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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
- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
- Yellowstone Textures
- Custer State Park, SD
- Great Smoky Mountains NP
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Utah National Parks
- About Me
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.)
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.]
When I am out photographing birds, wildlife and landscapes I occasionally shoot some video at the same time. Here is a little video sampler of some of our photo adventures over the past few years. The still photos can be found throughout this web site.
I gave in. I finally decided to post some pictures on Facebook also. Go to my Facebook page then click the Like or Follow button and you can stay updated on some of my photo adventures. Of course you will need to log in to Facebook to see them. -
Over a million Snow Geese. That's what I read on the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge website on March 10 and March 17. A week later on Monday the count was down to 286,000. Still a lot of birds in one place. I waited until the weekend, March 30, and drove to northwest Missouri to see the sight. Boy was I disappointed. The numbers of Snow Geese were about 1/20th what they had been less than a week earlier, estimated at slightly over 11,000. Okay, that is still a lot of birds in one place, but not the several hundred thousand that I had hoped for.
The Geese pause for a short while during their Spring migration and gather in large numbers at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City, MO. It is quite a site to see hundreds of thousands of birds all lift off from the water at one time and the sound is incredible. In under two weeks over a million birds got up and flew north to their summer breeding grounds. Timing is everything and I missed it. I still got some nice photos though. Not a wasted trip.
[Click the images to see a larger picture]
It is Winter time in Iowa, but an unusually cold one. Today it was -22 degrees F and the wind is blowing. I think I heard that it was a -55F windchill. At least it's not also snowing; it would be quite a blizzard. Today I am trying to stay warm inside editing pictures, pictures that I took yesterday when it was a balmy -4F outside (minus an unknown windchill factor). I bundled up, stayed in the car with the window open and from one vantage point on the Winnebago River, took pictures of eagles, geese, ducks, turkeys and a Red-tailed Hawk. They didn't seem to be too much bothered by the cold.
I was concerned about what might happen to the image sensor on my camera in very cold weather and if it would change the quality of the recorded image, so I posed the question on one of the photography forums that I follow. The consensus is that cold does not negatively affect digital image sensors. However, the cold will cause camera batteries to lose their charge sooner, and the cold metal of the camera on cold fingers or your face while taking pictures could increase the risk of frost bite. In cold weather there are often heat-waves coming up from the ground that will slightly distort things in the distance, causing pictures of distant objects taken with a telephoto lens to be unsharp.
Another real concern is condensation that may form on or inside the camera or lens when bringing it in the house (or into a warm car) from the cold outside, just like it does on my glasses. Condensation forming inside the lens or camera could ruin it and cause all kinds of mechanical, electrical or optical problems. Before I bring my cold camera in the house I will either zip it tightly inside my camera bag or I will put it inside a "dry bag" used for keeping things dry while canoeing or kayaking and seal it up tightly (a large sealed zip-lock bag may work also). First wrapping a towel around the camera may also prevent any moisture that may form inside the plastic bag from dripping on the camera. Then, when I bring it inside I will wait several hours to let everything gradually warm up to room temperature before opening the bag. I guess I can't be in too much of a hurry to get to the photos that I just took or to recharge the batteries. Surprisingly, the same thing happens in the summer when taking a camera from the hot-humid outside in to a cold air-conditioned building. So the same steps should be taken to stabilize the temperature before exposing the camera to the colder room to avoid condensation. Well, that is my photo-tip for the day. Here are a few more photos that I took yesterday (click an image to see them larger).
I spent a cold morning last weekend by the river watching the ducks and geese in the frigid river. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of Canada Geese, Mallards and I even saw one female Redhead duck. The green heads of the drake Mallards were iridescent in bright morning sun. I had heard the wild turkeys back in the woods early in the morning but couldn't see them, because they normally keep their distance from the road. As I watched from the car the ducks and geese were coming and going every which way. I had hoped that one of the Eagles would fly in to snatch a fish out of the open hole in the river or at least perch in a nearby tree, but I only saw tail feathers as one flew from the nest heading the other direction. The big surprise of the morning was about a dozen turkeys that quietly crept along the river bank just across the river from where I was watching. I carefully raised my camera and snapped several pictures before they disappeared back in the trees and brush. You can click the images below to see a larger image.
Click for more Snow Geese photos
The last week of December we stopped for a short time at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Albuquerque, New Mexico to see and photograph the spectacle of the pre-sunrise "blast off" of thousands of Snow Geese and to photograph Sandhill Cranes. (My blog posts aren't chronological. I share a few photos when I get around to editing them.)
We arrived in the dark, and set up our cameras and tripods along with dozens of other photographers as the sky was just starting to get some light on the horizon. Then we waited. The Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes roost in the ponds over night and at some time before sunrise (no one knows when) there is some signal among the geese and all at once they "blast off" heading to nearby fields to feed during the day. The whole event lasts about 25 seconds so you need to be ready to take pictures in a split second (see the video below). It is quite a sight.
Click for more Sandhill Crane photos
Meanwhile the Sandhill Cranes, also roosting with the geese, could seemingly care less. Many never taking their head out from under their wing to see what the commotion is all about. The cranes take their time waking up and gradually in small flocks fly off to the fields to feed. They are majestic birds, almost prehistoric (I may have made the same comment about Great Blue Herons). We drove around the refuge and found several places where we could photograph the cranes and geese flying and feeding. [More...]
Video of thousands of Snow Geese at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge:
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