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.

pintails6flyleft
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.

pintailpreening3
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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September 17 – 21, 2015 Return to the Lower Forty-eight

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat
Glacier National Park Mountain Goat

Back in the USA

September 17th

I broke camp at Meziadin Provincial park around 9 AM and headed east on Route 37 to Prince George. The last 100 miles of Route 37 was nothing special, unlike the rest of that highway, and Route 16 East to Prince George was the same. Of course, the steady all day rain and grey skies didn’t help matters as far as great scenery goes.

Arrived at a pretty new Walmart Superstore right on the highway at the western edge of Prince George, and since I was pretty much out of everything, provisions wise, I stocked up on essentials, not knowing when i would have the opportunity to do so again. Since it was getting dark, I decided to do a Walmart boondock and settled in for the night.

September 18th

After a decent night’s sleep at Walmart, I proceeded east on Route 16 to Jasper and turned south on the spectacularly beautiful Icefields Parkway to Route 1 and Lake Louise. Unfortunately, the Icefields Parkway, under low hanging clouds, fog, and rain, loses a lot of it’s luster and I managed to travel it’s entire length without stopping for even one photograph. Hoping to get some autumn shots of Lake Louise with fall colors, I settled in at the overflow camping area just south of town on Route 1 for the night, hoping the weather would improve overnight.

September 19th

It didn’t ! With the weather remaining terrible, I left Lake Louise and traveled south on Route 1, through Banff, and on to Calgary, a city I will religiously avoid traveling through in the future. I felt like a rat being forced to run a maze, trying to get from Route 1 to Route 2 in this city’s confusing, poorly signed, heavily congested system of roadways. By the time I finally made it out of Calgary and was headed south on Route 2, after three days, the weather finally cleared and it was an uneventful trip to the border crossing at Carway. I had no problem at all with the crossing, just the normal fruit, veggies and firewood , and booze, questions and I was through and back in the lower forty-eight.

Around 4 PM, I arrived at Johnsons of Saint Marys Campground, on the east side of Galcier National Park, a place I have stayed in many times before. I paid my $78 for two nights and headed up the hill to their fairly tight, fairly unlevel campsites, that do, however, have a superb view across the valley of the mountains of Glacier National Park. These are water and 30 amp electric sites with a surprisingly strong Verizon internet signal.

September 20th Glacier National Park

Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson's Campground
Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson’s Campground

I awoke to a spectacular sunrise and howling winds, indicating that a predicted stormfront was moving in.

Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson's Campground
Stormy Sunrise Over Johnson’s Campground

Taking advantage of the morning’s decent, though very windy weather, I headed up to Many Glacier hoping to get some bear shots, as i have had quite a bit of luck there in the past. This summer’s dry conditions have produced a very poor berry crop and there were no bears to be seen this morning, so I headed back home around noon hoping to watch some football on TV.

Didn’t happen ! I have no idea how strong the winds were blowing, but the motorhome was rocking and the slide toppers were in danger of being ripped off, so I was forced to bring in the slides and lower the satellite dish before it was destroyed by the gale force winds. Welcome back to the lower forty-eight !

September 21st

By morning the winds had diminished and the rain had set in. Having a lot of image processing to do and blog work to catch up on, plus facing an October 15th deadline to file my 2014 taxes, I almost looked forward to a day in the rain to try and get some of this work done.

By late afternoon, tired of working at the computer and finding the skies clearing, I hopped in the Prius and took a drive up Going to the Sun Highway to Logan Pass.

Unreachable
Unreachable

And I am so glad I decided to do so. On previous trips here I have gotten many nice mountain goat images, but have never had the opportunity to find them high up on the cliffs, where they live out a good portion of their lives, safe from predators.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat
Glacier National Park Mountain Goat

This evening, just as it was getting dark, I came across a lone ram, just about all the way up to Logan Pass, and before it became just too dark to shoot, was able to capture a few images of their incredible cliff hanging abilities.

Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith

Just mind boggling how easily they traverse this impossible landscape … and you can see from the first vertical photo above, that there would be no chance for survival if ever there was a misstep. I certainly hope I get another chance over the next few days to catch this guy up there again, perhaps with a little more light to work with.

 

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