Four eyes on puffballs. Fluffy young Great Horned Owlets in their nest area checking me out. I have photographed owls in this same cave in North Iowa for several years. I don't know if it is the same adults breeding here but there has been a nest every year for 10 years or more. These youngsters will leave the nest in a couple of weeks and never return. (I was across the river about 40-50 yards away. 840mm and cropped.)
Gray morph Eastern Screech Owl. A guest at the Cupola Inn Bed and Breakfast. I photographed an owl in this nest box last year. Maybe a return guest? I was across the yard, keeping my distance. (840mm and cropped.)
- 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
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- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2012
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- Animals of Yellowstone 2011
- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
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- Custer State Park, SD
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I left home at midnight to drive to Nebraska to photograph Sandhill Cranes at sunrise. Arriving at the Platte River near Alda, Nebraska just before sunrise I quickly set up my camera and tripod just in time to get a few photos of Sandhill Cranes in silhouette and a video of this sunrise as the Cranes flew up from their roost on the river. I've been to see the Sandhill Crane spring migration in Nebraska many times, but I am still amazed by this awesome spectacle every time is experience it. You can see more on previous posts.
[Click images to see larger and view the video below.]
Click below to view the short video.
On my second trip to Northern Minnesota this winter I was able to photograph three Great Gray Owls, the largest owl by height in North America. There was many miles of back-roads driving northwest of Two Harbors, but I also saw one along the highway with about a dozen other photographers lined up along the shoulder of the road. The shape of the face acts like a parabolic reflector and amplifies the sound of distant critters. Their ears are offset with the sound reaching one ear a millisecond sooner than the other ear to help them identify the specific location of the sound. A Great Gray Owl sitting up in a tree can dive with pinpoint accuracy to grab an unseen vole or mouse under the snow.
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I went searching for a Snowy Owl today and found two, south of Nerstrand, MN. I came across the first as it was starting to fly. I quickly stopped the car, rolled down the window and started firing off shots with the camera pointed out the window before I even started to focus or lock on to the bird in flight. I'm just including the out of focus photo here to show the overall speckled coloring of the (female) bird. The second all white (adult male) bird was a few miles away, out in the middle of the field, squinting in to the bright sun and blowing snow. Neither are great photos, but is the closest I've been to Snowy Owls this winter. Still looking (and I appreciate tips). [Click images to see larger]
We have Bald Eagles in north Iowa, but they are scattered, generally around one of the rivers or creeks, but not in large numbers in any one location. In the Winter they tend to bunch up along the larger rivers, the Mississippi, Des Moines and Iowa rivers and as the rivers start to freeze over more Eagles can be found around the dams. I shared Eagle photos from the Coralville Dam area a few weeks ago. This week there were very few Eagles there so I went a little farther down river in to Coralville at the dam adjacent to the Iowa River Power Restaurant. There is a walkway along and over the river and it is a great place to take photos either above or below the dam of Eagles as they are perched in the trees and soaring down to the river to grab a fish. On occasion there are great aerial displays as two or more Eagles will fight over a fish in mid-flight. I never get tired of the challenge of getting a good photo of an Eagle in flight.
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A former co-worker invited me over to try to get photos of a Pileated Woodpecker, which I did not see, but I still enjoyed several birds at the feeders. [Click images to see larger.]
Jack Frost painted his magic across north Iowa again last night. What a beautiful day. With thick fog and below freezing temperature the frost grew on everything. We drove around for many miles and there were thick frosty trees, shrubs, grasses and fences everywhere we went. I don't usually post a bunch of photos at one time, but I couldn't help myself. Click or tap to flip through the images. Enjoy. [Click Images to see larger]
Dale Mills and I started out the new year with a bit of paddling on the Winnebago River down river from the discharge area of the water treatment plant. We made it 1.8 miles before we got to ice-over, but it was at a convenient take-out place to get a ride back the vehicle (Judy's shuttle service). It was a beautiful day, overcast but with no wind and mid 20's temperature. It was a quiet float except for hundreds of noisy Canada Geese and ducks. We saw wild turkeys in trees and along the river bank, five Bald Eagles, a Kingfisher that flew from tree to tree just ahead of us down the river and 13 Trumpeter Swans that got up off the river and flew noisily right over our heads. A great way to start the new year!
[Click or tap to see the individual images larger.]
December 31, New Year's Eve day, the last day of 2020. After half a day of Eagle and geese photography I headed over to the Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area near Oxford, IA to take photos of Short-eared Owls. While not a guarantee, they have recently been flying over the grasslands in the couple of hours before sunset searching for mice. I was fortunate to see seven or eight and got photos of two, one flying and one perched on a small tree branch right at eye level near the road. I was able to take photos of the second one quietly from the car in the dim light just before sunset. It was a great way to end the last few daylight hours of the year.
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December 31, New Year's Eve day, the last day of 2020 I headed to the Coralville Dam on the Iowa River to take photos of Bald Eagles. They often fish in the tail-waters below the dam at this time of year and the past few weeks has been pretty good for photographers, until I got there anyway. This Eagle on the left was perched in a tree overlooking the water along with about half a dozen others in nearby trees. Along with a few other photographers we watched and waited for a couple of hours hoping they would fly down and grab a fish right in front of our cameras. Well, they didn't move. Not at all. I finally moved to another location farther down where the river was wider and got a few photos, but the Eagle were farther out from the shore. When I left, four hours after I arrived, this Eagle on the left was still perched on the same branch.
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December 31, New Year's Eve day, the last day of 2020 at the Coralville Dam. I went to photograph Eagles, but while waiting for the Eagles I shot a few photos of the Canada Geese and Mallard ducks. I witnessed one of the strangest thing that I have seen - the geese and ducks with a fish in their beak and fight over them. I've never seen a goose or Mallard eat a fish. From Audubon.org - Canada Geese "Eats stems and shoots of grasses, sedges, aquatic plants, also seeds and berries; consumes many cultivated grains... Occasionally eats some insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and sometimes small fish." I'm not sure that the gees could swallow the fish in these photos.
[Click photos to see larger.]
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Yesterday was the most beautiful, calm fall day for paddling the Winnebago River with good friend Dale, co-owner of the Cupola Inn Bed and Breakfast. The colors of the Ash and Silver Maple trees were brilliant, with spectacular reflections in the slow-moving, calm water. Besides taking time for photos we spent a lot of time just floating and enjoying the view. We really were in awe at such a perfect, beautiful day. We saw several eagles, two owls, Canada Geese, and a Kingfisher bird that was just taunting me, continuously flying just a head of us all the way down the river, just a bit too far to get a close-up photo. I did get a couple of photos of two of the eagles though.
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