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Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club
Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

The Tres Amigo’s here are walking back home from a long winter down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands.

So for this shot I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming to my ranch. I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. That is the long gravel road that skirts the west side of the area on the maps. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn anywhere.. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states. They wander quite a bit and there are sometime I see nothing but grass and scenery. Half of the time. No cell phone service and no AAA up here…. Just saying 😀

The Thunderbasin Grasslands are indeed a remote area. The closest stop light is about 40 miles. There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. There might be a few water and a few oil wells out there. They actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

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Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase
Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 30 feet maybe. It took a while and I’m really surprised it didn’t fly away. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to the animal to stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals in. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there. I take photos at each stop. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 22 feet deep and the background is totally bokeh’d out . Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium lol.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those orange nares are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

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Face to Face Stare Down

Face to Face Stare Down
Face to Face Stare Down

Face to Face Stare Down …. 18in square aspect, ….. It’s a game trail camera capture again.👀📸

I’ve kept a couple of game trail cameras pointing at this spot for well over a year now. I discovered this is a major game intersection point where game either goes under or over the fence. It is the local pass between the grazing pasture and the local water trough. We have a solar panel driven well about 300 yards down drainage from this point. For generations animals have been stopping here for a variety of reasons. Birds stop here too as the fence line is the first/last place to land above the water. The topography guides the flow of the animals here.

I’m thinking this is a little close for proper “Social Distancing these days. The play remains the same but the actors have changed .

Satire for a paragraph or 3 : ….

The local Pronghorn population is known for their awareness of world events. Their network is face to face of course. I don’t translate Pronghorn very well yet. Or as the Commercial says, I’m OK at reading Pronghorn lips. . I translate their written language much better as that is very straight forward. Usually forward in the direction they were moving when they left the cuniform like tracks in the ground. What if they are writing a story as they run along. Oh wait….they are :

Some Pronhorns was cajoled by “Sneaky. So he probably heard news from “Sneaky Pete” the windmill. Passing it on here in this capture “Down Yonder By The Fence Line”.

“Sneaky Pete’s” the windmill’s role up here is complex but generally his role is one of an information broker. My side of the “Deal”. I give him publicity and enable his photobombing of my landscapesSituated with a world class view, “Sneaky” knows all that happened around him. who originally heard it from the chickens that eavesdrop under my radio shacks. There is a whole network of connected creatures up here in Wyotana. For giving “Sneaky Pete” so much time, he sets up stuff like this for me in return. 🤔😜

Back to my “normal” programming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Face to Face Stare Down

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Cold Footed Curlew

Cold Footed Curlew
Cold Footed Curlew

Cold Footed Curlew

These guys are sandpipers with obscenely long bills. Since the male and female Curlews look pretty much alike with minor differences in the bill I’m not qualified to call. What I like about these guys is that they are grasshopper eating machines in the summer. They over winters in wetland marshes and other shore line estuaries. It couldn’t get much further away from the ocean as we are only a few hundred miles away from the geographic center of North America. These guys are our largest shore bird in North America. (National Audubon).

They are fussy birds if you come into their domain. Male displays over their nesting territory are impressive with loud ringing callsThey will circle about making lots of fuss trying to lead you away from the nest. I find them driving along the two track trails as I’m on the flats below the higher ridges. Mostly a flat field grassy nesting bird rather than preferring a hillside with a view as I’ve seen them.

This was a late spring snow storm from the spring of 2019. It caught everybody by surprise. Robins, Meadowlarks and Curlews were wading knee deep in the white stuff. Much to their collective dismay I’m sure. I understand that across their range, the numbers of this amusing bird are dropping with the reduction in natural grass land turned to mono-crop agricultural uses. They of course use wild non – tilled prairie to nest and feed during the summer months. A classic case of reduce the habitat and reduce the numbers. 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Cold Footed Curlew

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Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning
Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning

A Month from now they return… Spring time 2019, the trees were just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I was busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. These are big 5 pound 5 foot tall birds if you’ve never seen them before.

Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.

They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes along the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Great Blue Heron Sunning

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Community Backcountry Meeting

Community Backcountry Meeting
Community Backcountry Meeting

Community Backcountry Meeting . (a very green Spring day 2019)

I came upon an obviously clandestine meeting in the backcountry. I saw them all simultaneously stop their discussion and look up at me. They were busy all before I showed up past some invisible line in the sand. Once I crossed that, the chatting stopped and all looked at me. I probably tripped some remote sensor. I understand that these guys are all about information sharing. Momma Pronghorn and her yearling were catching up on all the news from “up north” The Geese may have been raised around here or just in transit. They didn’t mention the specifics of their travel to me. I’m sure they got back to the gossip right after my passing. 😜

The Canada Geese get around thousands of miles while the Pronghorn Migrate 30 miles south to winter. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands are their winter range. Come Spring they head out in all directions. I suspect they head back to where they were born but I may be wrong. The Geese sure return to their birth place after migration. It’s all about networking I suspect…..

On a Personal Note:…..

I personally think they were talking about how empty the roads/airways were with all the humans bugging in. 👀

We hope you are all isolating yourselves for at least a full two weeks. Let’s slow the peak case load and spread that peak over a longer period. The trenches of this are at the hospitals. It’s up to us to keep healthy long enough so the case load doesn’t totally collapse the system. If the rest of the country is going through the motions of trying to save ourselves and the medical systems from total collapse, we’re going to have to go along. Please young people, isolate yourself, use bandwidth and play video games. Keep social isolation rules. Keep this stuff from spreading.

There are several families living in our compound here at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. We all keep separate from each other for probably the next month and two weeks MORE IF anyone has to go to town. I’m going to miss fresh milk but powdered will just have to do. We contact UPS or Fed Ex with gloves on. Lysol things we have to look at fast, the rest of the mail can sit for a week or so. Let any bad bugs die in the dry UV rich desert we have here. Too windy to spread it out in the sun…… Wash your hands out there in the world folks.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Community Backcountry Meeting

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Pheasant in the Grass

Pheasant in the Grass
Pheasant in the Grass

Pheasant in the Grass

The Chinese Ring Neck Pheasant a shy forest bird imported from Asia. It is still well adapted to open prairie. Initially introduced as a game bird in many places across the globe, it has been widely cultivated here in the United States.

I hunted these on hedge rows of Central Illinois as a young child with a .410 shot gun with my dad/uncle who always used 12 guage. I always thought my dad had better shooting skills. Now I realize that the 12 guage has WAY more shot and generally more punch than a .410. Now I know I had a handicap at the time. Kid’s get no respect lolol. Most people don’t want to compete against me now with something like a Ruger Red Label shooting skeet lol. I’m not nearly as proficient as I was in my 40’s and 50’s. Just a little creakier and slower responses these days.

I don’t see them very often up here as I believe this isn’t a wet enough environment for them. They are noted by me around 300 feet lower than my place down at some local lakes. I can count the number of pheasants I’ve seen on my ranch on one hand. I see them once a week down at lower elevations. My place seems to be mostly habituated by Sharp Tailed Grouse and not the imported bird. Too rough for them up here apparently.

Location: a few miles from and 300 feet lower than: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

TItle: Pheasant in the Grass

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Golden Warbler Foraging

Golden Warbler Foraging
Golden Warbler Foraging

Golden Warbler Foraging.
Part of the joy of my job is I get to see odd things occur now and then (OK, every day). I sometimes consider the other places I’ve lived during my travels. Then I compare them to the 20 years I’ve spent on this wondrous place. Not even close .
Magical things often appear in the wetlands in front of me. I am just a stenographer taking notes about the big stage productions in front of me. Click click of the keys of the steno machine or the camera. No difference in effect. The details are in the dark here for this fantasy image. Imagine the mood of that moment in time and space. You could hear thunder rumbling 24 miles out.
I can not record all that I see with my cameras. They possess superhuman sight much better than mine but their ability to see dynamic range is limited. It is for instance VERY hard and essentially impossible to take a stars photos behind the full unveiled moon. You could see it with your eye easily. Not so much cameras.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Title : Golden Warbler Foraging.

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Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset
Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.

The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.

Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

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Totem Pole in the Sky

Totem Pole in the Sky
Totem Pole in the Sky

Totem Pole in the Sky . (ART, Did I mention this was art. Made by mirroring a real sky onto itself.)

The Spirits in the sky here in Wyotana linger and only show about 1/2 of themselves . So I help… 😜👻👀

From Top to Bottom: (A totem is the sum of it’s parts)

An Owl overlooks the scene on top.

Riding on a Swallow for speed,

standing on the Raven’s spirit for wisdom

The Raven relies on the Bat

to see things that other cannot perceive.

The Bat resides over the Cat

The Cheshire(is) cat as a base. Cats are widely regarded by many cultures past and present as fully capable of magic. Some consider it good magic, others not so much. All agree it’s magic…

All rely on the cat as the base of the totem of sky spirits in this capture. Of course there is the big snake face the whole image makes 😝

I find that I can see/visualize these results as I’m photographing skies. It’s not that I see shapes in clouds or anything. Certainly I do lolol. Habitually so… But I can fold the image back on itself inside of my head. I see these live as I examine the thousands of images that go past my computer desktop each week. I pretty much know as I’m taking the image that I’m “using this one for ART”.

So this image stood out to me It only took a bit over 100 clicks/clones to make this. It’s pretty photorealistic except for a few things. It is VERY close to the way I visualized it out in the field through the lens. It is art did I mention?👅 I did squeeze the image a tad as well. The left 1/2 of the image is a full 3×2 scale photo. Mirrored back on itself.

Location :Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Totem Pole in the Sky . 18 inches square aspect.

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Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers
Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item. The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story.

This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him. This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

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Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight
Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry. This Mule Deer Buck caught in a mid- twilight Silhouette was up watching the sun go gown with me. He was ridge lined. I was able to maneuver way below him about 200 yards out and Click… Silhouettes of nice bucks are always welcome in my web gallery.

This Mule Deer Buck was definitely aware of me but yet tuned into the sunset. I find linking up deer with the moon (harder) and or the sun to be a challenge of finding the right topography that enables me to “work” the scene. In this case (all hand held camera shots walking across backcountry grassy, yucca, rocky terrain. Then moving as the deer and the sun moves. 800mm telephoto. I worked this deer and his partner for about 20 minutes which is about 400 clicks or so with several cameras ….Forever in my world….

The hard part is getting them to “look up” between bites when I’m about 300 yards away. They are usually on a parallel ridge. Of coruse they are used to me being on the prairie with a noisy ATV. He really was watching that sunset. I’ve seen them do it many times. I was lucky enough to wander into this kind of deer versus sun on a ridge 4 times last year and only once this year so far. Hit or miss on deer habits…..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Mule Deer Twilight

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Butterfly Taking Echinacea

Butterfly Taking Echinacea
Butterfly Taking Echinacea

Butterfly Taking Echinacea

This 2-1/2 inch wing span butterfly heard that all the store shelves lacked cold remedies/immunity builders. They were all bought out. So he went right to the source here with this Echinacea. 😜👀🤔

Callippe fritillary butterfly doing butterfly things. All upon an Echinacea augustiflolia (cone flower) is a common event up here. There are millions of both during the correct time of year about this ground. While the adults get around, The caterpillars eat pretty much eat violet leaves. There are a lot of wild violets around. Endangered are a rare subspecies of this butterfly. I don’t know if this one is in that column. We have a few of these I see around. Literally the ranch has millions of Echinacea plants. They are native/common/widespread “in these parts”.

This prolific prairie plant is one of the most used and popular herbs worldwide. It has many medicinal benefits. Roots/ upper parts use in extracts, teas, tinctures or tablets make it to the store shelves. There is a veritable arsenal of active compounds in the plant. Studies have attached the use of echinacea to a reduction in inflammation, lower and an improved systemic immunity overall. Be careful what you take Echinacea with as is good advice for all medicinal plants. DO your research.

All available Over The Counter of course. A good source of “Anti-oxidants”. There are a few studies showing Echinacea use with a reduction in the likely hood of catching colds. Noted are claims of effects on other VIRUSES. Claims are that it will shorten the duration of a cold 1.5 days. (Colds are Corona Viruses just saying) Other researchers say this link is unclear. “Test tube studies” indicate it has properties lending itself to lowering blood sugar level. This might be of interest to type II diabetics. Whispered in the corridors of Walgreens™ nationwide are claims of reducing anxiety.. The anti-Inflammatory properties might be of interest to you osteo-arthritus practitioners out there. You know who you are 😔👀

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Butterfly Taking Echinacea

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Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset
Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

This is actually a morning back show looking at clouds sitting over the Big Horn Mountains 70 miles behind the dark ridge (the Red Hills) which are 40 miles distant. The cloud resembles a mesocyclone incoming and it was a weather system rapidly moving in on us. The moon was soon to dive behind the approaching spring storm. A mix of rain/snow and sleet proceeded to move in shortly afterwards that morning.

The moon here is a Waning Gibbous JUST past the full March Supermoon known as the Worm Moon. March is the month birds start digging worms out of the ground thus the moniker.

The two antelope had just run across the road in front of my truck, the male with them was still on the other side of the road. Separated from their leader, they stopped and waited for him Click . As I moved he broke stance and ran right in front of my truck as a sign of disregard to my presence. I have found that as a matter of principle, if Pronghorn CAN run across your path, they WILL run across your path.

I’ve only hit ONE pronghorn in 20 years of driving these backroads of Wyoming. I would indicate that as a family we have hit 13 deer and 2 antelope in the same time. I have personally hit 4 of those deer. Total Damage in all those collision to my vehicle… A broken license plate bolt and a lot of car washes. I spend a LOT of money on really good vehicle bumpers. Saves my insurance company a bit as I have never had a claim on a vehicle. Does it lower my insurance???? Maybe….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

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Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks
Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks

These guys were busy grazing on the grass of this ridge when out of the blue, this big ball of fire came down between them. Separated by an apparently dangerous fireball, the rear buck realizes the problem. I’m sure he’s working out the solution to his separation anxiety. Deer take time to process unique situations so I caught him here deep in thought. 😜📷

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here. I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work.

In reality this kind of image is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event. I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows/mud of late. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Illuminated Bucks

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Parks School House Site

Parks School House Site
Parks School House Site

Parks School House Site

This capture caught these two young bucks standing on an old country school site. Bucks still with antlers…. (taken in January).

This is section 36 on the map of the local township. Every township has 36 square miles and is mapped by square mile sections. Section 36 is the state owned and controlled School section. Basically the law gives 1/36th of all land to the state automatically. I digress.

The little brown box to the right center of the photo, is the old oil burning stove that used to sit on the Trail Creek/Parks School. Generations of local kids went to school with this view out the back. I’ve heard stories of walking to school from those kids. There are people alive that went to that school. It is physically located about 2 miles south from our homestead as the crow flies. The building that was removed has a few signs it was there.

Other evidence, : the latent archeologist in me…

The aforementioned stove itself is an interesting antique. I’ve worked it with cameras but never liked what I got. I’ll get back to it sometime with the right light… but there are concrete foundations from that old school building, not huge and they looked like they were hand poured. Someone with a small mixer and bags kind of foundations….say 1930’s….. Those concrete chunks were pushed over the lip of and into a nearby gully where they serve as a rock which are currently being slowly naturalized by the environment. Evidence of past lives and events that will mostly be lost to history but they leave clues. It would be interesting to work this site with a metal detector eh? …

Location: just south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Parks School House Site

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Deer Marching Two by Two

Deer Marching Two by Two
Deer Marching Two by Two

Deer Marching Two by Two

Satire:

This was an attempt to get together a backcountry soccer game but there was no crowds in the cheap seat, or the stadium for that fact but me.

Upon arriving at the venue, hearing that it’s not good to be in groups of more than 5. This of course because of the Corona Virus, the Antelope ran away. The intimidating behavior /show of force of the deer herd of course was obvious. It demonstrated the military bearing of the group. Intimidation won the day here. The Pronghorn were awarded the loss. The Deer team, awarded the win for the opposing teams failure to take the field.

Back to my normal programing

Late summer 2019 when the Pronghorn were still around. They migrate about 30 miles to the south every winter and currently are absent as this posts. I will see them within the month I would think. It depends on how late the big spring snows are. The deer winter over hanging out somewhere near the water holes we keep open for them.

There are actually two parallel trails that the deer are walking on. I point out was pure coincidence for the alignment. They continued on up the hill quite a ways like this. I just took photos and tried to keep my jaw out of the way. I’ve never seen deer make a formation before lolol.

3×2 aspect to 3 feet.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Deer Marching Two by Two

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Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon
Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

This joker was hanging out along the road where I was driving just as the nearly full moon was setting. The pink”Belt of Venus” was pervasive in the back show that morning. Alpenglow like the Belt of Venus is a result of LOT of atmospheric ice. The pink is the light that made it over the horizon, There are not many days of the month you can catch this and then the sky has to be clear enough to see the moon down that low to the horizon.

Photomusings:

As the western horizon moves upwards, the full moon set in due time. Yet another low light (civil twilight) Close / Far perspective out of a 23-135 Sony G series lens. Some lenses do this kind of thing better than others but a medium zoom of about 70mm was my pick here. High F-stop for deep focal depth of field. Camera sensitivity and speed you set to light conditions with ideally lower iso and faster shutter if you can get away with it. Riding the razor blade of light balance. F stop is your priority here unless the horses are moving. If they are moving your going to have to make your shutter speed faster and turn up your camera sensitivity to compensate for the less light due to a faster speed/shorter exposure. It’s always those three settings working your camera in manual mode. Your camera on automatic is not going to take this image I assure you.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

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Chewy Pronghorn Chow

Chewy Pronghorn Chow
Chewy Pronghorn Chow

Chewy Pronghorn Chow

The beautiful little girl was in perfect morning light with a nice morsel to munch on. . She was sniffing the air and had a gleam in her eye.

This is a Pronghorn. It is not an “Antelope” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “American goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said.

These guys are the sole surviving members of the Antilocapridae family in North America. They have literally been in North America for at least a million years as a species. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal… The best way to tell a male is to look for a black cheek patch. This is a female sans the patch.

They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. It takes about 20 foot strides when running which helps it keeps it’s title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands of their foothills.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Chewy Pronghorn Chow

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Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line
Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

T-posts generally set right posts a “ROD” apart make a barbed wire fence to “spec”. A Rod consists of 16.5 feet from end to end. The right at 50 feet of fence line here is in a perspective that makes it look a LOT shorter. That is literally 50 feet of fence 👀👀📸

As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence line, it lineup. I noticed the Meadowlark was still there. I had stopped to take him, reached down to grab the 3 foot lens used here. . Clicking away Icaught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was.

Meadowlarks are very active this early in the red light. The sun had been up for about 5 minutes while I was moving between locations. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into the blue sky over my shoulder. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a well side illuminated fortunately. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. They are the state bird for several states in this region.

This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title : Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

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Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset
Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset

To capture this image, I luckily figured out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸

I usually get a few attempts at ridge lining a deer or a group of deer right at sunset. The problem is always how to keep up with the moving sun. The topography controls the success or failure of such adventures.

Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana). 

Title: Buck and the Sunset

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Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice
Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

The 20th annual all Ungulate Barbershop Quartet Competition takes place mid-summer here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. These backcountry stage shows happen all the time but there is no one there to see it let alone hear it. Such vocal performances rank up there with the best ever heard on the ranch, generations of training of their voice. This of course is an all female chorus. Bass Tenor, Alto and Soprano all competing for your attention.

Pronghorn make a surprising number of sounds that most humans have never heard or recognized. I’ve heard a birdlike noise impossible to describe that I finally realized was coming from Pronghorn. That sound uttered when they are just calmly grazing about. They also vocalize a raspy grunting sound, that I call frog croaking. Only the bucks in small groups make this sounds in my experience.

By my observations, Bucks around Does, don’t seem to grunt in this way (it might be just boy talk out here in the backcountry). There is also the noise generated by snorting air through their nose. This sound resembles a deer snort to me. It’s likely a warning used to try to get another buck to move or to warn other animals in the herd (basically an alarm call). They also make the breathing in and out panting noise during the rut when chasing other bucks around. The intensity of the rut makes for entertaining backcountry viewing here in “America’s Serengeti” .

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice,

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Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting
Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

I have very carefully keyed/ID’d this bird out with Audubon’s guide. It is a straight necked (characteristic of the species) Whistling Swan. They are seldom seen mid-continent away from the great lakes. They breed in the Arctic then winter all along the east coast, but not in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. I have never ever seen a swan in the deep backcountry. A random encounter of a rare species in these “here parts”. I could have said to it, “You ain’t from around here are ya?”.

This was last summer early to mid warm season. It was a wet summer too so the lakes were full. . I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sneak up on a wild swan on a small lake but trust me on this. It’s not easy even with a long lens. This was a long lens by the way coming in at 2400mm. This guy had something white on his beak. This is not your basic tame swan on a city lake lol.

Now I also have this guy on game trail camera captures over the next few weeks. He/She was probably nesting in some of the remote lakes up here in the borderlands. Most of this country doesn’t get much human activity. Human activity would certainly spook this wild bird. They tend to scoot off if your spotted. Getting this surprised me. I guess a little stealth paid off here. If it was nesting as I suggest, it was a few thousand miles south of it’s ancestral breeding grounds. It is a rare sighting according to the books..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands, (Wyotana)

Title: Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

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Pronghorn Under the Sun

Pronghorn Under the Sun
Pronghorn Under the Sun

Pronghorn Under the Sun

Musings on lining up Pronghorn with ANYTHING:

It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN. Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations

in the last 500,000 years) the series of advancing glaciers stopped their advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems.

About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (The first 60 degree day this year as I type this narrative).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Pronghorn Under the Sun

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Preying Mantis Hatchling

Preying Mantis Hatchling
Preying Mantis Hatchling

Preying Mantis Hatchling

Strawberry flower just lost it’s petals (fertilized), Mantis Egg Sac lower right and a precocious hatchling first to appear…. I’m thinking he is just under a quarter inch long.

There should be a few more of these Praying Mantis Eggs about. IF I see any more hatchlings I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 1 inch away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 This was taken down in my aquaponic Greenhouse where it never gets below 65 degrees all winter. Taken about a week before this posts.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. I believe this is the 6th generation of hatches I’ve had down in that artificial environment here mid winter. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol.

Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 They are constantly moving back and forth to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds. I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but as here in a Green House , this is their 6th generation now of Mantis babies under that roof. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot tall under grade “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using no soil, just water (except for some orchids where I have some Hydroton™ nuggets involved.)

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Preying Mantis Hatchling

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Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

Three Running Pronghorn Fawns
Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” from my position. There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. This the third capture finished from that encounter last spring. They were quite close when I caught these three moving out. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee (At that time). . I had been watching the group on a hill top 300 yards away for a while. They all ran toward me in an opportunity of a lifetime. I have a dozen images from this close encounter.

The vehicle obviously blended into the background as a non-threatening thing to them. When I accidentally drive into what I consider a group of pronghorn’s “uncomfortable zone”, I stop and start driving like a grazing animal would move. Stop, stay there a while. Start and move 10 feet stop for a while, rinse and repeat that process until I get into reasonable camera range. Say 15 minutes.. and it always doesn’t work…

I had an uphill shot to the group. Suddenly ALL the fawns took off running at the same time while the 3 doe babysitters didn’t flinch. Something startled them but not the adults. This group ran by my Jeep within 20 yards. Now could get inside groups of deer several times a day using this technique but not too often Pronghorns.

If you ask anybody which end of the Pronghorn you usually get the picture of, it’s not usually the front end. I’m thinking I have 2 other encounters were the animals were running at me. One time I was almost run over by a Pronghorn by accident. I was JUST over a ridges lip standing in a cattle trail by a fence (a natural funnel). He didn’t see me running up the other side until he crested the ridge maybe 10 feet behind me. I had a wide camera and did get that encounter too lolol. Spun and caught them running by my rig. Their (2 animals) hoofs threw dirt at me with their turn to avoid me. Almost a head on collision in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never wanted to collide with a Pronghorn at speed lolol. I’ll dig out that photo soon.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

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Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks

Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks
Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks

Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks (Summer 2018)

Whimsical: First of all, I’ve never seen a group of boys hanging out on the corner that didn’t bring an “oh oh” to my mind lol. The big guy (second to the right) is actually pretty big as a Mule Deer’s ears are 22 inches roughly across. I’ve certainly seen bigger bucks. Overall a nice Muley Buck I thought.

OH, I forgot, I’m suspecting they were about to drag race here . My presence shut it down as if by a switch. Instead they walked off slowly with casual glances over their shoulder. More or less continuing to move from one of my water tanks to their grazing areas. By the looks of those bellies hanging down, the food supply is doing well. Yup chubby future hubby for some lucky girl is.

The 35 mph speed limit is just suggestion as maximum speed to them I suspect though it’s the law up here on ranch. There is about 3 miles of county road that crosses across our ground. It makes it MUCH easier to get from one end to the other for everybody up here includeing this batch. They had just left the cleared gravel

I watch well known places of wildlife activity such as watering holes we keep open all year just for wild life. (4). Usually one of them will have stock on it but it’s still open for the deer and anybody else around to use. Everybody needs a place to drink. Wildlife tend to be hard pressed in the winter to find open water.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Speeding Fine of 4 Bucks

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Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing
Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing (Headline in any rural newspaper as it’s pretty quiet up here)

With several things going on in this mid-summer capture, you might focus on the Pronghorn diving under the three wire fence. The highlight on which are as bright as I’ve seen lol. It was just the perfect angle. I’m parked about 300 yards down the road. The mother and two fawns were in a hurry to leave my proximity as I just had come to a stop. Pronghorn’s tend to move when you stop. Changes in motion trigger them to move in response as I see it. If your still all the time or moving all the time, your less likely to spook them. Vehicle photography of Pronghorn is much easier than on foot lolol. These American native long distance relative of the giraffe does not appreciate the human form (maybe it’s just me”…😜)

So… Pronghorn almost always go under fences. I read once where they can jump 15 feet high. (I have not see this). I have however seen them go 6 feet. I have less than 10 images of Pronghorn Jumping Fences. I have many more of them going under fences. 📸

This is however, the ONLY image I have of a doe deer “Watching the Technique” clearly displayed here used by countless generations of Pronghorn. Deer of course tend to jump fences.

I can’t tell you how much I want summer back. As I post this midwinter, there is either mud or ice in the backcountry. Iced / melted then frozen snow drifts are really bumpy. Mud is a problem this time of yearI try not to exacerbate by making ruts with my Raptor.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

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Moon Owl Composite ART

Moon Owl Composite ART
Moon Owl Composite ART

Moon Owl Composite ART

Art then Science:

The chill of the upcoming winter was in the air. I captured an old soldier of a wildlife tree. Heavily used by Wood Peckers and Flickers to hunt in for grubs. It oversees/overllows all on it’s high backcountry ridge redoubt. A safe nest for a dozen creatures. Within is a rest from the relentless high ground wind. A rest here for this Great Horned Owl while the rising moon lights up the scene. While dark to our eyes, the extraordinary night vision of the hunting raptor (and my Sony Alpha 7RIV) pierce the darkness. 😜 📸

Did I mention the above is art. The moon just by itself is a 16 image composite. I own the owl silhouette and the snag/twilight photo. Took me a bit to do this well. 🤔👀 (Landscape up to 3×2 feet)

Now the Science:

The owls perception of the night world and need to detect the smallest movement a trait of the species. This would be a real world nocturnal and uncommon encounter. I’m ignoring the limitations of physics and gear to get an image like this require it’s construction in the digital dark room. This scene has happened millions of times however. They would be REALLY hard to catch in the real world. It’d take a heck of a lens to do this at maybe 500 yards out. Having said that, if this ever unveiled in front me in the real world, I could certainly capture the image. That is, if I were given about 5 minutes to get into position/set up lolol.

While active during the day at times, they habituate the darkness and are totally apex predators in this environment. Just to stress the point, none of this would be happening without the moon. (Morning citizen scientist assignment, please google “moon formation”).

The moon is our planets protector. It’s mass around the earth keeps the earths rotation stable. Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop. (This is a big deal and where some genuine magic occurs)

The Mass and resultant gravity is necessary for stabilizing the Tilt of our planet like a huge slow motion gyroscope. Scientists say Earth’s “obliquity”, as this tilt is known, is important to remain stable. Changes in Obliquity have huge repercussions from the resultant environmental reactions. Should Earth’s obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace. Imagine obliquity such that the South Pole is all daylight 100 percent of the time and the North Pole in 100 percent night sky. Our lunar neighbor has literally made it possible for you to read this as a sequence of events set up in the flow of Space and Time. 🤔📸

Title: Moon Owl Composite ART

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Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop
Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

(Summer Alpenglow)

This 220 pound “King” Corso Mastiff is one of 4 Mastiff’s of 2 different breeds living in our ranch compound with us currently. (Along with my nephews tiny poodle mix lolol). He was walking away from a a cool bath under that spigot after the last run of the day. (I have that bath on another similar image) The cowgirl gave the short haired dogs a few minutes to dry in the summer air and off to bed. Living with mastiffs has it’s big rewards with just a few detractions.

The Drool Thing:

As a rancher wearing ranch cloths, I don’t mind so much the drool issue.. If you’ve never been around Mastiffs that were bred by the Romans for war (not table manners), you haven’t experienced living with a salivating horse before. Generally they are clean enough for dogs but the strings of drool are impressive. I should have waited until after he drank to show the foot long strings that occur after eating or drinking. I bet there are some patentable characteristics for the sticky, stringy properties of Mastiff Drool.

So I’m sitting in my computer chair working while my wife is feeding the mastiffs. (they eat outside but we hand feed them meat rolls about a pound each. ). She let the dogs right in and the first thing the big one does is come over laying his head on my arm. I almost had to take a shower lololol. The command is now, “Wipey Wipe” after feeding BEFORE the dogs come back in. They don’t like their face wiped but they let us do it lol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop