The year 2020 is one a lot of us would likely want to forget. Or, at the least, wave to it goodbye.

From strictly a wildlife photography standpoint, 2020 was a good year for me. I was able to attain my best images ever of ruffed grouse, both in winter habitat and during spring courtship. I could watch a grouse drumming from my house, which helped me determine the best times to enter a blind I had placed within photo range of his drumming log.

A male northern cardinal in any setting is a beautiful sight, but especially so when the bird is perched among apple blossoms. Photo by Bill Marchel
A male northern cardinal in any setting is a beautiful sight, but especially so when the bird is perched among apple blossoms. Photo by Bill Marchel

I also had exceptional luck photographing a male woodcock performing the “sky dance,” one of nature's most interesting courtship rituals.

Last winter’s deep snow created ideal conditions for a resident mink. The normally elusive animal had a network of tunnels under the snow so I was able to get some really unique images of the sly critter as it peered from the entrances to his frozen subway.

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Label this buck “framed.” A new snow allowed Marchel to sneak to within camera range of this white-tailed deer buck before being spotted. The buck just happened to be standing within a “wooden frame” compliments of Mother Nature.
Label this buck “framed.” A new snow allowed Marchel to sneak to within camera range of this white-tailed deer buck before being spotted. The buck just happened to be standing within a “wooden frame” compliments of Mother Nature.

October saw record amounts of snow. It caught many songbirds by surprise. Thus, I was able to attain images of some bird species that are normally somewhere south before the snow flies.

It's a difficult but enjoyable undertaking trying to choose which are my favorites wildlife images from the thousands I take during a given year. Here are four of them.

Happy New Year to all.

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BILL MARCHEL is a wildlife and outdoors photographer and writer whose work appears in many regional and national publications as well as the Brainerd Dispatch. He may be reached at bill@billmarchel.com. You also can visit his website at BillMARCHEL.com.