Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Uncommon Common Porcupine

On to the Porcupine. Actually, it is called the "Common Porcupine," which to me is a misnomer. Common to me suggests "easily found and seen." Hardly! In all my travels and time in the wilderness both fly fishing and photographing, I have come across maybe five porcupines in total. 

I am happy that at least one of those times I got a decent photo. This Porcupine was sitting in a tree near Dry Falls Lake in Washington where I was fly fishing. The green background let the animal stand out clearly creating a "5" Star Photo. (Although, the photo quality has deteriorated significantly since 1988):


Friday, November 29, 2013

Plain Capped Starthroat

Next up on my alphabetical series of "5" Star Photos we come to the Plain Capped Starthroat. This large hummingbird is a rare visitor to the United States. You usually have to watch the Arizona bird reports and head out to a specific location if and when it has been sighted. The Starthroat has been reported in Montosa Canyon, Ash Canyon, Miller Canyon, and Patagonia over the past five years. In 2012 there were no US sightings.

At five inches it dwarfs the more common hummers. (Only the Blue Throated and Magnificent are larger: five and a quarter inches). The Starthroat has the longest bill of any hummer and a very distinctive large white stripe down its back. White "lightning bolts" on its head and a purple "lightning" bolt on its throat also make it easy to identify.

Plain Capped Starthroat

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pipevine Swallowtail

A frequent find in the Southwest is the Pipevine Swallowtail, a very colorful butterfly that contrasts nicely with Arizona's thistles:

Pipevine Swallowtail

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pied Billed Grebe

Sometimes a "5" Star Photo isn't dramatic, isn't necessarily rare, isn't dangerous, isn't ...... But, what it is is "sweet." Here's a perfect example, a Pied Billed Grebe with nice background and reflection:

Pied Billed Grebe

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Fastest Creature on Earth: Peregrine Falcon

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal or bird on earth, reaching speeds of up to 242 miles per hour. He eats mostly medium sized birds -- ducks are a favorite prey. The Peregrine is found all over the world, although not abundant in any region. Its breeding range is also wide as it breeds anywhere from the Arctic Tundra to the Tropics. Females are much larger than males.

To watch a Peregrine fly after a duck is an exhilarating experience -- one impossible to photograph since they are so fast.

I like this particular photo because of its detail and clarity:

Peregrine Falcon

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Osprey with Rainbow Trout

Back in the early 90's I was fly fishing Lake Chopaka in North Central Washington (near the Canadian Border). I wasn't having much luck but it sure was beautiful. At one point, about 20 feet away I saw an Osprey sitting on a rock at the water's edge. He had 20 inch Rainbow Trout clutched in his talons. He allowed me to stop fishing, get out my camera, and taking several photos. After taking the photos I moved on and left him there to eat. The photo below I thought worthy of a "5" Star rating:

Osprey with 20 inch Rainbow Trout

Friday, November 22, 2013

Osprey with Chicks

Before, during, and after fishing in the Northwest US and Canada, I would frequently see Osprey. They are highly specialized birds of prey found on every continent except Antarctica. However, it does need water that contains fish. So while I often saw them when living and traveling throughout the Northwest, here in Arizona its another story. An Osprey sighting in Southern Arizona gets mentioned in birding news.

The Osprey's diet is almost exclusively fish. It has very large eyes and can see through water to detect its prey. It has the ability to close its nostrils to prevent water from getting in during a dive.

Here is a "5" Star Osprey Photo taken in British Columbia back in the late 1990's.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Orange Sulphur

Sometimes a "5" Star Photo is based on simplicity and warm colors. Such is the case today with this Orange Sulphur. The coloration is peaceful and soothing:

Orange Sulphur

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Northern Shoveler II

Here's another Northern Shoveler photo I like. Partly it's the dark secretive background with the female whose plumage is mostly shades of gray;  partly it's the reflection; and partly it's the detail.

Northern Shoveler

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reflecting on the Northern Shoveler

Continuing with my series on "5" Star Photos we come to the Northern Shoveler. The Shoveler is found pretty much throughout the Northern Hemisphere, wintering in the southern parts of its range. It is a dabbling duck with a highly specialized bill allowing it to scoop up invertebrates from the bottom of shallow ponds and lakes. Often all you see is its tail sticking out of the water. Fortunately, there are about 4 million of them throughout the world so find one not eating is not so much of a problem.

I like this particular photo because of the color and the reflection of the bird in the water.

Northern Shoveler

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another Wells Grey Mushroom

Here's another "5" Star Mushroom Photo taken at Wells Grey, British Columbia. What I like about this photo is that it looks like something from the movie Avatar  -- or Alice in Wonderland. Mushrooms usually grow in moist areas where they don't get direct sunlight. Probably why I don't find Mushrooms in Southern Arizona very often. The result is that usually Mushrooms are in dark places without much color around them. But in this photo there's green grass and the sun is "spot lighting" the Mushroom. And yes, I laid down in from of the mushroom using my elbows as a tripod to take this photo.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Photographing Wild Mushrooms

As a Wildlife Photographer, even when you put yourself in the place with the most potential, you sometimes don't find what you came to see. You needn't go home empty though. If you look you'll often find a good photograph. I remember this Mushroom photo that I took in Wells Grey, British Columbia after a day of not finding a Bear, Wolf, or Moose. I laid down in front of the Mushroom using my elbows as a tripod thinking this might make a nice photo. Nice? It made a beautiful photo, worthy of "5" Stars:


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mule Deer Bucks

There are about 20 million Deer in the United States. And yet, only 5 percent of the time do you see an adult male with a full rack of antlers.

So today's photo was a nice change of pace. The photo was taken in Western Montana:

Mule Deer Bucks

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mule Deer at Mahleur NWR - II

Continuing with my alphabetical series of my "5" Star Photos, it's another Mule Deer -- and another Mule Deer photo taken at Mahleur National Wildlife Refuge. Though this time it is in early winter. He was eating the tips off of the leafless plants.

Mule Deer Buck

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mule Deer at Mahleur

Sometimes a more common animal gives you an uncommon photo. Here I was in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Central Oregon when I came across this Mule Deer with a bird sitting on its back:

Mule Deer

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mule Deer Buck in Snow

On the same trip -- and not too far -- from yesterday's Fence Jumping Mule Deer in south central Oregon, I photographed this Mule Deer Buck. It's a wonderful "Christmas Card" photo. And, "5" Stars.

Mule Deer Buck

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fence Jumping Mule Deer

One winter on my way to Hart Mountain (to see wintering Pronghorn) I came across a herd of Mule Deer grazing along the right side of the road.

Further to the right was a very large open field. On the left side of the road there was a fence. On the other side of the fence was safety:  brush, trees, and mountain.

Although the Deer could have run in either direction, I was sure they would cross the road, jump the fence, and run to cover. I rolled down my window, grabbed my camera, and started driving slowly toward the Deer. As they started to move I turned the Jeep to the right to get a better view. As I thought, the Deer crossed the road and hopped over the fence -- and I was camera ready.

Wildlife "action photos" are a little more challenging than sports photos -- not that sports photos are easy either. With wildlife -- as with sports -- the action often comes without warning and is quickly over. However, with wildlife, you often don't get a chance to position yourself for the best angle and frequently the action is away from you. I have countless photos of animal's "backsides." There only value being a reminder of what I saw. 

Mule Deer

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mule Deer Buck in Wildflowers

"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."
Daryl Zero, The Zero Effect

On one trip to Yellowstone National Park specifically to look for Wolves -- and not having any luck -- I came across some Mule Deer eating among the wildflowers. It was a lovely experience which netted a "5" Star Photo.

As a Wildlife Photographer, sometimes looking for "anything at all" works, because surely you will find something.

Mule Deer in Wildflowers

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mule Deer Fawn in Wildflowers

There are about 20 million Deer in the United States. So, seeing one isn't quite the same as seeing a Marten or Mink. And, traveling in Yellowstone National Park where there are Wolves, Grizzlies, Black Bear, Moose, etc. stopping to photograph Deer is not usually a high priority. Yet, I couldn't resist stopping to photograph this Mule Deer Fawn among the Wildflowers. Sometimes "common" animals will give you an "uncommon" photo. 

Mule Deer Fawn

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mountain River Sunset

Continuing with my series on "5" Star Photos we come to a landscape. I am not a landscape photographer. My "thing" is wildlife. Yet, once in a while I see a landscape that begs me for a photograph. Such was the case as I traveled over the Continental Divide in British Columbia and saw what you see below. Sunsets disappear quickly so I only had a few moments to stop, get out my camera and tripod, set it all up, and take a photo. Luckily it turned out nice. (won an award for this).

River of Fire

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Columbia Icefields Mountain Goat

About 70 miles south of Jasper you come to the Columbia Icefields. The Icefields is a flat "straightaway"  that varies between 100 to 300 yards wide and runs for several miles. It gets an average of 275 inches of snowfall per year. There are eight major glaciers feeding the Icefields. There are eleven mountains all of about 12,000 feet lining both sides of the Icefields. 

The Icefield sits atop a "triple" Continental Divide. The Athabasca River, the North Saskatchewan River, and the tributaries of the Columbia River all originate in the Columbia Icefield. So, the Columbia River  eventually flows into the Pacific Ocean dividing Washington State from Oregon. The Athabasca River ultimately arrives in the Arctic Ocean and the Saskatchewan ultimately in the Hudson Bay and thus North Atlantic Ocean. This is the Canadian Rockies at its finest. 

The road that parallels the icefield at times is right next to the icefield and at times a 1000 feet above.

This is a favorite place of mine. I have seen Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Caribou, Moose, and Coyotes among others along the Icefields.

Here is a close-up of a Mountain Goat nearly 1,000 feet above: 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Glacier National Park Mountain Goat Waterfall

Continuing with my "5" Star Photos in general and Mountain Goats in particular we come to a photo taken in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Sometimes on the way to a specific place where you expect -- well, hope -- to see a particular animal you see it "unexpectedly." 

Such was the case while traveling over the Going-To-The-Sun Highway. It's not that I wasn't expecting to see a Mountain Goat. After all, they are in the area. It's just that the road is so traveled that I didn't expect to see one so close to the road. 

But, just over the summit, there were three Mountain Goats, feeding on the grassy hillside. But what got my attention was they appeared to be head toward a waterfall. So, I am thinking that would be a great photo.  I was traveling with my in-laws and asked them to drop me off while they looked for a parking place. They thoughtfully and graciously did so.

I set up my tripod pointing the camera directly at the waterfall. Then I waited. And, once again I was not disappointed. 

I mean how cool is this?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mount Evans Mountain Goats

Mount Evans Mountain Goats. There are wildlife "farms" or "ranches" where wild animals roam within fences. Photographers are invited (for a fee) to come and photograph the "wildlife." In some cases the animals are "trained" to pose for a photo. One such ranch in Montana has trained wolves to go up to the top of a mound and howl at sunsets for a photo. That is not me, nor any of my photos. 

I say this because my first "5" Star Photo of Mountain Goats seems posed. The story behind these photos is that I was driving up Mount Evans in Colorado, and at about 13,000 feet saw 40 or so Mountain Goats in a meadow on the tundra. I pulled off to the side of the road and slowly walked down a hillside to the meadow. I got to within 30 yards from the Mountain Goats and just sat down. Over  time some of the Goats came closer to me.  I took photos and watched them for about an hour and 15 minutes.

During that time these two "kids" walked over to the ledge (a drop of several thousand feet) and stopped on a rock. And although they posed for me, they were not trained to do so. Here is that photo:

Mountain Goats