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My Lens

Filtering by Tag: wildlife

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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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...  

Look Deeper

Roni Delmonico

On this day, I visited The Wild Animal Park all by myself.  I like to do that sometimes because I don't feel pressured by anyone else's time table or artistic motivation.  It was a sunny day with big white puffy clouds and the temperature was perfect for wandering around taking pictures.  I actually like being alone, especially among animals.  I kind of got the feeling this bird felt the same way about me.  He was about as tall as my lens and came right up to the fence and looked directly at me for some time.  Or maybe he was looking at himself in the glass, who knows.

It makes me sad to think people can't see God when they look around them.  His art is so much more beautiful and complex than mine could ever hope to be.  I see Him in every detail.

All I really do is reflect it.

Beautiful Things Don't Ask For Attention

Roni Delmonico

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.
— Life Magazine Motto, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

There is a scene at the end of the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty where Walter asks Sean who is sitting on top of a mountain waiting for a chance to get just one shot of a beautiful snow leopard in the wild... when he's gonna take the shot.  He responds...

Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it. They call the snow leopard the ghost cat. Never lets itself be seen. Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.
— The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I have thought of that one scene maybe more than any other scene from a movie in a really long time.  I knew I had a shot of a snow leopard in my library and I went looking for it today, lingering over it for some time.  How often do I just accept things, without conviction of the heart?  How many other things in my life am I doing or allowing simply because they are easy, convenient, or entertaining... accepting when I should be questioning?  

For me, these days... those are some pretty important questions and as I stared at this photograph, I think I realized it's time for me to figure out how I alone.. would answer them. 

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.

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 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.