April 24, 2017 Malhuer NWR, Oregon

Abandoned Ranch
Abandoned Ranch

More From Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge

Ruddy Drake
Ruddy Drake

Always get a kick out of the male Ruddy Duck and his sky blue bill during breeding season.

Redhead Pair
Redhead Pair
Redheads Takeoff
Redheads Takeoff

Plenty of ducks encountered this week while driving through the refuge and was able to get a few decent flight shots when there was enough light, lots of overcast mornings.

Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Ring-neck Drake Takeoff
Mallard Drake in Flight
Mallard Drake in Flight
Gadwall Takeoff
Gadwall Takeoff
Cinnamon Teal Pair
Cinnamon Teal Pair

This pair of Cinnamon Teal have been found on this spot every day this week, so I assume she is sitting on some eggs.

Cinnamon Teal Drake
Cinnamon Teal Drake
Avocets
Avocets

American Avocets hunting along the flooded fields.

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

This Sandhill was one of several pairs out hunting the flooded cow pastures along the highway.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

A completely drenched Ferruginous hawk manning his roadside hunting perch during one of this week’s showers.

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

The look says it all, he doesn’t care for this weather any more than I do.

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October 11, 2014 Willard Bay State Park, Utah

Mountaintop color
Mountaintop color

Another Trip into Bear River NWR

The top photo was taken from the road leading into my campsite at Willard Bay looking east across Interstate 84.

Mountaintop color
Mountaintop color

And this one was taken from the WalMart parking lot just to the east of the Interstate. It appears that there still is some autumn color up in the mountains and I believe I will try to find a route to go explore up there tomorrow since I want to avoid the weekend duck hunters in the Bear River NWR anyway.

Drove the Bear River NWR loop this morning and then explored north up Route 13 to Honeyville before heading back to Brigham City for the dogs vet appointment at Mountain View Vet.

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

No great photos this morning as there were at least 100 duck hunters out on the refuge.

Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant

Still haven’t got my ring necked pheasant shot yet, but I am getting a little closer!

Long billed curlew
Long billed curlew

These long billed curlews were foraging along the loop road in the refuge and posed for a shot before scurrying off into the brush.

I spoke with a very nice DNR officer on checkpoint duty coming out of Bear River who told me that I want to be going to all the “other” refuges for good duck photos and to stop at their office in Ogden to get more info and maps. He said these other places do not allow hunting and therefore, I would have a better chance of getting the shots I am looking for. He also said that Bear River NWF would be much better on Monday when most of the hunters are back at work, and that I should come back then.

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March 19, 2014 Goose Island, Texas

Whooping cranes
Whooping cranes

A Very Frustrating Morning

I ventured out to the pastures in Lamar a little later than usual this morning since there was a pretty heavy cloud cover and not much light to work with. There were three whoopers in the lower portion of the pasture when I arrived and soon after three more flew in and joined them, unfortunately, they were just a little to far off for any great shots, and somewhat to my surprise, there was no interaction between the two groups even though they were in very close proximity to one another, no territorial disputes.

Long Billed Curlew
Long Billed Curlew

Long billed curlew
Long billed curlew

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

As I was watching the cranes, I noticed a long billed curlew hunting in the field, quite near the fence along the road, so I got my tripod out and set up by the fence to wait for him to hopefully approach. I got a few decent shots as he approached quite close to me, including the one above where I think he has captured a crab, although he is in a pasture more than 60 yards from the bay. About the time I was taking these shots, a young couple and their little girl stopped, and seeing me set up next to the fence and probably assuming I was taking shots of the far off whoopers, they hopped out of their car and raced over to where I was set up and wanted to ask questions about the cranes and ” how big were they when seen through my camera and large lens “. I’m sure they had no idea I was shooting the curlew only 30 feet in front of me that they scared off as they approached, and the cranes were so far off, they weren’t affected.

It is frustrating when you set up and wait 10 or 15 minutes for an animal or bird to hopefully come your way, only to have someone else come along and scare them off just as they get within range, but these people were just naturally curious about what I was seeing and they never even saw the small curlew, this was just innocent curiosity and they were very nice folks. I actually lowered the tripod so the little girl could get a look at the distant whoopers, they thanked me and were soon on their way.

Whooping cranes
Whooping cranes

 

Whooping cranes
Whooping cranes

After they left, I noticed that the 6 cranes were grouping up and slowly walking towards the fence along 12th Street, so I proceeded over to 12th, parked, and walked out to the fence and set up behind one of the telephone poles as the whoopers very slowly continued their approach. I got off a few shots as they eventually came almost close enough for some decent shots. By the time I took the 2 shots above, I had patiently waited 45 minutes for their approach, partially shielded by the utility pole in front of me and by the fact that I stayed absolutely still for all that time, not that easy on us old folks. Thankfully, for some reason, there was almost nobody down here this morning and only one vehicle went by in the 45 minutes I waited for these guys to approach, I couldn’t believe my luck!.

But, of course, it wasn’t to be. The one vehicle that went by stopped at the big tree lot and down the road toward me came an older gentleman with some pretty serious Canon equipment slung over his shoulder, with his wife not far behind. At first, seeing his gear made me think he would be professional enough, or courteous enough, to not rush through the open field to the fence to get his shots, since any serious photographer would know that would certainly scare the cranes off.

Man with camera
You really should ( probably do! ) know better!

Of course, that is exactly what he did and, sure enough, the cranes instantly turned around and retreated 100 yards or so back the way they came, so my 45 minute wait was for nothing. The sad part of this was that if he had just stayed in the road, he would have been closer to the birds than he was after he approached and scared them off. You half expect someone with a cell phone to do this, charge your subject and scare them off so they can get a closer shot, but usually serious photographers will be knowledgeable enough, and courteous enough, to not ruin another’s chances by doing this, this idiot I believe was simply rude and inconsiderate, not ignorant. Maybe he was all three? In any case, very frustrating to me, since you only have an opportunity for these birds to approach that close once in a blue moon.

Oh well, the light wasn’t that great anyhow, so maybe I wouldn’t have gotten anything anyway, but I guess I will never know. I am ashamed to admit that I did yell over to him how much I appreciated his scaring the cranes off, and he could see me with my camera pointed towards him, so he instantly turned away. In fact, when I left the scene and drove by him as he walked back to his vehicle, he again turned completely around so as not to be identified, kind of acknowledging that he knew exactly what he was doing in ruining the shot for a fellow photographer, what a jerk!

So I headed back to the campground and drove along the bay to see if I could locate the scissortail flycatchers of two days ago, and lo and behold, there they were once again on the north side of the park road between the two campsite sections. I stopped the car, grabbed the tripod, and as I walked across the road and set up, along came a young couple with a cast net obviously looking for a place to cast for some bait fish, so they stepped right in front of me where  I had set up and proceeded straight out into the marsh grass where the flycatchers were, needless to say, scaring them off. With about 200 yards where they could have chosen to head to the water’s edge, why would you jump out directly in front of a photographer obviously trying to photograph something? Why wouldn’t you walk just a little farther down the road?

A suitable ending to a very frustrating morning!

Two mystery plovers, I think?
Two mystery plovers, I think?

As I was getting out of my car back at my campsite, these little guys were on the top of the seawall only 20 ‘ away. If anyone can ID them I would appreciate the help. I think they are some sort of plover probably half way between winter and breeding plumage so I just can’t tell what they may be.