- Yellowstone In Winter
- 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
- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
- Yellowstone Textures
- Custer State Park, SD
- Great Smoky Mountains NP
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Utah National Parks
- About Me
A Great Horned Owlet about ready to fledge the nest (taken today) and its younger sibling (taken last week). It was really dark back in the limestone cave, even on a bright day. I've enjoyed photographing young owls in this same nest for several years, but I almost never see an adult where I can get a photo.
I just love Wood Ducks and it helps to know someone who maintains nest boxes. I was invited by a local gentleman, Eldon Siemers, to accompany him as he went out to inspect a dozen or more Wood Duck houses that he built, installed and maintains. As we quietly approached each nest box he carefully inserted a cell phone camera in to the box to take a photo to see if there was a hen nesting in the box. Some were empty, but others did have a bird nesting or had unattended eggs. There were 30 eggs in one box, not necessarily from the same Wood Duck. Apparently females may lay eggs in an established nest box where another bird has already laid eggs. There is a lot more to tell about this activity, but it was a very interesting morning.
Pella, IA is famous for the annual Tulip Festival held in April every year. We avoided the crowds and went a week early when many or most of the tulips were in bloom and had a nice walk and drive around town to view the tulips.
Click images to see larger.
On an evening drive through Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge (Iowa) we of course, saw Bison and Elk, but I was really thrilled to see several Ring-necked Pheasants in the fading light. (Photos from the car.)
[Click images to see larger.]
I spent two mornings in a blind at the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge in the north-central sand hills of Nebraska to photograph the courtship displays of Sharp-tailed Grouse. This was my second trip to photograph them in Nebraska; the first trip to a different location scuttled by floods in 2019. Arriving to the blind in the dark before sunrise I waited until the grouse came out to the "lek", the grounds where they do their courtship displays on the top of a knoll in an open area of the mid-grass prairie of the sand hills.
It is an interesting display. The males come out to the lek to impress a female and to discourage other males. The males may strut around an area that they deem to be theirs and aggressively confront any other male who might attempt to walk through or claim the same piece of turf. When females are present the males will put their head down, tail straight up in the air shoulders forward and wings out to the side inflating purple neck sacks and do a rapid tippy-tap dance around and around to try to impress a mostly disinterested female. Sometimes the males are beak to beak doing their dance, trying to out-do the other male. Sometimes they get very aggressive, jumping up in the air and coming down feet first on top of the other male. When the females wander off in to the taller grass most activity stops until a female returns. This goes on for an hour or two after sunrise and then the birds leave, to return again tomorrow to start over again. I don't know at what point a female selects a male to breed with, but I understand that she is on her own to lay er eggs and tend to her nest and young after breeding.
Lots of photos below. Click an image to see larger. Captions below the photos.
The sand hills of North central Nebraska have some of the darkest skies in the country. There are almost no lights for miles and miles. On a moonless night and no light pollution the Milky Way was radiant in the night sky. This photo was taken last week from Valentine National Wildlife Refuge about 5:00 AM. The light on the horizon in the lower right corner was from North Platte, about 90+ miles away.
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I like old farm machinery, barns and windmills and often stop to take photos. The wagons and farm implements below were strategically places around a golf course in Granby, CO. The look abandon and desolate in the pristine snow. I had a nice snowshoe hike around the golf course to take a few photos. The old original 1880's barn is at the Snow Mountain Ranch - YMCA of the Rockies near Granby, CO. [Click images to see larger]