June 10, 2018 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Ruddy Duck Pair
Ruddy Duck Pair

A Short Stay at Malheur NWR, Oregon

Since I had to be in Bend, Oregon on the 11th for my six month progress appointment with my oncologist, I figured I would split up the drive from Jackson Hole to Bend by staying a few days at the Narrows RV Park and driving around the Malheur NWR and perhaps try to find some of the wild horse herd up on Steens Mountain.

Rainbow Over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Rainbow Over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

As per normal, weather was in and out, mostly rainy and grey, but with a few moments of sun here and there.

Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk

Three Common Nighthawks spent the day sleeping on top of the split rail fence in the campground, right behind my campsite. I was able to approach to within five feet of them without disturbing them, probably could have reached out and touched them if I had wanted to.

Trumpeter Swan and Rainbow
Trumpeter Swan and Rainbow

There are a couple of non-migratory Trumpeter Swans that breed and spend the year here at Malheur.

Ruddy Duck Pair
Ruddy Duck Pair

The Ruddy Duck Drake is one of my favorite ducks to shoot, just love that ridiculously blue beak.

Being a little late in the spring to find much here in Malheur, and that certainly was the case, I took a drive about 20 miles up the gravel road from the south entrance to the Steens Mountain Loop, hoping to maybe spot the wild horses up there. Usually when I am here in the spring, this loop road is still closed due to snow, but at this time the southern portion of the road was open up to and a little beyond the campground. From the north, the road was only open to Gate #2.

Anyhow, I never saw any sign of the horses but I was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the road, at least as far as up to the campground. I just might try staying up there next time I come here and be able to spend more time looking for the horses.

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January 23, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

A Little Rain in the Desert

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

I was just setting up to do a little painting early this morning when I glanced out the dinette window and noticed some dark clouds approaching from the north. Several minutes later, a fairly brilliant rainbow appeared, so I grabbed the camera and ran outside for a few shots.

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

As the rain began falling a little harder a second rainbow started to form, but unfortunately, the wind was blowing the rain directly at the camera and I was forced to retreat inside.

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

Still, a nice way to begin your day!

House Finches
Full House

The tray feeder continues to attract a crowd, with the finches, sparrows, and doves feeding here pretty much all day long.  I never thought I would see this number of birds here in the desert. Unfortunately for a few of these little guys, the large number of birds now gathering on and around the feeder has attracted the attention of a Coopers Hawk who checks in on the situation several times a day and causes quite a commotion when he appears. I haven’t actually seen the hawk grab anyone yet, but there have been a couple of times when I have gone out to replenish the feeder and seen him take flight from the ground just 30 feet away. The fact that he is on the ground most likely means he did grab somebody. Cruel, but I suppose everybody does have to eat.

If you right click on the image above ( or any image ) you should be able to see a larger version of the image.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Finally got a few poor shots of the Gambel’s Quail as they bob around under the feeder and scratch around the rocks.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

They are very wary and flush at the slightest sound or movement, so these images were taken through the glass. They are very amusing to watch as they chase off the doves and sparrows feeding on the ground with them.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

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September 3, 2016 Estes Park, Colorado

Cow Elk
Cow Elk

Strange Morning, Great Day

Saturday’s forecast had called for clear skies and beautiful weather, so I was a little surprised to see clouds obscuring some of the stars as I packed my gear in the Prius and left the campsite for Trail Ridge around 5 AM.

Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
The Start of a Strange Morning on Trail Ridge

As I started the climb up Ridge Road, I stopped for a couple sunrise shots, made more impressive by the threatening skies moving in.

Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Strange Morning on Trail Ridge

There was a weird red/magenta glow in the sky as dark clouds began to dominate the skies the higher up the road I climbed.

Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Trail Ridge Rainbow
Trail Ridge Rainbow

As I neared the top, I stopped and hopped out of the car as a fairly bright rainbow suddenly appeared out of the gloom. I was so close to the rainbow, I couldn’t get the entire thing in a photo even with a 20mm wide angle lens, felt like I could just about reach out and touch it at times.

Trail Ridge Rainbow
Trail Ridge Rainbow

The rainbow increased in intensity as the wind began whipping rain sideways, and, unfortunately, right in my face as I attempted more shots, covering the lens, and me, in rain and forcing me to retreat to the car.

Trail Ridge Rainbow
Trail Ridge Rainbow

I raced farther up the road hoping in vain to escape the windblown rain so I could get more shots of one of the most intense rainbows I have ever seen, but as I drove on, the rainbow faded and eventually all but the tail end disappeared before I could get out of the driving rain.

Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
Strange Morning on Trail Ridge
From Trail Ridge
From Trail Ridge

By 8 AM, the rains stopped, the clouds slowly lifted and the good weather promised for today started moving in.

Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep

On my way back down the mountain, I spotted four Bighorn Rams grazing on the slope above me, but unfortunately, there was no nearby pullout and the Saturday morning stream of traffic coming up the mountain made it impossible for me to get any decent shots.

Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep

Since these guys were the only Bighorn Sheep I had encountered in my two weeks here, I was more than a little disappointed, to say the least.

Bull Elk
Bull Elk

By the time I returned to the valley floor, the wonderful weather predicted for today had fully arrived. And with it my first opportunity to shoot some nice bull elk basking in the early morning sun.

Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Two Bull Elk
Uneasy Peace

This actually was my first opportunity to shoot elk with some wonderful golden hour light, all my previous encounters have been in the dim light of dawn or duck, or in complete shade.

Two Bull Elk
Uneasy Peace
Bull Elk Sparring
Bull Elk Sparring

These two younger bulls would alternate grazing and semi serious sparring sessions.

Bull Elk Sparring
Bull Elk Sparring
Bull Elk in Retreat
Bull Elk in Retreat

One of them finally tired of the game and headed across the meadow at a full gallop.

Chapel on the Rock
Chapel on the Rock

Later in the afternoon, I took a short trip back down Route 7 to get some shots of The Chapel on the Rock. I liked the dark clouds setting off the sculpture on the hill above the chapel. When I was here several years ago, I remember this building being surrounded by water, actually appearing to be built on an island, so something has changed here in the last few years.

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July 19, 2016 Ridgeway State Park, Colorado

Black Sky
Black Sky

A Little Rain, a Little Drama Along the Million Dollar Highway

Dark Sky
Dark Sky

Well, yesterday we finally saw some of the dramatic afternoon storms I had been told of. So, hoping to get something a little exciting, like a lightning streaked sky against a mountain backdrop, I set out for the top of the Million Dollar Highway to see what I might see.

Dark Sky
Dark Sky

The dark threatening skies allowed the setting sun to peak through every now and then illuminating the peaks of some of the colorful mountaintops around Red Mountain Pass.

Red Mountain Rainbow
Red Mountain Rainbow

Then it got a little weird, and threatening. The skies were suddenly glowing with this strange yellow cast and thunder was cracking all around, though I never saw any lightning.

Red Mountain Rainbow
Red Mountain Rainbow

Now being around 8:30 PM, I headed back down the mountain for home, but had to stop as the skies opened up and rain blasted the windshield. As I passed Red Mountain, I could see the beginnings of a rainbow  above the peak. I pulled off the road and tried to position the car so I could take some shots through the open driver’s side window, shielded somewhat from the driving rain.

Red Mountain Rainbow
Red Mountain Rainbow

Not the best of conditions to get some rainbow shots, with little light and rain blowing sideways, but a very dramatic sight to see.

Tomorrow I break camp and leave Ridgway heading just a few miles farther north and east to around Cimarron, where I hope to explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and make the drive up to Crested Butte, the wildflower capital of Colorado, to see if I can locate some of those fields of wildflowers I have not been able to find as of yet.

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