BRENT PENNINGTON Great Cormorants at Fords Pond on the morning of 13 April 2013.

The past couple of weeks have been a wildlife extravaganza. Having a kayak hasn’t just given me the ability to get out on the water, it’s given me an access and approach-ability to a wide range of wildlife that I’d never be able to work with otherwise.

I’ve posted about some of them, and will be talking about others soon. But in the meantime, this is a collection of the miscellaneous critters, the ones that have only appeared in front of my lens a time or two.

The top image is a flock (gaggle? pride?) of Double-crested Cormorants. They descended on Northeast PA a couple of weeks back and stayed until just before Earth Day, when suddenly they were gone again. We’re not in their breeding grounds but we are a stopover on their migration and it seems that once they’d rested and eaten their fill, they were on their way again.

Cormorants are kind of funny birds. I’ve seen them standing with their wings outstretched; turns out this is because they have less natural oil than other waterfowl, like ducks, and so their feathers get wet easier when they dive in pursuit of fish.

BRENT PENNINGTON Greater Cormorant perched at Fords Pond on the morning of 13 April 2013.

There’s some cool facts about them on the All About Birds page. Seems that they’ll build their nests out of anything, including dead birds. If stones end up in the nest, the parents will treat them like eggs and try to hatch them. So yeah, that’s odd.

BRENT PENNINGTON Horned Grebe in adult breeding plumage on Lackawanna Lake on the evening of 14 April 2013.

And then there’s the single Horned Grebe that’s been hanging around Lackawanna State Park for the past week. Seems like a lonely existence  being just one of a kind in the area. Or at least, the only one I’ve seen.

Aside from the different look, however, I can’t say this grebe is very exciting; mostly it just bobs around like a duck.

BRENT PENNINGTON Turtles at Fords Pond on the morning of 13 April 2013.

In the non-avian category, there’s no shortage of turtles in Fords Pond. I’ve seen several on each visit. If I’m there late enough in the morning they’ll start sunning themselves on fallen logs, but mostly I find them in the shallow water in the north end, near the marsh.

That’s where I found the two in the photo above. Shooting into the water is never easy; contrast is low, sharpness suffers, and reflections can be killer. Fortunately it was overcast that morning, which took care of the reflections sans polarizer (and also left me shooting at ISO 3200). Some post-production work fixed the other issues.

It’s not the best angle, but I’m pretty sure these are Painted Turtles. To say they’re common is an understatement; they’re the most widespread turtle in North America. So it’s a pretty good bet.

BRENT PENNINGTON Great Blue Heron in the shallows at Lackawanna State Park on the evening of 15 April 2013.

And finally an old friend, a Great Blue Heron. We know them collectively as John the Heron. Last year, John was conspicuously absent. In fact, both the Great Blue and Green Herons were almost nonexistent all season. So it’s good to see them arriving early this year (I’ve already seen a Green Heron, too).

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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