SYMPHONY OF NATURE

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Armadillo Summer

Just a few images of one of my favorite Texas woodland forager; the mighty Armadillo!

Armadillos live in temperate and warm habitats, including rainforests, grasslands, and semi-deserts. Because of their low metabolic rate and lack of fat stores, cold is their enemy, and spates of intemperate weather can wipe out whole populations.

Most species dig burrows and sleep prolifically, up to 16 hours per day, foraging in the early morning and evening for beetles, ants, termites, and other insects. They have very poor eyesight, and utilize their keen sense of smell to hunt. Strong legs and huge front claws are used for digging, and long, sticky tongues for extracting ants and termites from their tunnels. In addition to bugs, armadillos eat small vertebrates, plants, and some fruit, as well as the occasional carrion meal.

The dates on these images vary from 2004 - 2016.







Thursday, June 2, 2016

Peaceful Demise

Peaceful Demise

I came upon a beautiful Honeybee motionless atop a golden Daisy, who most likely met her demise busily doing what was her sole purpose in life to do. Death is a curious and sad thing to see in nature, yet I have faith that somewhere in that "next place" we are all destined for eventually, the bees, flowers and beauty of life will be forever renewed.

Peaceful Demise

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hawaiian Paradise

If there was ever a "Eden" on planet Earth, the Hawaiian Islands located in the middle of the mighty pacific ocean might just be the place to find it. The rugged natural beauty of this tropical landscape surrounded by a never-ending sea of blue simply mesmerizes the senses beyond one's comprehension.  

Capturing all of this wonderment with my tiny Nikon camera seemed a daunting challenge to say the least, and one that I knew in my heart...could not be done. 

Still,...I was determined to seek out as much native and non-native wildlife that I could given my short stay of which below is a short sampling of a few.

Asian Mongoose - Introduced (Invasive Species)
'A" ama Crab - Native
Black Crowned Night Heron - Native
Chukar Partridge - Introduced 
Peacock - Introduced

Green Sea Turtle - Native (Protected)
Black Crowned Night Heron - Native

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I Dreamed of Africa


After 50 years on this great blue planet, and watching countless video of African wildlife and   safari adventures, I have finally decided to see it for myself come 2017. Ever since I was a kid watching early Tarzan flicks with Johnny Weissmuller, I have always been infatuated with the “Dark Continent” of Africa, and the amazing variety of wildlife that exist there.

National Geographic was never far from my side, and in my imagination, I have walked the Serengeti, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and ballooned across the great rift of Africa so very many times. The wonders of Africa are too numerous to mention, but I am confident that all I have envisioned will be but a faint glimmer as to seeing it with my own set of eyes.
I will be traveling to Nairobi Kenya with an old friend of mine, who like me; loves wildlife, nature photography and traveling the world over. I believe we are both explorers at heart, and long for a world where mystery and adventure still exist. For 13 straight days we will be on tent safari crossing the country of Kenya and seeing places such as Lake Nakuro, the Masai Mara, and numerous other locations whereas the “Big Five” animals of Africa can be seen (Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, Leopard), hopefully in abundance. 

I am also excited to visit a sanctuary for orphaned Chimpanzees that the famous British researcher Jane Goodall founded. I intend on making the most of the trip, and hopefully will bring back great memories and amazing images!  

Cheers, 
Dennis 

Lake Nakuro
Masai Mara

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cormorant Flock

This is how it feels to be in a flock of Cormorants as they scour the waterways in search of any schools of fish unlucky enough to get noticed. This image really seems to come alive as you stare into the action depicted.


Cormorant Rising

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Primate Project - White-Faced Saki

Here is "Sneak-Peek" of a special photo-art project I am doing on primates. Depicted is a White-Faced Saki Monkey that will be one of many different species of Monkeys that will be included. More on this "Special Project" coming soon:)

White-Faced Saki - Dennis Stewart

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Texas Bison 2016

In Texas, there are still herds of Southern Bison that are apart of the continuing restoration efforts to bring back the population of this great beast from near extinction at the turn of the 20th century.

For me, Bison always seemed to represent the "Great American Wild West" that was depicted in Western Movies/TV shows of my youth, with a special fondness towards B&W, as that was the "Norm" around our house up to probably the mid-1970's or so.

So without further adieu, please check out my B&W version of a solitary Bison standing amidst a drab Texas winter landscape.

BISON 2016 - Dennis Stewart

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Australian EMU

Flightless birds have always fascinated me from an evolutionary perspective. I mean to say, that when most people think of birds, their first inclination would be towards their own backyard feathered friends that fly in and eat from the feeder(s) us humans so happily provide them. So to see a so-called bird like this Emu (depicted) of which is as tall as a 7' and weighing as much as 80 lbs....I think dinosaur folks...not bird (gulp).

Nonetheless, it is in fact a bird, and it is the 2nd largest bird on the planet, with only the Ostrich out-sizing it. The Emu is native to Australia is currently listed as a "Least Concern" species, meaning the population is stable. That said, the Tasmanian & King Island Emu are now extinct as a result of European settlement onto those islands around 1788 according to history.

EMU 2016 - Dennis Stewart

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Canadian Goose

A Canadian Goose rest its head within the soft down feathers that are beneath the tougher exterior feathers. Canadian Geese come into Texas for the Winter, and although not as abundant as Snow Geese in these parts; of which I have seen them number in the thousands upon thousands, they are still quite common. Snow Geese are listed as a "Least Concern" bird species with numbers increasing.

Canadian Goose 2016

Size & Shape
Canada Geese are big waterbirds with a long neck, large body, large webbed feet, and wide, flat bill.

Color Pattern
Canada Geese have a black head with white cheeks and chinstrap, black neck, tan breast, and brown back.

Behavior
Canada Geese feed by dabbling in the water or grazing in fields and large lawns. They are often seen in flight moving in pairs or flocks; flocks often assume a V formation.

Habitat
Just about anywhere near lakes, rivers, ponds, or other small or large bodies of water, and in yards, park lawns, and farm fields


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Monday, January 18, 2016

Three-Toed Sloth

The Three-Toed Sloth is one of those animals that demand your attention simply because they are so darn cute and irresistible. They are also the slowest mammals on planet Earth believe it or not. So slow that algae will sometimes grow on their fur providing them with additional camouflage to avoid being spotted by predators.

Three Toes Sloth 2016

They use their long claws to hang onto branches while they feast on the leaves that other animals can't reach. Unfortunately for the sloth, their long claws — 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 centimeters) — make walking on the ground difficult, so they spend most of their time in the tall trees they call home, and they sleep upwards to 15-20 hours a day, so you have to have a good eye to even notice them.


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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Flashback Saturday - Lowland Gorilla

To some you could say I am a "hoarder" when it comes to the thousands of digital animal/wildlife images I have taken over the years....I never delete anything EVER!! Case in point, as I was browsing through my 2007 archives, I stumbled upon this handsome profile image of a Lowland Gorilla of which  I have always liked, so much that I have a framed print of him on my wall.

With the advent of modern editing tools, I was able to clarify the image even more to bring out the amazing facial features of this primordial primate. With the new feature film Tarzan in the works, who knows, maybe Hollywood might like to use it as a reference:)


Lowland Gorilla 2007

Shoe-billed Stork

As many of you are familiar who follow my work, I enjoy providing amazing profile images of wildlife to allow you to take a close up look at the amazing diversity of creatures that share this world with us.

This particular image of a Shoe-billed Stork has immediately become one of my all-time favorite wildlife images, as it is both unique and stunning to view. The Shoe-bill Stork is native to Africa and to some can be construed as the "Ugly-Duckling" of the bird world, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say.

So without further ado, please say hello to my my very first Shoe-Billed Stork image!

Shoe-Billed Stork - Dennis Stewart 2016


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blue Beauty

A beautiful Great Blue Heron sits patiently on the bank of a small pond awaiting his next unsuspecting meal to come within striking distance. For this image I purposely darkened my camera's exposure to accentuate the wonderful details of the Heron.

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Below are a few factoids about this Heron courtesy the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Blue_Heron/id


Size & Shape
Largest of the North American herons with long legs, a sinuous neck, and thick, daggerlike bill. Head, chest, and wing plumes give a shaggy appearance. In flight, the Great Blue Heron curls its neck into a tight “S” shape; its wings are broad and rounded and its legs trail well beyond the tail.

Color Pattern

Great Blue Herons appear blue-gray from a distance, with a wide black stripe over the eye. In flight, the upper side of the wing is two-toned: pale on the forewing and darker on the flight feathers. A pure white subspecies occurs in coastal southern Florida.

Behavior
Hunting Great Blue Herons wade slowly or stand statue-like, stalking fish and other prey in shallow water or open fields. Watch for the lightning-fast thrust of the neck and head as they stab with their strong bills. Their very slow wingbeats, tucked-in neck and trailing legs create an unmistakable image in flight.

Habitat
Look for Great Blue Herons in saltwater and freshwater habitats, from open coasts, marshes, sloughs, riverbanks, and lakes to backyard goldfish ponds. They also forage in grasslands and agricultural fields. Breeding birds gather in colonies or “heronries” to build stick nests high off the ground.

Great Blue Heron 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Contributing Photographer Bat Conservation International (BCI)


Last year upon visiting Bracken Cave located deep within the heart of the Texas Hill Country, I had the opportunity to witness the mass exodus of millions of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats as they departed the cave on their nightly excursions for food. It was truly one of those amazing moments I will not soon forget, as this is one of the largest mammal concentrations on Planet Earth, and it is right in the state I call home.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats 2015

Needless to say, I must have taken several hundred images over the time-span of an hour or so, and since this was the first time I had ever attempted to photograph Bats in flight, there was a learning curve involved simply to get the technical aspects of getting a focused image correct without the use of a flash.....yea, “NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY” allowed, as that could disorient the Bats.

Eventually, I was able to figure out a viable means to capture some amazing images before the exodus was finally complete.  Later that evening upon close review of all of my taken images, I posted a few of the better ones to Facebook and various other social media sites as I typically do, and called it a evening.

Within a few days thereafter I was contacted by a representative from Bat Conservation International (BCI) interested in using some of my posted images, and from there the ball started rolling whereas after several month of discussion, I have officially accepted  the opportunity to be a “Contributing Photographer” for this great organization in hopes that we can work together on a few more special projects in 2016 and beyond that bring attention to the conservation efforts that are needed to protect Bats species across the world over.

For those unfamiliar with BCI, take a moment and check them out at www.BATCON.org




Regards,

Dennis Stewart /Nature’s Realm Wildlife Photography

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

A tiny "Ruby-Crowned Kinglet" bird browses through the foliage for wild berries and other tasty morsels. They winter in Texas and many other southern states. A very difficult bird to photograph, as they never seem to stay still.

Size & Shape
Kinglets are tiny songbirds with relatively large heads, almost no neck, and thin tails. They have very small, thin, straight bills.

Color Pattern
Ruby-crowned Kinglets are olive-green birds with a prominent white eye-ring and white wingbar. This wingbar contrasts with an adjacent blackish bar in the wing. The “ruby crown” of the male is only occasionally visible.

Behavior
These are restless, acrobatic birds that move quickly through foliage, typically at lower and middle levels. They flick their wings almost constantly as they go.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
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Woodland BUCK

A magnificent buck silently watches me ever so closely as I pass near his location on a cold and blustery Texas woodland trail. If not for the sound of leaf litter giving away his location, it is highly unlikely I would have ever spotted this handsome buck within the heavy thicket of which he was residing.

Sometimes these solitary Bucks can be somewhat aggressive, especially at this time of year, but this big guy seemed content to only be curious and that was cool with me.

Woodland Buck 2016


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Friday, January 8, 2016

Cottonmouth

One of my biggest fears as I meander about observing nature and wildlife is not that I will see a snake, but is that I will not see a snake of which I should have; especially like this venomous cottonmouth depicted below of which I stumbled upon last summer.

I have been very fortunate thus far with only a few close calls to date, and have come to realize that nature can be unforgiving and should I ever get too careless and not respect nature at all times, the consequences could be dire.

That said, snakes are good, and serve to keep nature in balance, so don't arbitrarily kill them should you see one in your backyard or garden, simply give them a wide berth or relocate them via a trained snake handler should you have kids and pets that could be in harms way.

Cottonmouth
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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Snapper

A common snapping turtle surfaces nearby to my location seemingly to inquire as to my intentions. After all, this was his pond, and my presence was very not appreciated. After I clicked off a few shots, he quickly submerged back into the murky depths to be seen no more on this particular day.

The common Snapping Turtle is a fairly large turtle with some specimens weighing in excess of 35 pounds (16 kg). However, there are records of captive specimens weighing in excess of 70 pounds (32 kg).

The carapace is rounded in dorsal view with three longitudinally oriented keels. The keels are typically found on young specimens and tend to lose definition and become worn smooth as specimens grow older. The posterior marginal scutes are serrated and the plastron is cruciform and reduced. the neck is long and the head is large with two barbels present on the chin. The legs are well developed and powerful. The feet are webbed and bear well developed claws. The tail is long and has a single row of serrated scales that are dorsally oriented.

Snapper

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Woodland Rabbit

A well camouflaged woodland Rabbit sits motionless within the entanglement of thorny brush she calls home. My goal for this shot was to stay at eye level to better reflect the visual perspective of the rabbit in her domain.

This equated to me literally being on my stomach on a cold soggy, muddy trail for about 10 minutes before my little friend departed from view.....the things I do get a shot, and I love it:)

Woodland Rabbit

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Wood Duck Pair

Depicted are a pair of Wood Ducks, the forward one being a male and much more colorful in appearance as you can plainly see. Capturing the full color palette of this particular duck species is none to easy, but this one seemingly turned out well.

Beautiful and unique, this duck of woodland ponds and river swamps has no close relatives, except for the Mandarin Duck of eastern Asia. The Wood Duck population declined seriously during the late 19th century because of hunting and loss of nesting sites. Its recovery to healthy numbers was an early triumph of wildlife management.

Wood Duck Pair

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Female American Wigeon Duck

My wife always says to me, "never leave the house without your camera, as you never know what you might see".....well, I can count too many times when I have failed to heed this great advice, but on this day, with my steady Nikon sidekick at the ready, I was successful in capturing this cool shot of a female American Wigeon Duck taking to the air.

A common and increasingly abundant duck, the American Wigeon breeds in northwestern North America and is found throughout the rest of the continent in migration and in winter.


Female American Wigeon Duck

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Deer in Motion

Yesterday, as I was hiking near a local lake here in Texas, several Deer darted across my path, and as I was quickly clicking off images with my camera, I thought it would be kinda neat to "Stitch" several of these images together to reflect the beauty , speed and grace of their movement. I have done several of these type projects in the past, but this would be my first "Deer" attempt. Hope you like it, and if so let me know!

Cheers, Dennis (AKA Nature's Realm)

Deer in Motion


Texas Lakes and Prairies

Pic #1 - PRAIRIE DOG FEAST - On a secluded prairie in the middle of nowhere USA, lives a prairie dog of whom I stumbled upon recently during one of my excursions.  This little guy seemed a little surprised by my presence, but he was content to "Carry On" with  his afternoon routine of gathering food stuffed within the pouches of his cheeks. This is one of those fun moments I sometimes come across that simply makes me laugh and truly appreciate wildlife all the more.

Pic#2 - CORMORANT LIFTOFF - Cormorants are very flighty birds normally, and this one was no different, as he decided o take to the air most hurriedly upon noticing me gazing upon him with my long lens. I did not get as close as I would have liked, but I managed to capture a few cool shots of him just as he lifted off from the surface of the water.

Cheers, Dennis

Prairie Dog Feast 2016

Cormorant Liftoff - 2016

Meerkat Sentry

As the new year begins anew,  I hope to bring you more amazing images of animals from around the globe whereas to enlighten your senses as to the beauty of all the creatures who share this blue planet with us. Below is a local zoo image I took depicting the majestic Meerkat on watch for any predators who might be roaming about.


The meerkat is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It is the only member of the genus Suricata.  Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang" or "clan".

A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members. In captivity, meerkats have an average life span of 12–14 years, and about half this in the wild.

The Meerkat Sentry

Friday, December 4, 2015

The OLD KING

I took my first image of this Lion in 2006 when he was much younger. He would always seem to be staring straight past me towards the horizon with his visual acuity affixed toward some distant prey that eluded my meek abilities.

I have visited him frequently since then, and although his age is beginning to show, as it does us all, his glare remains at steadfast today as it was then. He is truly the "King of the Beast", and to gaze into his eyes long enough might just cause your heart-rate to rise and panic to ensue.


The Old King