November 19, 2017 Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

A Couple of Cold Days on Great Salt Lake

A cold front came whipping through and night time temperatures dropped into the low 20’s here Friday. I ran into Walmart and picked up some 1″ foam to cut up and use to try and insulate my basement storage compartment that houses my water pump since my motorhome is not really set up for winter camping. Thankfully, sealing up the compartment and then leaving the basement light on all night did get me through the night without freezing up. With no hookups here at the campground, I had to leave my seldom used gas furnace running all night to help make it through the night without freezing everything solid.

No question I need to continue south, but ironically, it is still way too warm for my tastes at my next destination, the long term visitor’s BLM area outside of Yuma, AZ. Temps there are still hovering around 90 degrees.

Bison and Highrises
Bison and Highrises

This has to be one of only two places I can think of where you could get a picture like this one, a free roaming wild bison herd grazing within view of downtown high-rise office buildings in a major metropolitan area.

Unsettled Weather
Unsettled Weather

Friday and Saturday had very unsettled weather blowing through, black threatening clouds alternating with sunny blue skies.

Stormy Skies
Stormy Skies
Sun and Clouds
Sun and Clouds

 

Stormy Skies
Stormy Skies

 

Mountain Reflections
Mountain Reflections

Antelope Island Wildlife

Perfectly Camouflaged Mulie
Perfectly Camouflaged Mulie

There are several great looking mule bucks wandering around the island looking for love at this time.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

These shots were taken before the sun had come up Saturday Morning.

Mulie Bucks
Mulie Bucks

 

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

The same buck ( notice the identifying broken antler ) encountered later in the day.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

 

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

Another wandering buck.

Mulie Buck
Mulie Buck

And another.

Mule Deer
Mule Deer

And yet another. This shot was taken at about a quarter mile away. I have seen this guy several times but always at a great distance away. Would love to get closer to this one.

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

The island must be a paradise for it’s hoofed creatures, since I believe there are no large predators here. The coyotes may well be the only predators around, at least they are the only ones I have encountered.

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

 

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

 

Antelope Island Coyote
Antelope Island Coyote

Finally, I Find the Pronghorns

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

Friday afternoon I finally saw some of the animals the island is named after, Pronghorn Antelope. A large herd of some 30 or 40 animals slowly came grazing over a hill not far from the road down at the southern end of the island. They were no more than a few hundred feet from the road and happened to show up when some sun was shining through the clouds and so I thought I finally was going to get a great opportunity to get some nice shots.

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

With the nasty weather today there were very few other people out and about this afternoon, so I slowly pulled off to the side of the road and rolled down the window,  got my piece of foam pipe insulation out and mounted to my window glass ( transforms my window glass to a makeshift tripod for my long lenses ) and prepared to shoot.

And then, of all things, considering there was almost no vehicle traffic on the road this afternoon, what pulls up but a #$@!*! TOUR BUS ! Hits it’s brakes, stops, releases a very loud hiss, and opens it’s door for it’s passengers to get out so they could scare off the pronghorns that the bus’s noise hasn’t already spooked…. and off goes the herd and my opportunity to get some nice pronghorn shots.

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

 

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

 

Pronghorns on the Run
Pronghorns on the Run

They all crossed the road and didn’t stop running until they put a lot of distance between themselves and the bus, and, of course, me.

37 Pronghorns
37 Pronghorns

The next morning I spotted them again about a mile from the road grazing on the side of the mountain, but never got close to them again.

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

 

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

 

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

 

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison

You have to get this close to fully realize just how large these bulls really are. Sitting low in my Prius as one like this approaches  can be a little intimidating as he towers over the vehicle.

I tentatively plan to leave here Monday and head a little farther south, not sure exactly where yet since it still too warm for me down around Yuma.

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November 3, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

pintailsbosqueflyintosunset
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.

pintailtwopairwater2
Pintails

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

pintailoddposewatercroppsd
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
pintailpreening2
Pintail Preening

The preening routine I am familiar with.

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Pintail Preening
pintailclose3
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.

predawntakeoff2
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.

bosquecoyotestare
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.

bosquebacklitcoyote
Bosque del Apache Coyote
bosque2coyotes
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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September 14, 2016 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing

Mixed Bag of Weather

We have had two or thee days now of really mixed weather, mostly bad. Quite a bit of rain, day and night, much cooler temperatures, even a bit of snow on the mountaintops. So, I have only ventured out to shoot a couple of times.

Iconic Mormon Row Barn
Iconic Mormon Row Barn

When I saw some sun pop through the clouds yesterday, I quickly loaded up the gear and zipped over to Mormon Row to shoot the iconic barn. I had hoped to get Grand Teton’s peak in the background and hung around for over an hour, but it was not to be.

Iconic Mormon Row Barn
Iconic Mormon Row Barn

When the clouds darkened and rain began to fall, I decided to move on, heading north towards Moran Junction where the sky was still allowing the sun to peak through.

Clinging Clouds
Clinging Clouds

Clouds were literally clinging to the mountains.

Coyote
On the Hunt

On the way north I ran into a pair of coyotes hunting in a field along the main highway.

Coyote Honing in on Prey
Coyote Honing in on Prey

Moving rapidly across the field, they would suddenly stop, twitch their head from side to side, with their ears pointed forward, detecting the exact location of the prey …

Coyote Honing in on Prey
Coyote Honing in on Prey

… then slowly raise up on their hind legs …

Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing

… and pounce!

Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Pouncing
Coyote Digging for Prey
Coyote Digging for Prey

Then grab the prey.

Coyote with Squirrel
Success!

Carry it off and wolf it down.

Coyote
Um-um Good!

Lick their chops and go hunt for another one. I watched as they each caught a couple mice, or more likely, ground squirrels, hard to tell, since they went down so fast.

All this action took place over the course of an hour or so and occurred on both sides of the main highway through Grand Teton National Park. This is a two lane road, with paved 5 or 6 foot shoulders on both sides in this particular stretch of road. Traffic was brutal, and, needless to say, when a couple of people stop and get out with cameras, well, then everyone has to stop ( not neccessarily pulling off the road when they do so ) and ask what you are doing. While trying to concentrate on the antics of the coyotes, it is hard not to spend as much time being amazed by the incredibly stupid things that people will do.

Now most people actually do take care to get their car completely out of the travel lane of the highway, but doing so means you have to get one set of wheels off the paved shoulder and on to a steep incline to the drainage ditch. A few folks apparently didn’t want to do that so they just leave the driver’s side of their car out in the travel lane … then an idiot in a large motorhome comes along, and being too wide to even think about fitting onto the shoulder, just parks his rig three feet out into the travel lane opposite a car that has done the same thing on the other side of the road. Now we have a one lane road with twenty cars a minute trying to get through. Doesn’t work very well. And the people that caused this mess, completely oblivious to what they have done. Or maybe they do realize what they have done, but simply don’t care.

Yet with all the honking of horns and shouting of frustrated drivers, these two coyotes just ignored all the human idiots and  went about their business, sometimes coming within twenty feet of the roadway and all it’s human traffic.

Finally, the rains moved back in from the north, and, at least for me, the show was over, time to head home, dry off, and warm up. One more day of poor weather forecast, then sun and blue skies again.

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May 23, 2016 Sugarite Canyon State Park, NM

Hummingbirds
Attracting a Crowd

Hummingbirds Galore!

As I warned you in the last post, here come the hummingbird shots!

Hummingbirds at feeder
Lots of Action !

There are just an incredible number of hummers here, way too many to be able to count, but I would guess at the busiest times, there are as many as a dozen or more buzzing around the feeders at any given time, as well as two or three buzzing around my head and camera gear.

Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble

I have had them land on the camera, on the cable release I use for these shots, individuals have landed on my arm, my hat, my knee, and one curious bird keeps probing my shirt pocket button, mistaking it for a nectar feeder port, I assume. They will fly within a couple inches of my nose, too close for my old eyes to focus on them, then will circumnavigate my head, all but buzzing in my ears. These guys are absolutely, totally unafraid of me.

Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble

Two species, Black-chinned and Broad-tailed, and I probably am mistaking one for the other at times.

Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris

Fortunately there are blue flag irises in bloom all around the campground and I have found one wild apple tree in bloom just a short way down the road, so I finally can do some hummer images with them feeding from real flowers.

Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris

Of course, I do have to stage the flowers in the immediate vicinity of the nectar feeders and also have to use an eyedropper to drizzle some sugar water onto the flowers to coax the hummers into position, but, hey, they are actually going to the flowers when all the feeder ports are occupied, and that gives me the shots I have been hoping to get for a long time.

Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris

Unfortunately for shooting these photos, the New Mexico winds are continually blowing up here and that makes it all but impossible to capture perfectly frozen motion of these little guys, and also keeps blowing the blooms all over the place so it is impossible to get the flowers to stay in the optimal position for good lighting on the birds, but I am happy to get what I can.

Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Lilacs
Hummingbirds and Lilacs
Hummingbirds and Lilacs
Hummingbirds and Lilacs

A New Visitor in Camp

Grey Fox
Grey Fox

Looking out the dinette window while having supper, I noticed a new visitor to the bird feeding area this evening, this handsome little grey fox. I set out some sunflower seeds for the jays and grosbeaks and this guy is out there on the rock where I put that seed, cleaning up what the birds leave behind.

Grey Fox
Grey Fox

Pretty bold little guy, coming within 15 feet of the motorhome, and me, to pick up seeds dropped from the feeder hanging on the picnic table shelter. This is the first time I have ever had a chance to photograph a grey fox, never thought I would get one this close.