Sunday, February 26, 2017


Last year I took a quick trip home between Christmas and the New Year.  While I was home the annual flock of Bohemian Waxwings finally got around to dining on the crab apples on a tree next to Mom and Dad's house. I was able to spend some time hanging out next to the tree and watch these birds descend in scattered groups into the branches of the tree and work their way up and down the branches until all of the apples were stripped from their stems.
Bohemian Waxwings are common winter visitors to much of Montana, particularly where there is any sort of fruit remaining on the trees.  Most often their fruit of choice is something like crab apples or Mountain Ash berries, but I have also watched them down the little olives from Russian Olive trees. They often form very large skittish flocks of 800 or more individuals that swirl around from tree to tree.

They often perform some interesting gyrations to get just the right fruit.

Last week a few showed up at the local city park to work over the last of the apples there. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

If the wild bird could speak
She'd tell of the places you had been
She's been in my dreams
And she knows all the ways of the wind

Gene Clark - Polly Come Home

More Mallards

Winter is not the most exciting time to be in Billings. I struggle finding places to wander around and take photos and look for wildlife without heading too far out of town.  A couple of weeks ago while looking out my office window late  in the afternoon I noticed that the resident Mallards were flying in to the small drainage ditch behind our office building. So for the last couple of weeks I have spent a few hours here and there trying to take photos of the Mallards flying into the ditch. It has been fun working on finding the right spot and angle to capture the birds descending to the water. It has also been a learning experience with my camera to get the autofocus setting right to best get in-focus shots of the birds. Yes, the are "just" Mallards, but sometimes you take what you can get and make it a learning experience. Here are some of the results.

I also found one male Wood Duck slumming around with the Mallards. He is a bit more photogenic.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


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