proud, dignified and asked no favors. I'll always remember the visits of the little Sheltie I simply called "Buddy".

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Shetland SheepDog aka Sheltie

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Skunk Versus Fox - I Think You Know Who Walks!



I love to capture these little interactions between species - it gives insight into the animal community that passes through the backyard. A large Striped Skunk's aggressive defense posture with tail held high deters a Gray Fox from even thinking about messing with it in the Great Smoky Mountains. With memorable black and white markings and tail held high and hissing the skunk would rather conserve it's chemical spray for real combat. This is the skunks territory to come and go freely and no animal, save the Great Horned Owl who is immune to its toxic odor, will mess with it at night!

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Striped Skunk and Gray Fox


Monday, August 18, 2014

Whitetail Deer Camouflage



Natural camouflage makes it hard to spot White-Tailed Deer once they move into heavy brush. They are very cautious about coming out into the open to feed. Always on the alert with their ears and eyes and always watching - they will see and hear you and you may not know they are there. Sometimes the flicking of their white tail catches one's attention. 

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Whitetail Deer Camouflage

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tree Climbing Fox


Gray Fox climbing a tree in the Backyard several times - and fast climbing too - with the ability to hold onto a vertical tree trunk in this case to eat suet for birds. Foxes are now addicted to suet. Video clearly shows the foxes technique. Very athletic and agile - the gray fox's ability to climb trees is shared only with the Asian Raccoon Dog among all canids. Its strong, hooked claws allow it to scramble up trees to escape many predators such as the domestic dog or the coyote, or to reach tree-bound or arboreal food sources. 

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Gray Fox climbing tree


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Raccoon Knocks Over Trail Camera



A Raccoon becomes fascinated by Bushnell Trail Camera on a game trail and knocks it over. Large bears have passed here without bothering to knock over the camera - don't think the Raccoon had any bad intentions - just curiosity and clumsiness! No damage done.

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Raccoon Knocks Over Trail Camera


Relaxing Nature Meditation - Baby Song Sparrows in Nest


Relax and enjoy watching two Song Sparrow chicks in the nest. If a few minutes of watching these birds is precious, imagine watching them for 12 minutes - they are fascinating. They have grown fast and are close to fledging. One in particular is obsessed with pulling out its baby downy feathers in preparation for leaving the nest.

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Baby Song Sparrows in Nest

Baby Song Sparrows in Nest

Baby Song Sparrows in Nest

Friday, August 15, 2014

Whitetail Deer Galloping in Backyard



White-Tail Deer

A pair of White-Tailed Deer visit my parents backyard in southern Ohio. Two of four yearlings to visit that day - they show off their speed galloping to the safety of cover in dense brush.

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White-Tail Deer

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wild Turkey Flock Behaviour



Interesting social behaviors of a large flock of Wild Turkeys high in the misty Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina in mid-July. True wild turkeys can be difficult to film acting naturally as they are quite skittish, especially in flocks. This flock was working the deep forest edge along a large clearing and I don't think they were aware of me or they would have ducked into the forest edge. The flock consists of several family groups with at least four adults and many poults, or young turkeys, some a little older than the others, all hatched earlier in  spring. What is a little unusual about this flock is that there appears to be at least two adult males mixed in with one clearly showing his dominance in the classic fashion. Typically the adult males don't travel with the hens and flocks of young.

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Wild Turkey Flock Behaviour


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Song Sparrow Babies in Nest



Cute Song Sparrow babies being fed by both parents and interacting with each other in a nest in the Great Smoky Mountains. These are two irresistible characters. Apparently the third egg didn't hatch. It was a challenge getting a clear line of site into the nest hidden in a Norway Spruce tree, but I found a narrow window into their amazing little world!

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Song Sparrow Babies in Nest