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- Animals/Birds of the Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks 2016
- National Parks Landscapes 2016
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2014
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2014
- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2012
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2012
- Animals of Yellowstone 2011
- Birds of Yellowstone 2011
- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
- Yellowstone Textures
- Custer State Park, SD
- Great Smoky Mountains NP
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- About Me
An interesting week with icicles hanging in the trees. Too bad we can't decorate Christmas trees like this. The wet sticky snow clinging to the tree branches was melting in the sun, but because the air temperature was below freezing the melting water refroze quickly forming sparkling icicles.
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It was a nice sunny early March day, most of the snow had melted and migratory birds were falling out of the sky. Robins, Red-Winged Blackbirds (hundreds), Grackles, Starlings and at least two male Eastern Bluebirds. I have never seen Bluebirds in the backyard. What a thrill. They really didn't care to pose long for pictures, but I got a few. The next day it showed and the Bluebirds were not impressed. I found them hiding under logs and branches to get out of the snow and they were gone the next day. The Juncos, on the other hand, were having a wonderful time in the snow, hopping around the bird feeders like it was just another Winter day. In addition to that we had a Fox Sparrow scratching the snow under the feeders foraging for seeds.
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There are a lot of different birds and wildlife to be found in the Sax-Zim Bog area in Northern Minnesota, you just need to spend some time driving around to find them. All photos were taken with the long telephoto lens from the car, except for the Northern Hawk Owl. I had to hike back in the the woods to get that one this time to get better lighting. But it was very high at the top of a very tall spruce tree looking and listening for voles under the snow. The Great Gray Owl and Pileated Woodpecker were both quick grab shots out the window and then they flew away. There are so many more birds and wildlife that I didn't get, but because of heavy snow I decided to head home early.
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I was thrilled to get photos of a Boreal Owl in northern Minnesota. They are one of the smaller owls in North America, at about 10 inches only about the same size as a Burrowing Owl and two inches larger than the Northern Saw-Whet Owl and similar in stature. The facial disk of the Boreal Owl is framed in black and it has a light colored beak, where the Northern Saw-Whet Owl has a black beak and white eyebrows. The habitat of the Boreal Owl is primarily Canada, Alaska and the Northern Rockies, so it gets a lot of attention when seen in the northern states in the Winter. I was fortunate to meet someone to show me where to find one. With a 600mm lens and 1.4 extender, effectively 840mm, I was able to keep my distance from the bird and still get some fairly close up photos, but I did still need to crop the images in the computer to get the close-up view. Boreal Owls and Northern Saw-whet owls are both very approachable, and generally don't seem to be bothered by photographers if not getting too close and making noise or commotion. Some bird books identify them as being 'tame', but I think tolerant is a better description. They don't want to expend any extra energy to fly away, because they need that energy to hunt every night.
Finding one isn't easy. Below is a medium view of the under brush as seen from the road while driving by. There is a Boreal owl in the upper right quadrant of this photo. Can you find It? Neither could I when standing in front of it, until someone pointed out the owl to me. The images below were taken on different occasions. Click the images below to see larger.
A Short video (no audio):
A short video of the Color the Wind Kite Festival in Clear Lake, IA, February 17, 2018. A bit of a diversion from my nature photos, but a fun and colorful outdoor event.
Pelicans are interesting birds. They are very graceful in flight, but very awkward when taking off and landing in water, coming down with a large splash and ker-plop. I went looking for Bald Eagles at Lock and Dam 14 south of Le Clair, IA on the Mississippi River, but ending up also taking a lot of photos of American White Pelicans. [Click Images to see larger]
I never get tired of watching or photographing Eagles. Lock and Dam 14 south of Le Claire, IA on the Mississippi River is one of my favorite places to take photos of flying Eagles in the winter. Dozens of photographers and bird watchers show up on weekends in hopes of getting a good view of the flying Eagles and a chance that they will come in a grab a fish out of the river near the viewing area. Conditions are best when it is very cold and much of the river is frozen over because the Eagles will then concentrate below the dam around the open water. Last weekend the river was not frozen over, and there were fewer Eagles, but I still got some good photos. The river runs southwest at this location so the lighting for photography is better after about 1:00 pm. In the morning there is a lot of backlighting and on a bright day strong shadows, making the exposure for the images rather challenging. [Click images to see larger]
Burrowing Owls - Cape Coral, Florida. Burrowing Owls have nesting burrows in yards and fields all over the city. As we drove around the residential areas of the city we saw many areas in yards, empty lots and city parks where the owl nesting areas were marked with stakes and short crosses for perches near the burrows. However the streets were narrow and there was no on-street parking anywhere we went, so no place to stop and take photos. We started at the public library where there was a parking lot and there were a number of owl burrows marked with white stakes by the library to identify their nesting area and to let people know to stay away. Apparently the owls do not come out much during the day, but may be seen late afternoon and evening or early morning before the sun gets hot. The second photo was in a city park where there was a small parking area and a sidewalk right next to the nesting area. The photos were taken at dusk as they poked their heads out of their burrow, with a telephoto lens to maintain distance from the owls. [Click images to see larger]
Just a few notes about my photos. See more on Facebook.