Category Archives: Mammals

November 24, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Yet More Cranes and Geese

Snow Goose Explosion

Snow Goose Explosion

A Snow Goose explosion, caused by a predator approaching too close, or just one nervous goose thinking something was amiss. This noisy flock takeoffs occur all throughout the day and are pretty spectacular to see, and especially to hear.

Another Kind of Flock

Another Kind of Flock

A different kind of “explosion”, the people explosion, peaked with last week’s Festival of the Cranes. Post festival, the numbers of people has moderated and it has once again become a little more enjoyable to venture out on the refuge.

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

One of the advantages of arriving here a little early is the opportunity to catch some colorful backdrops of autumn foliage colors. With a couple of hard freezes occurring lately, the leaves are all turning brown and dropping now.

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Snow Geese

Snow Geese

Lesser and Greater Sandhill Cranes

Lesser Sandhill Cranes

Lesser Sandhill Cranes

This pair of Lesser Sandhills was seen leading a procession of Greater Sandhills down one of the irrigation ditches on the North Loop Road in the refuge.

Lesser and Greater Sandhill Cranes

Lesser and Greater Sandhill Cranes

The above image gives you a pretty good idea of the size difference in the two types of Sandhill Cranes. This year I am seeing a far greater number of Lesser Sandhills than I have on previous visits.

Sandhill Crane Greeting

Sandhill Crane Greeting

These are very vocal birds, calling out greetings as they fly in and again after they land.

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Not really sure if this was a squabble or just a dance.

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane with Shotgun Cartridge

Sandhill Crane with Shotgun Cartridge

A sad reminder that these birds are hunted once they fly off the refuge. I took this shot late one afternoon and assumed the crane would simply use one of it’s feet to pull the shotgun cartridge off it’s upper bill. But then I saw it fly in the next morning with the cartridge still attached.

Mulie Dash Through

Mulie Dash Through

This young mule buck came flying through the cornfield where the cranes were foraging and photographers were shooting. Really moving at a rapid clip as you can see from the image where all four feet are off the ground.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

A family unit foraging. The leucistic Sandhill Crane showed up with a family this year for the first time, I was told.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane Family Fly In

Sandhill Crane Family Fly In

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

I love this flight position, assumed sometimes as much as 50 feet above the landing area, as they glide into the wind and prepare to land, oftentimes calling out greetings to those gathered below.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

I’ve been here almost a month now and with temperatures plummeting it just might be time to continue on south to slightly warmer climes and maybe find some hummingbirds to shoot, quite a change of pace from these large guys.

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November 3, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

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Pintails Over Bosque del Apache

Week One at Bosque del Apache NWR

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Pintails over Bosque del Apache

Not that many cranes here yet, and very few Snow Geese, but incredible numbers of Pintail Ducks, with plenty of Mallards and a few Widgeons also. In the top image of ducks over the foliage, there actually is a pair of Cinnamon Teal hidden amongst the pintails.

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Pintails over Bosque del Apache

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Pintails over Bosque del Apache

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Mallard Pair over Bosque del Apache

All the shots above were taken from the Flight Deck at Bosque, but without the normal thousands of Snow Geese ( yet ), the birds are all landing quite a ways out in the barely flooded field, too far away from the deck to get any great shots. Once the geese arrive and crowd the area, birds will be forced closer to the deck and there should be better chances of getting some nice flight shots.

The one good point is that with very few birds here now, I have the flight deck all to myself instead of having to fight for a space to shoot from.

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Pintails

The Pintails are amassing in the thousands along the South Loop pond and in the narrow waters next to the road.

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Pintail Doing What I Don’t Know

I have seen ducks assume this position before, but I have no idea of what they are doing or what it may mean.

pintailpreening

Pintail Preening

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Pintail Preening

The preening routine I am familiar with.

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Pintail Preening

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Pintail

One handsome fellow!

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Leucistic Sandhill Crane in Flight

Had my second sighting of the leucistic Sandhill Crane this morning at the ponds along the highway.

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Leucistic Sandhill Crane in Flight

Overcast skies in the early morning hours and the cranes’ far off travel path along the opposite shore of the pond resulted in less than perfect shots, but this second sighting gets my hopes up that maybe I will get some good shots of him sometime during my stay here.

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Predawn Takeoff

While waiting for the leucistic Sandhill Crane to take off, I had the opportunity to shoot many other cranes as they headed out from their night roosting spot to the surrounding fields to forage for the day. Again, because of the very dim light, not very many turned out sharp enough to use, but I kind of liked the feel of this one shot. Later in the season, when this pond sometimes has a thin coat of ice on it, these morning takeoff shots get quite interesting.

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Bosque del Apache Coyote

This week I ran into three different coyotes here in the refuge with this guy being a fairly good sized animal, about the size of a German Shepherd. Their coats look pretty bad because of all the seedheads and burrs that are stuck in their fur.

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Bosque del Apache Coyote

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Bosque del Apache Coyotes

Liked the composition here where the large coyote pictured above approached what I assume was probably his mate.

Some really lousy weather is forecast for the next several days, rain, rain, and more rain with possible localized flooding so it looks like I won’t be out taking photos for a while.

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October 12, 2016 North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Sunrise Angel Point

Sunrise Angel Point

Another Spot Checked Off the Bucket List

Left Red Canyon Campground around 8 AM for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and after Just three or four hours on the road (with a stop in Kanab for groceries and gas), I arrived at the National Forest’s DeMotte CG and luckily someone was just leaving Site #4, a pull through with solar and satellite access ( no trees ). Absolutely no Verizon here and it’s a 20 mile trip to the North Rim, but the North Rim CG is reserve only and completely full, of course, and too tree covered to work for me, so DeMotte CG it is for my North Rim stay.

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Up before dawn the next day and made it to the North Rim Lodge area just before sunrise.

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Took a few shots from the pathway around the lodge as the sun slowly rose and gradually brought the temperature above freezing.

North Rim Lodge

North Rim Lodge

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim Foliage

North Rim Foliage

Angel Point Pathway

Angel Point Pathway

I then took the short trail out to Angel Point, again doing more than a little huffing and puffing on the short hills due to the elevation of close to 9,000 feet.

Kaibab Squirrel

Kaibab Squirrel

I really had hoped to get some nice shots of the unique Kaibab Squirrel, a subspecies of the Albert Squirrel, found only on the North Rim. Unfortunately, I didn’t see all that many, and the few I did encounter were very camera shy.

Kaibab Squirrel

Kaibab Squirrel

That bushy white tail is something else!

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Angel’s Window

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

On my last day here, I took the road out to the Cape Royal vista point and walked out to the ” Angel’s Window ” overlook.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Now don’t get me wrong here, but I have never been all that overwhelmed by the Grand Canyon. I mean, yes, it is a geological wonder, but I have just never been completely awed by the vistas from either the South Rim or from the lodge area of the North Rim.

Angel's Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Angel’s Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

From the Angel’s Window area, I have to admit that I was impressed. I spent close to two hours here, until after the sun had actually set, and it was spectacular! Here, I can see why folks are so inspired by the Grand Canyon.

Angel's Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Angel’s Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

If the North Rim is on your bucket list, then make sure you take in sunset at the Angel’s Window, the Grand Canyon at it’s best.

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September 29, 2016 Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

Three Days on Antelope Island

Antelope Island Bison

Campground Hazard

At Gros Ventre Campground in the Tetons I had moose wandering through the campsite and here at Antelope Island there are bison passing through. Pays to check wildlife conditions before stepping out the door these days … and I am certainly not complaining about that!

Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island Viewpoint

Great Salt Lake from Antelope Island Viewpoint

This is a panoramic view of the northwest side of the island taken from above the Bridger Campground where I am camped.

The Bridger Campground where I am staying is one of the nicer primitive state park campgrounds I have ever run into. No hookups, but with water and a dump station just a little way from the campground. Mostly nice level pull through sites with nice separation and a great view out over the Great Salt Lake. A large concrete pad with picnic table, fire ring, and shade cabana come with every site. Good Verizon signal and no trees to interfere with satellite reception. Unfortunately, all but two sites are reservable, so weekend stays are all but out of the question, unless you plan a year in advance.

Bison on the Beach

Bison on the Beach

Yellow Flower in Rock

A Survivor!

Got a kick out of this lone flower proudly laying claim to the top of of this rock.

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

Sitting low in the Prius, these male bison can seem more than a little intimidating.

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

No arguing with these guys over right-of-way on the roads throughout the park.

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

Last time I was here all the bison were down on the south end of the island, this time around they all, as in several hundred, seem to be up on the north end, where the campgrounds are located. A fire burned large portions of the southern end of the island and perhaps that is why they are all up here this year. A small group of seven or eight bulls were hanging around, and in, the campground the first two nights I was here, providing many opportunities for closeup shots. But it is a little unnerving to step out your door and have a bison’s butt just fifteen feet away, leaning against your shade cabana’s roof support post.

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

I could actually hear this guy groaning as he scratched an itch, must have just hit the spot for him.

Antelope Island Bison

Antelope Island Bison

Magpie and Bison

Magpie and Bison

This guy was rubbing his side against the picnic table shelter’s supporting post, and the whole structure was shaking.

Magpie and Bison

Magpie and Bison

The magpies must be harvesting insects, perhaps ticks, from the bison. They must dig a little deep and cause some pain as I saw the bison trying to shake them off each time they would land.

Antelope Island Pronghorn

Antelope Island Pronghorn

Pronghorns and mule deer also roam the island.

Antelope Island Mulie Bucks

Antelope Island Mulie Bucks

This small group of mulie bucks were grazing a distant hillside at dusk one evening, but I just couldn’t get any closer to get any good shots. Pretty impressive rack on the one closest.

Avocets

Avocets

There are thousands of ducks and coots on the lake feeding on brine shrimp and algae, and hundreds of avocets and other small waders patrolling the water’s edge for brine flies. Because of the extreme salinity, there are no fish in the Great Salt Lake.

Feeding Ducks

Feeding Ducks

Threatening Skies Over Antelope Island

Threatening Skies Over Antelope Island

This is a view of the shallow waters on the east side of the island looking towards the hustle and bustle of the greater Salt Lake City corridor.

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

My last night here, a storm moved in from the south, and the sky blackened as the sun was setting in the west creating some wonderful light conditions over the water.

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

With the sun still shining on the western part of the island and with rain squalls and winds coming up the east side of the island, conditions were ripe for a rainbow and I got to watch as it formed.

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

The sky turned all kind of weird colors, from grey to green to almost red/yellow as the sun sank lower and the storm advanced. I wish I could have taken more shots of this dramatic weather event, but I was rushing home to close windows I had left open, not knowing it was supposed to storm like this.

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

Storm Brewing Over Antelope Island

All in all, a pretty spectacular last night of my stay on Antelope Island.

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