June 2, 2018 Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Bison
Classic Western Scene

Last of the Wildlife Shots From Grand Teton

This park is proving to be a great spot for wildlife photos in the spring. I had been visualizing a shot such as the one above since I arrived here and heading back to the campground the other day, here they were, a small group of bison heading down to the Morman Farm area and needing to cross the road just as I was passing by.

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

And farther up the road, on the same day, this group of female pronghorns, grazing amongst the Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers. I had really hoped to finally get some shots of some pronghorn fawns but I guess I am just a little too early for that as these gals look like they are still a week or so away from having little ones.

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

I briefly ran into Bear #399 and her cubs again, though this time only for a brief moment as they crossed a meadow and quickly disappeared into the woods.

Retreating Elk with Calf
Retreating Elk with Calf

Finally I have seen a new born elk calf, though I couldn’t get a decent shot of it as mom hastily retreated when I appeared on the scene. At least I know that they are giving birth at this time, though I have seen very few elk cows out and about recently.

River Otters
River Otters

Jackson Lake Dam Outlet

I spent some time at the outlet below the dam on Jackson Lake yesterday and was surprised at the amount of activity there. I had stopped just to watch the shore fisherman and see what they were catching ( small Lake Trout and some Cut throat Trout ).

River Otter
River Otter

While watching the fisherman casting from shore I noticed a pair of River Otters diving in the rushing waters coming out of the dam. Unfortunately I missed getting the best shots as the pair would catch a fish, dash ashore and climb the bank, then rush across thirty feet of open ground to some bushes, where they would be mobbed by three young otters they were delivering the fish to. All quickly disappeared back into the brush to eat and then the adults would return to the river to fish again.

Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

Also actively fishing the churning waters were a small group of Common Mergansers, here seen resting on shore before heading out into the rapids.

Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

They concentrated their efforts at the edge of the rushing waters exiting the dam, most likely picking off fish that were stunned as they came through the dam.

White Pelican
White Pelican

A pair of White Pelicans were also working the same area.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans
Trail Obstruction
Trail Obstruction

One morning I noticed a few large Bison Bulls as I was driving the main road in the park and pulled off and parked and headed down a trail through the willows to see if I could get a closer shot of them. As I rounded a corner of the trail, I ran into a trail obstruction, in the form of the aforementioned Bison. The three bulls stared at me as I looked around for the safest way out of this situation. Two of the bison turned and jumped over the fence you see on the right, clearing the top rail with their front legs but loudly crashing the rail as their bellies came down on the fence. The third bison simply stood his ground, so I retreated back to my parked car.

Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison

You just can’t appreciate just how large these animals are until you are face to face with them. Very powerful animals.

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April 24, 2017 Malhuer NWR, Oregon

Abandoned Ranch
Abandoned Ranch

More From Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge

Ruddy Drake
Ruddy Drake

Always get a kick out of the male Ruddy Duck and his sky blue bill during breeding season.

Redhead Pair
Redhead Pair
Redheads Takeoff
Redheads Takeoff

Plenty of ducks encountered this week while driving through the refuge and was able to get a few decent flight shots when there was enough light, lots of overcast mornings.

Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Mallard Drake in Flight
Mallard Drake in Flight
Gadwall Takeoff
Gadwall Takeoff
Cinnamon Teal Pair
Cinnamon Teal Pair

This pair of Cinnamon Teal have been found on this spot every day this week, so I assume she is sitting on some eggs.

Cinnamon Teal Drake
Cinnamon Teal Drake
Avocets
Avocets

American Avocets hunting along the flooded fields.

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

This Sandhill was one of several pairs out hunting the flooded cow pastures along the highway.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

A completely drenched Ferruginous hawk manning his roadside hunting perch during one of this week’s showers.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

The look says it all, he doesn’t care for this weather any more than I do.

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December 1, 2016 Leaving Bosque del Apache

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Time to Leave

Frozen Pond
Freezing Over

In the image above, you may be able to detect that some of the ducks are not sitting in the water, but are, in fact, standing on it! When ice starts forming on the ponds, then it must be time for me to head farther south. Morning temps are now regularly in the teens and, although the afternoons are pleasantly warm, I guess I have gotten enough crane and goose shots to last a lifetime or two, so it’s time to head for the desert.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

These large birds continue to fascinate me and for some reason, I don’t seem to tire of taking action shots of them as they go about their daily routines.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane Heading for Night Time Roost
Sandhill Crane Heading for Night Time Roost

Th wildly varying light conditions, above a crane taking off just before the sun sets …

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

… here one taking off in the chill of a below freezing morning, provide such variations in the birds coloring as to keep my interest up.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

This is a shot of a crane coming in to the corn fields with his landing gear still retracted. Seems odd to see them without their long legs trailing behind them in flight.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

Love it when a pair of cranes are caught in flight in pretty much the same plane and I am able  to get them both in sharp focus. Because of the shallow depth of field when using the 600mm lens and shooting in these dim light conditions, it doesn’t happen very often.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane Takeoff
Sandhill Crane Takeoff
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

The above images are the last of my good action shots of the cranes greeting, and/or fighting, moves and dances, never am absolutely certain which are which.

Sandhill Crane Posing
Sandhill Crane Posing

A classic preening pose …

Sandhill Crane Portrait
Sandhill Crane Portrait

… and a closeup portrait.

Ducks Waiting to Take Flight
Ducks Waiting to Take Flight

Almost every morning that I have been here, I am out on the refuge roads before sunrise, always a peaceful place at that hour, with very few other folks out yet, the shallow ponds are just covered with roosting ducks and geese, the numbers simply astounding.

Dawn Flight, Snow Geese
Dawn Flight, Snow Geese

Just as the sun is coming up, the birds take flight and head out to the surrounding fields to forage.

Farm Fields on the North Loop
Farm Fields on the North Loop
Snow Geese Landing
Snow Geese Landing
Snow Goose Landing
Snow Goose Landing

A typical white snow goose ….

Blue Morph Snow Goose
Blue Morph Snow Goose

… and a dark morph snow goose, also called a Blue Goose, landing to forage in the farm fields on the refuge.

Tomorrow I am heading to Quartzite, Arizona, to get some much needed peace and quiet out on the desert, away from the confines of the cramped quarters of the Birdwatchers RV Park here at Bosque del Apache. I have thousands of images to sort through and process, so there probably won’t be much to report for the next couple of weeks. I plan on leaving Quartzite before Christmas to avoid the crowds there, and will be spending the next couple of months out in the desert around Yuma.

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November 19, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing
Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing

More Cranes and Geese Continue Arriving

We are now in the middle of the Festival of the Cranes Week here at Bosque and the festival has brought a lot of people to the refuge, making it a lot less desirable to venture into the refuge and take photos. The heavy traffic on the gravel roads of the refuge stirs up heavy clouds of dust everywhere making driving the loop road miserable.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

Still, it is hard to resist the temptation to venture on in and so I have been bypassing the ponds along the highway ( and the hundred or so photographers lined up on the ponds’  edge ) and heading straight into the refuge before dawn where I settle in along the farm fields and wait for the cranes to fly in.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

By the time there is enough light to actually take flight shots, unfortunately, the hordes of people  also arrive. Some days I start off alone out there as the sun rises and within an hour or so, there may be 3 or 4 buses and fifty cars parked along the road where I had earlier staked out my territory,

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

The above images are all of Greater Sandhill Cranes and the three images below are of Lesser Sandhill Cranes. The two fly in and out together and when they are in flight, I usually can’t tell which is which until they land and mingle where the size difference becomes readily apparent.

Lesser Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing
Lesser Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing
Lesser Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing
Lesser Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing

If you closely compare them in these images, you will see that the Lesser also has a much shorter bill.

Lesser Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing
Lesser Sandhill Crane Coming in for a Landing
Pintail Preening
Pintail Preening

Just happened to catch this Pintail Drake doing his preening routine in the shallows right by the roadway on the South Loop with just perfect lighting about a half hour before sunset …  yes, the golden hour, and what a difference it does make.

Pintail Preening
Pintail Preening
Snow Goose
Snow Goose

Snow Goose numbers are increasing dramatically this week ! Love the foliage background setting off these white birds.

Snow Geese
Snow Geese
Snow Geese Landing
Snow Geese Landing
Snow Geese
Snow Geese
Looking for a Place to Land
Looking for a Place to Land

I am constantly amazed that these large birds can actually land without beating their brethren to death with their wings. It gets very densely crowded out in the farm fields.

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