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Perspective Wagon Box Side

Perspective Wagon Box Side
Perspective Wagon Box Side

Perspective Wagon Box Side

Textures are revealed within the grain of the 80+ year old weathered wood. The Old Buck wagon is holding a place of honor (in his mind) a mile out from our homestead in our “boneyard”. It shares residence there with a host of other ranch utilitarian items deemed too important a resource to bury. The custom of the early days of pioneering in this country was typically to toss broken / un-fixable things into a nearby gully and call it good. Cracked cast iron with a mix of glass bottles in the mix. Some of the latter I do find intact from a known 1930’s homestead long since gone.

I’ve found abandoned two track roads leading to collapsed dug out houses in this country. Many have come before us in this high harsh ridge line environment. Life is easier down in the river valleys. Land was relatively free far from the electric grid and telephone in this remote high ground in the backcountry of Wyotana. Wagons as this were a critical technology that provided a lifeline to civilization. Providing ultimately all the products broken and discarded into the aforementioned nearby gully.

These wheels turned until they didn’t. Existing parked here a decade of decades. Now cattle rub against it, eventually breaking each and every piece of this historic relic. Living on a ranch in a semi-arid “steppe” environment preserves wood. Living with cattle on the ranch, destroys wood. The steel fittings last on. Wood to dust, steel to rust is the way of things.

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

Title:Perspective Wagon Box Side

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Bumble Bees are Back

Bumble Bees are Back
Bumble Bees are Back

Bumble Bees are Back

Getting eyebrow close with a big macro lens is always an exercise in “damn the torpedos”. When ever I dive into a flower rich environment to catch bees in action, I run the risk of pissing some body off lol. To date I have never been stung. I’ve had a couple of wasps dive bomb me though. Probably because I was too close to the entrance of their rock nest (cave). I spend hours every month of the summer chasing these guys. I have some new technology this year so we will see how they come out.

I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys this summer. The limitations of the optics are such that deep focus fields 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.

Photographic Musings:

With ALL Macro shots, light is your friend. The more, the better. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best…📸

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

Title: Bumble Bees are Back

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Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych
Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych

These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree. This Pair has set up shop with the left bird returning from a hunting trip. For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. The nest is just off frame right. I am lucky to have the topography such that I can get to their height across a lake from their nesting site. I am about 150 yards out for this capture.

Blue Herons eat a pile of fish…. but its diet also includes frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even small mammals if they are in striking distance. While it’s pointy dagger like beak has developed for catching prey, an unusual tongue also helps. No teeth in that mouth though their avian dinosaurian ancestors certainly had teeth lining that mouth cavity. The hunting behavior was handed down generation after generation though and these guys are exemplar walking metaphors to dinosaurs. Some did survive the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous after all… The avian dinosaurs 🤔

Herons whole anatomy is all about fishing along wetland edges though. They even have specially adapted neck vertebra/muscles that enable them strike like a rattler at prey but they don’t usually catch and release lolol. I note that catch and release is a human invention not seen in nature unless you consider cat’s playing games with their prey……

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

Title: Happy Herons Pair Diptych

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Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids
Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

Orchids are growing like wildfire but I have to manually water them as they like to dry out between waterings. Soggy orchids may or may not like what your doing submerging roots. I will confirm they REALLY like the water quality that I give them from my 2000 gallon aquaponic grow system they sit upon. Manually watered living in Hydroton Pellets that drain inside of leaky cups. Several hundred pounds of fish are constantly fertilizing the water. Bacteria convert the waste ammonia to plant fertilizer. This water is very suitable for plants. The 150 square feet of grow area will support a MONSTER amount of vegetation. I have limits growing down in this underground greenhouse. How much time I spend on it restricts how much / efficiently I use the space.

(I’m sorry we don’t do public tours but I do Face Book posts on my personal page regarding this topic occasionally).

I only have about 20 Orchid plants I’ve propagated over the years. They are an afterthought of raising vegi’s down in the Walipini as such taking up valuable room. But there have to be some diversions in chores…. (This is the only Wyoming Walipini we know about. I’d love to know if anyone else is growing 10 feet below grade using earth for insulation and thermal mass for heat retention. )

I have quite a bit of Vanilla bean growing now. That will accumulate over the next decade and I should have a significant crop of vanilla bean before too long. I haven’t seen them bloom yet, they are all in a growing mode currently. Since they grow up the back wall… It’s a matter of time in this WONDERFUL grow environment. This system has been running for 5.5 years at this time constantly/continually.

A Walipini defined : an earth sheltered cold frame green house. If you haven’t encountered the term before. I don’t use any dirt with plants down there. Just water as my media to grow about anything I can get to sprout in that environment (so far).

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

Title: Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

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Two Bucks for the Light

Two Bucks for the Light
Two Buck for the Light

Two Bucks for the Light

With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. Spring 2019… Bedded Deer Bucks chewing what ever goodies they regurgitated. … yumm… The grass that time of year is a wonderful brown/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens.

F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings (ISO and Shutter Speed) compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

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

Title: Two Bucks for the Light

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Heron Fencing Practice

Heron Fencing Practice
Heron Fencing Practice

Heron Fencing Practice

It took me about 10 minutes to drive up this close once I crested the nearby hill exposing my self. . When I approach this area, I slowly encroach in steps. It’s comparable to imitating a grazing animal. The Raptor is pretty quiet. Particularly when compared to my previous clinking rattleing Jeep Grand Cherokee. This new rig is also very Black, dark and stealthy in it’s appearance. Lots of black animals walking around the hills (angus cattle). So my new rig is working very well to integrate into the scheme of things up here.

The various creatures on ranch will become accustomed to that new Ford F-150 Raptor with time. I also worked a herd of deer this same evening getting very close for this early in the season.

The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of nesting season. I have only seen 8 Herons actively nesting so far. There may be some others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 7 nests in the trees across the lake from where this guy stands here. (one newly built this year) The male here did just fly up to the nest greeting it’s mate with a 3 Musketeers sword/beak swish caught here. They didn’t care about my approach and were fine in my rear view mirror when I backed up and away to change the scene. (got enough photos lolol).

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

Title: Heron Fencing Practice

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Heron Mated Pair Nested

Heron Mated Pair Nested
Heron Mated Pair Nested

Heron Mated Pair Nested

Great Blue Herons are not common birds here on the high plains but they do come to roost and breed each spring. Our ranches wetlands have our share of Heron Breeding Pairs. These two are sitting in a fixed up nest that still remained from the year(s) before. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here for Herons. The Cottonwoods line water ways and courses in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. Tall and safe from any climbing creatures, they set up a home perched way up there. There were sitting birds in all the nests this eventing this was the only parent returning in light I could catch him in. Later was too dark to catch any action.

Absent all winter having migrated to warmer climes, they returned a month ago to start nesting. . These guys were also a football field away from the vantage I had on an adjacent ridge to get this level look at the tree tops. Add a very long lens and you get “up close and personal” if you will. Early on I can see most of the nesting in this 1/8 long mile extended cottonwood tree line. Habitants last year included a great horned owl and chick in addition to the Heron Rookery… I love this place’s diversity of subject matter. Raptors fly about harassing the Great Blue Herons.

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

Title: Heron Mated Pair Nested

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Morning Meadowlark Making Song

Morning Meadowlark Making Song
Morning Meadowlark Making Song

Morning Meadowlark Making Song

I find Meadowlarks a difficult critter to photograph. 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 Ford Raptor as it approached. I stopped literally about 20 feet away. Typically, they will fly but he stood at his “post”. At that close distance, with an 1200 mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. All meadowlarks are “flighty”.

As a group they they have been back in this country for 4 weeks as of this post in mid May. This is a bit early based on what I’ve observed the last 2 decades here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Morning Meadowlark Making Song

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Like Flowers Against the Storm

Like Flowers Against the Storm
Like Flowers Against the Storm

Like Flowers Against the Storm

Standing strong against the elements here on the Mt / Wy border the Tulips expect there to be hard times. They store reserves in their bulbs and are tolerant of the stress to a “degree” or so lol. It will be close to the last day of frost here in zone 3A on May 15th a few days after this posts. We have planted vegetable starts a month ago in the ranches underground Walipini Greenhouse. I have hundreds of starts to plant. But they are NOT outside just yet. I have preying mantis eggs in the refrigerator to keep them from hatching just yet. In about a month I’ll buy about 20K lady bugs for the developing gardens….

The weather this spring has been variously warm and dry. There is not enough water so far based on my observations for the last 2 decades. I’d even take a few inches of snow at the moment though leaves on the trees and bushes are seriously starting to bust out of their buds. Hopefully, this trend will change at least back to the normal of 14 inches of rain a year or more.

Our latest gardening project has been 10 new 8’x4′ raised bed gardens and a roof rain water collection system with a 1000 gallon water tower. I’ll have images of this as it is finished about a week from when this posts. Unlike some places, there is not regulation of water collected on the roof in Wyoming or Montana. I’m still scratching my bald head over that reasoning. Now you know why I’m mostly bald with all the things I’ve seen in my travels…. 🤔👀

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

Title: Like Flowers Against the Storm

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Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlark Posing for the Camera
Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlarks were named by Audubon noting that they had been neglected by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them though. They are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands. A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry near my homestead. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots as this.

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.

This guy is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him. He was very tolerant of my Vehicle as it approached. I slowed to a stop about 20 feet away. I’m not usually so lucky…. At that distance, with an 1200mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a backcountry 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. Genernally not during Meadowlark season lolol 😜

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

Title: Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

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Duck Walking on Water

Duck Walking on Water
Duck Walking on Water

Duck Walking on Water

Jesus Duck to say the least. I’m not sure if much besides his feet are actually in the water. Humans can’t do that lolol. I’m pretty sure he / she was showing off for the two ducks just on shore that were watching this impressive display. I’ve seen ducks do this only a few times. The opportunity to catch one on camera was a pretty rare event I’m thinking….I’m tickled anyway… 😜📸

This was taken last summer as evident by the grassy shores and green reeds bokeh’d in the foreground of the frame. Shooting a long telephoto I sat in my portable blind (my old Jeep Grandcherokee last summer since replaced with a Ford F-150 Raptor). I spent about an hour watching this scene clicking away at the ducks in the water waiting for the Great Blue Herons (my actual targets for this photosession) on this lake. When the Herons show up, I’m generally not pointing at the water very much. The Heron’s nest 50 feet up the Cottonwood trees, the ducks not so much.

Ducks get my attention during the lull in other activities typically. I was focused on this guy swimming only 50 feet away…. It decided to do his Jesus thing and I machine gunned the camera catching this moment in Space and Time. It’s the small things that I really enjoy. I still consider myself as a Landscape Photographer. I am however, an opportunist and fairly quick on the draw with these long lenses.

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

Title: Duck Walking on Water

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Five Deer Winter Bedded

Five Deer Winter Bedded
Five Deer Winter Bedded

Five Deer Winter Bedded

Catching any wild animal groups bedded on an early winter morning is a worthy attempt. Usually someone stands up and ruins the thought. I moved on after a few clicks and no one bothered to get out of their “warm” spot.

So can you see all 5 deer? I didn’t see them at all and I randomly stopped at a location. Looked down hill and there they were. I wasn’t being particularly stealthy at the time crunching snow with a big Black Ford Raptor. It might have stood out against the snow. Hard to know what these guys were thinking. I could have stayed there for 20 minutes. Well, I was in a warm truck and they were not so I probably could have out waited them lol.

Actually Staying for more than a few shots might have made them get up. It’s not a good policy to push deer out of a comfortable lounge chair. If someone did that to me, I’d be REALLY iffy about letting them get within camera range of me. I’m thinking they felt pretty good about their camo. I do have one good eye at least. They were invisible to me while I was moving. The minute I stopped, they stuck out like a sore thumb. Nice change really… usually I see something and HAVE to stop quickly with things rolling around the vehicle. Here I stopped oblivious to them lolol.

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

Title: Five Deer Winter Bedded

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Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer
Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

I have not photographed many American Kestrels in my travels. They are not very large at only a foot tall. Somewhere between a robin and a crow in size. They are the most common falcon in North America as well as the smallest . They are aerial acrobats though with the ability to hoover with their head motionless. None the less they are so small buffeting in the high winds here on the high ridges is visible. The vertical slashes on the face are shared by the sexes but the blue/slate wings and brown “cap” head markings are distinguishing in the males. (Update: This has been identified by a much better raptor ID’er than I as a Swainson’s Hawk. )

Kestrel eat a broad range of grasshopper sized bugs up to mice, bats, songbirds and even smaller snakes or frogs. Opportunistic hunters they are. I have seen them hunt before but are elusive to photograph being quite small. I was very fortunate to come up over a ridge top to find this guy sitting on a snowy branch. He spent about a minute and a half after we surprised each other observing me. I immediately stopped on seeing him. It was windy so he might not have heard me as he was up wind. It only took me a few seconds to bring this long lens to the task. I clicked a few images carefully checking focus each time and off he flew with speed. Apparently not happy with the surprise and this big Black vehicle. That’s 1….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

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MeadowLark on a Wire

MeadowLark on a Wire
MeadowLark on a Wire

MeadowLark on a Wire

Meadowlarks named amazingly by Audubon himself. Noting them “neglected” by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them as well. The melodic enchanting song is a constant here in the Wyotana borderlands. A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. A lot of grass is growing up here along with the afiliated insect population. These guys thrive in this environment.

The Species is the “State Bird” of 6 Western States!. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me. Wyoming was the 6th and last state back in 1927 to grant it that honor. Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Oregon, North Dakota and Wyoming are the list.

They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots. I’m often listening to their song driving along slowly around my place. I have found that if I pull up to a bird as close as I dare in my vehicle, if it didn’t fly, it probably won’t until you move your vehicle at all. If you move just a little they are outta here…. 😜 I can count on one hand the number of Meadowlarks that let me move to get a better shot once I had come to a stop. This was one.

This was a very windy day thus the sporty feather-do hair cut and the “cow lick” on his shoulder. It was a 30/20 day. 30 degrees F and 20 MPH winds that morning. He was happy anyway…… First Meadowlark I worked this year. Early bird…

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

Title: MeadowLark on a Wire

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Ford Raptor April Moon

Ford Raptor April Moon
Ford Raptor April Moon

Ford Raptor April Moon

I will take a photo of anything in Perspective with the moon. The Far Ridge is 40 miles out. My truck/office/photostudio is about 200 yards from the camera. I just love how telephoto lenses CRUSH perspective. This is the “Pink” moon in it’s true shade lol. I guess it was less embarrassed that it has been in past years and just went orange just for this sitting.

From here on down I worked this moon extensively. This April 2020’s Pink moon had a window to it’s rise and set every time near full illumination this month. I seldom get one chance a month let alone 3 terminator crossings in a row while full close to the horizon. This was a rare weather window. I’m about a week behind with most posts. I bring some images forward ahead of the line to finish the same day but not very many.

From my homestead, it’s about a 3 mile two track trip to get to this high point on a remote ridge in Wyotana. This was still 20 minutes before sunrise which would occur over my shoulder. You get a glimpse of that sunrise in the Ford Raptors aluminum wheel. So far this is an exemplary expedition vehicle for me. New in December I have 1200 miles on it with 800 of that being in the backcountry. It is literally a ranch truck that I’ve been known to take into town. I used to go into town about once a month. These days, I have gone into town more than that as I was delivering product from my day job. I work in an “essential” occupation according to Homeland Security… . Nuff Said on that.

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

Title: Ford Raptor April Moon

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Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

Young Pronghorn Buck Profile
Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

This Young buck is still growing his horns larger this early in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. They shed the sheath yearly.

While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers howeverare made of bone

Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . Each horn is composed of a slender, flattened blade of bone. That grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. It is retained. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter. They disintegrate quickly I understand.

My black Ford F-150 Raptor is being well tolerated. The local wildlife doesn’t seem to see it a threat. My old Blue Jeep was noisy moving across the prairie. Not so much this new rig. I have spend some good photographic time aside some larger groups of Pronghorn already this spring where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing. This is a good sign that these guys think my Black truck looks like a big noisy, smelly mechanical Angus Cow. Local groups will become used to me by the beginning of the summer. I already have this spring a few encounters that have given me great captures of these magnificent animals. They will make their way into my work flow. 📷👀

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

Title; Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

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Golden Locust Purple Flax

Golden Locust Purple Flax
Golden Locust Purple Flax

Golden Locust Purple Flax. ( From last spring about 45 days from when this posts. )

Boy I am really tired of Mud and Brown Season. Typically we will have had several spring snows after the mid-winter cold subsides. The wet spring storms usually move through. I’m not seeing those just yet. I’d like to see 4 inches each from weekly 31 degree storms from not until early May. A foot or more of snow would really help the apparent snow drought we are currently in. All the snow has melted.

The grass is still brown and matted from the snow cover. As I’m looking through images to finish, I run across this lovely image of some Lavender Flaw poppiing up through a low branch of Golden Locust tree. The locust is naturalized into the back yard gardens. It lives protected in the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Homestead’s Compound. This area is fenced in with electric wire. That tends to keep the deer out. It’s not a deer “Proof” zone but it is deer resistant.

Such deer “proofing” work enables scenes like this otherwise, they destroy ornamentals mostly. We have in the past lost thousands of dollars or plantings to deer that were persistent to penetrate the 6 foot fence and 16 foot wide cattle gates we have. I had to go to 8 feet high and keep gates closed at night to keep them out lolol. Everybody needs some Purple in their life once a week ……

Location: The Homestead: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, (In the Windbreak) Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Golden Locust Purple Flax

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Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait
Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

This gal was in perfect morning light with a very wet nose. She was sniffing the air and had a gleam in her eye. Odd horns on this girl. Sort of scraggly lol. Got her with her tongue out on the other cheek ….. You can see the landscape in the reflection from 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. 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 under the ear. 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. They take about 20 foot long single strides when running . These guys own the 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: Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

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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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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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Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily Sunset
Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily’s are not uncommon in the backcountry. I think this is a correct ID with this flower but I’m a terrible Flower Identifier. This one was closed up for the end of the day as the setting sun through a slit in the sky. I find one can only photograph what is in front of him. I would take photos of plunging high water falls or some exotic Asian scene if I were younger and able to travel far. I’m fairly tied down here on ranch because I’m the repair man here.

When in the middle of nowhere, you have to find beauty in what is at hand using the resources available. We have a log of high ground with a lot of living things that cover that landscape. On this particular trip out into the backcountry I was hoping for a magnificent crown sky to fully involve the sky show in front of me but no. All I got was a thin slit in the clouds late. Mere minutes before the sun would slide below my line of sight to the horizon. My day working cameras into the light was about done. What to do, what to do???. My mind screams “Close / Far” perspective!!!.

What is available miles from the nearest building surrounded by prairie grass. I was moving but this last summer was wet. Most things that could bloom, did bloom. This was early in the summer around early May. Our last frost is mid may and it was cool that night. The LED lightbar on the front of my Polaris ATV provided the illumination for the Crocus. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

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

Title: Sego Lily Sunset

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Tree Textures ala Snag

Tree Textures ala Snag
Tree Textures ala Snag

Tree Textures ala Snag

Looking From Under a Snag, I see the world from an entirely different perspective. The Detail exposed as the bark falls away from hundred year old pine trees is remarkable. This “Driftwood” of the Prairie has been treated to very little water in this almost-desert arid environment.

The perspective here was obvious to me which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide. The detail of course is the target of my glass.

Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo but your opinion may differ lol.

Musing on Fallen Logs on the Prairie:

RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.

The little shelter under this tree has provided an expedient rain shelter. Any shelter in a storm as they say. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing up in the grasslands. Soon this tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes before it decays to dust as all things do with time… 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Tree Textures ala Snag

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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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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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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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Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise
Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

As I travel the misty backcountry mornings, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this twilight,

It is a truism that any fence that precludes passage is a good fence. While it won’t keep deer from penetrating, it does a good job of keep adult cattle out though. It has served it’s purpose for at least 50 years and probably much more. There is no oral history regarding this or that fence line that I have gathered over the decades I’ve lived here.

There is 30 miles of fencing up on this small ranch alone. Imaging how much work that was over the decades to 1: install and 2: maintain BLOWS my mind. 99 percent of the fence posts were hand dug. If you haven’t dug a 5 inch post hole 2 or 3 feet deep, you haven’t really experienced life. Trust me on this. I’ve had numerous first time newcomers that are not ranch wise get fairly well educated by handing them a t-post pounder/driver and a t-post to put in. There are 10,000+ t posts in 30 miles of fencing. I’d estimate there are hundreds of corner braces anyway. A hundred year old ranch has generations of little (and big) jobs invested in them. Black holes for work they are.

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

Title: Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

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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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Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired
Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired

During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns and sunslits, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better.

Deeply weathered fence brace wood just grabs attention promoting my “deep focus” love of this particular lens. This brace there far in excess of the 2 decades I’ve been driving by it lol. .These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practice every year.

We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my relatively small ranch alone. Some of the Big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol. It is work that will keep you in shape. The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be un-passible shortly due to mud. I choose not to damage the ranches roads with my 5700 pound vehicle.

Favorite ridge line look out spots will be snow drifted in. Photographic necessity requires me to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on “ridge one”. I am at the top of the first of 5 ridge east of my homestead. From the top of which there is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon view. The high ridges are snow lined lightly on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways to if it’s not muddy.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Perspective Bracing and Wired

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Backcountry Wildlife Tree

Backcountry Wildlife Tree
Backcountry Wildlife Tree

Backcountry Wildlife Tree (Home Sweet Home)

IT’s obvious by the wear and tear on the wood under this hole that it has been landed on thousands of times. The relentless job of feeding young, the coming and going of small but strong claws grasping for purchase there. Someone took the time to hollow out this hole and I’m betting on Common Flickers being involved. That species is by far the most active Pecking bird that I see here in the borderlands.

Close/Far Perspectives are my stock and trade with cameras. I really enjoy working wide angle close focus lenses. Using natural lines drawing your eye to the vanishing point it a long used technique in both painting AND photography. I can think of no finer subject than a majestic tree that gave it’s life to become a home. I’m sure this abode will be here 20 years further on down the road as the tree itself is sound yet. Unprotected wood can survive perhaps 100 years in this dry climate. We have ranch / farm implements that old with wood parts remaining but that was hardwood. This tree is pine.

This tree has several other shelters contained within it’s natural architecture. Several other similar entrances grace it’s remaining substantial bulk as a 15 foot tall standing stump. It’s top laying off to the side bleaching in the summer sun, it’s branches slowly being rubbed off by cattle pushing against to scratch an itch. Wildlife trees are special places providing food and home to a host of backcountry creatures.

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

Title: Backcountry Wildlife Tree

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Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing
Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. As I type this a cold weather front is incoming tomorrow so a little summer bluster here for you today.

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 ahead 3 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 and how fast this is happening. . 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 mid winter 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 🤠

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. Here in March, anything is possible weather wise. Our biggest snows are in March and April.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing