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Hawk Flight Path Composite

Hawk Flight Path Composite
Hawk Flight Path Composite

Hawk Flight Path Composite 30″x10″ triplet (3:1 aspect)

Certainly I am not an expert on extant raptors. I know a bit about Avian Dinosaurs, this is the Bliss DInosaur Ranch after all…. That being said, I “believe” that this is a “Ferruginous Hawk. A single bird along it’s flight path. In other words, this is the same bird against the very background it was flying past. (A composite/multiple exposure of sorts) . (Red Tail versus Ferruginous is a tough one. ). I’m sure someone reading this will know instantly.

The bird is actually below me topographically. It was actively flapping to keep or gain altitude and was on an hunt. Mouth open giving a screech. Camera on rapid fire of 10 shots a second. I was high on a ridge several hundred feet above the surrounding ground. This hawk was actually making enough noise for several birds lol. He was calling so much, I’m sure he was telegraphing his presence to the prey.

This guy actually circled twice which gave me enough time to tweek the camera and catch him on the second pass. I don’t see hawks from above too often. Passing by me twice was a gift from him to me. He must have seen something down there and wanted to check it out twice. He didn’t give me a third opportunity. Hunting appeared better else where. It was soon flying off. Not a bit worried about whether I took his photo.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hawk Flight Path Composite

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SpringTime Velvet Buck

SpringTime Velvet Buck
SpringTime Velvet Buck

SpringTime Velvet Buck

I know this buck as “Goal Post. He only has one brow tine on the horn on your right. He also has perfect ears meaning he’s a lover not a fighter. I’ve been watching this boy grow up for the third year now. He’s almost respectable now, has grown and generally is very receptive to posing.

I’ve been “working around” this guy for several years now and he is pretty tolerant of me. I have to be slow in what I do with my vehicles as with any wild animal. IT’s all about getting your rig to act like a grazing animal. Stutter stop, start move 10 feet, “graze a while” move some more. You have to wait to move until their attention span lessens of their awareness of you. They go back to grazing. Wait a few seconds and move another 20 feet. Take your time.

I have worked my way into the middle of several different wild deer herds precisely doing the process above. You can’t just drive up in the middle of a group expecting them not to scatter like the wind. . They would misconstrue the quick approach as a hostile act. Only the other grazers can integrate into a deer herd. So there is an art to getting really close to any wild animal but I do stay in my rig. Getting out is a bad idea across the board. Making them used to the human form is counterproductive to their reproductive processes. I get them used to my vehicles. I never get out or push them ever. If I scared them routinely, it would be a hard thing to approach the next time.

2×3 aspect up to 3 feet

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: SpringTime Velvet Buck

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Fawns Running at the Camera

Fawns Running at the Camera
Fawns Running at the Camera

Fawns Running at the Camera

These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. I only got 6 of the running fawns in this frame. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I had been there a while. 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. 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. 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 Jeeps I’d say within 20 yards. I 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. I actually 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 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

Fawns Running at the Camera

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot 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 my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. 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 “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

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

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis

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Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4
Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Satire: There was going to be a pickup base ball game but the Pronghorn couldn’t put enough players on the field. I would have enjoyed the play by play. Now if 4 of the deer played on the Pronghorn team, there would still be one odd man out. The someone asked who had the ball and bat and no one remembered to bring it. Go figure!

That ‘s the problem with ungulate sports. They are as a group focused on food an danger. Anything else is transitory . You will also note that the Whitetail squad also was a no show entirely. They will probably show up with their coach “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. I have no control over their actions. 😜

Back to my “normal” programming.

I don’t see close encounters of multiple species, that I can capture on one frame, of ungulates out in the backcountry. Even so, this is the Serengeti of North America up in this portion of Wyoming/Montana. The major national grassland 20 miles from here to the south puts us on a migration route with many hundreds of pronghorn passing through each late fall/early spring. The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring. Then they break up into smaller groups and finally does with fawns. Only to regroup again later in the year. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

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Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light
Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

The beautiful little girl was in perfect morning light with a very wet nose. She was sniffing the air and had a gleam in her eye. Longest eye lashes ever these guys. Then you don’t have a hat brim, they must be the next best thing.

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. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. 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: Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

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Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather
Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

Springtime rainy weather would be amazing at the moment. Leaves are sprouting with bugs about. This grey/brown spotted woodpecker is a rare fixture up here. This is the Red Shafted Flicker Version. This variety lives here in the west. A different version lives to the east and north I understand. Omnivorous by nature, they are notorious ant eaters. He was digging into old wood. Sticking it’s beak into old wet rotten logs was it’s goal. It was looking for grubs, and found them. Fruits, nuts, betties, even seeds in the winter omnivores they are.

I have never found a nest before and am always on the lookout. I know most of the “wildlife” trees and keep my eye on the comings and goings of things. I’ve never seen one of these dive into a hole in a tree before…. I’m counting the day however..📷

I find them difficult to approach with long telephoto shots being the rule not the exception. I’ve actually captured a few with game trail cameras in the past. Some of those images are wall worthy when ever I get around to finishing them to current standards. I see them often but have found that when they see me, they don’t stick around too much. We really don’t see them much out in the backcountry but I do see them around the homestead in the side gardens. I consider them to hanging around the variety of vegetation around my homestead. The ecosystem here in the ranch main compound is vastly more diverse than is the regular backcountry grassland. There are also more cats…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

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Tippy Toe Fawn

Tippy Toe Fawn
Tippy Toe Fawn

Tippy Toe Fawn

This game trail camera is the same camera that captured the doe I posted earlier this morning. This was taken on a different day of course since it wasn’t born just yet when the doe was caught.. This is likely one of her two fawns stretching as far as it could to see what this camera is lolol. I have a whole sequence of two fawns and the mother with the cow lick on her shoulder.

Cropping the top this off is possible. Obviously overexposed at the top right. Only behind behind that tree saved the image.. Automatic cameras….. I could have easily captured this with one of my fancy cameras but the candidness is all about me NOT being there. Thank god for the tree filter. Without that tree, this wouldn’t have been captured at all. This guy has just too much curiosity not to share with you folks. Deer babies are a spring thing….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Tippy Toe Fawn

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Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet
Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Not many Western Meadowlarks were singing the morning I got this capture. We are in their breeding area

It was not funny to the Meadowlarks as it was to me. This particular snow made it hard to find a place to alight. IT stuck to everything. Other birds occupied ALL perches in all directions. Worse: No one wanted to walk in the several inch thick sloppy wet snow. It was sticking to everything including the poor birds feet. A favorite perch were the electric wires around my compound.. There are other photos of that as well lol. There were many good captures this day.

Meadowlarks are insect and seed eaters. They are very well adapted to life up here in this remote grasslands up here on the high ridges. I’m sure they time their arrival or departure based on insect availability I suspect. They watch the weather pretty closely lol. The whole prairie was full of Meadowlarks this day and no shelter in this storm. The snow stuck to his feet made me feel better because I wasn’t the only one dealing with it lolol. There is companionship often formed in misery……..

Meadowlarks left this year around early October when winter started and heavier snows moved through. We’ve had a constant barrage of storms with just a bit of warmer relief since. 40 degrees and still is T-shirt weather in this country. We’ve already been below zero this year.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

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Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe
Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Walking up very carefully to a stock water tank late spring is the doe Whitetail. She is about as pregnant as she can be, weeks from giving birth. Two buns in the oven I suspect. I see a female deer with the same cowlick on her shoulder later in the year on the same camera with a pair of twins.

Brown/white mottled winter days like today at 42 degrees as a high ,sure make late spring days with green leaves look amazing. This “Garden of Eden “capture isn’t far from a wonderful wetland . The warm days of summer are missed up here with our Oct 1 start of winter.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

Square Aspect Ratio to 18 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland

Title: Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

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Dragonfly on Barbed Wire

DragonFly on Barbed Wire
DragonFly on Barbed Wire

Dragonfly on Barbed Wire (A bit out of season but this is from this summer previously unpublished. )

I’m an opportunistic photographer. Driving along two track roads one sees various things. I keep my eye open for various things, I like to think I see some detail now and again. This is of course whey I find fossils so easily as I tend to detect variations in patterns easily. Here I noticed this guy resting on a strand of old old barbed wire. There are many generations of barbed wire on ranch. This is an old one. The DragonFly is somewhat younger.

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies.

During the Carboniferous geologic period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, they grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water.

They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands. I don’t see them a lot on barbed wire though lolol. 

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Dragonfly on Barbed Wire

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Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Iridescent Golden Back Fly
Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Getting this close to a fly isn’t that easy. Usually they live up to their name and “fly away”. Truly not many insects like a big one eyed lens stuck into their face. The movement no matter how small triggers their built in escape and evasion mechanism. Flies pick random escape vectors to get away from danger. Really bright lights help as it tends to blind them too.

One of my macro-lenses has a bright ring of LED’s around. I’m sure it has the appearance of the sun incoming at the fly. Blind the fly and he won’t move as you approach is my take from this. The temperature was warm so he wasn’t torpid. So distraction, blind your subjects and move slowly is the lesson lolol.

Flies are never a “popular” image because they are generally nasty creatures. However they are engineered by the master of engineers

True story:

Three engineers are arguing which is the oldest of the three disciplines, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering

The mechanical engineer said ” Mechanical Engineering is the oldest profession, god was a mechanical engineer, just look at all the levers and tendons in the human body.”

The electrical engineer said ” Electrical engineering was gods work, had to make the nervous system first before any muscle could move. Electrical engineering was first.”

The Civil Engineer said “God was obviously a civil engineer. Who else but a civil engineer would run a waste canal through a recreational area. “.

(Top hat crash)

18 inch x 18 inch square aspect

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Iridescent Golden Back Fly

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Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs
Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs is from last spring of course. I see so much snow these days I’m ready for some of those warm days. It’s just December too lolol.

We have several Pink Lilacs as well as the standard purple. Swallowtails are a little flightly and are hard to get this close on without them heading for the next stop. Typically they fly out of reach. There were dozens of them swarming this bush along with a host of other species of insects. Finding one tolerant of you is a matter of ‘Becoming the bush” and don’t move too much. You have to be able to tolerate bees and other bugs flying around you though. Other than that, it’s not hard to so. Don’t wear perfumes as if you smell like a flower. Being stung in a bush is something that hasn’t happened yet. But merging into Lilac bushes and Hollyhock gardens has it’s risks.

Macro lens photography is a matter of getting close. REALLY CLOSE to your subject. I have half a dozen different macros good for different applications. This is a 90mm sony G series Macro lens at about 11 inches distance. I don’t autofocus anything ever so I’m actively focusing by moving my head back and forth fractions of an inch. A little bit of movement goes a LONG ways when your focus field depth is 1/8th inch thick. Set your focus and move your head lol. Handheld. Not a tripod.

Trivia:

The first known picture drawn by John White in 1587 of a north American butterfly was a swallowtail. This during Sir Walter Raleigh’s third Expedition to Virginia. That work is named Mamankanois that is believed to be a native word for butterfly in the day/area. I’m sure that it was shown to Queen Elizabeth who was the sponsor of Sir Walter Raleigh’s adventures in the America’s.

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

Title: Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

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Killdeer Chick Up Close

Killdeer Chick UP Close
Killdeer Chick UP Close

Killdeer Chick Up Close

I’m thinking that to get any closer to a 20 day or so old Killdeer chick, a trap would be involved. This is a wild bird out in the summer grass . Parents are all about doing their bad acting of a wounded bird to pull me away. I’m not so sure the little one thought he was in much trouble. The adults sure put on a side show that is certain.

The only way I could get this close was from inside a vehicle. Cars/trucks are mobile blinds and most animals are not afraid of them. This baby of course wasn’t familiar with a vehicle being not that old. These guys are tiny when young. They fly pretty quickly but this guy didn’t take off. He just scampered around the grass.

Killdeer as a group are bug eaters but will eat seeds. The young feed themselves very soon with the parents supplementing their diet early on. They are quick starters you might say. This group was within 100 feet of one of the ranches water holes. I see them in my game trail cameras regularly there. I understand they have been known to wet their chest feathers to cool the eggs in a hot environment. I’ve never seen them raise two broods a year as some do. I watched this guys parents for several months. They didn’t start a second nest at least in that same spot.

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

Title: Killdeer Chick Up Close

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Western Painted Turtles Sunning

Western Painted Turtles Sunning
Western Painted Turtles Sunning

Sneaking up on Western Painted Turtles Sunning is a matter of patience and position. If they see you, they will dive. I don’t care how far away you are. They consider humans dangerous. So, a proper lens (800mm), a nice warm summer day when I had a few spare minutes and a couple of sleepy turtles. 

The really funny thing about the fly on the turtles shell, it that there are actually 2 flies there. They need to go rent a room. I think there are a few by the hour down in Gillette. 😂😂 

Taken from 15 feet away, I was blending into the background motion of a pretty windy day. Tree Branches moving, lots of tall grass swaying in the wind. . I’m peaking my well camo’d head over a bank VERY slowly. They didn’t sense my presence for some time. I worked them for at least 5 minutes pretty much circling them on one side. You really have to move slowly though. First time you sneeze, your done lolol. I attribute my stealth to the moving limbs and trees all behind me masking my motion. Admittedly, I was moving very slowly. 

These guys make lifelong pets with some living 50 years in captivity. Pet shops sell Western Painted turtle domestically raised babies. I’m sure many thousands have been released back into the wild. Soon after the novelty wore off, many have landed in the woods or a local pond lolol. 

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Western Painted Turtles Sunning

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Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting
Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbirds use an interesting approach to egg laying. No time is watered to build a nest. They expend all their energy laying eggs. But only in the nests of others. The bigger chick usually wins the battle against smaller fledgelings from the parents actual offspring. They are all raised by adopted parents often at the expense of their own breed. The most common “Brood Parasite”

The network of 29 (currently) Game Trail Cameras that I run occasionally come up with some pretty candid captures. I don’t recommend any brand of Game Trail Camera as all of them have their share of unique problems.

This capture was from mid summer 2019. We just at a Blizzard (a week ago as I post this) There are Game Trail Cameras that I won’t be able to get to before spring already. I had pretty good batteries and typically they can go 6 months unless something is overstimulating the shutter. Moving branches or grass can set your Game Trail Camera off eliminating your battery or SD card’s capacity. Which ever comes first will be the end of that camera.

I do have to remember where I have put cameras. This is a very big place and I’m sure there are a few out there than I don’t remember but I eventually will run into them. This is a very big place at 5.5 square miles. But it’s a small ranch compared to others around hre. It’s a matter of scale which is very hard to convey. Folks that have visited here fully understand.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. This posts Dec 8th….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Moo Moo Sunset

Moo Moo Sunset
Moo Moo Moon

Moo Moo Sunset

As I drive around our ranch. I check water tanks and fix fences that don’t need to be down. It’s good to keep cattle out of the hay bales for instance. I also keep a good pile of cameras with me. Each is a specialty tool with a lens on it that does a particular task. Short lenses, long lenses and many in between. Usually when an alignment of planets occurs, a long lens at a good distance is a nice application.

Photographic Musings: Buying a camera??

This cow filter worked very well to reduce the over all light reaching my camera. Not quite 1/2 of the suns disk was blocked and thus this image was possible. I really don’t like glass filters in front of my lens when pointing at the sun. (I use mirrorless cameras only please so I don’t blind myself). Calling this scene bright would be an understatement. You certainly couldn’t look at it bare eyed. The mirrorless removable lens camera displays the image on a video screen in the eyepiece or the LCD on the back of the camera. All live real time. Your settings change the image live. You know what your going to get (more or less) what you see in the eyepiece. Working a good camera on Manual takes on a whole different style.

Disclaimer: Don’t try this with your DSLR camera as the direct path of light to your eye will probably blind you. Also, some mirrorless cameras are not rated for this kind of telephoto sun shot. Don’t assume a smaller sensor camera (I use full frame Sony Alpha 7’s) will take this without burning a hole in the sensor.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moo Moo Sunset

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Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

Windmill Duck Sun and Sail
Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

So I see the wonderful veiled sky. I’m several miles in, well past an easy walk into the backcountry. (I drove my Jeep because this gear is heavy! ) This is “Re Pete” the 1930’s Aermotor Windmill. He is “Sneaky Petes” (the windmill) older/bigger Brother here on the ranch. Usually they are the photobombers working their way into my landscapes and sunsets. Here the ducks photobombed the famous photobomber him self. I have no control over any of this narrative OR the windmills for that fact. It takes on a life of it’s own😜😂

An interesting path that leads to this particular moment of space and time here forever frozen . That ridge line parallels a higher line to the east. This is VERY hilly country with big gullies separating flatter divides. Two track trails cross deep animal trails from a century of cattle walking. You don’t want to hit one of those at 20 with your jeep lol. As I say, my jeep is a short timer here now.

Incoming is a new Ford F-150 that should improve my ride quality (which is beating me up as I put 3500 miles last year on my ATV alone driving two track (bumpy) backcountry roads. I feel like I’ve worked in a mine all my life driving heavy equipment. I actually wore out a set of front brakes in 2 years on my Polaris Ranger. There are a LOT of slow downhill descents (anybody can fall downhill) on that Polaris. This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.

Memories:

I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

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Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark
Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark

My target was the smiley face in the sunrise As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence brace to line it up I noticed the Meadowlark. I started snapping and caught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was. Both of us saw the anthropomorphic image unfolding. Only we saw it and he didn’t have a camera.

Meadowlarks are very active this early. The sun had been up for about 1/2 and hour. I had been photographing the sunrise. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into a dark thick cloudbank. Looking back, I saw this lol. Backing up a little, I got in position. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a VERY bright scene. ). This accounts for the dark tones as the difference in dynamic range makes silhouettes out of things the human eye resolved. 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. This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title: Happy Face and the Meadowlark

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Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Perspective Mule Deer Buck
Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Images from Game Trail Cameras are all problematic in one way or another. This one is better than most and I love the position of the camera here. Most daylight images it takes are pretty darned good. I don’t think you can do much better with the technology that is out there than this image.

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Mule Deer Buck

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Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

Killdeer Nest on the Rocks
Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

Killdeer Nest on the Rocks 2:1 Aspect.

This is the second Killdeer sitting on eggs that I have in my portofolio. It is silly hard to get close enough to a Killdeer to take an “eyebrow” photo. To get a Killdeer sitting on a nest without triggering it’s wounded bird display is a slow motion process. Their instinct is to play injured bird to draw you away from their bare nest. They carry on for a hour if that is what it takes to get you distracted from where their next is. It is job one for the little guys. They are actually a member of the Plover family if you keep track of such things.

This parent was sitting on 5 small eggs surrounded by rocks. Nothing soft at all. From humble beginnings….. This patch of stones are a Killdeer’s idea of good camo for little eggs that look like stones. They are dutiful parents.

I have many photos of day old chicks running around with their parents playing their part to draw me away. Of course I ignored them and took images of their chicks. Once I know where something is….matter of time Killdeer are a hoot to watch. They are a challenge to watch out of “character” and doing natural behavior. That is besides their bad acting career lol.

This pair is up on a high ridge but there is a stock water tank a few hundred yards down hill from them. I have several game trail camera photos of Killdeer drinking there. (not worth publishing). This isn’t a Game Trail Camera photo lolol . The full sized file is 40 inches x 20 inchs at 300DPI. 2:1 aspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

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Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro
Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro

I took this image mid summer. I found this guy near a night light Soon he was popped him into a freezer bag. Refrigerate at 34 degrees for the day. When you take them out, they will hold on to thinks but will give you a bit more time to photograph them if they are cold. They warm up fast enough but will give you a few minutes anyway. I set this reddish brown fellow on a birch branch with sun exposure. The camera starts clicking away. Macro lenses will focus usually less than a foot away. Bright light is your friend for this kind of work.

To this day I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never seen it in any google image and don’t know the systematics for moths. If you know who it is, I’d love to know.

I call it the “Muppit Moth” for lack of better terms to apply. He’s definitely a hoot with those eyes. What a proboscus too. Jimmy Durante had nothing on this guy. He has a degree of cuteness that doesn’t usually go along with insect close ups. I’d love to find another one. (Any body Remember Jimmy Durante??). The peach

After about 5 minutes of gradual warm up, it flew off to the sky. Never to be seen again. This is more or less my version of catch and release. This moment in space and time however did not get away from me. ….📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Cross Eyed Moth Macro

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Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo
Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

This is the latest Pronghorn Punk look here at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. THe adults try to talk to the kids. Then some older guy with a punk doo like this walks by and ruins it for the adults. The kids all want to look like this guy. Particularly in bad weather it seems. Add some freezing rain and voila, intant Pronghorn Punk.

I’m working hard on getting a collection of “looking over the shoulder” images from Pronghorn and Deer. It isn’t an easy perspective for me to get and I’m tickled when they come out this well. From the perspective of a doe standing right next to him from this capture. Placement of these game trail cameras is EVERYTHING. About 1 degree lower angle, it would have cut off the horn. I use what ever is at hand to adjust the angles on the cameras. Typically they attach to a post with a strap. Uses a stick or rock to keep it pointing where you want it to. In reality, the pointing is the only control you have over the game trail camera. Everything else is set/built by the programmers.

I’ve said numerous times that Game trail camera images are problematic to me. This one is 2feet by 3 feet at full resolution. So they do take some pretty high quality images. They all to a one however, need a LOT of fine detailed work to fix the problems built into the images by the cameras.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Punk Hair Doo

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First Morning Drink on Tap

First Morning Drink on Tap
First Morning Drink on Tap

First Morning Drink on Tap

The very first of the mornings light skimmed off the high hill tops and ridges. I like to be just on the far side of a ridge for the sky show. Here I caught a calf Black Angus enter the rear door of the cafeteria’s milk spigot. Between the green grass (rocket fuel) and all that raw milk makes them live wires. You never know which way they are going to jump in the spring.

I get a lot of comments regarding the conical pyramidal shaped hill. I often do satire narratives where they turn magicially into volcanos or the rare “American” pyramid. I’m sorry that the truth is way less interesting. Sadly they are just piles of different layers of sandstones and mudstones. Deposted during the late Cretaceous, these layers are world famous.. This is when the dinosaurs were crawling around these sands I’m standing on. Blanketed in the Hell Creek/Lance formation, we never know what we are going to find. . Known from the end of the dinosaur era. They are indeed occasionally fossilferous. I’ve found good sized bones in the grass before (rare but several times). There are indeed dinosaur fossils up here. We earned Bliss Dinosaur Ranch as a name. p

But this is a land of many uses. We raise a lot of grass and cattle up here. I raise some dinosaurs now and then of course. We’ve had a nationally released video of 4 wheel drive activity we’ve done up here. (2008 Petersons 4 wheel drive and offroad’s Ultimate Adventure Video was partially filmed here). We have had a major rifle shoot here every year for 18 years now. Oil has been extracted back in the 1960’s so the place was mineral rich. Open spaces are still open. You would be hard pressed to find much evidence of the 1960’s oil production. There are several pipelines for oil, gas and CO2 crossing nearby. This place makes many things happen.

Title: First Morning Drink on Tap

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Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal
Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

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 Up Close and Personal

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Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day
Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day for sure. So how do you have to sleep to get that “Cow LIck” or is that Pronghorn? Might be chilly out for this shot… (-2F). I love it when I get a Pronghorns breath. Frosty!

Shed Horn Sheath.

That appears to be a pretty sharp point on his right horn. I doubt it grew that way. I suppose he might have broken it off or is shedding the sheath (most likely). He actually might do some damage with that horn if he ever get’s big enough physically to be a “contender” in the rut. You know it’s all fun and games until someone puts out an eye. Designed to lock up in a fight, horns shape is sort of standardized. . Having said all that, this is a late migrator working his way down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The Pronghorn “herd up” about 30 miles south of my place for the winter. Those grasslands are part of the American Serengeti. down there. They have been over the rut for weeks now.

I have never found a full sized shed Pronghorn sheath. I have only found one SMALL example. I’d like to think I have a pretty sharp eye for things left on the ground having been a dinosaur/fossil hunter all my life. Patterns and shapes stand out in my mind like a starburst against the black sky. They disintegrate pretty fast I suspect.

I’m always looking down with my eye’s to the ground and I walk in the backcountry a LOT. Most folks don’t know the males do in fact shed their horns. This Pronghorn buck still has one to go. The Horns will grow back pretty quickly in the spring.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bad Horn Day

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Bliss Ranch Rock Garden

Bliss Ranch Rock Garden
Bliss Ranch Rock Garden

The very small piece of one Bliss Ranch Rock Garden shown here, thins found by a life long hunter of “treasures”. . Things collected off the ranch for my yard living on the Montana/Wyoming border. Two decades I’ve been riding around on this ranch very systematically searching the land for Dinosaur Fossils. I am an opportunist that will pick up about anything not a piece of wood and I have a few of those lolol. I generally built pretty big rock gardens full of ranch finds as needed. Lots of outdoor dinosaur fossils about even. Petrified wood, minerals from Wyoming are all around the place.

Found deep in the backcountry this hammer was.. It appears blacksmith made from a piece of good rock pick steel. This was very well mated to a standard piece of galvanized pipe. Probably 1950’s or so. . Cattle skulls are ubiquitous in deep ranch country as we live in. As we discover them, deer skulls/antlers are located then put in a rock garden.

. It’s a common western ranch tradition to collect deer bone or skulls.

I tend to get thematic with rock gardens. Some of them are quite big, full of river cobbles imported by semi truck from the Big Horn Mountains. A quarry near Buffalo Wyoming is the source of the cobbles in the garden. I’ve found quite a bit of Epidote in this. A beautiful green semi-precious minteral. Wonderful for making cabochons from. I love finding nice material by the semi load. I collect petrified wood in Gillette in various parking lots all the time. City Cobble Collecting is ALMOST as good as the treasures found on this ranch lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bliss Ranch Rock Garden

 

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Cow’s Bad Hair Day

Cow's Bad Hair Day
Cow's Bad Hair Day

Cow’s Bad Hair Day is one of those captures that just makes me roll my eyes lol. I’m pretty sure she was miserable about this 😔

TheSticky Seeds, widely known as “Burdock” (Arctium) seed clusters.

Claim to Fame:

The inventor claims Velcro was conceived from observing the seeds “hook” like design combined with it’s “adhesive” qualities. The hook’s at the perimeter of the seed cluster attaches to hair, clothing and even feathers. Some birds getting into Burdocks, totally covered in burrs.

It “Symbolizes” Abundance I understand.

Burdock has world wide distribution (not surprising). It’s a great dispersal strategy which lends seeds to travel lol. It is however, a VERY good plant to know about. It is a common food in the orient utilizing the tap root of young plants as a vegetable. Soak the shreaded roots for 10 minutes. This will cause it to loose a slight muddy taste. Known at ‘gobo” in Japan, I have eaten it before in several different pork dishes and soups. The tap roots resemble a carrot in shape. It has lots of fiber also a good source of calcium, potassium and various amino acids.

Burdock beer was common back in the middle ages. Known as hedgerow mead it is still a flavor. In the United Kingdom, “Dandilion and Burdock” is a popular soft drink even today.. Historically used as a “bittering agent in beer prior to the introduction of hops in beer for this purpose.

Medicinal Uses. Pregnant women might want to avoid Burdock. Believed to increase lactation, so…. Careful too as it can cause contact dermititus in some and in more sensitive individuals, allergic reactions .

Traditional Herbalists, who consider the dried roots and seeds useful. (Chinese traditional medicine) both of which are used as treatments for many Ailments. Often used as a diurietic (makes you pee/loose water), and a diaphoretic (makes you sweat). I’m pretty sure there are volumes written about this plant on line. Googling this might be a good thing. 😃

Location: Near the Burdock Patch, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cow’s Bad Hair Day

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Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd is just 6 members of the 20 plus deer grouping. Strung across this ridge line in 3 groups.. The herds are gathering for the winter. Security in numbers is their goal. I’m seeing fewer and fewer individual deer walking around, replaced by small herds to larger groups.

This is ridge is known to me as “Sunset RIdge”. It’s a wonderful place to take sunrise and sunset photos. It’s located just over the border in Montana with Wyoming Skies in the background. I have spent many hours up there and I was heading there to shoot the sky show. There were many deer spread out across the ridge. I decided just to take their images against the blue sky with golden hour glow to the landscape. Long shadows add so much to an image.

These deer will stick together all winter. There will be a buck in “general charge” but mostly I suspect an “alpha” female will lead them around the place foraging. In my observations, bucks are lazy and tend to watch a lot rather than boss. It’s the does that have the squabbles most of the year. The bucks like to sit back in the reclining chair. They do take time to eat but aren’t that social with the does. The does have probably figured out what getting too friendly with a buck leads to. I’m sure they don’t want anything to do with that at this point after the rut….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Ridge Deer Herd