On this trip west I returned to a NFS campground in Colorado that I first visited in August 2017.The election is about 9300′ so it was very pleasant after the extreme heat to get there. There are some interesting birds there,including the Western Tanager and Stellar Jay. Both photos were taken through the trailer window so not the best. I even saw a bit of wildlife in the form of numerous chipmunks and a marmot.
The goal was to get to the Tetons and it’s wonderful to be back here. The first night was very clear so the pull of the night sky won out. What a spectacular view of the Milky Way.
Two morning later when I got the dogs out I looked across the main drive and there was a bull moose grazing on the willows! He kept looking off a ways so I thought there might be another moose around. Sure enough, there was a cow.
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A pair of Great Horned Owls have returned to the hay shed and she is sitting on a nest.
On Wednesday I moved to the over-flow camping area. This is north of the main one and right in the flight path of the cranes as they leave and return to the roosting area. Late one afternoon a great number of them settled in to a harvested cornfield to glean.Something spooked them and they all took off, flying right overhead.
It’s a challenge to photograph them overhead but fun to try.
Last evening there was a pretty colorful sunset and this evening while it wasn’t as colorful I was able to capture some of the cranes against the color. A pleasant way to finish up a good visit!
The Peregrine fledgelings are all flying with amazing skill for their young age. As they get better it gets much harder to capture them because they are so fast. We’re seeing them fly after the parents, sometimes with food as a lure and sometimes just following them, learning by watching and mimicking. They also seem to fly at times just for for the thrill of it. I know it thrills us! They seem to play tag, and chase with each other, all very good practice and getting them in prime condition.
After a few photos with blur spots in them I realized that the blur is really another bird, out of focus, not a spot on my lens or camera sensor, so I’ve decided to leave the blur there, since that bird was participating as much as the ones in focus.
When a parent brings
Taking his food away
food now the fledgelings pounce, one claims it quickly, usually flying a ways away to keep it from the others.
It is sheer joy to watch these raptors fly, the chicks have learned so much so quickly it amazes us all.
As we stand in the parking lot with our cameras we answer many questions from visitors to the lighthouse area and often encourage people to look through our cameras so they can see the birds better. Of course now, viewing the birds is a lot less simple since they are flying so well but we do what we can.
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All 3 of the chicks have fledged. The female took off and was missing for over 24 hours but
she has returned and has shown that the adventure didn’t dampen her spirits at all.
The adults are bringing them food, often a hapless pigeon, and the chicks now tend to grab whatever is brought and take it away. The adult female will sometimes claim a bit of it and give it to one of the other chicks but the one on one feeding seems to have pretty much ceased.
All 3 fledgelings
The chicks are starting to fly with more enthusiasm and we’ve seen them chase each other and the adult female. We’re looking forward to seeing more action as they get more confident. This is all fun to watch but it also reminds us as they get better and as the parent demonstrates technique that we will be very lucky to get a lot of good action shots. When one of the adults dives we all stand in awe. Seeing that you can understand their reputation as the fastest birds.
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The second week of watching the falcons has been rewarding. So many opportunities to see the adults, both very responsible, caring for the chicks. All three are doing well, growing, losing their down and testing their wings.
A couple of days ago one of the chicks got knocked out of the eyrie when another one decided it wanted to be on the rock the first one was on. The
Two chicks couldn’t fit on one rock…
chick landed safely and made its way back up to the eyrie after about two hours. We were all watching and cheering as it climbed back up.
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Up and out at dawn to see the cranes fly out from the safe pond where they overnight, three mornings so far and each one slightly different.
Later in the day I did another drive around the loops and happened on a Mule Deer doe with a fawn. A lit
tle ways past them I noticed a couple of Javelinas in the ditch on the right side of the road. I slowed down to see if they would emerge, then stopped and got out of the truck. I stayed near the front end but watched all around. Just spotted two of the critters as they had crossed the road and went into the brush. But, the third one took its time and I managed to get a couple of good images. Charming critter, huh?
Stopped in at the Visitor Center and looked around, lots of good info there! Very nice shop, too. I’ve made a practice of collecting a pin and patch at each national park, wildlife refuge or similar place I’ve visited so I got those.
Later in the afternoon, after a brief rain I went back into the refuge and was treated to a bright bit of rainbow.
Got one image over some of the water then moved along the road and got another with some snow geese (the white line you can see) in the frame.
I was parked at the side of the road and four cranes came pretty close (the t
ruck makes a great blind if you are quiet and just stick the camera lens out the window). A beanbag thing I made years ago worked great over the edge of the window to rest the lens on.
End of the day I went back into the refuge hoping to catch a good sunset. Wonderful way to wrap up the day!
Late afternoon image of mangroves in Everglades NP
This month I ventured down to south FL to Everglades National Park and then to Big Cypress National Preserve. Though I had no idea what to expect I found them each very unique in different ways. The wide open spaces of the Everglades reminded me a bit of the West, but there the similarities ended.
Taken near Mahogany Hummock in Everglades NP
I didn’t find the wildlife or birds I was hoping for in the Everglades but Big Cypress was rocking with birds and gators.
The Visitors Center at Shark Valley is the place to take a 2 hour tram ride into the wide open spaces of the Everglades, a park volunteer narrates the trip, providing lots of info about the Everglades and the birds & gators. Before or after the tram ride you can spend quite a bit of time just watching and admiring the birds and gators in & near the canal next to the parking lot.
At canal next to Shark Valley Visitor’s Center
This GBH was standing on the canal bank and lunged into the water after a fish (unsuccessfully). He got out of there in a hurry because there were gators just waiting to get him.
At canal next to Shark Valley Visitor’s Center
Big Cypress is the location of several cypress swamps, one with a long boardwalk into it, another has a gravel road through it where you can stop frequently to see birds and gators.
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in Cypress Swamp
Jan. 22, 2013, I took a couple of fellow Casita owners from TN to one of my favorite places in the area. The wildlife park has many inhabitants, be they furred, feathered or have fins they are all interesting to see! The mammals include but are not limited to Bobcats, Panthers, Bears, Fox and the manatees. Birds of all sort reside there, some permanent residents due to injuries, others come and go. The park regularly rehabs a wide variety of critters (out of public view for the most part). I’ve included some of the photos taken on this particular visit and they are a tiny sampling of what I’ve taken on my many visits. The manatee photos were taken from the viewing platform that overlooks where the Homosassa Spring run flows into the Homosassa river so there are “wild” manatees rather than permanent residents. More photos are on my website, http://www.borderbrae.com.