June 2, 2018 Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Bison
Classic Western Scene

Last of the Wildlife Shots From Grand Teton

This park is proving to be a great spot for wildlife photos in the spring. I had been visualizing a shot such as the one above since I arrived here and heading back to the campground the other day, here they were, a small group of bison heading down to the Morman Farm area and needing to cross the road just as I was passing by.

Pronghorns
Pronghorns

And farther up the road, on the same day, this group of female pronghorns, grazing amongst the Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers. I had really hoped to finally get some shots of some pronghorn fawns but I guess I am just a little too early for that as these gals look like they are still a week or so away from having little ones.

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

I briefly ran into Bear #399 and her cubs again, though this time only for a brief moment as they crossed a meadow and quickly disappeared into the woods.

Retreating Elk with Calf
Retreating Elk with Calf

Finally I have seen a new born elk calf, though I couldn’t get a decent shot of it as mom hastily retreated when I appeared on the scene. At least I know that they are giving birth at this time, though I have seen very few elk cows out and about recently.

River Otters
River Otters

Jackson Lake Dam Outlet

I spent some time at the outlet below the dam on Jackson Lake yesterday and was surprised at the amount of activity there. I had stopped just to watch the shore fisherman and see what they were catching ( small Lake Trout and some Cut throat Trout ).

River Otter
River Otter

While watching the fisherman casting from shore I noticed a pair of River Otters diving in the rushing waters coming out of the dam. Unfortunately I missed getting the best shots as the pair would catch a fish, dash ashore and climb the bank, then rush across thirty feet of open ground to some bushes, where they would be mobbed by three young otters they were delivering the fish to. All quickly disappeared back into the brush to eat and then the adults would return to the river to fish again.

Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

Also actively fishing the churning waters were a small group of Common Mergansers, here seen resting on shore before heading out into the rapids.

Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Merganser Pair
Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers

They concentrated their efforts at the edge of the rushing waters exiting the dam, most likely picking off fish that were stunned as they came through the dam.

White Pelican
White Pelican

A pair of White Pelicans were also working the same area.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans
Trail Obstruction
Trail Obstruction

One morning I noticed a few large Bison Bulls as I was driving the main road in the park and pulled off and parked and headed down a trail through the willows to see if I could get a closer shot of them. As I rounded a corner of the trail, I ran into a trail obstruction, in the form of the aforementioned Bison. The three bulls stared at me as I looked around for the safest way out of this situation. Two of the bison turned and jumped over the fence you see on the right, clearing the top rail with their front legs but loudly crashing the rail as their bellies came down on the fence. The third bison simply stood his ground, so I retreated back to my parked car.

Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison
Grand Teton Bison

You just can’t appreciate just how large these animals are until you are face to face with them. Very powerful animals.

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October 10, 2014 Willard Bay State Park, Utah

Bear River NWR
Bear River NWR

Bear River National Wildlife Refuge ???

I took a drive out to explore the Bear River NWR first thing this morning.

Peregrin falcon and breakfast
Peregrin falcon and breakfast

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

On the 12 mile road into the loop road around the refuge wetlands, I encountered a peregrine falcon on a fresh kill,

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

 

 

 

 

 

Ring necked pheasant
Ring necked pheasant

as well as several pair of ring necked pheasants and a few Northern Harriers. As with the falcon, I just couldn’t get close enough to get a decent shot of these colorful introduced game birds. I was told that these pheasants, though not native here, do breed on the refuge. I really hope to be able to figure out a way to get close enough to these very wary birds to get a nice shot of them.

Unfortunately, duck hunting season opened on October 4th and hunting is allowed on this refuge. Not real clear to me how “hunting” and “wildlife refuge” are compatible uses. I would like to make it clear that I am not anti-hunting, just think that a wildlife refuge should be just that, a refuge for wildlife, not a plot of land designed and maintained to attract birds to hunt, that would be the function of a hunting club or organization.

Needless to say, there were no ducks to be seen anywhere on the refuge, and this refuge looks like it would normally be a gold mine for photographing ducks and other wetland species. One of the best loop roads of any of the NWR’s I have been to.

Western Grebe pair
Western Grebe pair

Love those red eyes !

Western Grebe pair
Western Grebe pair

I did manage to get a couple of decent shots of a pair of western grebes who were paddling around in the reeds,

White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans
White Pelicans

but, other than one small group of white pelicans and a gazillion coots, in the face of shotgun blasts going off every few moments, no other wildlife dared show its face out there today.

I have a 3 PM appointment in Riverdale to have the 30,000 mile service done for the Prius, so that pretty much shot the afternoon.

A Very Rare Two Headed Western Grebe
A Very Rare Two Headed Western Grebe

Forgot about my shot of the day, a very rare two headed western grebe, obviously struggling with deciding in which direction it wanted to go. 😉

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April 20, 2014 Bridgeport Reservoir, California

California quail
California quail

Yet More Birds and a Trip Up the Mountain

The feeding platform I put out on the birch tree on my site was overrun with a flock of 30 or so Pinyon Jays this morning.

Pinyon jays crowding the feeder
Pinyon jays crowding the feeder

This was my first time encountering these guys as they crowded the platform and cleaned it out and were gone in about 5 minutes.

White pelicans
White pelicans

I drove down the reservoir to the dam and got a shot of a couple of white pelicans, one of whom had one of the brightest beaks I have ever seen on one of these huge birds.

Buffleheads
Buffleheads

Farther down the Clark River, I encountered a great variety of ducks, but was only able to get a shot of these buffleheads. I’m going to have to think some about how to get close enough to these river ducks to get some decent shots because there is an incredible amount of all kinds of different ducks on this short stretch of the river.

Today was the day I was going to do Mono Lake, but once there I really could find very little to shoot. I have seen so many images of the tufa mounds on Mono Lake that I assumed they were scattered all around the lake. Turns out, all the shots I have seen were apparently taken on just one very short portion of the shore, most of the lake shore is just flat, barren, and boring. Really was a little disappointed in Mono Lake.

So, I decided to drive the 12 miles of Route 120 that were open. This road is the “back” way into Yosemite National Park, and not recommended for large vehicles because of the long climb up and over the mountains. The drive was truly enjoyable in the Prius, but there is no way I would want to attempt it with the RV. The road was gated 8 miles short of Tuolumne Meadows and the snow banks were still 3 or 4 feet high on the side of the road at that point. Spectacular scenery all along the way! ( I downloaded and somehow lost my shots so no images, I don’t know how I did that but hope I don’t make a habit of it ) The lakes up there were still completely frozen over and the old lodge buildings were still covered with several feet of snow. Kind of nice to be able to make a short hour long trip into the beauty of winter and then quickly reverse direction and return to spring!

California quail
California quail

 

California quail
California quail

Back home I noticed a pair of California Quail feeding around the campground, and, using my car as a blind, was able to follow them along for a few hundred feet as they did their thing and got some nice shots. I had no idea when I decided to stop at this campground that I would have so many opportunities to shoot birds, I had thought this was just going to be a stopover for Bodie and Mono Lake, what a pleasant surprise!

Yellow headed blackbird eating midges
All you can eat Midge buffet
Buffleheads
Buffleheads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 13, 2014 Goose Island, Texas

A Quick Trip Back to Port Aransas

Green winged teal
Green winged teal

Nothing doing in the pastures so once again I headed down along the coast to Fulton Harbor.

White pelicans preening
White pelicans preening

Found the same white pelicans doing their preening thing on the rocks north of the harbor.

As always, just click on any image to see a larger, sharper version.

Roseate spoonbill in flight
Roseate spoonbill in flight

Since it was a beautiful day , I decided to go back down to Port Aransas to check and see if there might be any ducks at the water treatment plant. Turns out there were, along with some spoonbills flying by. Though the ducks were not as numerous as in past years there were a whole lot more out on the water than there were here three weeks ago. Maybe by March the place will fill up again.