Bear Cub In The Grass

No trip to The Great Smoky Mountains is complete without at least one loop around Cades Cove.  Cades Cove can get pretty crowded, and quickly.  The earlier you can get there the better off you are.  The reason it gets so crowded is it is a very popular spot for viewing wildlife.  In the Spring and Summer it is especially popular for viewing black bears.

The Cades Cove Loop Road has a gate at the entrance that does not get opened until sunrise.  The strategy of getting there early means you want to get there 30-45 minutes before sunrise to get your spot in line.  During this time of waiting on the gate to open you get to see a lot of "interesting" characters.  At least the people watching passes the time.  

On one of our visits to Cades Cove we had the pleasure of seeing several bears.  I believe we counted about 15 in one day.  That's probably no record, but that's 15 more black bears than I would've seen at home, for sure.  So, I'm glad we went.  We saw what looked to be a lot of moms with cubs.  These bears looked a little worse for the wear.  I'm no bear expert, but I'm assuming that being in the den without food and feeding young ones was the cause of this.  The big bears that we saw alone, which I assume to have been males, looked much better than the moms with cubs.

We saw several cubs on our visit.  Most of them not much taller than the grass they were feeding in.  This made getting clear shots of them pretty tough unless they stood up.  After a lot of waiting for a clear shot I decided to try and get a shot of one of the little guys "peeking" through the grass.  After a lot of waiting, and several attempts, I was able to get a shot I was happy with.

You can see what I mean when I say they weren't much taller than the grass.  It was very difficult to get good clear shots of them, so I waited...and waited...and waited until I could clearly see both eyes through the grass.

Equipment list: Nikon D500, Tamron SP 150-600 F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2, Sirui Tripod and K-40 Ballhead

EXIF Info: Aperture-priority, 1/800 sec, f/6.3, ISO 3200, Compensation: +1/3, 400mm

Northern Flicker

Ever since we started going out to Jackson in the spring one of my highlights of the trip is always finding these "bird nurseries", as we like to call them.  Basically, any cluster of aspen trees you find has all sorts of nesting holes in them and all kinds of birds make use of them.  In a small area you could see several different species of birds.

Aperture Priority, 1/1000th, F/6.3, ISO 3200, Exposure Compensation +1/3

This is a Northern Flicker feeding it's chick.  These birds are found all over the United States in any season.  This is the red shafted form of the Northern Flicker.  There is also a yellow shafted form.  Their main diet is insects, mostly ants.  They use their long, barbed tongue to collect the ants.  I need some of these guys in my backyard.  It would be a like an all you can eat buffet for them!

This image was made using a Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All resting a top my Sirui tripod and GImbal Head.

 

Pileated Woodpecker Nest

Last week sometime I heard there was an easily accessible Pileated Woodpecker Nest in Huntsville.  I was a little late to the party, which is usually the case, but I got to go check it out on Saturday morning.

It's a good thing I got there Saturday morning, too.  I heard later that afternoon all of the babies fledged the nest.  I could tell they were about to when I was there photographing them.  They were really big.  They were getting really brave with how far they were coming out of the nest on their own.  The parents weren't feeding them very frequently either.  I think it was their way of telling them it's time to get out of the house.

While I was there dad did come in and feed once.  I didn't get a shot of him feeding all the chicks, but I did get a shot of him feeding this one. 

The leaves were really grown and in the way.  You basically had to wait on the wind and the birds to cooperate enough to get a shot without the leaves blocking the scene.

Sony A6300, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter, Tamron 150-600mm Lens, Sirui tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.

Aperture Priority, F/6.3, ISO 6400, 1/500th second, Exposure Compensation +0.3

Fawns

Over the Fourth of July Weekend, a friend and I visited Berry College to photograph the deer fawns there.  They are in abundance over there and are pretty well accustom to a people presence.

I took my Sony A77ii and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  The lighting was wonderful that morning, as it had been raining and was still overcast for most of the morning.  Usually during a light rain, or right after a rain is the absolute best time to photograph!  The colors are all more saturated, the lighting is usually even and it the weather is generally cooler.  The cooler temps kept the fawns out in the open a little longer than normal, I believe.  They are a lot like me.  When it gets hot they start looking for shade.  The whitetail deer and I both have agility skills that are almost parallel, too...or is it opposite?  Oh, well.

ISO 1250, 500mm, F/6.3 @ 1/400th second

This little guy, or girl, was laying down in the grass.  I got on the ground to get eye level with him, or her.  Getting eye level with your subject usually provides a better perspective when shooting wildlife.  I slowly inched closer and closer until I got within about 20 yards of the deer.  He had no care in the world that I was there, but I certainly didn't want to get any closer and alarm him, or her.

If you notice the settings on this image, you'll notice that typically it's not a good idea to handhold with a shutter speed slower than your focal length.  What I mean is, if I was shooting at 500mm, I typically would want my shutter speed to be at 1/500th second.  However, the in body stabilization on the Sony A77ii allows me to cheat a bit.  Also, since the subject wasn't moving, I could get away with a bit of a slower shutter speed, too.