Wild Turkey: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — It is perhaps a bit ironic to celebrate Thanksgiving with an image of the main course…but just look at these well fed birds! They are certainly a symbol of the bounty and abundance of the natural harvest this year. And, of course, none of these birds are headed for the oven, for which I am sure they would be thankful if they were that self-aware. And it is good to fall into the nostalgia of the season…to let the feeling of generations of thankful pilgrims all across this continent well up once more in us. For many of us, for most of us, it is not hard to find something to be thankful for, and good to have a day that demands it of us…that encourages us to pause and consider the bounty and abundance of blessings in our lives. So be thankful. Keep safe, in this our second thanksgiving of the pandemic. The blessings of the creator and sustainer of all be on us all today! Sony Rx10iv at 144mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/320th.
These nice plump Wild Turkeys are not destined for anyone’s Thanksgiving table. They are plump because they live on the refuge at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro New Mexico, where the living is easy…lots of corn and other fodder planted to sustain the population of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese, and freely available for the wandering herd of Turkeys…and only natural predators…Coyote, Bobcat, and Mountain Lion (and Fox, Raccoon, Opossum, and snakes for the eggs and pults). Only! Still, the population of Wild Turkey is obviously healthy at the Bosque. And that is something to be thankful for 🙂
There are five subspecies of Wild Turkey. When I saw these Turkeys I assumed they were Merriman’s, since that is the most common in the West. A little googleing this morning, however, showed that they are the much rarer (in New Mexico) Rio Grande subspecies…which exists in New Mexico only along the Rio Grande, specifically right around Socorro and Bosque del Apache, and a few other rivers further east. The Rio Grande is the most numerous subspecies in Texas, and also exists in Oklahoma and Kansas. I should have known better. Merriman’s are restricted to Ponderosa Pine and other dry mountain forest habitats. Interesting.
So, thankful Turkeys. And of course, a reminder to remember and numerate the many, many things we have to thankful for in these United States…beginning with family and abundant fodder, and extending out to election year politics. Whatever we think of the results of this year’s election, we are truly privileged to live in a country where we do, for better or worse, get to pick our President (or at least the electors who pick our President). And in between, well, an environment still healthy enough to support 5 subspecies of Wild Turkey, a National Wildlife Refuge system dedicated to protecting so many other species (though both are under attack), the right to free speech and assembly, the right to practice the religion of our choice (and the faith that sustains us), the privilege of loving and being loved, the wonder of waking up every day free to pursue the best the day has to offer. We have a lot to be thankful for. We have come a long way since the first Thanksgiving, and we have come that way, mostly, together. I can only hope that we will continue along the same path, despite the occasional predator…and like the 5 species of Wild Turkey, we will all be here to celebrate next year and for all our years to come. Happy Thanksgiving!
I am not a big fan of Photoshoped images…images that are created in Photoshop…and could not exist without digital manipulation. I tried for an actual shot of Sandhill Cranes against the almost full moon at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge during the Festival of the cranes, with some success, but also took a few daylight shots of the moon thinking I might later work up a composite image in Photoshop…just for fun! This is one. In some ways it is a testament to the power of the Nikon P900 camera. Both shots, moon and cranes, were taken hand-held with the P900. The moon is at about 2000mm equivalent field of view, and the cranes are at about 1200mm. To create the image, I edited out one piece of crane in the top left corner using iPixio. Then, in Photoshop, I used the magic wand tool to select and delete the blue sky background around the cranes. It required some fine adjustments of the selection, pixel by pixel, to eliminated almost everything that was not crane. Finally I opened the moon shot and pasted the cranes over the moon. It took about an hour.
As art, I think it works. As a photograph, maybe not so much. 🙂
And, as a Thanksgiving shot? Well I am, of course, thankful for my cameras, for my software and computer, and most of all, for time to play. But that thankfulness does not begin to touch the real thankfulness for my life, my life in Christ…for my family, for my home, for the blessing of being…for the privilege of sharing…for the love I am surrounded by. When we sit down to celebrate today as a family, it is such an amazing abundance that we celebrate. And no matter what else goes on in this world, we have a right, we have a duty, to be happy! Happy Thanksgiving.
This is just a somewhat random shot from Willow Deck on the tour loop on a dark morning at Bosque del Apache NWR…but I like the expression on that Snow Goose. I am not certain that he was talking about turkeys at all, in fact, but, by the look of it, he was certainly saying (or thinking) something pointed about what I was doing up on that deck. Considering the proximity of the holiday (and the well known solidarity of birdkind) it is not unreasonable to think he was warning me off, just in case I mistook those big birds behind him as the centerpiece of the holiday feast (or just in case I was so untraditional as to fancy goose as the main course, or even a side dish:)
No really. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May your table be as laden as your heart, and may your heart be big enough to embrace all the blessings of the year. May you overflow with thanksgiving.
I know I am…overflowing that is…
And if you need independent testimony…well…I offer you this goose! He will vouch for me.
Canon SX50HS. Program with auto iContrast and Shadow Fill. –1/3 EV Exposure Compensation. 1800mm equivalent field of view. f6.5 @ 1/400th @ ISO 800. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
I travel extensively with my job…attending Birding Festivals and events all over the US, and at least once a year in England…but I rarely get to take family along. This last trip, my wife Carol and youngest daughter Kelia(the only one still at home) met me in Albuquerque on my way to the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, near Socorro New Mexico. And this day, Thanksgiving Day, our trip together is high on my list of things to be thankful for. I took a couple of vacation days early in the week, and we drove to Gallup to visit friends and do some hiking in the Red Rocks, and then I worked the festival while Carol and Kelia found Mexican cooking classes to attend and hikes to do…and shopped the craft fairs that spring up in Socorro on Festival of the Cranes weekend. And, of course, we had some very satisfying Mexican meals (Frank and Lupe’s El Sombrero in Socorro is not to be missed!) Each day we experienced a bit of the wonder of the Land of Enchantment together, and that was indeed an experience to be thankful for.
This is Carol and Kelia by a huge old Cottonwood at the Photo Blind on the Farm loop drive at Bosque. The pond on the far side of the blind was drained down, so we didn’t see the 1000s of Snow Geese that sometimes settle there, but it was an excellent photo op anyway.
And here they are on sunny day in Church Rock Canyon, Red Rocks State Park, near Rehoboth (where all my girls were born). This was Kelia’s first experience of the Red Rock country around Gallup, since we moved east when she was a month old.
And finally, on a hike up Water Canon in the Magdalena Mountains behind Socorro, Kelia couldn’t resist climbing up the downed and well bleached Cottonwood to perch in the window formed by the twisted trunk of is living descendent.
And today, 3 of my 5 girls are at home for the family Thanksgiving Feast. I wish they could have all be on that trip…that would have given me that much more to be thankful for…but I don’t know where I would put the thankfulness. I am full up. Besides, gotta leave room for turkey and cranberry sauce still to come!
All shots with the Canon SX40HS in Program with iContrast and –1/3EV exposure compensation. (And the Canon is another thing I am very thankful for…such a fun camera!)