- 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
- Utah National Parks
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I spent part of a couple of days at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park on the North Shore of Lake Superior last week. My intent was to get some photos of the lighthouse from this location where I had never been before. I have been to the lighthouse and the park many times, but not to this part of the lake shore. These views are facing northeast, where the sun rises at this time of year. A few of the photos are obviously in the mid-day. The sunrise photos were all taken on the same morning. As the light changed and I used different lenses and different positions the photos changed dramatically. [Click images to see larger]
The Milky Way and Jupiter over the Winnebago River (a little closer to home) in north Iowa. Now the rest of the (long) story. I have been waiting for the right conditions to get a photo and time-lapse video of the Milky Way over this spot in the river where it heads straight south. I had scouted the location and knew where to go but needed a clear sky, low humidity, little wind and a moonless night for the period when the galactic center of the Milky Way would be visible. It all came together a couple of nights ago when the crescent moon set early. I went out a little before midnight, got out of the car and was swarmed with mosquitoes so I turned off my headlamp to walk the 20 yards or so through the woods to get to the right spot along the river. I turned on my flashlight briefly along the way to make sure I was in the right spot only to find that I was in the middle of the largest patch of poison ivy that I have ever seen. In the course of setting up the time lapse camera, going home to take a nap then going back at 3:30 AM to retrieve my camera I walked through that patch four times. I did have on my knee-high leg gaiters and boots, but now I was afraid to touch either of them and had to put on gloves to remove them, (and later wash everything in a bucket outside), I have a history of huge breakouts from poison ivy, so I'm waiting to see what happens, but I did wash very thoroughly when I got home. Ugh. The photo turned out okay even though we have a lot of light pollution in this part of north Iowa.
Below is a short time lapse video. I had to edit out a section in the middle because a moth landed on the lens and did a dance. The camera was running on auto-pilot so I didn't see it until I got home.
The Milky Way from Voyageurs National Park, near International Falls, MN. There are hundreds of billions of stars but we see so relatively few of them. It is great to get to an area with a dark sky with very little light pollution from nearby towns or farm lights. The sky was lit up from the stars, but a long 20-25 second exposure helps to enhance the stars.
If you have followed my posts previously you know that I go on a fishing trip to Voyageurs National Park near International Falls, MN every year and try to get some time for photography while I am there. Here are a few of my Common Loon photos on Lake Kabetogema from this year, taken from the fishing boat while my buddies were trying to fish. I'm glad that they briefly tolerate my photography obsession long enough for me to get a few photos. [Click the images to see larger]
The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary near Orr, MN, is an area where 'wild' Black Bears come in from the surrounding north woods to eat a specially designed nutritious feed that is being put out for them in the woods. For a fee, visitors can watch and take photos from an elevated enclosed area. This started in the 1970's at a logging camp to keep the bears out of the camp and was later taken on by the non-profit American Bear Association. You can read more about the history here - History of the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. It is an interesting place to see bears but even though they a wild in the woods they have been habituated to humans and some have never known life without this guaranteed food source. [Click the images to see larger]
Baltimore Orioles and Orchard Orioles at the Cupola Inn Bed and Breakfast. There are lots of Orioles here across from the road from the Winnebago River. They tend to nest in hanging nests in the trees above the river, and they flock to the grape jelly feeders at the B&B - a delight for guests They also like to perch on the weather vane with the cow that is on top of a cupola near the feeders. I took all of these photos from the car - my mobile photo blind, parked in the driveway.
[Click images to see larger]
A fat, wet Racoon wandering in the cat-tails along the side of the road , mama Canada Goose taking the goslings out for a stroll (the other adult and a few more goslings were just out of view of this photo), a busy Lark Sparrow with a beak full of nesting material, and a Killdeer. The Killdeer lay their eggs on the ground, often among rocks or gravel. When confronted they will walk away from the nest area displaying their tail feathers to try to distract and draw the visitor away from the nest.. Just a few of the critters and birds that I saw while driving through the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, Polk County Conservation. Photos taken from the car - my mobile photo blind.
[Click the images to see larger.]
Three of my photos have been accepted to the 39th Annual Cerro Gordo County Photo Show at the Charles H. MacNider Museum, this year. Such an honor among so many great local photographers. It is always fun to see the works of others in this show. The show runs until the end of June, I hope you can go see it.
You can see these photos and previous entries here.
I spent the morning with four sleepy fox kits. They pretty much slept the whole time that I was watching them. It was a bright nearly full moon last night so they were probably out playing or feeding in the moonlight and worn out from their night time adventures. (Photos from the car at about 50 yards. I did not get out of the car.) Click images to see larger.
Click images to see larger.
I spent a morning with a couple of puffed up Great Horned Owlets, in north Iowa, stretching their legs and wings and probably getting close to fledging the nest. We had a bit of a staring contest from about 30 yards away. I watched for about 3 1/2 hours and did not see any adult owls, but I'm sure that they saw me and were keeping their distance.
[Click images to see larger, and play the video below.]
Watch the video:
While in Nebraska I went out looking for Snow Geese. There are often large numbers (hundreds of thousands) at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in NW Missouri or Desoto National Wildlife Refuge north of Council Bluffs, Iowa in March, but they were both flooded and the roads were closed. I found a few thousand way out in a wetlands about a quarter of a mile from the road, and did see a few fly by, but not huge numbers I was hoping for.
I have never seen Sharp-tailed Grouse, so since I was going to be in in Nebraska to photograph cranes I made reservations with Calamus Outfitters in central Nebraska near Burwell to go out in a blind before sunrise to photograph the Sharp-tailed Grouse doing their courting activities. To the left is a male Sharp-tailed Grouse, trying to impress a female. Their mating display includes loud clucking vocalizations along with a little shuffling of the feet dance, pointing their tail feathers straight up in the air, putting their head low to the ground, puffing out their purple neck sacks and spreading their wings. There may be several males doing this display at one time to entice a female and hopefully the opportunity to breed. It happens on a grassy prairie area called a 'Lek', very early in the morning before sunrise, the end of March and early April. They are very similar to Prairie Chickens. We walked quietly out to the blind in the dark to get ready to watch and photograph the display. The lek was on a grassy knoll and here was a stiff wind blowing from the north so of course most of the birds were on the other side of the knoll where we couldn't see them from the blind. We could hear them clucking and only a few came up to the top of the rise where we could see them and get some photos.
[Click the images to see larger, and view the video below]
Video - Male Sharp-tailed Grouse doing their mating dance, trying to impress a female:
I have made multiple trips to central Nebraska over the years to photograph Sandhill Cranes. This year was a late spring in the area and the cranes didn't come in to the Platte River until late and bunched up more than they have in years past. There were record numbers at one time estimated at around 650,000 cranes the week that I was there the last week of March. It is always an amazing sight to see and hear, even more so when there are so many. The have an interesting dancing ritual where they puff their chest out, spread their wings and jump straight up in the air - often chest to chest with another crane. This can be territorial, establishing social relationships and/or bonding. See the last three photos and the video below.
[Click images to see larger]
Video of Sandhill Cranes dancing:
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