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Meadowlark Might Be Windy

Meadowlark Might Be Windy
Meadowlark Might Be Windy

Meadowlark Might Be Windy

The semi-arid region of the border region between these two great states is “blessed”. All it’s share of winds falling off the high country is standard here. Yellowstone is 7000+ feet on the plateau. The BigHorn Mountains are 13000 feet. They wring the moisture out of our air often. Air flows freely off the Rocky Mountain highlands to our west with a 12 mph average windspeed on an exposed location.

When the air is moving by you at 35 mph or more, your being buffeted certainly. This fellow for what ever reason, turned at right angles to the breeze. It might be a result of picking the wrong branch lol. Normal Meadowlark behavior is to face aerodynamically face into the wind. Seldom do I see a bird fighting it this for long.

I personally find it hard enough to work a steady camera inside a vehicle on a windy day. So the truck is “lurching” too and fro with the gusty daily breeze around here. Imagine a branch moving back and forth 3 or 4 inches in various oscillatory motions. The birds seem to go through all sorts of gymnastics under the onslaught of the atmospheric tide. The weather has been “changeable” here bouts of late. Many a weather front with significant pressure difference exacerbate this high countries tendency toward a good breeze anyway.

The feathers are certainly kerfluffeled. It was a warm breeze that day. 87 degrees if I remember correctly (IIRC). 👀 T-shirt weather is a nice change up here..

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

Title: Meadowlark Might Be Windy

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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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Flower Moon May 2020

Flower Moon May 2020
Flower Moon May 2020

Flower Moon May 2020

Black and White… Handheld rested truck window, 1200 mm Zeiss/Sony optic/ Sony Alpha 7R4 camera body. This is a single image not a mosaic of the moon as I occasionally do with much higher magnification optics. 18 x 18inches. no sharpening applied thus no resultant artifacts seen so often in other forum posts. As it came off the chip with very minor shadows/highlights contrasting.

Science musings:

NONE of the earth’s current selection of climates would be happening without the moon. Remember the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates. Anybody that talks about the “earth’s climate” is full of hooey to begin the discussion. (say’s the old paleontologist). ⚒⚒⚒

(Morning citizen scientist assignment, please google “moon formation”).

The moon is our planets protector. It’s moving mass around the earth keeps the earths rotation stable. Maintaining the earths 3D relationship to the sun means stability. Stability means life can develop. Too much variability is a problem…

Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop. (This is a big deal and where some genuine magic occurs)

The Mass and resultant gravity is necessary to stabilize the Tilt of our planet like a stable slow motion gyroscope. (Tilt relative to the “Ecliptic” (another good look up). Most scientists will agree with me to say Earth’s “obliquity”, as this tilt is known, is important to remain stable. Changes in Obliquity have huge repercussions from the resultant environmental reactions. IT does wander over time BTW but a long time…🤔👀

Should Earth’s obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace. Imagine obliquity such that the South Pole is all daylight 100 percent of the time and the North Pole in 100 percent night sky all year.

Our lunar neighbor has literally made it possible for you to read this as a sequence of events set up in the flow of Space and Time. 🤔📸

Location: A little over Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana) plus pretty much every where else 😜

Title: Flower Moon May 2020

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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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April Pink Moon Setting

April Pink Moon Setting
April Pink Moon Setting

April Pink Moon Setting

This Timeline was the first of 2 essentially Full MoonSets over sunlit ground. I also worked a single full moon rise while the horizon was lit by the sun in the opposite sky. Here just the peaks are lit up. . Having clear windows for 3 of these in a month is a very rare occurrence. I consider myself lucky to get one peek a month. 📷📷

Following the moon down… The as the horizon climbs, the moon will slide down and right into the notch between those two hills. I have already published that image of just a little of the top of the moon remaining above that notch centered. I followed it all the way down until it was gone. Knowing where to be and when is a somewhat important part of my planning for an evening like this. I wanted the moon setting in that notch.

I had to find a high place with a view that lined up with the setting moons expected compass direction on the horizon. The Compass corrected of course for polar wandering.. The current resultant Magnetic declination is 8 degrees 44 minutes East current at my location. 👀🤔🤘 You can google the actual magnetic declination for your location. Many good compasses have an adjustment. Those that don’t, you have to add this mentally. Other wise your going to be 8.5 degrees off your nav’s.

What a beautiful supermoon.

Because the orbit of the moon around the earth is not perpendicular with the ground, the moon appears to be sliding to the right and down ward. It is indeed moving, revolving around the earth. We are rotating but it’s orbit is inclined. Don’t forget it’s the western horizon that is mostly doing the rising here lol. Two relative motions on going at the same time. Sort of hard to get a handle on it.

The Far Ridge is the “Red Hills” which has the Montana / Wyoming border sliding through right just off to the right of those peaks.

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

Title: April Pink Moon Setting

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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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Spring Frost Golden Hour

Spring Frost Golden Hour
Spring Frost Golden Hour

Spring Frost Golden Hour

AKA, “PUZZLE FROM HELL” 3’x2’aspect … 👀

Talk about complex/busy 📸 Anyone see the little “crab” formed by nature?

I see an amazing amount of order within this chaos. There is an inherent depth to this capture. I was standing on my Black Ford’s Winch Bumper to angle straight down on it’s hood . This JUST as the sun was rising. I watched shaft of sun came through the trees lighting up the hood. After I tripped over my jaw I grabbed a macro lens from the front seat of aforementioned portable photographic studio. (my truck). I had just carried the 25 pound “Box o cameras” outside to populate my passenger seat with. I was on the way out a little late that morning. Sometimes I think one is late for some reason in your timeline.

Sequence of events for your minds eye:

The previous night the hood warm from the engine, melted some ice into drops. Those drops FLASH FROZE in the 15 degree air. Next a dusting of well formed snow flakes dusted the surface of the highly reflective waxed black paint under the flakes. Then frost began to grown into 1/4 inch feathers. As the golden rays of the bright unfettered sun hit them, the golden sheen was unmistakable. I didn’t notice the blue flakes in the eyepiece for some reason in my mind but the camera sure saw them. I think it was the fact I was balancing on that bumper lip 3 feet off the ground looking through a tube. What could go wrong😜.

I’ll allow blue snow into my images when it is against a reflective black background lolol. (Inside Joke).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Spring Frost Golden Hour

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Rising Full Moon Ridge

Rising Full Moon Ridge
Rising Full Moon Ridge

Rising Full Moon Ridge

Perspectives of Close/Far are a favorite pursuit of mine particularly if the Moon is part of the photo. In the gamut of my photography, chasing the moon seems to be a constant. This chase is literally a sub-hobby of mine. Nestled within the larger business of pursuing the possibilities of light on a broad scale. I consider my self to be a landscape photographer. I find myself distracted by any movement or unusual angle most of the time. This Evening the skies had me working at an operational tempo most seal teams would envy. One of the things I try really hard to do during a moon rise this clear is “keep busy” lolol.

A photographer is only as good as his the source of the photons we capture. It’s harder than heck to get the moon to sign a model release I have discovered. The hillside was WAYYYY easier to get to “sign”. This was a cool evening by the way. It was around 15 degrees at the time, 3 inches of snow all over the ranch land.

Remember trying to do a terrestrial object with the moon, distance is your friend with a telephoto. Further back, the hillside would have looked much smaller to the camera. This relative to the moon which would look bigger compared to the normal hillside. Topography is my master.

It was very dark for this and is sort of a time exposure for a full moon. I’m digging seeing the highlights in the grass on either side… First time I’ve see it.

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

Title: Rising Full Moon Ridge

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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 Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line
Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title : Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

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Perspective and the Moon

Perspective and the Moon
Perspective and the Moon

Perspective and the Moon

I pay a lot of attention to Close / Far perspectives when I am out with a box of cameras. So many choices, how about a telephoto at 800 mm at 150 yards out from the branch. Such lighting only possible by parking an off road LED light bar close to the branch in question and start walking down hill until you can get both objects in focus. There are equations to figure out your focal distances but it depends entirely on your f-stop setting and particular lens. The higher the fstop, the less light into your camera BUT you get a deeper depth of focus. (i.e. both objects at infinity).

Mostly, completely missed are a million of these moments in time depending on the angle and time you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. Steep slopes help align a low moving terrestrial object with a terrestrial object (hint). I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 100 percent of the photography game. Time in important, knowing when to leave a scene is as important as anticipating a scene.

The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning yourself before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. If the moon is rising, I have to walk closer to the hill to keep the perspective. If I move forward about 20 feet, you can’t see the branch . Also If I move up 20 feet I’m suspended in mid air levitating above a small chasm. I wonder how many photographers have walked a little more back, a little more, and more. Only to find out that there wasn’t any ground there. 😔

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

Title: Perspective and the Moon

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Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight
Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

I often have to leave very early in the morning to get into position to work a sunrise photographically. The etherial glow I see sometimes in Civil Twilight is a difficult to capture relative to any other object. Thusly all things silhouette. This simple Meadowlark Singing so early might at the onset seem easy to do. Meadowlarks are flighty. Encounters I have with them are all random. If you drive up on one and manage to stop your vehicle without him flying, luck be with you.

My advice is. If you manage to get stopped/ point a telephoto at a Meadowlark. Don’t move your vehicle. If you do, it will fly with a 99.6 percent reliability. (Remember that 83.8326 % of all statistics are made up at the moment)😜👀 Fairly tolerant Meadowlarks are, seeing you, watching you slow down and come to a stop. So WHERE you stop is fairly important. If you go too close they will of course fly.

Musings on difficult photographic environments:

Photographing a silhouette require there to be a subject AND actual light behind that subject. This Twilight wispy sky was not being generous with it’s photons of yet. My cameras (Sony Alpha 7 R series) are low light monsters but there are limitations in the technology. Taking a photo in a dark environment of things that move like a singing bird is usually silly to try. I got lucky with this guy un-blurred as he was moving while singing a lot lol. Razor edge settings. I hate High ISO (camera sensitivity) so I used a very fast f4- 600mm telephoto wide open at 50 yards or there about.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

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Blue Moo by Frank Bliss

Blue Moo by Frank Bliss
Blue Moo by Frank Bliss

Blue Moo by Frank Bliss (as in “Once in a …..”)

This is ART done from a photograph (I did mention this is ART didn’t I?) Oh the moon was real and the cow was real but she wasn’t exactly pointing her head upward. Simply speaking I drew her head in for the moo pose within the digital darkroom. . I’m sorry, I had to cheat to get this with her “mooing”. Everything was going well except you can never get a cow to look up at the moon when your in the right position for this otherwise silly hard technical image. Getting a long uphill slope to a ridge, a cow and the waxing gibbous moon rising in enough light to get a grassy slope in focus…. lots of things to go right.. .

She was 300 yards uphill easy. 800 mm lens. The moon is out a bit further than her. Of course high f-stop numbers are in play here.

The decidedly blue color cast is my doing of course since this is art. Blue Moo and all that. A little time in the digital darkroom makes almost anything possible. No question I try to be a photorealist at ALMOST all times. I have found that all work and no play makes Frank a dull boy 😜🤘📸

Have a great evening as this posts at 7:30 Wednesday the 19th February. This is a written one week before it posted on social media.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Blue Moo by Frank Bliss

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Coyote Glancing Back

Coyote Glancing Back
Coyote Glancing Back

Coyote Glancing Back

Here Wiley Coyote’s cousin Willey takes a second to look back just to make sure that was a camera lens I was pointing at him. I have years of long range shooting precision rifles under my belt. I’ve been shooting guns a lot longer than I’ve been shooting with cameras lolol. As a ranch owner, I share the general irritation at seeing a coyote hanging around my ground (or anybody elses). A lot of livestock has been killed by coyotes.

I think on an intellectual level, they generally get a bad rap as mostly they eat mice and voles. They will occasionally eat the face off calves while they are being born. Lambs are a favorite snack. Road Runners are too hard to find around here except the local grade school who’s sports team goes by that moniker. So what I’m saying is, this guy is lucky that last look back wasn’t his actual last look back. It’s pretty hard to get a rifle into play after using a long lensed camera. It think the camera+lens is longer…. It might be a consideration that it’s illegal to shoot from a country road except with the camera. Also shooting a suppressed rifle from a county road would be a federal crime since any criminal act committed with a National Firearms Act registered device (like a suppressor/silencer) becomes a federal felony instantly. Needless to say, this guy walked away. It’s all in the details folks….

Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands on Trail Creek Road.

Title: Coyote Glancing Back

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Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight
Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

Twilight is the time of dark blue and pink in the sky. Spring is the time of the calving. Add the two and you get a story to be told in this Diptych side by side image. (2-20 inch squares).

Corriente’ Long Horns are a hardy group having come over first to the “Americas” in 1493. Their descendants walk down this hill slope in this capture. A solid unbroken line since then. Hardy souls all with very little care required for their up keep. Just standard vet care for cattle. They pretty much fend for them selves but will mooch off the other cattle about if there are any. Last winter my small herd of 32 Corriente were the only cattle on the ranch. Besides some lick and some salt, I only had to feed the 12 Large Bales over the winter. They paw the ground to expose grass similar to how Buffalo do it.

I actually took this through the fence that surrounds our “compound. I had just returned from a photo mission and was closing up the homestead for the evening.. You know, closing gates so deer don’t cross them, putting the chickens to bed locking them into their coop. In the same motion I lock the creatures that don’t need to be in with the chickens out. We have a 8 foot high deer exclusion fence around about 10 acres we live in. It’s high and it’s electric. Not too much get’s through it. My cats negotiate it occasionally. I’ve actually seen where they get through and fixed several places but keeping out skunks is a tough one. I have kept porcupines at bay with my fences.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Longhorn Mother Calf Twilight

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Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).

Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜

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 All Ruffled Up

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Eyes in the Night

Eyes in the Night
Eyes in the Night

Eyes in the Night

Nothing brings shivers to the bone like walking out alone at night, having a pair of eyes peering in to return your gaze. You are in the woods, remote, on foot, a long way to home.. maybe lost. Your phones light barely is lighting the path for you to follow on this cloudy starless night. But you see this.

A shot of adrenaline hits your system, you know you have to remain calm. The temptation to “flight or fight” becomes a reality. Consider your in mountain lion country, near the only source of water around. You start to realize your folly of not getting back in time. You start quickening your pace….

Ever been there?? 🤔👀

The veil of civilization around major population centers gives one a false sense of security as well. You never know WHAT your going to run into here.

Rabies is a very real thing up in the borderlands of Wyoming and Montana were we live. There are Wolves, Bears, and Lions and a mad Bull will ruin your day. Buck Deer during Rut can be dangerous to get in front of. I’ve been charged by a deer in rut. Suffice to say we both walked away unscathed but not by much lolol. There are badgers that will kick your a** for being in the wrong place at the wrong time too I had an acquaintance who got cornered in a car port by a pissed off badger. I respect the heck out of him killing it with a piece of 1 inch PVC pipe he had lying on the work bench.

I’ve lived 20 years in the remote backcountry of Wyoming/Montana. I’m a pretty tough guy but each and every time I see this scene in real life, I get a kick just for a second. 😜

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

Title: Eyes in the Night

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Watch That First Step

Watch That First Step
Watch That First Step

Watch That First Step, it’s a Moosey. She was carefully considering her next Mooove.

So just a few Really cold minutes after sunrise this sub-zero icy morning. Bossy looks outside at the long step down. The cattle have obviously access to the first floor in this abandoned ranch homestead. I personally would stay in the house as it cuts any wind making sub zero hoodie weather lol. This borderlands image caught me by surprise.

Bossy thinks that this looks like a good exit but a 1000 pound girl going down over that window jam 3 feet to the ground seems excessive to me. Obviously she is not the first through that window based on the bottom sill board laying to the side. There was a herd of perhaps 100 angus crowing the building for it’s wind break characteristics. The half dozen cows inside the old building certainly had the better idea. I didn’t look to see if there was a basement under the structure. I didn’t approach the house as it was full of cattle and I really didn’t want to panic them to get out of there quickly. A panic is seldome a good thing.

I have seen cattle do many things but this is the first time I’ve seen one examining in some detail a move. She waited at least 2 minutes in this window looking down the whole time. It was pretty snickery at the moment. .

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Watch That First Step

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Playful Western Sky Show

Playful Western Sky Show
Playful Western Sky Show

Playful Western Sky Show

This is such a wonderful play of colors on this sunset, I thought it worthy of Christmas Eve. I’ve photographed well over a thousand sunsets going into twilight. This one ranks right up there. I often start in the golden hour then staying up on the ridges through the maximum twilight. I’ve gotten many images of this period after sunset. Often heading home from working catching photons. Not many twilights I see are this vibrant. Within this cacophony of colors, every color of the rainbow is displayed .

Lots of dust and moisture in the air effect western sunsets. I’ve never experienced better sunsets than I’ve seen here on the Montana/Wyoming border. Montana is to the far right and Wyoming is to the left on this image. As seen from my ranch, the little Mountain range on the horizon is the Big Horn Range. A 50mm lens took this scene.. Your eyes see the world in a very similar way to a 50mm lens. Typically, I often post close ups of the peaks from this distance. This is the way that your eyes would see the scene. The mountains really do look that small. Your thumb held out at an arms length would cover the 13,000 foot tall peaks over 130 miles distant from my lens.

This should give many of you an entirely different perspective of the close ups of the Big Horn Mountains than I normally post. Good long telephoto lenses will do wonderful work if you have them. Buy them generationally as lenses last a long time. It’s camera backs that are throw away after a few years. I actually have to repair several cameras a year as I wear out the controls literally. If you work on manual all the time, your spinning exposures and fstops every photo virtually.

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

Title: Playful Western Sky Show

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Meadowlark’s Morning Song

Meadowlark's Morning Song
Meadowlark's Morning Song

Meadowlark’s Morning Song

As I travel across our ranch, the song these guys sing fill the air during the warmer months. I do miss them during the cold months. There is too much snow for them to cope with now. Most of the grass covered by the white blanket. We just had a 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton truck with a horse trailer attached get stuck in the snow.

This seems to be a popular post with all the decorations sitting on the top. When every you have many acres of birds with one tall post, it is going to be used as a perch. This one is well used or so it appears lol.

These guys are hit or miss approaching them. All of my Meadowlark Captures are random encounters as I drive around my ranch. I’m not putting out feeders as my cats would make short work of that plus I feed birds generally out in our barnyard when I feed my chickens. About 5 gallons of feed a day goes to my barnyard flock and about 1/2 a gallon to who ever else comes by lolol. There are a lot of freeloaders eating off that trough. I can’t blame them.

The Meadowlarks are mostly insect eaters and tend to head south with the weather. Seeing these guys is a sure sign of spring posted here a day after the solstice.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark’s Morning Song

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Birds Need Naps Too

Birds Need Naps Too
Birds Need Naps Too

Birds Need Naps Too

I approached the post he was occupying while in my Jeep. I stopped preeeeetty close to him. If you get lucky. You run upon a Meadowlark close while in your car, stop, don’t move any more. If you move after you stop, it will fly away. Every time but perhaps 2 in thousands of encounters I’ve had with these wonderful birds. So I sat there a while working different lenses. This isn’t a cropped image at all. After watching him for a few minutes, he literally closed his eyes and took about a 3 minute nap. I’d say 20 feet for the distance with a 800mm lens. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes

I have a few dozen images of it as this was not a blink. Having said that, even blinks are not that common with birds either. Photographing people is way worse. If you have 20 birds on a line, none of them will be blinking. Put 20 people on a line and about 5 of them will be blinking lololol. I believe the blink thing is a law of photography similar in complexity to the physics of lenses… 😜

Meadowlarks 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: Birds Need Naps Too

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Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

Corriente' Calf's Curious Eye
Corriente' Calf's Curious Eye

Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

Hey Brown Eyes …. I always wonder what these guys are thinking. Humans are scary things to them but we provide food. Our vehicles show up and food magically appears to them. In the winter when the trucks feed the herd, the sound of the rig brings them trotting across the snowy prairie.

This is one of our calves born this year. It’s horns still pretty small, a month old baby. Adults will have pretty good sized horns for such a small beed of cattle. They definitely know how to use those horns. The breed routinely bully much larger Angus around with them.

The Spanish breed Corriente’ where first shipped to the America’s in 1493. The smaller breed was easier to transport, feed/ care for. They tough as heck athletes each and every one. Their meat contains about 1/2 the fat that our modern hybridized breeds. They require a lot less water adapting easily to sparse range. In other words, they pretty much take care of themselves. As a beef producer, your upfront costs are way lower. OF course these are sport cattle. Thusly we are not raising them for beef but as roping cows to train cowboys.

We’ve had Corriente’ for a decade. Their worst characteristic is that they go where they want. Doesn’t matter if there is a 4 wire barbed wire fence between them/where they want to go. They work their way through fences as if the barrier wasn’t there. Fortunately, they like it here. Hanging out by the water sources is the attraction. Water get’s scarce 3 miles out from our homestead. So they stick around mostly bulls excluded. Bulls go where their hormones tell them to. Since those bulls are small, no one want’s them to breed with a purebred Angus, you won’t get as much money lol.

Title: Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

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Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet
Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

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Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs
Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

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

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

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

Trivia:

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

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

Title: Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

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Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark
Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark

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

Meadowlarks are very active this early. The sun had been up for about 1/2 and hour. I had been photographing the sunrise. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into a dark thick cloudbank. Looking back, I saw this lol. Backing up a little, I got in position. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a VERY bright scene. ). This accounts for the dark tones as the difference in dynamic range makes silhouettes out of things the human eye resolved. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title: Happy Face and the Meadowlark

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First Morning Drink on Tap

First Morning Drink on Tap
First Morning Drink on Tap

First Morning Drink on Tap

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

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

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

Title: First Morning Drink on Tap

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Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal
Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item.

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

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Red Wing Reflections

Red Wing Reflections
Red Wing Reflections

Red Wing Reflections 2:1 Aspect

This male looks nothings like the female (sexually dimorphic). The female looks like a long billed sparrow. This male was down on the waters edge hoping along this piece of driftwood. Eye for insects and small critters. They are Polygynous with the male floating among several females and the females have been known to “roam” as well. The Males are aggressive toward any intruders to their nest. Every male I’ve ever seen was the dictionary definition of brash.

They are WIDELY distributed with around 20 subspecies. Their primary diet is bugs and berries. In my barnyard pond, they seem to be mostly waiting for pickings left over by the ducks and chickens. Known to go right through normal chainlink. This to get access to the inside of my chicken coup. Another section of finer chicken wire took control of that invasion route. Nuking them from orbit might be the only option. They seem to really want to get into the grain in the chicken roost for some reason.

These guys are in the same family (Icteridae) which includes the Baltimore Oriole and the Eastern Meadowlark. Our birds have no doubt migrated to southern climates. October 1st was the first day of winter (early) . I did not notice large flocks this year but I saw some last years. Random distribution I suspect.

)rotected under the Mgratratory Bird Treaty Act, Red Wings are in trouble . Populations of Red Wings are currently in decline. Standard stuff..habitat distruction, miccro plastics normal climate variations or what ever is causeing the decline.

Just so long as we all know the bird needs to be helped not destroyed.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Wing Reflections

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Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth

Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth
Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth

Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth: In my “backyard”… Real Big Wildlife, not the little critters we have running around now lolol.

Genuine medium sized T-rex teeth don’t grow on trees. . You don’t find or see these every day up here. We find maybe one every year on average. It’s hard to find them this nice. They are fragile at best plus they aren’t that common. Smaller teeth are more common as there were more smaller animals running around the environment.

The extra image below is a Cretaceous version of “Velociraptor”. It was a Cretaceous relative that paleontologists named Dromaeosaur. Note the serrations and obvious brown enameloid surface. This oak colored preservation is unique to one of my 25 microsites. All other teeth are black here. Again, looks remarkably like a dinosaur tooth. (The squares are an inch on a side). Serrations actively held on to meat bitten into, ripping it away.

These fossils were well preserved even after the owner broke them off. There is still a little bit of the root still attached (the browner part on the left ). The little white lines on the big tooth are chemical etching. This is related to either stomach acid and/or etchings from plant rootlets on the surface of the enamel. The enamel is essentially unchanged since the owner lost it over 66 million years ago.

These are both Hell Creek/Lance formation fossils. I have several of these bigger T-rex teeth . There are many hundreds of smaller other teeth in the ranch collection. These were found over 2 decades of hard work. Interestingly, they ALL to a one look like and actual tooth. Many people mistake rocks with random shapes for teeth. Not many are or were.

Pseudofossils:

I see many NON fossils (fake fossils) on the internet that look like teeth all the time. They are always random shapes of rocks that look like say a tooth… The human mind easily sees shapes in random data. Problem is, they have NO actual substance of a tooth. Most pseudofossils will have NO enamel. No tooth structures internally, no serrations on the edges, nothing that says tooth to a paleontologist. With no microstructure and 3D biology, there is no fossil there.

Pseudofossils may be very interesting and worth picking up. Cool stuff, they just aren’t fossils. These rocks have no biological history in their past thusly are not fossils. .

My background: (I have a masters degree in a Paleontological Field and have been running the Bliss DInosaur Ranch for 20 years. Digging DInosaurs in my spare time.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth.

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Black Widow on Tiger Chert

Black Widow on Tiger Chert
Black Widow Hunting on Tiger Chert

Black Widow for Halloween

I had turned over this big boulder of Tiger Chert (kinda rare) out by a building leading to this little Black Widow Hunting (me about then) . The boulder of Tiger Chert about 90 pounds (I carried it down a pretty good mountain in a frame pack…. I know lol). So you reach under it to tip it over right?…… Up here you reach under it with gloves on and here is one (just one) of the reason why. Working bare handed turning anything over in Wyoming/Montana is not necessarily the right thing to do lolol.

This Black Widow hunting on Tiger Chert had another agenda than I did. I wonder if it’s like the ground hog and we’re in for an early winter if it see’s it’s shadow? I’m pretty sure it saw that shadow…. Well I know for a fact this gal now resides in an escape proof glass terrarium down in my green house now where she is going to be in a few photosessions I hope. She gets fed a cricket or so a week from the green houses endless supply of crickets lolol. Ultra macro work on her might just be an interesting time spent with a camera dead winter .

Tiger Chert for Rockhounders

As you might expect, the rock is exotic. Oil Chert or Tiger Chert is a fairly rare variety of Silicate mineral.. Named for the alternating bands of light and darker browns or tans, the banding reflects the yearly deposition of sediment into the bottom of prehistoric Lake Gosiute. Outcrops of the material usually occur south and west of Rock Springs as well as a few other places in the Green River Basin. I found this WAY north and east of Dubois Wyoming so this one is an outlier. It was up high when I found it too. Big effort to retrieve it and it still follows me around.

The concoidal fracture and homogenous nature of Tiger Chert made it a favorite of flint nappers throughout the period of human habitation in North America. It occurs in archaeological sites of all ages. It’s beautifully banded, reminds me of tree rings but those were yearly mudstone lake sediments that were literally “replaced” by silicious chert in the diagenetic history of the rock deep in the Wind River Ranges. Many mis-identify it as petrified wood. It’s very similar in composition with most petrified wood but it didn’t used to be wood 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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