Double-crested Cormorant

Every good story has a protagonist and antagonist. In my Celery Bog story I would be the pro- well, hero, let’s just go with hero, and if I had to pick an antagonist, I’d have to go with the Double-crested Cormorant. He just looks like the perfect villain to me. He gets a bit of a bum rap regarding destroying vegetation and fish populations, but he’s actually a really nice dude. He’s got fifteen kids and a hundred grandkids. He’s got a place down in the Bahamas, he spends his winters there. I guess you could say he’s typecast because he just really looks like the perfect villain.

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Northern Flicker at the Celery Bog

Here’s a Northern Pajamabird, no, no, that’s not right. Oh, it’s a Northern Flicker. Whenever I see one of these beautifully scalloped little dudes, I can’t help but think that would be a great pattern for some jammies. Okay, I feel like I’m over-sharing now so moving onward, you’ll notice the yellow shafted tail feathers of this eastern subspecies of Flicker. The red shafted subspecies is common in the west. Also interesting, a group of Flickers is known as a “guttering” for their annoying habit of drumming on aluminum gutters and chimney flues while trying to attract a mate. Another cool trait is their ability to hover in mid-air while perched on a branch!

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Muskrat Monday

This muskrat had his back to me all morning, wouldn’t turn around for nuthin’. I gave up after an hour of pleading with him using my best muskrat call. It’s actually just high pitched english, like how most people talk to puppies. I figured I would just photoshop a face on him later and be done with it. As an expert photoshopist I have the ability to put a muskrat face on a muskrat butt and no one would be the wiser. I mean, if I didn’t tell you this was photoshopped you probably wouldn’t think anything of it. That is clearly a muskrat face right there!

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Eastern Kingbird at the Celery Bog

Prepare to be blown away by this one. Are you ready? You should probably sit down for this. Okay, here goes: I learned something new about birds today! I know, amazing! You probably assumed I already knew it all and so did I! What’s the thing I learned? Oh yeah, I learned that Eastern Kingbirds actually have a big red crown they display to show predators who is boss. They’ll even dive bomb those poor, unsuspecting predators with their beaks wide open and that big red crown displayed on top of their head. I bet that’s terrifying! So that’s what I learned about birds today, and you sure wouldn’t suspect it by looking at them. I even searched the interwebs for a photo of this supposed crown and there ain’t nothin’. Challenge accepted, photograph the Eastern Kingbird’s crown.

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Cooper’s Hawk

I was walking along at the celery bog the other day when I came upon a bush full of birds; mostly finches and sparrows, I’d say. They were laughing, chatting and carrying on like bushes full of birds do, and that struck me as a little strange since there was a Cooper’s Hawk in the tree directly above them. Ahh, I see now, it’s the juvenile we saw in this very spot a few months ago. He must not be a very good hunter yet because these birds could not have cared less about his presence. A sparrow even looked at me, one wing tip pointing at the hawk, the other pointed at his head in a circular motion, and said, Cuckoo, cuckoo!

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Greater White-fronted Goose

I came to a fork in the path this morning. To the left was home: warmth, relief for these old knees, and food! Seems like a no-brainer to me but to the right was possibility: maybe there’s an owl over there, or some other new bird I can add to my list. Obviously I went to the right, and it wasn’t thirty seconds later I heard what could only be described as a gaggle of Canada Geese sucking on helium! I pondered that possibility for a moment and came to the realization that it was a new species for me, Greater White-fronted Geese! That makes 135 species of bog birds I’ve published thus far.

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Indigo Bunting

This little blue dude was clearly not expecting a photographer today. I mean, he’s got spider webs and grass stuck to his face, and his feathers are all slobbery where he’s been preening. Poor bird just looks ridiculous! Whoa, easy, easy… he’s giving me the stinkeye. I didn’t think he could hear me from clear over there. Whew, that was close. Indigo Buntings do not like to be poked fun at; no wonder they rarely let me photograph them.

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Green Heron

It never fails, I get some decent shots of a bird I haven’t seen in a while, then I rush home and excitedly post them on the site. The next day I get even better shots of the same bird, and the day after that I get even better shots of that same dang bird! I can’t post any of the new shots right away because I just posted the first set of so-so shots. So I stash them away to post another day and they get lost. Six months later though, I find them, and it’s like I discovered buried treasure! Today that discovery was my Green Heron pal, who I didn’t see last year until September, and then seemingly every day after that!

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Cedar Waxwing

I’ve been thinking about Cedar Waxwings lately; seems like it’s been a while since I’ve seen one, and it’s been far too long since I’ve posted one. Then this movie came on TV about a museum where all the creatures and people in the exhibits come to life at night. What an amazing coincidence right!?!? See, because a group of waxwings is known as a mummy. No, no, no- a museum! A group of waxwings is known as a museum! I always mess that up.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet

Today I’m going to reveal my top-secret tips to becoming a professional Golden-crowned Kinglet photographer. First, you need the fastest camera you can afford, but don’t buy that one, buy one that’s even faster. Then you need the longest lens you can afford, but don’t buy that one, buy one that’s even longer. You’ll need lots and lots of memory, so go ahead and buy a laptop with a twelve terabyte hard drive. You’ll need fans to cool that laptop because once the shooting starts it’s going to get smoking hot. You’ll probably need some auxiliary power to run those fans, so I’d recommend a nice hundred pound system for that. At this point a big cart with pneumatic off-road tires becomes necessary to haul all of your gear. Next, you want to take some tinfoil and wrap it around your head, making sure there’s a big cone on top. What’s the tinfoil for? Well, you’re gonna look ridiculous anyway, so you might as well go all in. Now you’re ready to start shooting, so go into the woods and find you some kinglets. Once you find one, point the camera at him, actually, it doesn’t matter where you point the camera because he won’t be where you were just pointing anyway. Really, the key is to just mash down the shutter button while flailing around and don’t stop until that hard drive fills up or catches fire. That’s all there is to it! When you get home, all that’s left to do is go through the 10,000 photos you just took and pluck out the five useable shots.

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Eastern Towhee

I was hanging out with my Eastern Towhee pal when all of a sudden his eyes got real big; danger was coming our way from the south. Don’t worry little buddy, I’ll protect you, I said reassuringly as he puffed up and readied himself for battle. After a few minutes up in the tree, he came down beside me and perched, keeping a watchful eye to the south the entire time. The suspense is killing me now, WHAT IS IT!?!? Maybe you should be protecting me, GAH!!! Just then something fell out of the sky in front of us and plopped down on a nearby brush pile. Oh, it’s his girlfriend! I knew it all along! Whew.

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Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Why so shy, you Yellow-bellied Flycatcher? Here’s only the second yellow belly I’ve ever seen, and he didn’t stick around long either. Guess they don’t call ’em yellow-bellied for nuthin’. Actually, they’re called that because they really do have a yellow belly, not because they chickened out of some gun fight in the old west.

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