Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge… a day trip (3/1/2017)

Wednesday, I was able to sneak away and spend the day at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge. I really didn’t know what to expect because I normally visit in the fall during the geese and duck migration.  I’ve gone at other times and always manage to come away with some photos but I’ve not gone this late in the winter.

The first critter I saw was a barred owl but it was too dark and it was too fast for me to get a shot….. Darn! I had to remind myself that I should “just enjoy the moment.” Which I did, reluctantly.

Not to be disappointed though, look who’s peeking out of the nest. At first I didn’t see anything in the nest. A train came by then all of a sudden it looked out. I was quite lucky to be there at the right time.  I stayed only a few minutes because I never want to disturb nesting. I drove by the nest several times throughout the day but that was the only time I saw it peeking out.

I always love it when the animal I’m photographing doesn’t  know I’m there. It affords getting a glimpse into their normal daily lives.

This coyote was hunting and at first didn’t notice me. However, they have excellent hearing. After a couple of clicks, it knew I was there.

It quickly went on its way. I was hoping it would stop and turn around as they often do to see if it was being followed.  It did but in tall grass where I couldn’t get clear a shot of it.

The next critter I saw seem to be happily dancing along the side of the road.  It really looked like it was dancing. I was surprised to see it because they are nocturnal. It brought a smile to my face as I watched it dancing along.

This eagle looked so majestic, that I couldn’t resist taking its picture.

Then, it made a gesture as if to say, “Are you kidding me?”

Even our National Symbol gets an itch now and then!

They must have been tired!  This is the first time I’ve been able to get this close to them without them getting nervous and flying away.  Too Cool!

This was the second coyote I saw. However, it saw me first. While butt shots are rude, this was the only shot I was able to get as it quickly moved away.

This might have been what it was hunting. Can you see it?

Now, I’m sure you can see it. There were two of them. While they have excellent hearing, I don’t think they knew I was there. I watched them for a few minutes as they slowly walked by.

Nope! This is not the same opossum. Now I knew it was a luck day. You hardly ever see one in the daylight, but two?  How cool is that?

This one didn’t seem as happy as the other one and didn’t want anything to do with me so I just took a couple of quick shots and moved on.

Just as the sun was going down, all of a sudden, hundreds of thousands of red-winged black birds appeared. There were hundreds of them perched in all the nearby trees while the sky was fill with them flying in all directions. I have never seen so many at one time.

You can tell by the soft golden glow of the light that the sun was almost down. This flock  landed on the ground close to me.

This is an enlargement of the center of the previous photo. Like the ducks and geese, I just don’t know how they avoid mid-air collisions when they all start to fly at the same time. It was really awesome to see.

Well that was my day at the refuge. I saw other animals which were to fast for me to photograph.  There were a variety of hawks, including a northern harrier, that barred owl and of course, there are always deer. All in all, I think it was a good day.

For the locals, it’s really not that far to go and visit. From my house in Overland Park, it takes an hour and a half to get there. I hope you’ve enjoyed my day adventure at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge and perhaps, visit it yourself.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Squaw Creek / Loess Bluffs Bald Eagles

As many of you may know, the name of Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge has been changed to Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge. It was done after much debate and input from several Native American tribes. It seems, the word squaw has a derogatory meaning for many of them. This change has in no way taken anything away from this wonderful place but makes it better for all who love it.

From this time forward, all my post with photos taken here will be listed under the new name. That being said, I hope you enjoy these photos. Some are new.  Some are from times past but I hope you enjoy seeing them again.

December 12, 2016 was a very good day for eagle watching. There were so many in the tree that I couldn’t fit them all in photo below. There were also several  flying around in the same location at the same time.

Good day for Bald Eagles, 12/12/16

They were coming from all angles!

Coming at you!

The next series are of the same bird in flight as it was flying around with some of the others.

Getting lift!
Just taking to the sky
Flying by

At a certain time of the year, you may get lucky and see them on the nest. When I do, I never stay long because I don’t want to cause them any stress which may interfere with their well-being or nesting.

Nesting!

After viewing this one for a few minutes, he flew over me to the pond behind me. He gather nesting material, then flew close to me as he brought the mud and grass to the nest. I’m reasonably sure it was the male because he seemed to be the smaller of the two. Most of the time, adult female raptors are larger than males.

Building a home
I hope she likes the new furniture!

I call this photo “The Couple”. One was squawking. The other was just not paying attention.

I’m not listening!

I was lucky to get these three together. They look to be of 3 different ages. The one on the left is at least 4 to 5 years old. Their heads and tails turn white around 4 to 5 years of age. The one on the far right might be a little unique. I haven’t seen many with so much white on their breast and legs.

The look of three different ages.

Just another couple hanging out together!

Hanging out together!

Time to rest and just look around!

Just looking around!

A series of one taking off.

Getting ready to take flight!
One Giant Leap!
Almost there
Airborne!

Please don’t be too ruffled about the name change. I think it represents the area well and it’s kind of catchy! The eagles don’t seem to mind.

Ruffled but not because of the name change.

I never get tired of photographing our National Symbol. They are so majestic! I hope you come to Loess Bluffs during the fall migration to see them. If you like seeing lots of water fowl and eagles, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Bye for now!

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill

Bear Spray or Not!

According to a survey of 8,281 people at Yellowstone done between years 2011 and 2014, only 52% of backpackers carried bear spray. Only 13% of day hikers carried bear spray and less than 1% of boardwalk hikers carried bear spray.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/visitor-compliance-bear-spray-hiking-group-size.htm)

So, should you carry bear spray? Well, below are two pictures of Sawmill Pond. The first one is looking at it from the north. The second is looking at it from the south. It is below a rather large turn-out that is very popular. As you can see, it’s a beautiful place. Most people get out of their car to see if any animals are there at or in the pond. Some will even take short hikes. My previous post, Mama Bear & Cubs, was about this very spot.

Sawmill Pond looking North
Sawmill Pond looking South
Sawmill Pond looking North
Sawmill Pond looking North

A day or two before Mama Bear & Cubs, I was there when a large group of people had stopped to view this beautiful spot. What they didn’t see or know at first was this…

Can you see it?
Can you see it?

Well, maybe now….

Still a little hard to see
Still a little hard to see

Now, I’m sure you can see it.

Coming into view
Coming into view

There should be no doubt now!

Yes, it's a black bear!
Yes, it’s a black bear!

As I mentioned, most people were looking at the pond. This bear was on the hill behind them. It was only about 125 or so yards away!

By itself, but very big!
By itself, but very big!

Now, it wasn’t coming toward us and it seemed to be by itself so I don’t think we were in any danger but…….

The point is, you never know from where they may come. Even in places that seem safe with a lot of people around, they could show up. The entire area is their habitat and their home. We are the intruders.

This bear posed no threat. After getting a drink, it went back up the mountain.

So, should we carry bear spray? Well, I think it would be safe to say the authorities think we should.  “Studies show that bear spray is more than 90 percent effective in stopping an aggressive bear, especially when combined with the park’s other safety recommendations” Click the link below for more info.

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/yellowstone-urges-tourists-to-carry-bear-spray-just-in-case/article_c352db0b-8c1d-5d0b-9fb2-04b98660d7d2.html

I know that it’s an individual decision, but I can tell you this. I don’t leave my car in any area except town without my bear spray.

This is their home!
This is their home!

Always be safe!

Thanks for coming by!

Bill