Loess Bluffs November 25, 2019

I almost always go to Loess Bluffs to photograph Bald Eagles the Monday before Thanksgiving. It’s the begining of the waterfowl migration. There are often hundreds of thousand geese and ducks migrating to their winter grounds that rest here. Bald Eagles follow them and often feed on those that don’t make it. It’s common to have many as 100 to 300 Bald Eagles or more during the Nov/Dec timeframe.

These photos will, for the most part, be shown in the order in which they were taken. I’m doing so to let you know how the day went.

Below is the first photo taken as the sun was just starting to come up. Perhaps you’ve already seen it yesterday in my FB post.

This next photo was taken a few minutes later. I was watching an eagle, waiting for enough light to get the shot. Looking back towards the pond, this is what I saw. Many times it pays to look behind while taking pictures. You may be surprised with what you may see.

This next photo was taken just as the sun made it above the horrizon. It has that soft golden glow. For those of you who have been there in the past, this is a new nest on the west side. The one that has been there for several years finially has fallen down. I believe this may be one of the same eagles that’s been nesting there for quite some time. Both were there but I could not get them both in one photograph. This nest is not too far from the old one. BTW, there appears to be three new nest but I saw that two of the older ones have fallen down.

After taking quite a few shots trying to get an angle where the branches were not in the way and not being successful, I moved on.

This guy just continued to graze while I watched. I always love it when they don’t know I’m there or don’t see me as a threat.

He suddenly got a bit anxious when anther car started coming our way.

I moved on not wanting to alert the driver to the deer. It didn’t stop so, I don’t think he saw it. BTW, I didn’t see any big bucks which is unusual for me. They must all be in hiding. I wonder why……

Then came these two Trumpeter Swans sleeping. I guess they must need to get their beauty naps in when they can.

Not that they need beauty rest. They are just simply beautiful.

Below is a family. The gray ones are the cignets. There were hundreds of Trumpeter Swans all over the refuge. These were taken on the east side.

Time to make another trip around….

Got lucky and caught this eagle in good light with a reasonable background. Notice how it can turn its head all the way to its back, much like an owl.

Just a couple more from differnt head angles. Of course, I have many more but…. You know I love to photograph eagles.

Did I say there were a lot of swans? Well, here are a few more family shots. Notice the wind has picked up just a bit.

I love to get them in flight too. I can’t decide which of the next three I like best so, I’ve decided to show all three. I hope you find one to your liking.

Talk about a tight formation. The Blue Angels have nothing on these…

Then next trip around really brought some very interesting critters into view. This guy wouldn’t let me get too close.

There were three of them and again, they wouldn’t allow me to get very close. You don’t suppose they know what’s about to happen on Thursday, do you?

The next critters were a real treat. I just don’t see them very often. Yes, they are a pair of Sandhill Cranes.

It was just too cool to watch them and even better being able to photograph them.

Those of you that know me, know I love to photo raptors. Well, this is the last critter I saw….

It stayed there watching me take its picture for quit a while.

You may have noticed, I don’t have pictures of geese and ducks. Well, I did take some of the ducks but there were not many geese. That’s quite unusual. However, I did notice as I was leaving a huge flock of them landing just off the refuge. Because of all the flooding, there must be many more areas for them to choose from to rest. I wish they would stick to the refuge. I kept hearing gun shots throughout the day.

Well, that was my day. As I’ve said before, I’ve never been dissapointed going to Loess Bluffs. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip as well.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bill

A Grizzly Called Snow & The Bison

Even though I had only one day to visit Yellowstone during this years Spring trip, I hoped to see Raspberry and Snow. Snow is Rasberry’s four year old cub. I’ve been photographing them over the past four years.

Last spring, Raspberry left Snow. It was time for her to be on her own. This past winter, Snow would have hibrinated by herself. I was anxious to see how well she had fared through the winter by herself. With so little time, I knew my chances were not very good to find them but I was not going to let that stop me from trying.

I left Jackson two hours before sunrise to get to the area where I had seen them in the past. I wanted to be there as the sun was coming up. It’s when the light is normally the best. It had been raining and snowing but there was suppose to be a break in the weather so I was hoping for good light and a lot of luck.

As I approached the area, I saw a small group of people with a park ranger parked on the side of the road. I stopped. The photo below is what I saw.

It was Snow! She was on the other side of the road up on the hill sleeping. How Lucky! I got my camera gear out and waited. Several minutes later she got up and started to feed on grass. As she grazed, she slowly worked her way down the hill towards us.

On our side of the road, about 65 yards away, was a big bull bison. As you can see, he seems content on grazzing.

Well, Snow kept coming down towards the road.

Then, she noticed the bison. At about the same time, the bison noticed her. He was not too happy. Notice, how his tail is up. That’s a sign that it’s not happy and may charge.

Snow is a four year old sub-adult and not quite ready to take on a full sized bull bison. However, she kept watching it.

There seem to be a standoff. All of a sudden, the bison made a move as if to charge. Snow quickly ran up the hill. It was a fake charge. I didn’t get any shots of that encounter. Not knowing where he was going, I moved quickly away. I believe no photograph is worth jepordizing the safety of the animals or the photographer. It’s always best to do the right and safe thing.

Snow didn’t run very far up the hill. She sat down and looked down the hill as if she was assessing her options. It looked like she was really wanted to go across the road.

The bison had moved very close to the road towards her but stayed on the far side. Suddenly, a large dump truck came up the road towards it. As the truck approached, the driver honked his horn. It was very loud which frightened the bison. The bison ran away from the road and stopped just a little way down the hill close to where it had been previously grazzing .

Snow seemed intent on crossing the road. She continued to move close to the road but kept her distance from the bison. After a while, she did cross it with no interference from the bison.

She found a little grass to her liking. Perhaps, the grass is greener on the other side of the road.

The bison still didn’t seem to like her there but did nothing more than snort and watch her for a while. Notice, his tail is still up.

Eventually, he settled down and moved off. Snow seem to be looking for a place to rest.

She found a spot to her liking and seemed content. Every now and then, she would look up to survey the area.

I have a lot of photos of animals sticking their tongues out… don’t know why…

A little while later, she got up and wondered around a bit. The next three pictures were taken during that time. They are my favorites from this encounter.

Shortly after taking this photo of her, I left. It was time to head back to the Gros Ventre River to look for Mother Moose and her calf.

I thought you’d like to see a close up of Snow. Below are a couple of cropped photos. I think she’s simply a beautiful Grizzly.

I didn’t see Raspberry during my short visit. I had been told by some locals that even though she had been seen mating last year, she didn’t have cubs this year. Perhaps she will next year.

I know this is a long post but I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure and seeing Snow as much as I have.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bill

Mom Moose & Her Calf

I had seen her late afternoon the day before this photo was taken. She was a long distance away, too far to get a decent photo of her. However, as I watched through my binoculars, I thought she looked a bit stressed.

They normaly have their calves this time of the year so I thought this might be the day. It was late and the sun was going down so I left with the thought that even though I was going to Yellowstone the next day I’d be back late afternoon to look for her.

Well, after searching for about a half hour, I found her laying as you see her above. But, look at who else showed up!

It must have been just a few hours old. It would try to stand then fall. In a short time, it was standing on wobbly legs.

After a while, it was looking for nourishment. It nursed several times while trying to figure out how to work those legs. The image below is the one I like best.

It was getting late and the light was starting to fade so, soon after this shot, I left for the night. I hoped to see them in better light the next day.

The next morning, I searched for them for more than an hour. They had been across the Gros Ventre river but I just couldn’t spot them in the same area. I went up and down, back and forth along a half mile stretch of the river with no luck. I said to myself, they must have left but I’d try one more time. That’s when I saw an ear twitch. They were bedded down. I got my camera gear and just waited and watched.

A lot of people saw I had my camera gear. They’d stop and ask what I was photographing. I told them I was waiting for a bedded down moose to get up. Very few stayed. Many people just don’t have the patience.

Well, my patience really payed off!

Look who started to explore its world, on somewhat more steady legs.

Of course, mom was always close by. By the way, she looks so shabby because she’s starting to loose her thick winter coat. In a few weeks, she’ll look just fine.

After a while, the little one decided to explore close to the river. The current was very strong. I was concerned. Should it fell in, the current might carry it away.

This may be its first drink of water. It didn’t fall in and all was well for a while. I stayed for about an hour happily taking photos when I would spot them clear of the brush. Then the little one decided to explore towards the river again. And, OH NO!

Don’t go in!

It was heartbreaking to watch as it struggled.

But it finially got a foothold……

And made it out!

Everyone seems relieved now…. Whew!

Time to leave the river. Of course, I was relieved that it all turned out well but it goes to show that even a day old moose is a very tough critter.

I didn’t get to see them after this because the next day I was on my way to Idaho with hopes to see and photograph a golden eagle.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure as much as I.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bill