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Yellow Swallowtail Lilac Buffet

Yellow Swallowtail Lilac Buffet
Yellow Swallowtail Lilac Buffet

Yellow Swallowtail Lilac Buffet

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.

Photographic Musings:

Macro lens photography is usually a matter of getting close. But here I’m using a standard 400mm telephoto at about 15 feet. Long telephotos make pretty good macros for subjects you really can approach too much. 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: Yellow Swallowtail Lilac Buffet

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A Steep Hill to Climb

A Steep Hill to Climb
A Steep Hill to Climb

A Steep Hill to Climb

This is a Game Trail Camera capture from one of my favorite locations. Several game trails all lead to this choke point. Everybody has to climb the hill to get out of the wash / deep gully system here. The trail is well marked and well beaten for a backcountry path.

A young Whitetail deer Buck stopped to investigate a morsel just below him when he triggered the camera. He could have stepped about another two feet higher up on the slope though lol. His coat is shedding seriously with the suble lighter tan thick winter coat falling away. The leaves the more reddish tan undercoat. White tail have NO black on their tail. This is the easiest way to tell the from Mule Deer. They are entirely different animals. I know the difference well and occasionally mis-identify a species.

The knobs he is sprouting on his forehead will develop into full fledged antlers within the summer. The skin coating is termed “Velvet”. This supplies the growing bone of the antler a rich supply of blood to nourish such rapid growth. This was taken in Early May. I often go months without revisiting camera remote to anywhere lol. I occasionally find one I forgot about too but fortunately I usually think the same way twice about location. After all the only real control you have over your game trail automatic camera is WHERE you put it.

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

Title: A Steep Hill to Climb

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Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

Spurge Hawk Moth Macro
Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

I had never seen one of these guys before. Wonderful species as they lay eggs on the nasty weed “Leafy Spurge”. The larva eat the pesty plant. The Adults are pretty big at 3 inches across. First introduced in Canada to control the weed, we are in it’s known range.

99 percent of my work is resultant of random encounters. Finding this 3 inch wide moth was certainly random. Ran to get a camera. Instantly out my back pocket came a plastic bag and into the refrigerator it went. You always carry a baggie with you when doing photography right? 😜 I have found that by cooling any captured bug down to just above freezing, I get to actually photograph them. Going torpid in the cold, they just slow way down. It takes them at least 5 minutes to warm up in direct sun before they usually fly away. So you’ve got a moth that while slow WILL hang on to things. 5 minutes is FOREVER in my world of manual mode spinning dials and manual focus. Catch and Release…

The color scheme is the direct result of a single shaft of light moving through a huge tree. That tree positioned between the sun and my chilled subject sitting on a geranium. So it was really darkly shaded around me. Surrounded in a pretty big garden spot here at the homestead. This geranium was potted. Therefore I could move the pot coincident with the inexorably moving shaft of sunlight. About every 20 seconds I had to react or loose the light. It was a 3 D puzzle for sure. Worse the puzzle changes shape as you go lolol.

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

Title: Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

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Solstice Solar Touchdown

Solstice Solar Touchdown
Solstice Solar Touchdown

Solstice Solar Touchdown

Science Musings for the night..

I work 5 different cameras for a veiled sunset of a complex sky. This capture taken JUST at the moment when the horizon moved up to support all that weight of our furnace. I’ve never personally picked up a stove that was light but this one sets the standard for mass. It’s mass is 2 x 10 followed by 30 zeros kilograms. It Emits 2.86 x ten followed by 26 zeros of watts in all directions. It is for all intents and purposes our furnace. Without a furnace, our house would be very cold indeed.

All objects from dust to planets in the vicinity of the sun revolve around it. We are tilted about 23.5 degrees to the “Ecliptic” of the solar system (There is your google search word for the day). Controlled by the amount of light we receive, our seasons vary. All controlled by that tilt. It controls the number of hours a day of sun which has a marked effect on warmth received and retained by our environments. Remember that the sun has NO environment. It has ALL environments. So generally anyone talking about “Earths Environment” is full of poo to start their argument. Just saying.

The Summer Solstice here at 45 degrees north latitude exactly 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole. If you want to really get into a google subject, search “equi-umbra” sometime and grasp all the iterations. It’s a good 20 minute absorbing science read lol. Enjoy that. I did. 😜 Summer Solstice marks the day the sun starts to set further south each day. So turns the wheel.

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

Title: Solstice Solar Touchdown

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Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlark Touching Down
Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlark Touching Down

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. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. This is the second image I’ve published from this timeline.

They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots which this is. I’ve discovered that, you can slow down and stop with a meadowlark usually not moving (your in a car), but if you move any after you stop, they will fly away. You get one chance set up lolol.

Photographic Musings:

Getting any bird landing is not easy but getting small birds like Meadowlarks at the moment of touchdown is a matter of luck in my opinion. Even if you know where they are landing, it’s a crap shoot to point a long lens at any particular part of a branch. Rapid fire Machine gun shutters yes but you have to react quickly to trigger the “shutter”. (Mirrorless cameras have an “E-shutter). I shot this whole timeline with a 1/1000th second exposure. Longer is a bad blur risk in contrast, faster takes a LOT of light. It’s a trade off under the conditions I was shooting in. IF you want to freeze those wings, small birds and bumble bees….1/4000. Then you suffer from having to turn up your ISO to compensate (camera sensitivity.).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Touching Down

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Sunset and a Wide Lens

Sunset and a Wide Lens
Sunset and a Wide Lens

Sunset and a Wide Lens

At the top of a drainage, standing on the top of a pass, any water that runs off after falling here will go through 5 rivers to reach the Gulf of Mexico. In Wyoming and Montana are located the head waters of many a watershed. The strip roughly 10 miles shared between both states… Wyotana of course does not exists at a place in time and space. It is a mystical place of undetermined dimensionality along the 45th parallel 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator. I’ve seen many things that amaze me and quite often remarkably. Having lived here for only 2 decades I have certainly missed a lot and am not as good a rancher as I could have been. Spending anytime up here teaches you respect for the land and for others that endure the hardships here.

This land imaged above is barren of human intervention. Only a few barbed wire fences keep the perimeter on pastures several square miles in size for herds of thousands of cattle. There are by far way more cattle in this land than there are people. Locally we are around 1 person per square mile density… I last heard 125 people were in our voting precinct covering 256 square miles of land. There are a few non-voters under 18 living about but not a lot. We are a community with a lot of elbow room as you can see by our back yards. Closest neighbor is 3 miles+.

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

Title: Sunset and a Wide Lens

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Meadowlark Landing on Pine Bough

Meadowlark Landing on Pine Bough
Meadowlark Landing on Pine Bough

Meadowlark Landing on Pine Bough

I’ve taken many photos of Meadowlarks over the years. Not so many flying up close like this. They are very fast fliers. Seems to me I always under estimate how much shutter speed is necessary to freeze their wings. Small birds and Bumblebees from now on will be 1/4000th of a second. (This was 1/1000th. (ISO 500, F8, 1200mm) I have images of dozens of birds launching/ taking off. I have maybe 5 or 6 of birds landing over my photographic career. Each of those I saw the birds incoming and was able to track it machine gunning the camera as fast as it will go. All my bird encounters are random out in the backcountry. I don’t feed birds except my barnyard flock.

In most photographic endeavors, more light is your friend…. Preferably bright sunlight. I had previously focused in this pine bough so I was just waiting for the bird to show up. Watching this same bird for 1/2 an hour come and go from this branch. I finally was able to bring one in. It’s like throwing darts in the dark through a really long lens which is required to get this kind of up close and personal shot.

Meadowlarks are abundant this year and I suspect all will be fat with grasshoppers. Unfortunately this is a grasshopper year too. There are enough grasshoppers to WAY over feed every bird in the area. We keep about 60 yard birds (ducks and chickens) in our barnyard. I’m feeding less so small herds of ducks are ranging around our yard to eat anything in site. The Meadowlarks will have a good year with easy pickings for their clutches.

What is a disadvantage to us (grasshopper) is a buffet to another species. Kind of like this business climate. I hope they eat themselves good an chubby. We are currently getting golden yolk free range chicken eggs that MIGHT taste a bit this year like grasshopper guts…… Could be wrong…. 😜

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

Title: Meadowlark Landing on Pine Bough

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Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall
Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

I watched the TV commercials very carefully. Just like the internet, it was on TV so it must be true….🤔

Based on Media Learning: I’m pretty sure that there is a BIG pile of “Skittles™” behind that hill top. The shafts of tasty fruity candy falling from the sky will definitely liven things up. That’s a lot easier than milking a Giraffe for the same candy. (If you know what I’m talking about, I’m worried about you 😜. ) I actually do like skittles. There might be a few too many there for just little me to deal with. I wonder how long they will keep? We only get 14 inches of precip a year… Imagine if all those melted into one big lump…. Skittles Butte…😜 😜 📸 So many strange phenomena these days

Back to my “Normal” programming…

IF I was on that hill top, I’d be looking at a full rainbow. This far back, I only get one bit of one leg. The lighting was VERY late in the day. Tall Rainbows are late or early (low sun). Really wide rainbows low to the ground are high sun mid-day rainbows. This sheet rainbow is simply one leg of what would be a HUGE rainbow if there were rain drops higher. Being surrounded by rain in an airplane is the best way to see a completely circular rainbow. I’ve never seen a completely circular rainbow let alone photograph one.

If I would have driven quickly up to that ridge top I would have left a muddy track so I stayed where I was. Knowing where to drive up here is a big deal as “Gumbo” is about in random places. Gumbo” which is Bentonitic Clay turns to slick mud that will stick a D-10 Bulldozer. I generally don’t drive off known trail after a rainstorm. That way I avoid having to use my trucks winch and ground anchor to get out of the mud… I’ve never gotten stuck….soooooo close though lolol.

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

Title: Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

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Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover
Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

I was watching this long eyelashed gal from afar. I wanted to see what she was getting into. It was a choice between photographing her or a heavily clouded sunset. That sunset held little appeal to me. I drive a Black F-150 Raptor in the backcountry. It has been accepted by many of the local inhabitants. This gal was totally unbothered by my presence. She even let me move around a bit.

Living on a small ranch surrounded by REALLY big ranches pretty much is living in the wilderness. No mistake, this is a wild animal. She has just accepted me as no threat. This animal has been hanging around the easy water holes about my homestead. We have kept 4 stock tanks open for any comers for 20 years now. The wildlings like easy clean water. I go out onto the ranch land several times most days. I’m seen a lot by the local denizens. If I behave properly, the animals accept me now.

Sweet Clover is a biennial plant. The Sweet Clover is abundant so mule deer and antelope use it for forage throughout the year. It gets way less palatable later in the year getting “stemmy” and coarse. It makes a lot of noise under your truck then too. Burns hot too….. Wildfire concern every other year (this year). The pollen is problematic to some (me too) but the bees take full advantage of it. We have a California Honey company show up every few years here. They put out hives and give up several big cases of honey each time. It’s payment enough for me lolol.

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

Title: Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

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Proof Pronghorn Levitate

Proof Pronghorn Levitate
Proof Pronghorn Levitate

Proof Pronghorn Levitate

Proof Pronghorn Levitate

This young female Pronghorn caught in the act clearly levitating above the county road. No wonder they are the fastest land animal in North America. They have been “clocked” at 61 miles per hour I’ve heard. I’ve seen them run next to me around 50 mph over uneven ground. Running smoother over than that my rig on the maintained county gravel road. Here I managed to catch her actually crossing that road in front of my rig.

Anticipating well known animal behavior is not rocket science. Pronghorn have often been seen having the option to run away from your truck back into the “fields” but run in front of your vehicle instead. Here I “banked” on that activity (clearly today “banked” doesn’t have the value it used to but I digress). Sure enough, I stop to aim the camera, spin the dials while the trucks suspension dampens down….4,3,2,1 click.

Photographic Musings: Photography is all about balancing the amount of light coming into your camera.

Close to the camera, High Speed Animals Running laterally to you are necessary to follow/ track. So you must be free handed typically. That is a learned skill. Keeping the critter in your eyepiece with a 2 foot long lens is like looking through a 2 foot long pipe. I can’t teach you that, but I can tell you that if you don’t have a lot of shutter speed, your going to get a blur as a 50mph thing blows past. I would hope you have 1/2000ths of a second or shorter exposures to freeze it in space and time.. That’s one of three settings in manual mode to get this kind of image.

Second setting is F-stop, It’s always better to have lots of light with high speed work. Lower F-stop # =more light but it thins your “depth of focus field” (google that) You note the only thing in focus in the Pronghorn. A low F-stop number gives me more light to account/balance the light I lost

ISO, camera sensitivity… Final adjustment that you use to balance to actually get the right amount of light to get the exposure you desire. More ISO means more visual noise and grain on the image. Lower numbers like 100 give you the best grain but take away light from your camera. Higher numbers make it so the camera digitally enhances the light that does make it through the aperture (F-stop) and the short exposure time. A three way teeter totter of light.

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

Title: Proof Pronghorn Levitate

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Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset
Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

Twilight is a time to look around. There is no better spot for this Breeding / Nesting Upland Sandpiper to watch the sunset. Hanging out on a fence brace with a view was a good choice I’m thinking. Topography was such I couldn’t get the larger twilight show behind the grass. I still liked the composition. I’m going to have to get a taller truck though lol.. Time for that 2 inch lift kit perhaps.

I liked the symmetry of the brace with the asymmetry of the angles by the wire versus clouds all interacting. The Peachy Creme Soda color is one of my favorite hues for an Alpenglow pallet choice by mother nature. I never know what she is going to pick but I do know that Alpenglow is one of my favorite sky phenomena. (Google it if you know know what it is).

This was taken in early July with the sky color attributed to ice reflecting the predominate color surviving the sunlights trip through the low atmosphere. Such low angle light is always tweeked by the shorter wavelengths being absorbed during the journey. No or few blues/ greens and indigos make it reflected back to my lens.

Photographic Musing:

Close far perspectives are a challenge in low light. If your trying to do images like this, you need high F-stop setting. That will close off light which makes the other two settings important. Long exposures are your friend. High ISO will get you the photo but it will be grainy. . Manual mode is all about balance.

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

Title: Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

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Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

Sunrise at the Summer Solstice
Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

I sense the turning of the wheel again. Living here for 2 decades now, makes me ponder those that came before me. Loving the land as I do all.

There are so many ranch stories from any one particular spot that will never be told or known by the public or for that fact history. Some epic, standard stuff sure and most were. But stories of sweat, toil and hard work by generations of cowboys and cowgirls in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.

I look around at all the fence posts set deep in the ground on my ranch, I just shake my head in astonishment at the work. If anyone hasn’t hand dug a post hole, raise your hand, you know who you are. This is true cowboy country. There is a huge cattle culture in this place complete with the uniforms for such.

The both counties my ranch spans have WAY more cattle than people living in an area the size of a small state. Ranches can get large up here, not as big as some of the historic ones though. There are still a few 100000 acre outfits (outfits as they call ranches locally 🙂

This IH/Deering Seed Drill was certainly used in the 1920’s and 30’s maybe into the 40’s. There are several old homesteads from the 20’s (ish) within 3 miles of my place that I know about. Somewhere back then, the owner parked this complex machine meant to drop seeds with some precision into a prepared field. It was the last work it did…

Planting Hybrid Grass seed was it’s primary job. I’m not sure what pulled it, maybe both horses early on and then the rancher got a tractor or a WWII surplus Jeep and pulled it with that. Many surplus Jeeps worked fields here in the west during the 40’s and 50’s. So many stories not told…. I even find fragments of historic leather harness “tack” for horse teams here along with the iron skeletons of old 2 seat carriages and abandoned buck wagons here on ranch. (The black-smithed iron is fantastic.)

There is about 110 years of European man living on this remote ranch in the borderlands. Over that century, many residents threw broken items “over the bank” and out of mind. So the steep/deep gullies near old collapsed sod houses are prime hunting ground for iron antiques, glass bottles etc left over from previous lives. There are even a handful of car/truck skeletons from the 1920’s around and even some in the backcountry. I have a “Small” eclectic collection of select ranch artifacts carefully spread about in rock gardens around here. Interesting stuff for sure, pretty rusty all.. 📸

Round and round the Wheel It Comes…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

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Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe
Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

Several readers have been following the continuing adventures of this VERY Pregnant Pronghorn Doe I’ve named “Jane”. She is relatively at ease with my presence as far as one of these jumpy creatures can be. She is indeed getting tolerant of my vehicle. I don’t press her as this is a LONG lens so I’m a ways back. I left without her moving from her spot. They tend to be rather flighty and one of my favorite captures is when they are laying down bedded in soft sand. If you dig below the top few inches of sand, it get remarkably cool relative to the surface. I suspect they know this instinctively. Soft and cool on a hot evening is after all, soft and comfortable lol…

The chunk of “fur” missing on her shoulder is just spring time shedding. They loose hair chunky on their back typically from going under barbed wire fences at 30 mph. This is not a problem. This Pronghorn is perfectly healthy even though she looks a little shaggy from the uneven shedding. She looked better last fall when she was bedded by the buck responsible for her misery here. 👅 The Thick winter cover falling off in chunks until it’s in a tight fitting summer coat. High and tight with an accent on the mane please 😝 🤠

She is indeed huge, still carrying if not three, then why not 4 young in there. Twins are not uncommon… Honestly, it seemed she was happy not to move for a few minutes while I took great care to get the image where I wanted to. I was outta there as to not stress her longer than I needed to. The more I come and go without scaring her, the closer I will get to her the next time. Hopefully this lack of fear to my Black Truck will transmit to her young.

Gotta love those lashes 👁👁

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

Title: Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

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Blue Bird Mated Pair

Blue Bird Mated Pair
Blue Bird Mated Pair

Blue Bird Mated Pair

For Blue Monday: A mated pair and a perspective with the female being on a post that is a good 3 feet closer to my camera as the left post. (Thus the “Slight” out of focus way closer female). That camera was actually focused between them to get them both “close”. If I focused on one or the other, one would always be way out of focus. So focus between 😜📸 .. (all about F-stop, this was in deep shade and I had no where to go….).

The 6 inch long one ounce birds don’t make much noise in my experience but a little in the morning. Hard to describe. They are fairly small Thrushes with a round head outline and straight thin bills. Sky blue is how I describe the color but are a bit darker on the wings and tail but with a light patch under the tail and it’s stomach. The female just blue on the tail and wing tips.

These guys hoover while foraging for insects. I’ve seen it many times. These guys were jumping around myself in a rare meeting with a couple of neighbors. We were too close to their nesting area…As soon as we changed position, back to business seen and zipping about and then back to this place. He was flitting around, she was watching mostly . I just by happenstance had an 1200mm camera set up with me. They hoover to catch bugs so they have mastered their environment for sure. We are actually a little low at 4000 feet in elevation for them as they are found to 11000 feet up in the hills. The do like our grasslands though. Lots of bugs out there for them to eat…. Good habitat for most insect eaters.

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

Title: Blue Bird Mated Pair

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Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Lady Bug Yellow Petal
Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth blue bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.

The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.

Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.

I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Lady Bug Yellow Petal

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Brown Thrasher on Weathered Post

Brown Thrasher on Weathered Post
Brown Thrasher on Weathered Post
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Brown Thrasher on Weathered Post

The Thrasher owes it’s name to it’s life style of “thrashing” about in leaf litter looking for insects of all kinds. Swinging that beak back and forth will stir things up in any ground litter. An opportunist, I’m sure it would eat small mammals such as baby mice or amphibians as well. It is omniverous as heck with that sturdy beak. Fruit and berries are also on it’s list of favorite snacks. Little Feathered Dinosaurs flying around us sans tail and teeth.

I don’t see a lot of them. They are the state bird of Georgia visiting Warm Wonderful Summer Wyoming just for a taste of the high country. We just had our first 90 degree day on the 31’st of May 2020 which portends a warm summer to me. It has been dry. This bird flew a long way to get up here and we welcome him to the ecosystem. We never seem to have enough birds that like grasshoppers lol.

Truly, the best thing about the Brown Thrasher, are their never ending vocalizations. I understand 1100 songs have been deciphered in their playlists. Most learned from other birds. They tend to sing each twice then move on. I’ve only heard them a few times and they are indeed versatile. I wish I had recordings. Aggressive birds and they will defend their nests. Don’t push them. They will actually hit humans and dogs hard enough to draw blood.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Brown Thrasher on Weathered Post

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To Be or Not 2 Bee

To Be or Not 2 Bee
To Be or Not 2 Bee

To Be or Not 2 Bee

Our Lilacs are Blooming earlier this year than last. We had blooming Lilac bushes the 4th of JULY last year. This year is way drier and warmer. Lilacs beat by at least 2 weeks their late blooming past. Catching a bee on Lilac is nifty. Catching “Maverick and Goose” doing a flyby in their “hornet” is priceless lolol.

Photographic Musings: This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸

This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So High F-stop = deep field of focus (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. Light has to come from somewhere, so make longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher. Higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? I’d be interested to see if they could do it…

With ALL Macro shots, more light is your friend. 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.

Title: To Be or Not 2 Bee

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Heron Hang Glider

Heron Hang Glider
Heron Hang Glider

Heron Hang Glider

The Great Blue Heron is a wide spread species. It ranges to exotic places like the Caribbean, the Galapago’s Islands and the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch lolol. Now why several mating pairs (6) hang out up here…. We are precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole, or in the Galapagos….hummm Choices. 😂

This image was captured early this summer and the cottonwoods were leafing. I can only see one nest currently. As I often loose track of them as the trees fill in with leaves . Thusly the cover over the nests keeps the privacy curtain up rather well. Not much assistance to me but I’m sure the birds like it.

Actually there are a lot of frogs and fish in the waters up here and I don’t see them skinny lol. They usually raise 5 or 6 chicks and head out. I can’t really see them after mid may when the Cottonwood trees they nest in leaf out. Their nests are 50 feet up the big mature trees over a lake here on the ranch. The rookery is adjacent to a tall hill such that I can get at the tree top level about 200 -300 yards away depending on the angle. I have some serious good images of Blue Herons taken over the years. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the portfolio with this image. I have many more to do.

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

Title: Heron Hang Glider

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Kestrel Eating a Mouse

Kestrel Eating a Mouse
Kestrel Eating a Mouse

Kestrel Eating a Mouse

About 10 percent of the time I drive by this remote road sign there is someone on it. This time the Kestrel, known as a “Falcon” is eating the head off a mouse. I was driving about 30 when I noted the as yet unknown bird on the post. Middle of nowhere, I had turned sideways driver window toward this guy and had but a few seconds to get the camera settings adjusted as appropriate. I keep all my cameras on Manual Mode. In fact I’ve never used them in any other mode so I do take a bit longer. If I’m driving I’m preset the camera but it still takes a few seconds….

The lighting was horrible to get this with the bright sun down behind the road sigh/post. This side of the very small raptor was in deep shadow. I dig details out of shadows as a matter of course in my photography but this one was a tough one. This is the best of 6 images he was patient enough to let me get prior to his departure. He didn’t even leave me a snack from his tasty morsel. IF I were on the other side of this bird with the light there, holy smokes would that have been a bucket list item. These are really beautiful little birds. The ability to hoover above a target is legendary. I rescued one on the highway once. I believe it lived if it survived any internal bleeds from the trauma that stunned it. I felt better anyway 🤔😀

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

Title: Kestrel Eating a Mouse

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Might Be Pregnant Think?

Might Be Pregnant Think?
Might Be Pregnant Think?

Might Be Pregnant Think?

It is fairly unusual for a Pronghorn of any sex to walk toward the camera directly. This one is a doe. I can count on one hand the number of images I have even similar to this posture. Mostly visiting photographers see their butts heading out. Oddly, she was literally walking directly toward me for some distance. Must be near sighted… Or that Black pickup looked like an angus lol.

I would indicate though that if there isn’t triplets in there, I’d say she is going to have quads. Technically this might be the biggest “Fastest” land animal in North America. She might have been a little not fast enough last fall. I will tell you with certainty that she is not as quick as she was last year before that Buck got involved. I’m really not sure if she is aware of the fact that that “coat makes her butt look big”. I’m not going to tell her. A professional has to maintain appropriate relationships with photographic subjects after all.😇📷

I see so many Pronghorn each year I can’t keep track of individual does but this one seems familiar with me anyway. She looks pretty scraggly but that is only because she is shedding in clumps of fur. She’s perfectly healthy. Most Pronghorn in cattle country have big chunks of hair off their back as going under barbed wire fences at 30 mph has it’s draw “backs”. I’ve seen those scars get infected before but it’s not that common such that it kills them from it. It’s only known in the Presidential “Book of Secrets” why they prefer to go under fencing rather than over like every other ungulate in North America. 😜👀

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

Title: Might Be Pregnant Think?

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Blue Heron Launch

Blue Heron Launch
Blue Heron Launch

Blue Heron Launch

IT was very late Golden Hour Lighting and the sun was settling into a cloud deck. (thus the red colorcast… natural). I had been watching this 5x5x5 bird (5 pound, 5 foot tall bird with a 5 foot wingspan) for 15 minutes. Sitting across a pond literally on the Montana / Wyoming border, he is 50 feet up a mature CottonWood Tree. The Pond is artesian and never dries up. The birds commonly seen in marshlands in the south, are rare sightings in this backcountry setting. There is a Heron rookery on ranch so I see them more than most. This photosession was just 9 days ago as this posts.

The cottonwoods are leafing out. I could only see 1 nest in the tree line where 6 were visible a week ago. I’m worried about the huge wind storm that blew through a few days before this. I’m guessing 80 mph gusts took a few nests out. Hopefully others are just obscured by the leaves of the trees. I looked very carefully to sky other nests but could only make out one. There was a Red Tail Hawk Nest not far down the tree line that I also could not locate in the 15 minutes I was watching this timeline unfold.

Catching a bird of any size at take off is a matter of reading it’s body language. Birds OFTEN poop just before they go errrr launch (no pun intended). Then there is that Squat 200 microseconds before the feet leave the perch. Timing and anticipatory focus. I’m thinking the focal field is 2 feet deep here… maybe 3… Focus a few feet in front of where he is standing…

I left after this fellow flew the coop as the sun was going down and I was a way out in the backcountry. A few miles to go over grass fields in the dark is tricky sometimes…. .

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

Title: Blue Heron Launch

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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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Dandi Sunset Silhouette

Dandi Sunset Silhouette
Dandi Sunset Silhouette

Dandi Sunset Silhouette

A Dandilion Sun filter. I use “Cellulose” filters where ever possible to moderate the glare from that ball of fire up there. Sometimes what ever is handy… in this case :). I find you are where you are with only the gear you are carrying at the time. Noted is a spring bloom of the invasive plant in the backcountry. I find isolated patches here and there anyway. Fortunately, just about every part of the plant is edible and another food source.

Photographic Musings:

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Veiled Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. I only had a 400mm lens for a “macro”. Closest focus for this lens is about 4 feet away. I’ve certainly taken this shot before and will again. It’s a right of passage for the “Close / Far” perspective students to get this one. 

Figuring it out is not rocket science but you do need to be in manual mode. I’ve heard from some that manual mode is scary and difficult. Wouldn’t know as I’ve never operated any of my current crop of cameras on any other mode. I don’t have a clue how to work them on automatic….

I would way prefer a 90mm (ish) macro lens though. The long macros work well for close ups of dragonflies on the wing … Most telephotos will take macroshots, the question is how far away do you need to be…. 😜📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Dandi Sunset Silhouette

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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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Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster
Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

In a huge battle many many years ago in a world far far away, someone lost their head….This did actually roll down the hill from whence it came…. It must have taken a heck of a sword to lop off that noggin. This is way bigger than I am lol.

If you’ve ever watched the spoof movie “Space Quest”, you might remember the “Rock Monster” that was chasing Captain Jason Nesmith. Some of these B sci-fi films have followings that create an entire world around the film. What follows is a short trip into that world…

Describing the creature this head obviously came from:

Gorignack is “Rock” in the language of Blue Demons) is a Biolithic species native to Epsilon Gorniar II

These creatures were known to be extremely violent. They were angered greatly by vibrations in the ground and sounds. Angry so much so that it goes on a rampage when provoked in a significant manner. The creature seems at least partially sapient as it has some form of language, the only words known “Trakahau gra fuyter!”, which means “Tranquility at last”.

It is unknown how this creature is held together, but it is a mass of many stones in a roughly humanoid form. It seems to be able to withstand the extremem conditions of outer space (at least partially). One here was obviously beheaded. Only for me to find some years later…

Back to my normal programming 😜🤘

You might note that the image has been rotated a little off normal up / top.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana) Hell Creek/Lance formation boulder of sandstone.

Title: Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

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Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight
Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

This kind of capture is why I run a network of high quality game trail cameras (29 currently) to catch some of the inhabitants of my ranch in a more candid way. I watched this MeadowLark time and time again land on this post with animals crossing the funnel this gate creates. This one is the best by far. Pure infra-red Game Trail Camera capture in a very early twilight environment.

Photograhers notes:

Each game trail camera (GTC) image is problematic from a professional photo finishing standpoint. Let’s just say these images from the GTC take a while in the digital darkroom to get them to my current standards lol. The problem with Game cameras on automatic is I have no real control over the lighting adjustment. Low med and high lolol.

Apparently it just got this below that low light threshold and was still in black and white. The only parameters you can control with most game trail cameras is 3 levels of exposure and IR sensitivity for detection of animal movement. Placement of the camera…. I find this is by far the most important thing. Composition of the shot and having a funnel or attraction to have the animals go to where the camera is actually pointing is the baby. Set up those wildlife funnels.

Have a great evening this Tuesday night and be safe out there. It’s an interesting world you guys live in.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

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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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Purple Columbine Spring Bloom

Purple Columbine Spring Bloom
Purple Columbine Spring Bloom

Purple Columbine Spring Bloom

Everyone needs some purple in their life at LEAST once a week…

Rocky Mountain Columbine comes in many cultivars with various shades and hues from blues to reds with all the spectrum in between. A bicolor nature trends in the species. They are very distinctive if your not familiar with their bell shaped flowers. They have a huge elongated nectar spur . If you are unfamiliar with the flower, you should google it. You’ll see them hanging out in light shade. Stick your nose into one if you can as they are very fragrant.

These are wonderful flowers build/engineered to attract humming birds and phoenix moths. The same flower design prevents bees from penetrating to the nectar bearing parts. Long tongued nectar feeder get a break from these guys. Hummingbirds indeed are the most effective pollinator of the Columbine Flower. We have dozens of Columbine patches of naturalized cultivars mixed with groups that were here when I arrived 20 years ago.. The Homestead here at the ranch has seen many different gardeners over the 100 years of habitation on this site.

I’m pretty sure I’ve done more than all the previous gardeners combined lol. This is not to under cut their contributions. Built into this homestead were wonderful patches of flowers of all kinds. They were present when we moved here. We divided many overgrown clumps and get the fruit of that every spring now. Columbine are all about. Someone liked them a lot decades ago. You find the dandelion seed?

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

Title: Purple Columbine Spring Bloom

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Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose
Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

With perfect light, these three cooperated for a “sitting” for my telephoto. I was sitting about 50 yards out from them in my Ford Raptor and was SLOWLY working my way toward them. I take images as I approach, stop, move a little closer, take some more and so on until I get the full frame image I was looking for. Now it always doesn’t work for me with Pronghorn being as spooky as animals come. The only way I can get this close is by working up to them.

Boy are they Pregnant each and all. Last year was a very good year for precipitation. I never had to start my fire truck (second time in 20 years). So I’m thinking that 2 out of three (right two) probably have twins in the oven. It’s still a while till they birth so I will be keeping my eye open for fawns in the grass when I travel before too long. Deer will birth sooner than the Pronghorn.

It’s that time of year of renewal up in the high country. The green grass is rocket fuel for many creatures. Must be wonderful after dried salads all winter for them. I don’t feel too sorry for Pronghorn since they eat a lot of sage brush lolo.. I suspect their diet is improving rapidly with the oncoming green. The brown season is waning. Long live the green season!☯

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

Title: Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

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Calf Suckling Momma Angus

Calf Suckling Momma Angus
Calf Suckling Momma Angus

Calf Suckling Momma Angus

It takes most folks a second or two to orient themselves and figure out what’s going on here. This kind of really up close and personal capture is not all that easy in my experience. No matter how you maneuver, the mother cow will turn to face you. The calf follows of course. Pivoting when ever she felt I had a clear window to her calf to hide it on the other side of it’s body. There is no familiarity with new mothers. They don’t care who you are, they don’t like you much. These cattle get a little frisky eating that rocket fuel called green grass early in the spring. The hormones are flowing full through the flood gates and calves are dropping out every day somewhere near by it seems.

I believe this is the ONLY position you could actually get into the “action” zone of this capture. From the other side, you couldn’t see the cafeteria, from the rear you’ve got….. well the rear…. Can’t see the calf for the mothers legs back from that angle. I got really lucky on this as I was “circling” around her from about 80 feet out, she kept turning then for what ever reason… stopped for a few seconds. Click 📷📷

This is not the neatest of processes. I’ve seen these calve’s faces COVERED with dried milk. Soaked with wet milk too lol. Mom doesn’t have a handy towel to wipe her baby down lol.

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

Title: Calf Suckling Momma Angus