I sat quietly on the grass watching and photographing this lone Gray-cheeked Thrush hop around on the fresh mulch around the shrubs and then in the grass. It was having a picnic on whatever was stirred up when I spread the wood-chips mulch, then across the yard. It kept getting closer and closer to the point where it was too close for me to focus with the telephoto lens. After I took this picture it hopped right up next to me and stopped. I could have pet it on the head. I don't think I have ever seen a Thrush in the back yard, let alone spent some time with one. Retirement is good.
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- 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
- 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
- About Me
I'm often asked why I take so many pictures of the same subject. The simple answer is the next frame or the next photo outing may be better than the last. The photo on the left is a gray-morph Eastern Screech-Owl in a Wood Duck nest box. I thought it might be the only guest at the Cupola Inn Bed and Breakfast this spring. However, I went back the next day and got photos of a second gray-morph Eastern Screech-Owl in a different nest box from the first one that I photographed the previous day. Better lighting the second time and I was able to get a better view before it ducked back inside. The slight difference in color of these two images may be due to the lighting, time of day and auto-white balance on the camera. (Click images to see larger.)
Update 5/17/2020: I just saw that one of my Screech Owl photos is being used as the banner image on the Owl About Iowa Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/owlaboutiowa/ .
It turned in to an all-day jaunt of bushwhacking and paddling, but I finally got some photos of one of the two Great Horned owlets that fledged the nest two days ago. Fortunately this one sat in the same tree all day (still a bit unsure of his wings), apparently waiting for me to get a somewhat clear view. Thanks to Dale for a great day of paddling.
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Day-one of backyard spring migratory birds. Everywhere I looked there was another bird. We've had Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Starlings and Mourning Doves for several weeks, but this is the start of another wave of migrants. One of the highlights were several Eurasian Collared-Doves high in the trees (common in the south and southwest, but not common in my backyard). The first Brown Thrasher of the year (I love that yellow eye), Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and half a dozen or more other warbler species that I couldn't identify or photograph because they move constantly from one branch to another. I also added a photo of a Robin enjoying the sunshine and taking a bath and a Chickadee. (Click images to see larger)
Sandhill Cranes at Sweet Marsh, Bremer County, IA. I'm missing out on a trip to central Nebraska this year, so I won't get to see the huge crane migration, But it is nice to see Sandhill Cranes in Iowa. We saw and heard several pairs while paddling the marsh last week. (This photo is heavily cropped - they were way out over the marsh when I took this photo)
A few of the paddlers on our Sweet Marsh float organized by Crawdaddy Outdoors. The first of several Tuesday evening floats this year.
A Northern Saw-whet Owl at the Lime Creek Conservation Area in North Iowa. I really enjoy photographing owls (as you may have noticed). These little guys are pretty hard to find. Only about 8" tall and they sit very still most of the day, only hunting at night. (Click images to see larger)
The Lime Creek Nature Center held a 'Spring Break at Lime Creek' program yesterday presented by Linette from S.O.A.R. (Saving Our Avian Resources). It was a chance to see some raptors up close and to learn more about the birds.
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While out in the Sioux City area this weekend I took a few hours to visit the Snyder Bend Wildlife Management area south of Sioux City, IA, a horseshoe bend part of the Missouri River. There were lots of birds moving around. Several Bald Eagles, Wood Ducks zooming around like fighter jets, many other ducks and plenty of Canada Geese. It was a nice day for a walk with the camera to snap a few photos.
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The photos that I took of the Snow Geese at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (see previous post) only show half of the story. I produced a short video to help show what it is like. But you really need to experience it in person because it is a wide-screen surround-sound event. Here is the video below:
(After the video YouTube will probably take you to a bunch of videos that aren't mine. Click the back button or reload the page to get back.)
About a million or more Snow Geese and Ross's Geese at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (formerly Squaw Creek NWR) in northwest Missouri near Mound City, (about 45 minutes south of Council Bluffs, IA) February 20-21, 2020.
It is hard to describe this spectacle of birds stopping off at the national wildlife refuge for a short time before they continue their migration north. Large rafts of tens of thousands of birds packed in tightly in the water, and hundreds of thousands in the sky stretching for miles. Their chattering never stopping but only intensifying when suddenly tens of thousands all get up and fly off at once, only to return to the water a short time later. There is a loop road around the wetlands and very easy to see the birds including many ducks, Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, hawks, and more. Check the periodic waterfowl reports at the wildlife refuge for more information. But be aware that they are migrating and at any moment they can take off and leave. I went several years ago with an estimate of half a million on Monday. By Friday when I arrived there were about 10 or 12 thousand. In just a few days nearly half a million birds got up and left.
Just a sample of the photos from the two-days below. Click to see more. (See the Video also at the bottom of the photos page.)
Returning from our trip to Yellowstone National Park (see previous posts) we had an opportunity to spend a couple of extra days in Rapid City, SD when I-90 was closed due to a snowstorm. We found a Birds and Blooms event at a local greenhouse and went to get a breath of spring in the greenhouses and to see the raptors from the Black Hills Raptor Center. These are education birds that have been injured or imprinted on humans and can't be returned to the wild. It is always cool to see raptors up close and to to take photos in a somewhat controlled environment (well, there were dozens of people trying to see the birds also). The birds below include Short-eared Owl, American Kestrel, Eastern Screech Owl (red phase), Red-tailed Hawk and a Ferruginous Hawk.
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This has been a multi-year project, with several trips to the Platte River area in central Nebraska to photograph Sandhill Cranes. My trips have primarily been for still photography, but I would usually try to shoot some video as well, when I remembered. Many of the videos were from blinds at the Crane Trust Nature Center near Alda, NE, and the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon, NE. Others from the roads in the area. It is a wonderful experience in the late Winter and early Spring to see hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, and if you are lucky maybe an endangered Whooping Crane.
Here is a short video compilation of several trips.
I had fun watching a lot of migrant birds in the backyard. Many were attracted to puddle in the yard where this Cedar Waxwing was splashing around. Several Yellow-rumped Warblers were also all over the yard. [Click images to see larger]
Two of my photos submitted to the Voyageurs National Park Association 2019 photo contest each received an honorable mention recognition. I also see that they are using my 2018 3rd place winning photo of a Common Loon as their promotional image for the photo contest. You can see all of the winning entries here - https://www.facebook.com/pg/VoyageursNPA/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10157893002155229&__tn__=-UC-R
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Just a few notes about my photos. See more on Facebook.