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My Lens

Filtering by Category: Wildlife

Loved Them All...

Roni Delmonico

Saying goodbye isn't ever an easy thing.  Especially when you know that it's forever.  But there really is a time for every purpose under heaven.  I know this.  Turn, turn, turn...

My dad lost his sister recently.  Not long before Hurricane Lane.  I imagine even the skies over Hawaii cried at her passing.  It made me think of my own brother.  And then the skies over me cried too.  Family wasn't meant to be so complicated.  It wasn't designed to be.

Our time here is temporary and the things we collect are too.  Life is precious.  The circle of it and all it encompasses is mesmerizing, painful, joyful, sad, melancholy and truly, completely beautiful in all its complexity.

My little bunnies left their den to follow their mother off into the great wild of my riverfront lawn, just about the same time my boys took an even wider leap.  They were the tiniest little creatures I have ever helped to take care of.  I hope I will catch a glimpse of them from time to time, and that they might even remember me, just a little.  The bunnies I mean.  Well yes...  and the boys too.

Goodbye and Godspeed.  In my life... I loved them all.

Empty Nest? Nah... ;-)

Roni Delmonico

I love to travel to new and interesting places but I really really love coming home.  I live on a small town river in Central New York that is teeming with all kind of wildlife and it is such a treat to interact from afar... and once in awhile, even up close.  I keep a lot of flowers around our property and one morning, we found my gorgeous red verbena in shreds, all torn up and dead on the ground beside its flower pot.  I couldn't imagine what might have done it.  Until we went to clean it all up and found four little baby bunnies all snuggled up together in the den their mother had made for them.  I have to say, I think she was rather smart.  A lot of times they make their dens on the ground and the babies' chance of survival against lawn equipment and other dangers is very slim.  

They are about eleven days old now and I have been watching over them since the day after they were born.  We lost one a few days ago and I was just heartbroken but yesterday, two of them opened their eyes for the first time and blinked up at me.  I just stood there grinning from ear to ear.  That was so special.  First time ever in my whole life, that I have had that pleasure.  I got to look into those little eyes, even before their mother did.

It's been raining a lot this week, so I covered them with an umbrella.  They're still cozy as can be.  It's a common misconception that the mother won't return to nurse them if you touch them and I admit to being unable to resist stroking these tiny little miracle balls of fur.  Mama comes back for about 15 minutes at dawn and 15 minutes at dusk to nurse, and I sit at the top of the stairs in my hallway, where I can watch in awe, without disturbing them.  It's lovely really... this beautiful world I live in.  So full of wonder. 

So far this summer, in the early hours just after dawn, I have kept company with a doe and her baby deer, a bearcub-sized beaver, a family of four minks, eighteen mice, (For awhile I felt a bit like Cinderella waiting for her ballgown and affectionately named the first one "Gus-Gus" ;-)), two beautiful pairs of yellow finches and one pair of cardinals, at least four nesting house finches and five different FULL nests and all their baby birds, hummingbirds,  mourning doves, chipmunks, squirrels, a skunk, blue herons in the yard and on the riverbank, kingfishers, falcons, osprey, eagles, ducks, geese, mergansers, swans, snow geese, cormorants, and one crazy little Havanese puppy named Cheyenne.:)  We also have a pond filled with about a hundred or more of the most beautifully colored Koi fish and a freshwater tank inside.  There.  I don't think I left anyone out.;-)

As we begin the new school year and my last child heads off to college... it occurs to me that my nest is not really so very empty after all. x

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God Just Hears A Melody

Roni Delmonico

One of my favorite things about spring is that the birds come back and fill the air with their cheerful songs.  We have a beautiful day here today, sunny and 83 degrees and there is a pair of house finches nesting in a little alcove below our upper deck.  They come up often to sit on the railing and look out over the yard as if they are king and queen of the household.  I love them.  I decided today that I will call them Sunny and Windy, since that pretty much describes the way it feels today.  Pretty soon there will be baby finches chirping in the nest too. 

I keep thinking about how life cycles around, how things don't always turn out the way we plan in each season, how when I only look inward and don't turn my gaze outward... I miss things.  I'd like to have a wider focus.  A sweeter song and a softer heart. 

Beautiful the mess we are...

Giraffe Manor

Roni Delmonico

When I was in my twenties, I visited the Big E in Western Massachusetts and in one of the tents, I came face to face with a giraffe who was as fascinated by me as I was by him.  Thus began a life long love affair with these gentle giants, who I still make an effort to see and photograph at every opportunity.  So far I have only photographed them in captivity, here in Central New York, at our local wild animal park, in Disney's Animal Kingdom, and at the New York State Fair.  Recently, I came across a video that made me smile... and put a visit with them in Nairobi at the very top of my bucket list...  

This Is My Home

Roni Delmonico

It's been a great week of shooting for me.  Watched eagles and osprey pluck fish right out of the water.  Enjoyed following them in flight, and anticipating what their next moves might be.  I'm very seriously thinking about joining some friends on an African Safari in the fall of 2018.  

I am always careful to remember the beauty of the ordinary birds that surround me too though.  I never want to miss the extra-ordinary that is right under my nose by chasing bigger things.  I heard a wonderful quote today, and liked it so much, I decided to make it the focus of my home page.  It was written by a minister and evangelist in the Bahamas who has since passed on.  I think it's wonderful that his words have been immortalized and there is such truth in them for me.

I think the greatest gift God ever gave man is not the gift of sight, but the gift of vision. Sight is a function of the eyes, but vision is a function of the heart.
— Myles Munroe

A Weekend To Remember

Roni Delmonico

I had the nicest weekend.  We really took some time completely off to enjoy being out on the water, searching for wildlife, meeting new people down at the marina and up and down the Seneca River out to Cross Lake and beyond.  We saw our best friends and sat around a campfire talking and we had a lovely family get together on the fourth of July. Central New York is an especially beautiful place this time of year. I'm storing up the memories of sunshine and warmth for those difficult winter months when we all seem to go into hibernation with these creatures I am photographing daily. Feeling such peace lately though... it's been so nice. I woke up to rain this morning and all those things we left undone so we could play for awhile ended up getting done as the rain fell outside.  It's good to ditch the guilt and just enjoy the passage of time.  I think our balance between working and playing was so off and it is beginning to even out again.  

I sat for a long time with this Great Blue Heron.  He found his way into a perfect photographic spot and it was breathtaking.  There are times I look through the viewfinder and it's so amazing because everything else drops away and it is just me, my camera and my subject.  It's such a cool feeling and it doesn't happen all the time. When it does, I truly relish it. I watched him fish, and fly, and he even posed for me for quite awhile.;-)  I'll cherish the day.  It was one of those perfect ones you hang onto in your mind and revisit often... in a weekend to remember.

Isn't It Remarkable...

Roni Delmonico

Funny how much a person can change. There was a time I would have rushed to sweep those cobwebs away, thinking they'd ruin my photograph.  I still did have that thought initially.  But I paused. I think it's in that pause that I begin to listen with my heart, instead of my head.

Hummingbirds need the protein from insects, in addition to the nectar they get from flowers and feeders.  If I  leave it alone... then she'll get a complete meal from time to time.  I wonder if she already ate the spider.. or if the spider heard the hum and said.. Oh man!  I am SO out of here.  Either way, the web looks pretty in the sunlight and it's still sticky.:)  Breakfast buffet for hummingbirds.  

I watched a tiny spider, no bigger than the head of a pin, build a web this morning, while I drank my coffee.  I am surrounded by ordinary miracles every day, without ever leaving home.   

It's not that unusual
When everything is beautiful
It's just another ordinary miracle today

The sky knows when it's time to snow
Don't need to teach a seed to grow
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Life is like a gift they say
Wrapped up for you everyday
Open up and find a way
To give some of your own

Isn't it remarkable
Like every time a raindrop falls
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Birds in winter have their fling
Will always make it home by spring
It's just another ordinary miracle today

When you wake up everyday
Please don't throw your dreams away
Hold them close to your heart
'Cause we're all a part of the ordinary miracle

Do you want to see a miracle?

It seems so exceptional
That things just work out after all
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Sun comes up and shines so bright
And disappears again at night
It's just another ordinary miracle today

-Glen Ballard, David Allan Stewart

I've Got The Blues

Roni Delmonico

This is one of those times that only other photographers who shoot wildlife will truly understand the significance of.  If you do a google search for Blue Heron photographs you will be hard pressed to find one from this angle.  I was beyond delighted as it was unfolding and it took everything in me to sit perfectly still as this beautiful, majestic bird with that incredible wing span flew straight to me.. head on.  He didn't know I was there until he was almost on top of me.  Those meditation practices are coming in handy as much in my physical life as they are in my spiritual life! ;-)  Wow... what a thrill!  

I've captured quite a few shots of them lately, but because they're so skittish and it's really unusual to get one to come straight at you like that at eye level, it's probably my new favorite. Here are a few more though.  I enjoy photographing them quite a bit.


From Courage to Peace to Sweet Release

Roni Delmonico

A doe quietly crosses the Seneca River on a misty morning in Baldwinsville, NY on June 21, 2014.

This morning I wandered down to the water's edge all by myself before everyone woke up.  It was about 5:30 am and it was so quiet, I could hear the whir of the hummingbird's wings as she came to drink from her favorite red flowers.  I brought a blanket with me and I snuggled into the bench, watching the mist curl over the water in tiny tornadoes, swirling and dipping, dancing with the sun as she rose up over the trees with a cheerful wave.  Another beautiful Saturday morning... in a long stretch of them.  Mother Nature sure seems to be asking forgiveness for her winter tantrums.:)  I am happy to grant it.

How do I begin to express gratitude for this place?  To live my life in a way that says thank you thoroughly enough?  Are these images doing that feeling justice?  Do my words?  All things I ponder in these early hours of the morning.  I have come to treasure this time for so many reasons.  When people are still sleeping, animals come out of hiding, they run and sing freely with abandon and they act in ways that are so much more natural than I see when they are motivated by getting out of our way.  I can hear God's voice and I can hear my own.  And occasionally, something truly magical happens.

Way off in the distance I saw something making its way across the river from bank to bank, hidden in the mist.  It was far enough away that I couldn't make out what it was, but it was moving faster than any species of duck I usually see crossing the water there so I lifted the binoculars to my eyes, mildly curious. I nearly squealed when I saw that it was a doe, silently gliding through the water, legs pumping like one of Santa's reindeer, swimming through the mist effortlessly as if she did this every day.  I held my breath until she made it to the other side, astonished at her bravery.

Amelia Earhart once said,

“Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings.”

 

Sometimes peace is found in the most unlikely of places too.

For Better or Worse

Roni Delmonico

It's not easy to tell the difference between male and female Canadian geese.  But if I'd have to venture a guess... I'd say the female is the one in back. Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

They mate for life like swans do.... I think that's so cool.  If you listen carefully, the female will make a "hink" sound along with her honk and if you look closely, her neck is likely a touch more slender.  The male is usually about ten percent heavier than the female, but their size difference is negligible.  They have the same markings, and unlike other wild birds, the male does not have more colorful plumage than the female.  These two have seven little goslings and I call them the Seven Dwarfs.:)  I wonder where they are hiding...

I took this shot just a fraction of a second too soon and missed catching her tail and a bit of her right wing in the frame.  But it made me smile anyway.  He seems like he's resolutely flying faster and she's nagging him good about something.  But in truth, she was by his side nearly neck and neck all the way down the river and I just happened to catch them when he pulled out ahead.  Ah, the magic of time and perspective, hmm?  It's all in the way we see things and the timing in which we see them.  For better or worse.;-)

The Small Things That Are Bliss

Roni Delmonico

My recipe for the perfect breakfast.:)

A pinch or two of birdsong.  (Red and yellow will banish the blues).

A few dandelion greens (good for reducing inflammation, especially if you lay down and roll around in them with your dog.)

A smile and a wave and a really really good dream come true...

Some fresh caught fish and a handful of diamonds to decorate the table.

A rocking chair.  (An old blue chair is best, but black will do in a pinch).

And some friends that know how to sing.:)

So I lift up my hands now
And I open my heart
And my gratitude goes out
To everything near and far

All that I am
All that I see
All that I've been 
And all that I'll ever be
Is a blessing
Its so amazing
And I’m grateful for it all.

The Wings That Fly Us Home

Roni Delmonico

There are some beautiful perks to living on a stretch of river that ensures many intimate encounters with wildlife.  In the five years we've been here, I've watched the geese fly back and forth in front of my windows and I make it a point to never take that for granted.  In about a month, they will bring their babies to our shoreline and for months after that, I will watch them grow until they are ready to fly away again. Ahhh, the rhythm.

This year, we've had another real treat and it is one I have not seen on this stretch of the river in all our years here.  We've got a pair of nesting bald eagles and a juvenile who have made our narrow stretch of river their hunting and playing grounds.  Every morning for about two weeks now, they've come like clockwork between the hours of 8 and 10am and sometimes again, around four in the afternoon.  It is a sight I never grow tired of.  It's been tough to get a clear shot, as they prefer the other side of the river from me, since the homes there are summer camps and are mostly unoccupied at this time of year.  They are so majestic, and I am really grateful for their visits and for the chance to document it from such a close perspective.  I'll keep trying, as long as they keep coming.  

I know that love is seeing all the infinite in one.

In the brotherhood of creatures, through the Father, through the Son.
The vision of your goodness will sustain me through the cold.
Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone: you are never alone.

And the spirit fills the darkness of the heavens. It fills the endless yearning of the soul.
It lives within a star too far to dream of. It lives within each part and is the whole:

it's the fire and the wings that fly us home, fly us home, fly us home.