The power had been out for over 24 hours, and without my usual electronic distractions I was feeling rather bored and restless. I grabbed my Filsons and my Nikon and headed out the door. Walking through the woods in the snow has always been one of my favorite parts of winter, and fortunately my corner of suburbia is adjacent to a decent stretch of forest. As I made my way through the treeline I noticed there were deer prints everywhere. I followed the tracks as long as I could, taking some iPhone panos along the way.
An hour later I spotted about seven of them from a distance. They quickly sprinted off through the trees and it was amazing to see how nimbly and quietly they moved through the snow. It dawned on me that since I was trudging along in heavy boots I had little chance of catching up to them, let alone having them hold still long enough for a photo. However, after another half hour of hiking I somehow managed to stumble onto them once again, and was startled to find them grazing only a stone’s throw away. I froze; they froze; and I just kept thinking don’t mess this up as I slowly brought my camera to bear and started shooting.
It was only a few seconds before they all turned tail and bolted. All except for one. This last deer ignored the herd as they bounded away, and turned towards me to observe this new stranger in the forest. I snapped this photo as we stared at each other for a long moment, our mutual curiosity hanging between us.
In 1859, an Australian pioneer released a dozen wild rabbits on his property for hunting purposes. Other farms soon followed suit, and with little in the way of natural predators among the indigenous species, the rabbit population exploded dramatically. Within a decade millions were being shot or trapped every year in an attempt to control their proliferation, but the continent still teemed with hordes of rabbits. Will this happen on Figure 8 Island? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t mind it, because these little guys are so damn cute. I saw at least 3 or 4 of them when I was there in June, and that certainly seems like enough to start a colony. I followed this one around for a while with my 200-400mm lens and was able to chase him into some good late-afternoon light. However, as you can tell from this expression, I don’t think he was too happy about it.
While I was processing this photo I kept zooming in on the mother duck and wondering why she looked so much sharper than her young. After comparing this with a few other pics, I figured out the problem: it wasn’t that the ducklings were out of focus, they’re just that fuzzy in real life. This adorable little flock paddled around the Reflecting Pool for a while and then hopped out onto the side. Where they were headed, I have no idea. It didn’t look like these tiny fledglings could fly yet, so did they all waddle their way to the Potomac or was this their permanent residence? If the latter, I’m sure the ubiquitous hordes of tourists keep them well fed.
It’s springtime and all the bees are famished. I was walking around with my camera a few days ago and was struck by the outrageously brilliant colors on all the perennials that had popped up; I got in close to this one for a shot and noticed it was a focal point for what seemed like a small flock of bees. It got me thinking – if this plant look this great to me, how incredible must it look to them? These flowers are their sole objective in life, the goal for their entire existence. In whatever spectrum they see the world, the sight of this flower must unleash the equivalent of a massive dopamine rush in their tiny brains. While I was taking this photo I’d guess there were about half a dozen bees buzzing around my head. This would ordinarily have caused me some concern, but I felt sure they were all too focused on the surrounding flora to even notice me.
Ghost crabs aren’t known for being diurnal, so when I saw this guy scurrying across the sand one afternoon I felt I had to seize the opportunity and chase him down for a photo. At first he did his best to evade my pursuit but eventually stopped with his back to a dune, claws up, seemingly ready for a fight. He stared me down with his beady little black eyes until I snapped some pics and moved on. I’m sure he was relieved to get back into his dark tunnel and wait for the night.