September 17, 2016 Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Teton Bull Moose
Teton Bull Moose

Finally! Moose, Plus a Meadowlark

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

Ran into this guy singing away on Mormon Row first thing in the morning. Had to stop because you never can have too many shots of these guys singing their hearts out.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

Plus he did give me this bonus shot … never got that pose before.

Teton Bull Moose
Teton Bull Moose

Finally, I ran into a nice bull moose not mostly concealed in the willows.

Teton Bull Moose
Teton Bull Moose

Saw some antler tips sticking up out of the sagebrush and got myself set up with the sun behind me to be ready to get some nice shots when he finally decided to get up.

Teton Bull Moose
Teton Bull Moose

He was bedded down not too far away from a cow he obviously was shadowing while waiting for her to become receptive to his amorous advances. I had to wait patiently for over an hour and a half for the two of them to finally get up and get moving. Guess they never heard the tale of the early bird getting the worm.

Lookin For Love?
Lookin For Love?
Lookin For Love?
Lookin For Love?

He made his morning move, was rejected, and she went on her way.

Teton Bull Moose
Teton Bull Moose

With him following, of course.

Teton Bull Moose
Teton Bull Moose

Even with a long lens, this type of shot gives the photographer pause. You can tell that he has you dead in his sights and this time of year you just never know what his intentions are, at least as far as nosey photographers go. As seen through  a 400mm lens, he is far enough away that I can still easily get behind a nearby tree … hoping that would do some good. Turns out he was just looking to get into the shade where I was standing.

Teton Bull Moose
Teton Bull Moose

There he made a few squawks, circled, made sure the female was in sight, and dropped down to rest, having travelled probably all of a hundred feet so far this morning. This guy was a pretty good sized mature bull that probably has already fought off another bull, or bulls, judging from the way he was limping. Hope this is just the first of several more encounters with these Teton moose.

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October 17 – 19, 2015 Las Vegas, New Mexico

Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening

Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge

While having the work on my motorhome done in Santa Fe I had searched Google Maps for a place to spend a few days of peace and quiet and perhaps find some wildlife to photograph. Noticing the close proximity of the Las Vegas NWR to the town of Las Vegas and the Storrie Lake State Park, I decided this was the spot.

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

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

I had forgotten that I had visited this NWR several years ago, but quickly recognized the place when I approached the refuge. Back then, I pretty much had no luck at all in finding anything here. This time, however, there were some songbirds around along with a host of raptors.

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Thought this was kind of an appropriate greeting upon entering the refuge.

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

There were several juvenile Red-Tailed Hawks hunting the meadows in the refuge, but curiously I did not spot but one mature one in three trips through the refuge.

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk Portrait
Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk Portrait
Prairie Falcon
Prairie Falcon

I’m not positive on this ID, but I believe it is a Prairie Falcon, and if so, the first for me. There were several spotted, but this was the only decent shot I could get of these small skittish creatures.

Female Northern Harrier
Female Northern Harrier
Female Northern Harrier
Female Northern Harrier

I found several female Northern Harriers flying over the meadows, and as usual, no males.

Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening

And I spent about half an hour shooting this very distant one doing her preening routine, sure wish she had been closer, these were shot with the 600mm lens with a 1.4 extender attached.

Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening
Female Northern Harrier Preening

Western Meadowlarks

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

And now I will add a lifetime supply of meadowlark images. I don’t know if the number of meadowlarks here was due to migrating birds coming through or if there are always this many here, but there were hundreds of these guys along the refuge roads, as usual, singing up a storm.

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

I get a kick out of the expressions I sometimes get from my photographic subjects, this guy looks like he is disgusted with my intrusion on his singing performance.

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark

I did say a lifetime supply of these guys!

Kind of nice to get back doing one of the things I enjoy most .. bird photography. I next must make a stop in Amarillo, Texas to get my Prius body work done and then it’s on to Salineno, Texas, for a five month volunteer stint at the Salineno birding site. So, for those of you following this blog who look forward to the bird images, there will be some nice stuff coming, for those of you that enjoy the “travelog” features, well, the next several months will be the first time since I began full timing that I will be stationary for an extended period of time. But please stay tuned anyway!

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October 22, 2014 Antelope Island, Utah

Great Salt Lake Sunset
Great Salt Lake Sunset

Just Enjoying the Peace and Quiet

Sunset last evening over Great Salt Lake, taken from my campsite. There are only a couple of other people here in the campground, no one within a couple hundred yards of me, and this is proving to be a very peaceful, and unbelievably quiet spot. As serene as the image above. The sun actually sets just behind the hill this time of year, but I imagine in the summer months the setting sun would be visible from the campground.

As I sat in my LazyBoy this morning, enjoying my coffee, and watching as darkness began fading into light, I could see all kinds of movement in the short grass out the front windshield. Turned out to be a “rusk” of jackrabbits ( I had to look that up, of course, at Animal Group Names ) feeding in the predawn hours, at least a dozen of them, but still too dark to bother getting the camera out. Just as it was getting light enough to consider taking a picture, they all headed up the hill, probably to seek shelter from predators that hunt by day.

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

View from the hill above Bridger bay campground
View from the hill above Bridger bay campground

That’s my motorhome in the bottom right corner of the image above, taken just past sunrise this morning.

Rafts of ducks on Great Salt lake
Rafts of ducks on Great Salt lake

There must be tens of thousands of ducks out on the lake. There are rafts of ducks like this scattered all along the shore and out into the bay on the east side of the island. I’ve seen Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Gadwalls, some Mallards, and Ring Necked ducks, as well as gazillions of coots, all far too distant to get any type of photos.

There are antelope on Antelope Island !
There are antelope on Antelope Island !

On my early morning drive out the road to the farm, I finally found some antelope here on Antelope Island. I also saw, but couldn’t react quickly enough to get an image, an enormous Mule deer buck with quite a set of antlers heading into the brush to bed down for the day.

Probably the same as what the pioneers saw
Probably the same as what the pioneers saw

This herd of over a hundred bison was feeding its way north on the island early this morning. This scene is probably not all that different from what the early pioneers could have seen here, or elsewhere across the west.

Antelope Island
Antelope Island

This island has a very peaceful feel to it with it’s own kind of simple beauty, as this shot of the mountain spine of the island glowing warmly in the early morning sun.

Resting bull
Resting bull
Licking his wounds
Licking his wounds

I ran into a small band of bulls browsing along the road and two of them decided to put on a bit of a show. I can’t call it a knock down, drag out brawl, more of a sparring match, just sizing up a competitor, perhaps for a future bout, but interesting nonetheless.

Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison
Sparring Bison

And finally, one of my favorites out here, a meadowlark greeting the early morning sun with song. I have never seen so many of these songsters in one place. Both mornings I have been here there is at least one of them outside my window on the lone tree singing away until I open the door to walk the dogs.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

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October 14, 2014 Willard Bay State Park, Utah

Antelope Island
Antelope Island

A Day Trip Out to Antelope Island

Today I drove down I-15 and took the causeway out to Antelope Island. The island is a Utah State Park with a $10 admission. Getting there you drive the causeway through about 7 miles of dried up lakebed before arriving on the 5 mile wide by 15 mile long island. There were large numbers of gulls, coots, and redhead ducks on the east side of the causeway just as you approach the island and a marina, left high and dry by the drought, on the west side.

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

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

I took a look at the Bridger Bay Campground to see if I wanted to venture out here for a few days with the RV. There were meadowlarks singing from the bushes all around the campground, so that in itself will probably get me back out here.

Meadowlark
Meadowlark

The campground appears well maintained with paved pull through sites as well as backins. Each site has a concrete patio and firepit with pretty decent spacing between sites as well as a great view of the Great Salt Lake from every site. There are no hookups but there is a dump station just down the road. Sites are reservable on #$%&# Reserve America.

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

Driving south down the island toward the Fielding Garr Ranch, I spied a large bird riding the thermals above the mountain slopes to the west. Stopping and scoping the bird, I recognized it as the second golden eagle I have now seen out here in Utah. It came close enough on one of it’s loops for me to get a couple of shots.

Bison
Riding bareback
Bison and companions
Bison and companions
Antelope Island bison
Antelope Island bison

 

 

 

 

 

The island is home to around 500 head of bison and just past the ranch on a short stretch of rough gravel road, I found about 100 of them grazing and relaxing in a large field.

Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island Bison
Antelope Island bison
Antelope Island bison
Pronghorn
Pronghorn

One of my favorite animals, as well as the island’s namesake, the pronghorn antelope, was nowhere to be seen until I spotted a solitary animal off in the distance on my way back from the ranch.

From Antelope Island I headed a few more miles south to Farmington Bay Wildlife Management Area.

Farmington Bay Ducks
Farmington Bay Ducks

Here I finally found where all the areas ducks were hiding out. Plenty of ducks, as well as the ubiquitous coots, were scattered in large numbers in the bay south of the access road. Only problem was, there was no way possible to get anywhere near them to get any decent shots.

Western grebe
Western grebe
Western grebes
Western grebes

Farther out along the refuge road, I came across a few Western Grebes that did allow me to get a few shots.

White faced ibis
White faced ibis
Greater yellowlegs
Greater yellowlegs

There were a few other stragglers at this refuge, mainly the lone white faced ibis and greater yellowlegs pictured above, along with some other small waders and a few white pelicans. If only there were some way to get beyond the reeds protecting the ducks from my camera lens.

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