Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The "Albino" Black Tail Deer

The Black Tail Deer is widespread throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is listed as a subspecies of Mule Deer, which is a cause for some debate among zoologists. The latest DNA testing leads many to believe it is a separate species.  In general it is a little smaller than either White Tail or Mule Deer. One account suggests that a couple thousand years ago White Tail Deer moved along the East Coast of North America, across the South, and then up the Western Coast. Once it got into the Pacific Northwest it evolved into the Black Tail. As the Black Tail began moving East, it cross bread with the White Tail producing the Mule Deer. I am not an expect at this, but found that interesting. Nonetheless, it is the dominant deer on the Olympic Peninsula. Further adding to the controversy is the "Albino Black Tail Deer." Although not a true albino, its' coloration is "blotchy" at best, as you can see in the above photo. The cause of the coloration (or discoloration) is unknown. There is a fair amount of information about Blacktails, but mostly in regards to hunting.  I would be interested if anyone knew more about this condition. This was a very early photo of mine -- before I took good records. It was taken somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula along the Coastal flatlands.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sweetwater Wetlands

Yesterday, I took some time off to visit Sweetwater Wetlands (formerly called Sweetwater Ponds). Much has been done over the past year to clean out the invasion of "undesirable" plants that had "taken over" the wetlands. And, it would appear that the wildlife is much happier. As you might imagine, Southern Arizona is not like Minnesota or British Columbia or other places where you can't drive ten miles without seeing a lake. They are very few "lakes" (I use that term very generously) here in Southern Arizona.  People here get very excited on the rare occasion when they see a Bald Eagle or an Osprey. For most of you, photos of various "ducks" is probably not terribly exciting. Nonetheless, just to let you know that the desert does have it's occasional watering hole with Northern Shovelers and Cinnamon Teals (above) as well as Mallards, Ruddy Ducks, Coots, and Moorhens. But, this is really hummingbird country. I have photographed 11 different species of hummingbirds here in Southern Arizona. And, Sweetwater Wetlands is no exception. There was a "sweet" little Black Chin Hummingbird that seemed to want me to photograph it, so here he is too. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Isn't it Strange?

Sometimes you just snap a photo without thinking. I was traveling on one of the roads through Yellowstone Park and I saw a white tail deer off in the distance and for some reason I stopped -- even though I have a thousand deer photos. I had the window down and the top (of the Jeep) off as I usually do when searching for wildlife photos (by car). I looked through the camera's viewfinder but really did not have a photo. As I went to put the camera back in its case (on the passenger seat) it caused me to look down, and not six feet away was this white tail fawn in the tail grass. The fawn was so buried in grass that I didn't think there was a photo there either. But, snap I took one anyway. Strange little photo, but I kinda like it for some reason.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

White Tail Deer from Montana

One nice thing about National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, or Nature Conservancy Land, usually there is no hunting. The result is that you see more male deer, elk, moose, etc. And, that those males have reached an age where their antlers are quite large. Such is the case with these three (yes there are three) male white tail deer in the National Bison Range National Wildlife Refuge in Montana.  It is interesting because you can't see anything except the antlers of the third deer. But, the grasses make a nice photo, and although somewhat cautious the deer were receptive to my photographing them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kamloops White Tail Deer

Continuing North from Glacier/Waterton NP we arrive in the Central Desert Highlands of British Columbia. The area around Kamloops is often thought of as the "Flyfishing Capital" of the world. Not having flyfished on some of the other continents I can't attest to that, but there are some pristine lakes that produce trophy size "Kamloops Trout." One is a series of lakes: Roche, Black, Ernst, and Hosli. Roche gets boaters and is much larger. The others are flyfishing only and between 30 to 70 acres in size. It is essentially where my wildlife photography career began. It wasn't unusual to see wolves, bear, moose, elk, and deer on the way into the lake and around the lake shores.  This isn't one of my best photos but it was one of my first. A better lens would have helped bring out the colors more. I don't remember exactly, it was probably June because the wildflowers were out and this White Tail Buck's antlers were still growing and covered with velvet. It brings back some memories of discovering photography.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

San Pedro Wildlife Conservation Area

Words used to describe Wildlife Photography usually don't include: spectacular, magnificent, or breathtaking. I have probably overused the words beautiful or wonderful to describe my photos. But, the only word that comes to mind in this photo is "Sweet." It is a very young White Tail Deer who seems spellbound to look at me. I think it is the combination of the tall grasses, and the fact that his ears fan out the way they do that make him look so "sweet." This photo was taken on a hike along the San Pedro River which is a 40 mile river that runs into Mexico from Southern Arizona. It is a birder's paradise with tall cottonwood trees and ponds. Scarlet Tanagers and Oriole's seem to love this spot in early Spring as they migrate into Arizona. Year round residents include the Vermillion Flycatcher, Brown Crested Flycatcher, Lesser Goldfinch, a host of Swallows and Warblers, Yellowthroat, and several varieties of Hummingbirds to name a few.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Glacier National Park White Tail Deer

When you think of Glacier National Park you think of mountains, and well ----- glaciers. But the Western boundary of the park is along the North Fork of the Flathead River and if you drive along the river long enough you get into some country that is barely visited and yet just forty miles from the West Entrance to the Park. Most visitors arriving at the West Entrance take the Going to the Sun Highway across the mountains or they take the Southern Loop that connects to the East Entrance. The West side's dirt road along the river dead ends at Kintla Lake. I have been up that side several times -- mainly looking for grizzlies. On one occasion I came across these two young fawns with their mom. They let me photograph them as long as I wanted. After a while I just put my camera down and sat with them contemplating the beauty of nature.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yellowstone White Tail Deer

I have been to Yellowstone National Park often enough, that I have a tendency to pass right by deer and elk searching for Wolves and Grizzlies. I mean, I have a lot of deer photos already. But, sometimes it is nice to just "stop and smell the roses" so to speak. I love wildlife. And even like yesterday when we were hiking in Ramsey Canyon and there were three white tail deer, I wanted to stop and look at them.  This photo from a trip to Yellowstone I thought was going to be pretty good. But I didn't really know how good until the film was developed. First, the deer is laying down, but turned to look straight at me. Second, he has a very nice set of velvet covered antlers (eleven points if I can count correctly). Third, he is in this wonderful combination of grasses and wildflowers. And, fourth the background is nicely blurry (out of focus) so as not to distract. There are so many deer in the United States (estimates put the population over 20 million) that I almost don't stop to photograph deer anymore. What a mistake that would have been if I hadn't stopped and took the time to get this photo. I have a great many photos that I like: of bear, bobcats, moose, pronghorn, caribou, elk, etc. But, this White Tail Deer is one of my favorites.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Painted Redstart

Yesterday, we headed out with some friends to go to Garden Canyon at Fort Huachuca. We arrived at the Main Gate only to find the gate closed for renovation, or construction of some kind. We decided to keep going another ten minutes to Ramsey Canyon, which our friends hadn't seen either. Ramsey Canyon is a delightful walk along the canyon creek. It's run by The Nature Conservancy. A few hummingbirds had arrived (they'll be in full force in another month or so). And, we saw some white tail deer -- typical of the area. But, the treat for the day was this Painted Redstart.  Like warblers, they don't ever seem to stay still making photographing difficult at best. And since they are typically in trees eating ants or other insects from the trees there are usually leaves/branches in the way. However, from the 30 or so photos taken there were a couple that worked. Here's one of them: The Painted Redstart

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Flaming Gorge Pronghorn

Pronghorn can be found in a fairly wide slice of North America that includes: Alberta & Saskatchewan, Montana, the Dakotas, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. (Some in West Texas,  Southwestern Minnesota, and Southeastern California). Two subspecies, the Sonoran Pronghorn in Arizona and the Baja California Pronghorn are critically endangered.  I have a "Wildlife Viewing Guide," for each of the Western States, British Columbia, and Alberta. These guides have a page or two on the best wildlife viewing spots in their State (along with directions and what you are likely to find). Some state guides are better than others. Some, like Utah have 92 sites listed, while California has 200, and Colorado 201. The Utah guide listed "Lucerne Peninsula" (in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir) as a "High probability of viewing antelope year-round ... Unique opportunity to view and photograph antelope at very close range ..." The page also shows a photo of a male Pronghorn in the tall grass near the lake shore. So, I thought that since I was passing through on the way back from Yellowstone, I would check it out. Well, here is my photo of a pronghorn at very close range and in the tall grass near the lake shore. It doesn't always happen that way. Colorado has a site which says it has the highest population of mountain lions in the West. I have spent hours there looking for lions without success. So, some sites are better or at least more reliable than others. And, to be fair it depends on what you are looking for. A large population of mountain lions could be 30 in a 100 square mile area. But, in the case of Lucern Peninsula, it was accurate, and I came back with some nice photos.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Japanese Pronghorn Art

So, from the Impressionist Painting yesterday to Japanese Art today. You can almost see the brush strokes of the grasses as they are painted on the silk canvas. Alas, it is a photo, taken in Western Montana at the National Bison Range, probably 15 years ago or so. It was snowing so everything was like a fairy tale. Photographing in the snow can provide some wonderful effects. This photo of the four female pronghorn hangs in my office with a bamboo color mat and brown and gold frame.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pronghorn Surprise

Southwestern Wyoming is much different than Northwestern Wyoming. Southwest Wyoming is flat, ranch, and farm land. It still has a huge population of Pronghorn. By the early 1900's only 20,000 were left in North America. But conservation efforts have succeeded, and except for the Sonoran Pronghorn subspecies, has recovered to over 500,000. Pronghorn are often referred to as Antelope, which technically they are not. They are in a family all of their own. They are the fastest land animal in North America and the second fastest (only to the Cheetah) in the world. They have very large eyes that can detect movement from up to four miles away. Unlike deer, they prefer flatland where they can run. They don't jump so, if they need to get to the other side of a fence they go under as opposed to over (like deer, elk, and moose). In Arizona, ranchers have been encouraged to remove the barbs from the lowest wire on their fences in order to protect them. But, I want to tell you this story: I was headed up to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone a few years back. It was very early in the morning on a back road in Southwest Wyoming when I came across this gorgeous male who seemed as curious about me as I about him. He let me get very close. I suspected that I was going to have a good photo. I should add that as a Wildlife Photographer I am focused on the animal and sometimes don't even think about what else is in the frame. Such it was in this case. When I got back and developed the film there was this wonderful background of purple and orange hues, perfectly out-of-focus not to distract the viewer from the pronghorn. And, so we have a beautiful photo of a pronghorn in front of an impressionist painting. WOW, what a nice surprise!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Phantom of Patagonia

Well, I was going to share with you my new photos of the Elegant Trogon. However, since I could not find an Elegant Trogon at Patagonia Lake, it became problematic. Such it is when you go looking for something specific. "Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them." I can't take credit for saying that. It comes from Darryl Zero (Zero Effect). So, even though I didn't find what I was looking for I found a Ruby Crowned Kinglet (who just wouldn't stay still); several  Vermillion Flycatcher (middle photo); and a Hutton's Vireo (bottom and again just wouldn't stay still). Also, several other flycatchers, a beautiful male cardinal, and waterbirds including a Great Blue Heron. So, all in all a wonderful day hiking around Patagonia Lake.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Male and Female Elegant Trogon

Here you get a better view of both the female (top) and male (bottom). You'll notice how the male breast is bright red while the female breast is gray. The male also has a streak of white separating the breast from the neck. The male head and neck are also a bright green versus a dull green for the female. Both photos were taken at South Fork Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiracahua's. The Elegant Trogon is actually easier to photograph once you find them. Unlike warblers that are in constant motion and nearly impossible to photograph, the trogons often seem content to sit on a branch -- and, only 10 to 15 feet off the ground so you can get a much better angle. Hmm, I am talking myself into another trip to search for the Elegant Trogon. Gotta go for now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Elegant Trogon at South Fork

The Chiracahua Mountains are a very special place. And yet, it doesn't get a lot of visitors. i.e. It's not crowded. Maybe that is because it is a National Monument and not a National Park. Designated a National Monument in 1924 it has both geological and historical significance. It preserves the remains of an immense volcanic eruption that shook the region some 27 million years ago. It left two thousand feet of ash and pumice, which was highly siliceous in nature. This eventually hardened into rhyolite tuffs, and eroded into the natural features visible at the monument today. (The balancing rock formations).  It also has historical significance in that it is the place that Geronimo went to escape capture. It has a very special spiritual meaning to most of the Native American Tribes of the Southwest. It also has one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. Top Five for sure. It is the Echo Canyon Trail that takes you through the Grottos. It is truly worth a trip. From the Monument you can take a dirt and gravel road up over the summit to some excellent mountain top birding and down the other side to the South Fork of Cave Creek Canyon. This is the spot that many claim is the best birding in the US. It is here that I found an Elegant Trogon nest. They often nest in the holes of Sycamore Trees. So, the top photo above is the male Elegant Trogon in the nest. The bottom photo is the female. The female has a whitish mark behind the ear with a whitish belly versus the male with its bright red belly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Elegant Trogon at Patagonia Lake - Part Deux

Here is a closeup of the Elegant Trogon. A day or so after our Boston guests had seen the Elegant Trogon at Patagonia Lake last year, we decided to give it a try. There's some beautiful hiking and a great many other birds to see -- both waterbirds and other birds. We gave a good look for the Trogon in the area where he had been seen, but weren't successful. So we did a wonderful hike along the creek that feeds the lake. A couple hours later we had returned to the aforementioned spot and didn't immediately see the Trogon. It seemed like a great place to just sit or even lie down on a blanket (which Christine had the forethought to bring along). So, we sat there for 20 minutes or so, until ...  that wonderful sound of a "barking" seal. Usually four to six such "barks" at a clip. Pretty soon we could pinpoint where the sound was coming from. And, there in the tree at about eight feet off the ground was the male. And, snap .... here he is again in digital glory.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Elegant Trogon at Patagonia Lake

We have guests from Boston that have stayed with us every year for the last eight years. For the last couple of years they have enjoyed going to Patagonia Lake which is about an hour and a half's drive from us. The highlight is finding the Elegant Trogon. This a large and rare bird that can only be found in most southern mountains of Arizona: Baboquivari, Santa Rita, Huachuca, Dragoon, and Chiracahua Ranges. The Elegant Trogon is larger than a Mourning Dove but with a shorter wingspan (so it can fly rapidly through the trees).  Back to the story. Our guests went to Patagonia Lake yesterday and came back reporting that they had indeed found this very colorful bird. To put this in perspective, I was looking for the Elegant Trogon in the Chiracahua Mountains several years ago and was talking with a wildlife photographer from Australia. He had been coming to the  US every year and one of his stops was always the South Fork of Cave Creek in the Chiracahuas. South Fork has the reputation of being the number one birding spot in the US (according to surveys from Birders World magazine). And, in particular he wanted to photograph the Elegant Trogon. But this -- his sixth year -- was the first time he had been able to find and get close enough for a photo. I didn't want to tell him that I have seen and photographed the Elegant Trogon in all of the above mountain ranges except the Baboquivari and Dragoon's. This photo of a male Elegant Trogon was taken last year at Patagonia Lake in the Santa Rita's.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Round Tail Ground Squirrel

My apologies for not having a blog post yesterday. After breakfast I went golfing and it became a very long day. (You can take that anyway you imagine). Anyway, we played a desert golf course. Lots of roadrunners, lots of desert cottontails, and literally thousands of round tail ground squirrels (or as they are non-affectionately known as "pack rats"). These little guys would be scurrying around everywhere. Frequently, they would come up to the golf cart as if begging for food. They would stand on hind legs and look so cute. I was there to golf and not photograph, but I thought I'd share one of my photos from here at The Azure Gate. That's a fishhook barrel cactus behind him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wild Turkeys

Madera Canyon Wild Turkey

Ramsey Canyon Wild Turkey

When you look at a map of Wild Turkey distribution in North America you see that it is rarely found in Canada, and mostly found in the Eastern two-thirds of the US. That's probably why we have a holiday to celebrate Turkeys every year. But, they also can be found in the west. I have seen Turkeys in Washington State, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. Many years ago Christine and I were traveling through Zion National Park very early one morning and down by a creek we saw eight or so. The male was walking around in full display. I wished I had been more patient. I took four or five photos (this was back in the film days). Then we left. When I finally got the film developed none of the photos were very good. The problem: wrong film in camera (I needed a higher speed film because it was still darkish and they were in the woods -- even then, I should have used a tripod. So, I learned the hard way. That was the best opportunity I have had of photographing males in full display. A couple years later, I came across about 40 of them on the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. On another trip, about 20 in a field South of Williams in Northern Arizona. And, on another trip in the White Mountains in Eastern Arizona. Here in Southern Arizona they can be found in most of the mountain forests. The photos above are in Madera Canyon (Santa Rita Mountains) and Ramsey Canyon (Huachuca Mountains). But the Catalina Mountains, Chiracahua Mountains, and Galiuro Mountains are also good places to find Wild Turkeys.  Gobble Gobble II.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wild Turkey's at The Azure Gate

I have mentioned before that I have seen just about everything that can be found in the Sonoran Desert -- right outside my office. I was remembering this morning another morning in March three years ago. Christine was sitting at my desk. I was also in the office but in one of the chairs, when Christine said, "There are some really big birds in our (unpaved) driveway." I started thinking, maybe the White Winged Doves have arrived. (White Winged Doves come here in March or April nest, having their young and leave in September. They are much larger than the Mourning Doves that are here year round.) She continued, "These are really big birds!" I don't remember exactly what I was doing, just that I was comfortable and wasn't really ready to get up again. I am generally not a "couch potato", so curiosity got the better of me, and low and behold I get up and see three wild turkeys outside the office door. I grabbed my camera, but as soon as I opened the door they started walking away, so my best shot (above) was the first. I should note that this was unusual. Wild Turkeys tend to like mountain forests. We are probably a good 8 to 10 miles (as the crow -- or turkey flies) from the Catalina Mountain forest. I wonder if I'll see anything unusual today? Gobble, Gobble.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bloomin' Cactus

Well, I was going to share another "sunset photo", but it rained all night and is raining again today and it just didn't seem to fit. I am not sure whether my alternative fits either but, I'll try to explain. With all this rain we are having the wildflower and cactus blooming seasons should be spectacular. So, I thought maybe if I shared a prickly pear cactus blooming it would perk up our spirits with something to look forward to. If you have not visited the Sonoran Desert in late March, April, and May you have missed the desert in all its grandeur. Wildflowers come first, then hedgehog cactus, and then the prickly pear. Prickly pear cactus is everywhere, it grows like a weed. Often Round Tail Ground Squirrels (also referred to as "pack rats") make their home under the cactus. Over time, this results in the "death" of the cactus which is not the most pleasant -- to put it another way, you would never want a photo. However, in April, they bloom. Each pad of each prickly pear may have anywhere from three to ten flowers the size of a rose. Easily a hundred flowers per cactus. Multiply that times the number of prickly pear cactus and you've got a beautiful flowering "garden." Next to bloom are the agaves and aloes. We have hundreds on the property. They shoot up stalks with colorful yellow, orange, or red flowers. These plants may bloom well into the summer. In June and July come the Saguaros. The saguaro flowers are white and form a "crown" at the end of each "arm." Then come the barrel cactus with a crown of red or orange flowers on top. All in all a photographers dream. All in your back yard. Thank you, rain!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lower Klamath NWR at Sunset

The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is mostly in California along the border with Oregon. The closest city is Klamath Falls in Oregon. There is also an Upper Klamath NWR entirely in Oregon. As a wildlife photographer you try to get as much daylight as you can. This is advantageous because many animals are seen more in the early morning and late afternoon. But it also means you get to see a great many sunrises and sunsets. But, when you have been out for 14 or 16 hours, it's easy to drive right by a sunset on your way to a hot bath and a hot meal. Usually when I do this I kick myself later. What would five more minutes have cost. So, at least this time I stopped.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunset at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

If you are ever driving along on Interstate 5, east of Sacramento, and you have an hour or more, stop in at The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and take the auto tour. There is much to see: every kind of water bird that is found in the Western US; ground birds like pheasants and grouses; hawks and falcons, deer, bobcats, jackrabbits. I have been there ten or so times and it has never failed to provide very good photos.  It is a wildlife photographers haven.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sunrises and Sunsets - Part I

The sunrises have been particularly beautiful the last few days. So, I thought I would share some of my sunrises and sunsets with you. I must start, however, by admitting that I am not a landscape photographer. Landscapes seem overwhelming to me; even unphotographable most of the time. It's not that I don't appreciate landscapes, I do. That's a huge reason why I spend time in the wilderness. It's just that I don't know how to really capture what I see. On my last trip up to Jackson County, Colorado, I passed through Monument Valley at 5:30 in the morning. It was just before sunrise. So, I pulled off to the side of the road and waited for a photograph. This is the result: Sunrise in Monument Valley.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brothers Moose

Here's another "tip" for wildlife photographers. Check the "hunting" calendar before planning your trip. Case in point: It was my first trip into Jackson County, Colorado to look for moose. It was the week after labor day. My thinking was, everybody would be back in school or back to work, summer is over etc. I arrived late at night, and to my surprise there was only one room available in all of Walden. I didn't think much of it at the time, so, bright (well, actually it was dark) and early the next morning I went out looking for my moose. As I was headed up over Cameron Pass I would stop every so often to look down into the creek by the side of the road. Eventually, I found what I was looking for: two young bulls. I watched them for quite a while taking photos more discriminately than I do now (because I was still using 35 mm slide film).  After a while, a hunter came along. We talked for a bit. It was his first "hunt." I soon realized that if I left one of these two moose would be dead. So, I stayed for about an hour and a half until the hunter left, and the moose started climbing back up the mountain. Everywhere I went that day I saw hunters (with guns of course). This wasn't exactly what I had in mind. First, I don't understand the killing of wildlife. Be that as it may, I must respect the rights of hunters to hunt legally. But, moose? Where's the sport in hunting moose? Moose are docile creatures. They don't run away when they see you. They are as big as a school bus (not really) so it would be close to impossible to shoot and miss one. Then what are you going to do? These moose probably weigh close to 1000 pounds. So, the next day, bright and early I headed out to Yellowstone National Park where it was illegal to carry guns into the park. Now, I always check the state's hunting schedule before planning a trip.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is in a word: "spectacular." Snow covered mountains rising several thousand feet above the landscape. But, Grand Teton National park has been one of America's most controversial. The Teton Mountain Range and six glacier lakes were made into a National Park by Congress in 1929, but not without much anti-park sentiments from landowners in the area. John D. Rockefeller Jr. had bought 35,000 acres and tried for 15 years to give it to the Department of Interior to be part of the National Park. Congress would not approve because of local pressure. So, Rockefeller gave President FD Roosevelt an ultimatum.  It worked, FDR made it a National Monument along with another 150,000 acres in 1943. Finally, in 1950 all were combined by Congress to its current configuration as The Grand Teton National Park. Again, there had to be a compromise. The biggest of which was an agreement that in the future, presidential proclamation could never again be used to create a National Monument in Wyoming. So, Wyoming has the distinction of having the first National Park (Yellowstone) , but also the distinction of being the only state out of the 50 states in which a new National Monument cannot be created.  It is home to the Trumpeter Swan which is the largest bird in North America. It is also home to Bison, Pronghorn, Elk, and Moose. In fact, estimates are that more moose live in Grand Teton than in Yellowstone. In one of the very few "back roads" (Moose-Wilson Road) are a series of marshes. Rarely have I gone through this area without finding a moose such as the female above. Moose love to forage in ponds and shallow lakes. They dip their head into the water pull up as much vegetation as they can, raise their head and all the water comes out as if going through a sieve. Then they start chewing. This female was having a "Grand" time and seemed completely unconcerned about the controversy. To her it was home no matter what you called it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm In The Mood For Moose

So, there I was looking for Moose in Jackson County Colorado. Moose in the Western US (Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah) are Shiras Moose, the smallest of the six moose subspecies. The Alaskan Moose is the largest. Two other subspecies exist in the US: the Eastern Moose (in New England); the Western Moose (in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota). The other two subspecies are the European and the Siberian. Okay, back to Colorado. The main town in Jackson County is Walden, about 60 from Laramie, Wyoming. Although Walden has three or so motels, it has only one restaurant. I normally keep a ice chest with sandwich stuff so I can eat while I'm out in the wild. Then after dark come back to town and get something warm to eat. There are about 1000 moose in Colorado. On my second day, I saw this large -- but young -- bull off in a field of oak brush. I worked my way down the embankment to the flats where he was eating. I was able to spend about 45 minutes taking photos. As I turned around to walk back to where I had parked I saw a pine marten running through the snow. Did manage to get a couple of photos, but not good enough to show you. I spent the next hour or so trudging through the snow looking for the marten, but without luck. I always wonder how many wild animals have seen me, but I haven't seen them?

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's Moose Time Again

We have more rain today, so I am sitting at my computer -- as are many of our guests. And, I am thinking about Monday's blog. I came across this photo which, at the time I thought would be great. And, in many ways it is quite good: I have the entire moose; he is very large with very large antlers; long beard; there's even pond in the background to show the habitat; there's a small fir tree in the lower right hand corner that adds color and size dimensions without obstructing the moose; the moose is active. I only had this one opportunity to capture him since I was standing between two trees and this was the only clear view. It was going to be perfect. And, snap I thought it was. Yet it is not. The problem is that the moose's antlers shade his face so you don't get a clear view of the head and eyes. Why couldn't he have looked my way at this very moment? That would have moved the shadow off the face. You travel for a day or more to get to an area where there are moose. You search for hours looking for moose. You find a very large moose in the perfect setting. But the sun is in the wrong place. You get one opportunity until he turns his back to you and walks away. And, yet I find myself only marginally disappointed, because I got to see this magnificent animal.