About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Independence Day Fireworks on Harvey Pond


Harvey Pond Revisited

It has been a busy summer for me and I suddenly realized that It has been several weeks since I dropped by Harvey Pond to watch the Great Blue Herons improving their nest for their anticipated brood. Harvey Pond is next door in Westmoreland New Hampshire and it is a great place to enjoy and photograph nature's summer transformations. Life is bubbling at the pond and I decided that there could be no better time to witness this celebration than on the occassion of our nation's birthday party. Other commitments kept me from witnessing the fireworks this year, but things were exploding on the pond. Harvey Pond is located next to the Glebe Road in Westmoreland making access very easy, but the other advantage of this proximity to car and pedestrian traffic is that the animals are conditioned to human presence and seem more easily approachable than at more isolated locations.

My prime reason for returning to the pond was to check the progress of the Blue Heron chicks, and I was not disappointed.

Josting Chicks
Early morning is the best time to view the action on the nest as the parents return from hunting to feed their voracious offspring. The chicks have already grown considerably and are getting quite active on the nest. Although I had been told that three had hatched, I only identified two suggesting that a smaller, a late hatching, chick may have been lost. The two remaining chicks were quite healthy and energetic and It seemed that they became particularly aggressive with each other as soon as a parent returned to the nest. I am sure that this playful jostling was all about competition for food, and training for survival.  No one got hurt, and mom seemed to prefer to ignore the whole scene.   Heron photography involves prolonged periods with the lens trained on the nest waiting for something to happen. Patience is essential, but difficult with so much entertainment going on all over the pond.

Geese on Parade 

The Canada Geese were also quite busy on the pond, shepherding their chicks among the proliferation of lilies that now dominate the shallow areas. They paraded back and forth in front of us despite the fact that Nellie was right at the shore, frozen in rapt attention. The Geese appeared to have such patriotic spirit that I almost expected a fife an drum to appear at the front of their procession.

At one point our attention was drawn from the pond to see a

Snapping Turtle
massive Snapping Turtle ambling across the road. We rushed to shield the prehistoric beast from on-rushing traffic, but he seemed more annoyed than grateful for our close approach. Snapping Turtles are especially aggressive when on the land, so we kept our distance until he sunk, gratefully, into the pond. The picture here suffers from a lack any means of scale, but I can add that his carapace was more that two feet long. Snapping Turtles have been know to live close to 50 years in captivity. I would love to know how long this old guy has been stalking the depths of Harvey Pond.

Summer Concert

My favorite residents of Harvey Pond are the frogs. They also seemed to lack any fear of Nellie or Me and allowed us to approach quite closely. I was especially excited when the pond burst into a chorus of croaking and I was able to capture the concert. I noticed later that I had also recorded the vibrations spreading out from the frog's ballooning gullet. I was only sorry that I didn't have my field recorder along.

Beauty and the Beast

Sublime Rapture
In my opinion, the ultimate prize in frog photography is what I call the "Beauty and the Beast" moment, when I'm lucky enough to catch a frog next to a fully resplendent Water Lily. Luck was on my side this day, but I wonder whether luck is often helped by the frog's own appreciation for beauty. Why wouldn't a particularly sensitive amphibian become transfixed by such a spectacular but fleeting floral display in their otherwise drab universe. 

Harvey Pond Display

Blue Heron chicks , parading Geese, singing frogs, a antisocial Snapping Turtle, and an explosion of Water Lilies, now THAT is a fitting Independence Day celebration. 

Check my about Harvey Pond earlier this Spring
For more images of the pond check out my Harvey Pond Flickr Set