Sunday, January 22, 2017

Incoming!

This afternoon I took advantage of the light and the weather to try for some photos of the Mallards that have been spending time in the drainage ditch behind my office. I have been watching them out my office window for the last few weeks as they descend into the ditch so I figured I would see how well I could do with my camera this afternoon. Turned out ok.













Saturday, January 16, 2016

River Walk

My new pup Quill and I have been spending our lunch time walking along the Yellowstone River for the past couple of weeks. Quill gets his mid-day meal and a good walk, and I get a few minutes of away-from-the-desk therapy. We wander along the bank of the river, or through the Cottonwoods along the trails of a park near my office looking for whatever crosses our path. Sometimes it is beautiful patterns in the ice along the river, other times it is just a few moments of new experiences for a puppy. Most of our short journeys have been relatively devoid of birds except for the usual Common Goldeneyes on the river and an occasional Bald Eagle cruising along the channel. However last week we managed to find ourselves in the middle of a small flock of Black-capped Chickadees, a Brown Creeper, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. I always enjoy watching creepers and nuthatches work their way up and down tree trunks, prying little insects out from the cracks and crevices of the bark. They are always a challenge to photograph because most of the time you see only the back of the bird as they hunt the bark for food.




 Sometimes you can catch them working the tree where you can see them better.






A couple of quick little White-breasted Nuthatch calls on my phone brought the nuthatch down to check me out.


Quill enjoys all of it.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

River Ice

A recent cold snap across the northern Great Plains turned our rather warm Fall on it's head and the Yellowstone River is now sending large ice pans downstream. The patterns in the ice on the side channels always catch my eye.









Saturday, October 3, 2015

September Rituals




It happens every September. Throughout North America (but mostly in the West), the Elk rut commences and the steroidal flute notes and belching grunts of male elk signal the change of daylight and temperature as we slip into fall. I also have my fall ritual which centers around the gathering of these hormonal beasts and their massive hood ornaments of bone. I go to watch their antics and listen to their aggressive music at a place where they have become accustom to having an audience - the Slippery Ann Elk Viewing Area on the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge.

The viewing areas is closed to hunting, an artifact of the need to protect the area around a long gone work station. The elk took advantage of the closure and congregated in the cottonwoods along the river during the fall. When the work station moved to a more convenient location along the highway, the hunting closure and the resultant elk congregation persisted. A number of years ago I spent a portion of a summer working out of the work station before the last of the buildings were removed which gives my annual visits a tinge of homecoming to go along with the spectacle of elk.

It seems like I have only been able to carve out a day or two at the most for my trips north and this year was no exception. My oldest son got out of school early one day last week and we took advantage of the time to make the two hour dash to the elk. The day had been clear and I was looking forward to a well lit evening, but just as we arrived at the viewing area the clouds slipped in from the north and it appeared that the good evening light was gone for the day. However, for a short stretch of time the evening rays managed to find a gap in the clouds and lit up the riverbottom in some wonderful golden light.













This is cow #154 - a participant in a study to see where cow elk spend the hunting season. I suspect she previously had a GPS collar around her neck which fell off last winter.