- 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
A short video of the Color the Wind Kite Festival in Clear Lake, IA, February 17, 2018. I 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]
Some years the North Shore of Lake Superior is frozen over or has huge ice flows by now, but despite several days of below zero weather the lake was still open when I was there last weekend. I like how the water washing up on the shore freezes on the rocks, creating an icy shore-line environment. Watch your step.
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I've been to the Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota (northwest of Duluth) five times to photograph Great Gray Owls and other birds and wildlife. I have hoped every time to photography a Northern Hawk Owl, but have struck out the first four trips, until this past weekend. I've been following the Sax Zim Bog group on Facebook and seen numerous postings of Northern Hawk Owls every week since November. I finally got up there and found a couple near the road. It was -7 F degrees the first day I was there and -12 F the second day, yet, there were dozens of photographers and bird watchers with the same idea as me. I didn't really locate the birds myself. I found a dozen or more cars stopped on one of the roads with lots of big lenses pointed up in the trees. There are no pull-outs on the gravel county roads where these birds tend to hunt for food, so birders and photographers must stop on the road to take photos. The owl will sit on a branch or the top of a tree to get a good view to watch and listen for voles (their main food) under the snow, then launch off of the branch driving their talons in the the snow with amazing precision to grab a vole that was under the snow. But, how long do we have to wait in the sub-zero temperature to see them hunt? It could be minutes or hours, or the bird could just decide to instead fly off in to the woods and take a nap deep in the trees. I was lucky this time to see the owl catch three wild voles and quickly eat them. I did not photography any Great Great Owls on this trip (darn) but I did get a few other birds and mammals - see below.
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Other birds and animals at the bog.
There are several places where there are bird feeders that attract many birds and other wildlife. Below is a female Pine Grosbeak (a first for me), a Common Redpoll (I didn't see any Hoary Redpolls), a Gray Jay, and a chatty Red Squirrel (marauders of the bird feeders). These are just a few of the many Winter residents of the Sax-Zim Bog, plus one more below these photos.
Yay. My first Snowy Owl this winter. I've driven hundreds of miles already this winter looking for a snowy owl to photograph in Iowa. Despite reliable reports from other birders and photographers I have not found one where I could get a good photo. I did see one last week about 75 yards from the road but it was well after sunset with just a little light in the sky, but not enough to get a good photo. Tonight I went for a drive with my 13 year-old grandson to look in the same area as last week near Wesley (Hancock County) and he spotted this one on a power pole about a mile west of the one I had seen last week. We stopped about 100 yards away and I took a few photos out the sun-roof of the car just at sunset.. This image taken with a 600mm lens is heavily cropped as we did not want to approach too close. Snowy Owls in Iowa are often stressed at this time of year after a long migratory flight from the northern tundra. They have to work pretty hard to find enough mice and voles to eat and may be under weight and suffer from malnutrition. They need to conserve their energy, and approaching too close or getting out of the car to photograph them can cause them to unnecessarily fly away.
Update: There was a great article in the Des Moines Register about the Snowy Owls in Iowa - Read here.
Moorehead Pioneer Park near Ida Grove, Iowa is a mecca for wintering Northern Saw-Whet Owls. They have been there every winter for many years. Local volunteer at the park, Don Poggensee, helped me find three owls, but I wasn't able to get good photos of all three. These tiny owls roost during the day in the branches of pine trees about 6 to 12 feet off the ground, sometimes in very thick branch cover. They are difficult to find but usually easy to approach if done quietly, and generally won't flush while taking photos because they need to conserve their energy for flying and hunting at night. Two of the owls were clutching a dead mouse in their talons on the branch and did not move at all while we observed them. Very cool.
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Just a few notes about my photos. See more on Facebook.