- 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
In honor of SuperB owl Sunday. Here is a short video of some my photos of superb owls.
Great Gray Owl at sunset with golden Tamarack trees in the background. Sax-Zim Bog, northern, MN, 11/3/2021. Photo taken from the car, 20-30 yards away. (Thanks to Mike Lentz Nature Photography and Monika Bobek for their suggestions on where to find this guy.) Click images to see larger.
A short video of a Great Gray Owl at sunset.
It seems that one of the biggest events for Iowa birders and photographers this summer is the appearance of Yellow-crowned Night Herons at Maskunky Marsh near Oskaloosa, IA. They are rather unusual in Iowa, normally frequenting the southern Gulf and Atlantic states. This has been a big deal in this location with hundreds of birders and photographers going to the marsh in the last month to see these birds and other herons, egrets and smaller shore birds.
Part two of this excitement has been two juvenile Little Blue Herons in the past week. They are all white and only look like their adult version by size rather than color. I spent two mornings there this week coming home with hundreds of photos.
Click the images below to see larger (captions below each photo).
Three of my photos were accepted to the 41st Annual Cerro Gordo Photo Show this year. Always an honor. Photos in the Photo Show can be seen at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum until July 10, 2021. Click images to see full image.
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.
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 and video below. Click an image to see larger. Captions below the photos.
Sharp-tailed Grouse video:
Click images to see larger.
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.
[Click each image to see larger]
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.
[Click the images to see larger]
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.]