The last few days I spent in Arizona were at a state game & fish wildlife refuge. What a wonderful place! It is home to thousands of Sandhill Cranes in the winter. There is also a variety of ducks and a pair of resident Great Horned Owls.
The cranes fly out early so getting up before down to capture them as they fly out can be challenging. It’s usually pretty cold, but definitely worth the effort as the sun rises and highlights the birds.
They return late in the morning, coming back in great groups. Then the sun is high and it’s more a matter of looking for interesting behavior as they mingle.
The ducks are very fast, hard to capture. The owls were a different matter entirely. She was sitting on a nest and he was perched at the opposite end of the shed high up so the challenge wasn’t in capturing action but getting the lighting right.
There were a also some Snow Geese there but they tended to stay pretty from from the berms where watchers can stand.
The last evening I was there there was a spectacular sunset. As I and others watched it just got better and better, the colors so strong. Then some of the Cranes flew across, making it even better!
This was my second visit to this refuge and it was well worth the time. It was also a lot warmer this time than in mid January last year!
Click here for more images
Before leaving the beaver dam I spent a bit of time taking images of it and the creek.
Departure day and what do I see when I looked out the back window of the trailer at 0630 but a moose cow and calf next to the pond in addition to two of the beavers working. I grabbed the camera and went out, staying well back from the water. She spotted me and was leery, disappearing into the bushes quickly. She eventually came into sight as she left the area.
As I kept scanning to see her I spotted another cow and calf way across the area near the tree line.
The beavers continued to work on the dam, unimpressed by the moose or me. If I were to rate camping spots this would be at the top, simply the best and the one I’d love to return to some day.
This was such a wonderful place I returned to it after leaving Denali. A lot of time has been spent observing the residents. This Northern Harrier has a female chick who has fledged. Four times I’ve seen the adult fly around with something in its talons and heard calling between her and the chick. Then the chick would fly up and catch the food in mid air as the adult dropped it. I’ve seen and photographed falcons doing this (2016 OR coast) but didn’t know hawks would do it. I was never able to capture the action, not surprising since the adult’s territory covers a large area and they are usually high up and away when it happens. Binoculars made seeing it possible.
The beavers have been industrious as usual, but they don’t keep regular hours, I have to watch for them. One afternoon I was able to capture one eating off a branch it cut down and dragged into the water. Every once in a while it would stop to either scratch or groom. Great fun to watch and every time I look at this image I grin.
Did manage to see a cow moose relatively close and as she was moving away I realized she had a calf with her, but it was even further away.
I’ll miss this place but have some very good memories to take with me!
Click here for more images
When I left the Tetons I headed south to Moab, figuring it had to be warmer there. When I got to Moab late on Thursday afternoon, all the BLM campgrounds were full so I decided to go to the bare bones place just off 191 where I’ve seen lots of rigs with ATVs/ORVs parked. Turns out the land owner has realized he has a good spot there so it is now set up as a basic campground. Pros, large sites, level, small gravel, neat and clean, $15/night. Cons, if you need any amenities don’t bother. No water, shade or dump, 1 portapotty. Since the Casita is self contained, I use solar and it wasn’t an extremely hot time of the year the site worked fine for me. It is also very close to the entrance to Arches and to Moab so instead of traveling several miles in windy roads it was very convenient, worth it to me. The site is backed by grand high red cliffs and a nice spot for the sunset and early morning images.
I’ve been to Arches and posted images from those visits so this time I decided to concentrate on other places. Also, the park is open only Friday and Saturdays nights now because of road work and both nights were cloudy. Anyhow, I drove out 128 along the Colorado River one morning and made several stops. Not only was I enjoying the day time drive I was scouting for night images, too. I’d been through Castle Valley once several years ago and wanted to check it out, too.
Back near the campground I was able to find a good spot for some Milky Way images, too.
Click here for more images
On my way to Yellowstone I stopped in the Tetons for only 4 nights. Got another great site at Gros Ventre CG. There is a lot of smoke around, sometimes you could be at the south end of the Tetons and couldn’t even see the north end of the range. Last year the fires were raging in both Yellowstone and GTNP, this year they are not in the parks but still affecting them.
The second night I was there it was wonderfully clear so I went out to see what I could photograph. First stop was one of the old Mormon barns. There were a couple of guys there already and they were using some LED flashlights to light the barn. Not the best light since it tends to be a very cold white but I warmed it up a bit in the processing.
The night was so clear I wanted to take advantage of it so I headed down to Schwabacher’s Landing unsure if the setting would work or not. Yes! Just the spot to capture the Milky Way over the calm waters.