Monday, October 5, 2009


Newfoundland is a photogrpaher's paradise. I just returned from photographing a friend's moose hunt in Newfoundland Canada. Just getting there is an adventure. A surface trip requires an 11 hour ferry boat ride from Nova Scotia to the vast island. Via air, we flew from Toronto to Halifax NS and on to Deer Lake Newfoundland. Our base was the Tuckamore Lodge in Main Brook NF. where the accomodations and dining are superb!

My hunting friend took a trophy moose on the first day of his hunt, 7 miles into a rugged interior of bogs, rocky ridges, lakes and impenetrable scrub forests. Following the kill, I spent 9 hours walking with our very nimble guide over at least 20 miles of knee and leg stressing topography, but it was well worth the effort to observe more moose in this wild and beautiful and very remote landscape.

The rest of the week was spent investigating the sights of northwest Newfoundland where tiny fishing villiages cling to the bases of mountains on protected bays and whales play about icebergs in the harbors during the summer months .

The guide called in several more bull moose to the camera, some of which approached within just a few feet of us; much too close for comfort. The one great complication to photography in Newfoundland is an abundance of heavy cloud cover and dim light weather. The northern coast offers thrilling scenery complete with seals, whales and a multitude of birds during the warmer months. Newfoundland is a must-see place for photo fans.

If you visit Newfoundland, take fast lenes, lots of flash cards, a hard drive backup and a waterproof windbreaker. Lots of lodging and camping is available on the island known as "The Rock."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Debbie Flanigan is in Women's Outdoor News

Check out Debbie's piece in the Women's Outdoor News, "My Job... My Outdoors" section at This is a great site for all the outdoor gals.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pennsylvania Game News Cover Photo

I am honored to have the cover of the September issue of the Pennsylvania Game News Magazine. It is a photo of a Wood Duck and the editor, Bob Mitchell, and his staff did an excellent job! Check it out at and then click on the Game News icon for a larger image and text.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wild turkey breeding dynamics

Early this morning, the sighting of a young hen wild turkey, accompanied by a single and notably small chick for a late August date, recalled a recent question regarding wild turkey reproduction dynamics.

Question: "A friend told me that there are so many turkeys this year that the hens didn't even bother to nest, but simply walked about letting their eggs drop and be abandonded. Is that possible?
Such strange assumptions are common when changes in normal wildlife activity are noticed, proving that the general public enjoys seeing wildlife and cares about its welfare.

Answer: Older wild turkey hens are substantially more efficient at reproduction than are young-of-the-year hens. And, when the turkey population contains a large percentage of young hens it is common to notice youthful hens with just one or two chicks.

In mid July, a local rural resident noticed a small wild turkey hen, that appeared to be nesting in the center of a large field that he was mowing. He immediately stopped mowing to avoid disturbing her and later carefully investigated the site; the young hen was indeed nesting. "Why are the turkeys nesting so late this year, " he asked? Quite simply, young hens typically mate and nest late in the spring, after adult hens. In addition, they are not as skilled in avoiding detection and protecting their nests as are the wiser, more experienced adult hens.

In the event of nest destruction young hens normally renest much later too. The young hen that was still nesting in July had almost certainly lost her initial nest to predation or another disturbance, but was determined to complete her natural and instinctive obligation to wild turkey society. Nesting is a vitally important and innate portion of the wild turkey's annual natural history that cannot be denied or simply abandoned.

Researchers have learned that when wild turkey populations are high, reproductive success declines and vice versa. This dynamic contributed greatly to the phenomenal success of the wild turkey trap and transfer program over the past several decades. When introduced into a new habitat containing virtually no birds, wild turkeys, reproduce with amazing success and quickly populate the new territory.

Wildlife is amazingly able to survive and thrive in suitable habitat - that's a vital commodity that we humans can provide.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Velvet photography

August is prime time for photographing whitetail bucks in velvet antlers. The antlers are fully developed and within days the velvet will begin to crack and peal, exposing the buck's antler crown for the current year. The shedding of velvet is a rapid event that is often completed in twenty four hours or less. Often the process is quite bloody and dramatic with bucks shaking their heads vigorously to dislodge hanging shreds. They may even drag the antlers through brush to pull the tattered velvet from the antlers. This is not however the time of year for rubbing trees with their antlers; that occurs later, during the rut.

It is believed that the development of a full set of antlers taxes the buck's body equally to a doe deer producing twin fawns. Perhaps this is why shed velvet is very quickly eaten by the buck, and on occasion, bucks will pull velvet from another buck's antlers and ingest it. All of this provides dramatic photographic images, but the process is so rapid that entire herd of captive deer may fully shed their velvet with in just a day or two.

Capturing photographic images of the process is truly challenging due to the speed of the process and the secretive nature of the bucks during the shedding. In addition, the process seems to occur more rapidly during the night. Their shyness quickly passes as the hard antlers emerge and the bucks appear eager to be seen and admired with their new head gear finery.

In Pennsylvania, most bucks have fully shed their antler velvet by mid September. Look for the process to begin by mid August and peak near the end of the month. Opportunities to observe velvet shedding are uncommon and photographs of the process especially unique.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Middle Creek Wildlife Art Show

What an exceptional wildlife art show this past weekend at Middle Creek! If you have never attended, make it a point to mark your calendar for next year's show. There is an array of incredible wildlife art talent under one roof at the visitor's center to enjoy and purchase. This was the first time for wildlife photographer's to participate and I was grateful to be among them. Taking the place of an artist that normally attends, but was unable to this year, afforded me the opportunity to meet some great folks. Pennsylvania Game Commission's Middle Creek is a special place for bird watching, photography and generally enjoying nature. Visit sometime and see for yourself.