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 “.
Washed the car and the motorhome first thing this morning to try to remove whatever the clear glaze that was sprayed all over both while going through the construction zones yesterday ( calcium chloride? ). Fortunately, though hardened and yet still sticky to the touch, it did seem to come off. Kind of neat to be able to wash vehicles in a campground, especially since this campground’s well sits above a geothermal hotspot and the water comes out of the spigot warm, works well for car washing but would take some getting used to for drinking.
Decided to head to Yellowstone to check out if there would be any chance of getting into Mammoth Hot Springs campground for the next couple of weeks. I knew it would make for a long day, but with the temperature hovering around 90, I figured why not spend the day in the air conditioned car. So I took 287 south to 191 south into West Yellowstone, a very pleasant and interesting route, especially along the shore of Hebgen Lake. Then 20/287/191 into the west entrance of the park, then north up 89 ( Grand Loop Road ) to Mammoth Hot Springs Campground.
Checked out two National Forest Campgrounds on the way in just north of West Yellowstone to see if they might be viable options. Spoke with the attendant at Mammoth and she said it normally is not a problem getting in if I were to show up at 11 AM . Looks like there are a few nice sites for rigs my size here.
On the return trip home I stopped for a bull elk shot, but couldn’t help but notice the lack of all types of wildlife while driving through the park today. I assume the elk are just now probably starting to descend to the lower meadows for the breeding season. I have never been here this early before so the lack of elk and bison was a bit of a surprise ( did encounter one bison grazing along the road ). I was also a little surprised that the traffic in the park really wasn’t all that bad at this time of year.
Stopped at a beaver pond on the way back home for some shots on what I think are Lesser Scaup, a new duck to me.
Back on 287 about 25 miles south of Ennis, I drove into a couple more National Forest campgrounds to check them out. One was completely empty and the other had but two tent campers set up.
One was on a bluff looking down on the Madison River ( this is where I was surprised by the sandhill crane pair ) and the other had sites that back directly up to the Madison River. Also stopped to check out one private campground of Hebgen Lake that had full hookups for a now shoulder season rate of $35.