The snow geese are really starting to arrive in large numbers, so this morning I once again headed out to the alfalfa fields where yesterday I had guesstimated around 2000 geese were starting to feed in the fields. As the geese started arriving from their roosting location, it quickly became apparent that overnight their numbers had greatly increased once again.
Got some nice flight shots before the light became too intense as hundreds of snow geese cruised in overhead in a continuous stream for well over an hour.
I lucked into a couple of decent sandhill crane shots also as a small group flew almost directly overhead while I was shooting the geese.
Fearing a repeat of yesterday’s “dust storm”, I decided to stay home and watch some football this afternoon.
I stopped at the sandhill crane roosting ponds on the west side of Route 1 before the sun came up this morning and now, after two largely unsuccessful attempts at getting some shots here, I have concluded that I don’t have the right stuff to get any great shots in the ultra low light situation here. These two are the only passably decent shots I was able to come up with.
I spent a couple of hours around the ” Flight Deck ” this morning attempting to capture snow geese in flight and landing. Brilliant white birds and bright sunlight are combining to produce few results for hours of effort. Eventually I gave up and decided to wait until closer to sunset when the light would be more at my back and return then.
I returned in the late afternoon and nestled down right next to the water and waited while the geese came in, getting a few decent landing shots.
At times the birds were settling in as close as 30 feet from where I was sitting. Probably 300-400 geese within 30 feet of me, had me afraid to move for fear of sending the whole flock up in panic.
Then, without me moving at all, they did just that…. I thought it might have been me, but then I noticed an intruder wading across the very ground where the geese were just moments before. I stayed put for another hour after the coyote’s intrusion and took hundreds of more images of geese landing, but even with the sun low and mostly behind me, the brilliant white of the birds and bright sun just don’t give one much of a chance of getting anything decent.
I guess I will just wait for a cloudy or overcast day before I attempt this again, that is, if there ever is such a thing as a cloudy or overcast day here at this time of year. In the meantime, tomorrow I will have to concentrate on some more sandhill crane flight shots.
( As always, click on any image for a larger, higher quality view )
Wow! it’s nice to get back to “work”. Went out before sunrise tis morning to try and get some sandhill cranes before they left their roosting ponds. That means 5:30 in the morning. That also means temps around freezing. Unfortunately, nothing to show today for the morning effort.
However, I did return for the evening show as the sandhills returned to their roosting ponds and had a little better luck.
After striking out with the morning sandhills, I proceeded into the refuge looking for some snow geese. I had been told the sandhills were here in fairly large numbers, though not as numerous as they will be soon, but the snow geese were just starting to arrive. Turns out, there were plenty of them here, but bright sunlight makes photographing white birds difficult to say the least. Still managed to get some shots at the ” flight deck “.
Headed out early this morning to do the same trip around the upper loop road and down to Hayden valley but in the reverse order of Saturday’s trip. Today was one of those days where I cover a lot of ground, at the proper time of day, but just pretty much come up empty. I may have set some kind of reverse record for wildlife sightings in Hayden Valley. I traversed the entire valley north to south and then again south to north and saw but one lone bison in the distance, no elk, antelope, bison herds, wolves, bears, or coyotes. If you have ever been to the Hayden Valley, you know how rare it is to have it virtually empty of wildlife.
I did manage to find these swans to photograph. I was excited to see some Canada Geese floating downstream towards the swans, for I seem to recall that the swans are extremely territorial, and will drive off other birds such as the geese. I was ready for some action! But these guys seemed like they were the best of friends.
I was rounding a sharp corner and saw this young black bear cub all but in the road grazing on the curbside clover. With no mother in sight and other people stopping and getting within 6 feet of the youngster, for once, I was almost hoping a ranger would come along and break this up before the cub was startled out into the road and struck by a car. At times, his head was only a foot or so from the pavement and he acted as if he didn’t even see or hear the cars only a couple of feet from his head whizzing by, and he was completely oblivious to the growing crowd of people all but reaching out to pet him. I hope he survived this, but with no mother and this lack of fear of traffic and people, it probably doesn’t look like much of a future for this guy.
Lastly, a couple more bison shots. I got a kick out of this guy, once again using the centerline of the highway to negotiate his way down the road. They do move at a very slow pace while traveling on the highway, but they can seriously unnerve you as they pass by at only a couple of feet from your vehicle.
Especially if you are on a very narrow gravel road, such as the one to the fire tower, and you encounter a fellow like this coming down the road as you head up. At least he was using the shoulder of the road, I assume because there was no yellow centerline on the gravel road.