Eagles Having Breakfast Until…..

These three immature eagles seem to enjoy sharing breakfast with each other yesterday morning at Squaw Creek National Refuge until…..

Eagles sharing breakfast

Eagles sharing breakfast

An uninvited guest drops in to see what they were having for breakfast…..

Where did he come from?

Where did he come from?

They didn’t seem to like having this uninvited guest join them. I wonder why?

Let me get a closer look

Let me get a closer look

The mature eagle goes right for their meal._BBA9295-Edit

The immature eagles quickly get out of its way. As you can tell, the old guy doesn’t seem too worried about being out numbered.

MMM... This looks good!

MMM… This looks good!

It as though it’s telling the immature eagles its intentions which they may not like.

I believe there's only enough for one... ME!

I believe there’s only enough for one… ME!

Then it looked and sounded like the old guy was laughing at the youngsters. Perhaps it was just saying “Thanks!” What do you think?

Say What?

Say What?

While the others protested, the old guy flew off with its early morning catch of the day.  The immature eagles flew after it but to no avail.

Thanks for breakfast guys!

Thanks for breakfast guys!

This all happened in about two minutes time frame. I was so lucky to have been at the right spot at the right time. I almost didn’t stop to photograph the three eagles eating because they were so far way. The mature eagle showing up was a terrific surprise.

Even with my 200-400 mm lens with the 1.7x converter, I knew the photos wouldn’t be all that great. They have been cropped so that you could see what’s going on a little better. That’s why they are so soft.  I hope you’ve enjoyed them anyway..

I got so lucky to witness such a cool event and I just had to share it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bill

Coyotes or Hawks

It was only 11 degrees and dark out when I left my car in search of those coyotes that I’d seen the day before. I wore plenty of layers but had only a pair of thin gloves on. It’s important for me to be able to feel the controls on my camera. I was hoping my fingers wouldn’t get too cold.

It was important to be in place with my predator call before the sun came up. It’s about a mile hike to where I was headed and did I say it was cold?  There was no way to be quiet as the snow was crunching loudly as I walked. Perhaps once I set up and stayed still, whatever I spooked away would come back once the sun came up.

After getting to my selected spot, I set everything up making sure the light would be at the right angle should the coyotes show. Just when the light was almost bright enough, I had my first visitor. It came from behind me and flew only a few feet above my head.  I was hoping that it was an owl but…

It flew only a few feet above my head

It flew only a few feet above my head

It’s a Red-tailed Hawk! As you can see, there’s hardly enough light. Surely, it was looking for a quick meal.

I can hear it but what is it?

I can hear it but what is it?

It stayed on that branch for quite a while trying to figure out what was making the noises that sounded like a coyote pup. Early morning light is terrific. It really makes everything have that soft golden glow.

If I move closer, maybe I'll see breakfast.

If I move closer, maybe I’ll see breakfast.

It suddenly moved to a lower branch to get a closer look.

I just don't get it!

I just don’t get it!

Then one step… branch closer.

Even a little closer!

Even a little closer!

It still didn’t seem to be able to determine what the noise was all about so it flew to another branch probably to look at it from a different angle.

Maybe if I move over here I'll see it better.

Maybe if I move over here I’ll see it better.

It stayed there for quite some time then flew to a pole that was behind the pine tree where I was hiding.  It knew I was there alright because it had looked at me several times. Even though I was only about 50 yards away, it didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence.

Moving away

Moving away

It stayed on that pole above me for some time then flew back to the tree where the predator call was hanging. By that time, I’d been photographing this hawk for about an hour and the good light was fading. I had been out in the cold for about two and a half hours and my fingers were frozen. It was time to leave. As I walked to the tree to get the predator call, the hawk just stayed there only a few feet above me. It didn’t see me as a threat at all. VERY COOL!

Bye Bill! It was fun.

Bye Bill! It was fun.

This was the last photo that I took of it as I walked away.

The coyotes never showed. That’s not totally unexpected. I’ve read that because of human activity, they seem to have become more nocturnal than they once were and now do much of their hunting at night.  After all, I first saw them yesterday just before sundown.

I thought that I might have better luck seeing them in the evening so I decided to try again closer to sundown.  Three in the afternoon seem like a good time to start. The temperature was in the mid 30′s so it was much warmer than this morning. Yes, after quite some time, my fingers finally did thaw out. :-)

Well, about the only critters that came by were these guys. As you may know, they have excellent eyesight and hearing. Once they spotted me, they were on the run!

YIKES! Let's get out of here!

YIKES! Let’s get out of here!

Red-tail came back for a little while but went on its way to do some serious hunting.

Looking for dinner

Looking for dinner

As I was gathering my gear to leave, I noticed these critters watching me. Notice the little one on the left side. It was especially fun to watch as it frolicked around. I never get tired of watching them especially when they’re so inquisitive.

What do you guys think he's doing?

What do you guys think he’s doing?

While the coyotes never showed, I still had a great time photographing some wonderful critters especially the Red-tailed Hawk. It was great to be out even in the cold. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Found those coyotes!

A biologist friend had told me about them but I hadn’t had much luck finding them. We had a pretty good snow storm yesterday and it seemed like the Polar Vortex returned, so I was quite sure not many people would be out to spook them so I went looking for them. I started my search about an hour and a half before sunset. It was a bit chilly, only 19 or 20 degrees, so I didn’t bring my normal 200-400mm lens. It’s heavy and I thought the 28-300 mm would be easier to carry just in case I slipped or fell on the ice or snow.

Well after about a 40 minute hike, I saw something in the distance looking back at me! Then, it sudden disappeared, sort of… (Now, these photos have been cropped so they aren’t as sharp as I’d like but I thought you might like to see what I’ll be going after very early tomorrow morning.)

I hope he didn't see me!

I hope he didn’t see me!

Can you see it trying to sneak away and not be detected? Then suddenly, there was two of them!

We had better hightail it out of here!

We had better hightail it out of here!

They would not let me get any closer than 100 to 150 yards or so to them but what a treat to finally see them.

Lone Coyote

Lone Coyote

Now that I know where they are, I’m going back tomorrow morning before dawn. I’ll  bring along a predator call to see if I can call them in closer. I’ll also have my big lens so maybe, just maybe, I’ll get lucky again. With wildlife photography, as you know, there are no guarantees .

As I was leaving the area, I looked behind me to see this beautiful sunset. Even if I had not seen the coyotes, the sunset was worth being out in the cold this evening.

Red at Night, Sailor's Delight!

Red at Night, Sailor’s Delight!

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Bald Eagles & More

Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Early Morning Flight

Early Morning Flight

Well, it’s that time of the year to go to Squaw Creek to see the eagles again.  I’ve gone there the last two Mondays is a row.  The water level is much better this year so there’s more to see. The first Monday was warm and there were a lot of Snow Geese.

Getting up at dawn!

Getting up at dawn!

But, almost no one talks about the swans.

Swans

Beautiful Swans

And Coots. As I mentioned on Facebook where I first posted this next picture, Coots get no respect but I really like them.  This one has a friend!

Yup! that's my friend Gibby Grebe!

Yup! that’s my friend Gabbie Grebe!

Because it was still warm, these guys were still sunning themselves.

Oh, does that sun feel good!

Oh, does that sun feel soooo good!

Last Monday it was a bit colder. It had been below freezing the previous couple of days so much of the water was frozen.  Many of the geese had moved to open water elsewhere but the mallards were still on some small areas of open water on the refuge.

Only about 49,720 Mallards

Only about 49,720 Mallards

I saw a lot of Herons but they all looked very cold to me.

It's too hard to fish in this very hard water!

It’s too hard to fish in this very hard water!

Here’s another one that looks cold and a little confused!

I didn't know I could walk on water!

I didn’t know I could walk on water!

I hardly ever go to Squaw Creek without seeing several White-tailed Bucks.  There was a much larger one but he wouldn’t cooperate to have his picture taken. These two young bucks walked towards me as if to see what was going on.

Hey buddy! Just what is that?

Hey buddy!  Just what is that thing your holding?

Of course you’ll see a lot of hawks there too.

It was looking for lunch!

It was looking for lunch!

But….. I’ll bet you never thought you’d see one of these………

The very rare.... No Head Eagle!

The very rare…. It’s a No Headed Eagle!

It was turning rather sharply which gives the allusion of no head. I think it’s a cool capture though!  ;-)

If you’d like to see some additional Bald Eagle pictures, go to the top of this blog. Click on Portfolio.  The first portfolio will include new eagle pictures from my two recent trips to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

You All Come Back!

You All Come Back!

Thanks for coming!  Hope you enjoyed the trip!

Bill

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Sometime you just have to enjoy the moment!

For a long time now, I’ve had in my head an iconic picture of a moose that I want to take. You know, a very large bull moose crossing a stream with the willows and aspens in their glorious fall colors. While I have a lot of moose pictures, I don’t have that one yet.

Where I started my search was spooky all right!  There were a lot of trees and bushes where moose could hide.  Signs of moose seem to be everywhere. They make very distinguishable trails and moose scat was all over the place. I even found spots where they had bedded down.  The scariest of all were the antler rubs. As you know, bull moose are very big and they have enormous antlers.  When the antlers are growing, they are  covered with velvet.  Like the deer in our area, they rub the velvet off just before the rut.  But, unlike deer who use small trees to rub it off, moose use the trunks of very large trees and strip the bark completely off.  It’s very impressive! And…….There were bones, lots of them!

What was this?

What was this?

 Yes, it was bear country and I know it’s not recommended to hike by yourself and you’re suppose to make lots of noise so the bears know you’re there. It’s not good to surprise a bear! But, I work alone and didn’t want to scare off the moose so……….

As I walked very slowly and quietly through the area looking at every shaded place that I could see, all of a suddenly, something big jump up a few feet from my left. I’m sure my heart stopped for an instant.  Was it a bear?  I froze which is what I naturally do when I see or hear any wildlife.  I try very hard not to appear as a threat to them.

You woke me up!

You woke me up!

Whew! It was just a doe mule deer.  Most of the time deer run off after stopping to see what spooked them.  However this one stopped after walking about ten yards away. She then turned around and slowly crept back as if to see what I was.

What is that?

What is that?

That’s when I just sat down with my camera at the ready and tried to be as quiet as possible.  She kept coming and I took quite a few pictures of her. 

If I get closer, I'll be able to tell!

If I get closer, I’ll be able to tell!

What she did next was just too cool!  She laid down about ten yards from me. She didn’t see me as a threat at all!  WOW!  That has never happened to me before.  What a treat!  I stayed there for about fifteen minutes just watching her then slowly and quietly I went on my way.

It looks silly to me!

It looks silly to me!

I went back to the same area three times hoping to see her again but I did not. After all my searching, I still haven’t gotten that moose picture that I want but that experience with the doe made up for it. It was really so cool!

As a photographer friend of mine once told me, “Sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment.”  I know that I sure did. You can bet that I’ll go back again next year. I still have that moose picture to take.

Thanks for coming! Be sure to look at my portfolio. I’ve added some new photos from this year’s trip to Grand Teton National Park.

Bill

Snakes & Deer

It’s been a bit cool the last couple of evenings but just perfect for taking walks along the nature trail. I was hoping to see or hear some owls. I did hear a Great Horned Owl in the distance but it wouldn’t return my call. As the sun was going down, I thought, wouldn’t it be really cool to see a snake warming itself on the trail? Of course, I was still looking into the trees for owls when out of the corner of my eye I saw this.

Don't you dare step on me!

Don’t you dare step on me!

I stopped in mid-step as I was just about to step on it with my right foot. That most likely would not have been good for the snake or me.

Copper head Yup, it’s a Copperhead! They are not known to be very aggressive but they are venomous. While it is thought that all venomous snakes have triangular heads, that’s not quite true. It is true for the most part in North America. However, the Coral Snake which is found in the South Eastern US does not have a triangular head nor do the pupils of its eyes have slits and it is very venomous!

My head is triangular... Be Careful!

My head is triangular… Be Careful!

By the time I was done photographing it, the sun was down. I was concerned that someone or a dog, not seeing it, might step too close to it or a bicycle rider might run over it.  I decided to sit down a couple of feet away from it to protect it.  About ten minutes later, it didn’t see me as a threat and slithered off into the brush. Very Cool!

Shortly after that, I got another surprise. While it’s quite common for me to see deer on walks, it is not common to see big bucks. Now, I’ve got to admit that I’m a little hesitant about posting these next photos because they are not tack sharp. Because the available light was fading fast, they were taken with the ISO cranked up to 3200. I normally don’t like going higher that 1100. Even with that, I could get the shutter speed only up to 1/45th of a second. It’s hard to for me to hold the camera steady at that shutter speed for tack sharp photos. But, what the heck, you might  enjoy seeing them anyway.

Buck in velvet

Buck in velvet

The next two photos show that I need to practice my panning technique a bit. While they’re not too bad, they could be better.

Buck Running

He caught up to a doe but they continued to run for about 30 yards.

Got to practice my panning technique

Got to practice my panning technique

The real surprise was seeing two bucks together.  They even sparred a bit but by this time, I could only get 1/20th of a second shutter speed so I didn’t even try to get the action.  As my mentor, Moose Peterson, told me a month ago, Sometime you have to just enjoy the moment.

Not one but two bucks

Not one but two bucks

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Hope to see ya again soon!

Bill

Keep Your Camera With You & Ready!

I’ve been doing some power walking without my camera over the last few weeks and have missed some cool shots of a coyote, an owl and some migrating birds. I decided to slow down and bring my camera the last two evenings. Here’s some of what I saw.

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This white-tail doe was very skittish and didn’t give me much time to get the shot.  Within a week or two, they will be delivering their fawns which may explain why.

Can you guess what the next one is?

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It is a Red-tailed Hawk fledgling. I watched the adults build the nest more than a month ago but went back to see it only a few times.  I didn’t want to draw attention to it. Besides a lot of people in the area, most of whom have never have seen it because it’s so well hidden, I know there’s a Barred Owl not too far away. I heard it call during one of my power walks. I called back to it and it flew to a tree right next to me. Very cool but I hope it doesn’t see this fledgling!

Can you see the next one?

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Yup, it’s a Raccoon but it’s sleeping! I stayed there watching it for about 10 minutes. It didn’t move a muscle. I love it when the critters don’t know I’m there or don’t see me as a threat just like the critter below.

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This guy had better be a little more cautious or it may end up as dinner for a Barred Owl or Red-tailed Hawk!

That’s only a few of the critters that I saw on my last two walks. I’m glad that I had my camera at the ready. Lesson learned! Always take the camera!!!

Thanks for coming by!

Bill