I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.
The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)
The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.
Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.
I think this is the only acting photo I have of Killdeer. Performed so much I’ve ignored it photographically lol. They are pretty spooky. They literally live in my yard, nest nearby or on the prairie.. Of course the same injured bird ritual rinses and repeats. Shooting through grass has it’s issues but this is a fun image none the less. Getting within a hundred feet of a nest without a big scene occurring is unlikely. I got lucky with this one.
I knew where the nest was having run across this Killdeer and mate earlier that week. (early summer). I even have photos of the eggs sitting on gravel/grass. Nothing fancy for sure. There is a lot to be said for working out of cars/vehicles. Much better than a regular blinds because vehicles have radios news and tunes. 🤠 The birds don’t care as much for as long. Back to normal behavior shortly if your in a vehicle and park near the nest.
We live integrated with all these animals up here. Everyone has their place. These guys seem to be happy where they are whether in my yard or on the prairie. I watch them set up nest (I’ve got egg photos on rocks). They have chicks, (photos of lots of chicks). I follow them all summer through that August gathering season. I might see 30 or 40 of them in a flock at that time. About the time I see them again, I will know that it’s just about spring.
Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth green 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.
Down in the wetlands, this Killdeer is hunting for goodies to eat certainly. It paused and shook itself and with every feather puffed out. Fortunately he held the pose long enough for me to capture him. 😜
The vast majority of Killdeer that live up here don’t get to enjoy water sports very much or so it seems. This is only about a 5 acre lake and adjacent wetland area. Considered a shorebird, This Ringed Plover is actually living up to their reputation. . Most of them around “these parts” live out on the open grassland / ranch land. Seeds and getting water from isolated stock tanks seems to work just fine for them. I keep 4 stock tanks open all year for wildlife up here on our high ridge. They guys have left here by winter having migrated after their fall “gathering”. I’ve seen small flocks of them gather near stock tanks fueling up and watering before their departure for warmer climes. About the time I see them again, I will know that it’s just about spring.
We live integrated with all these animals up here. Everyone has their place. These guys seem to be happy where they are whether in my yard or on the prairie. I watch them set up nest (I’ve got egg photos on rocks). They have chicks, (photos of lots of chicks). I follow them all summer through that August gathering season.
Killdeer eggs are a very hard thing to find. If you think you know “about” where a nest is, you’ll have trouble finding it. I am very detail oriented seeing patterns and shapes far better than most do. I’m a fossil hunter of decades of training finding things others walk by. This is such a good camo job that if you look away just for a bit, it will take you a while to “re-find” the eggs. In years of keeping my eyes open, I’ve found more T-rex dinosaur teeth than I’ve seen killdeer nests lol.
This species has an unusual way of egg laying. They actually prefer gravel as a base. They lay all the eggs as they come but don’t sit on them until ALL have been laid. The embryos in the first eggs will not start to develop until the parents start to sit on the eggs. The warmth of the body starts off all the eggs at the same time that way. All 4 embryo’s will develop at the same time as a result. It only takes 24-28 days for the incubation of the chicks. The Killdeer egg is twice the size of a robins egg. There needs to be enough yoke/nutrition to feed the embryo a long time.
Technically the Killdeer is a shorebird of which I have many water’s edge photos of adults. But they are unusual in that they many times will next far from shore. The chicks hatching from these eggs are born with their boots on. The babies are out of the nest as soon as their partially developed feathers dry. Soon they are out of the next running around. They are very precocious unlike many birds that are helpless out of the egg. These babies will run around from the start. But birds born ready to go spend twice as long in the eggs. They don’t however, just lie in the nest to be “waited on. The babies are already out sampling food and hiding in the grass or even flattening themselves against the rock using their own camo.
I’m thinking that to get any closer to a 20 day or so old Killdeer chick, a trap would be involved. This is a wild bird out in the summer grass . Parents are all about doing their bad acting of a wounded bird to pull me away. I’m not so sure the little one thought he was in much trouble. The adults sure put on a side show that is certain.
The only way I could get this close was from inside a vehicle. Cars/trucks are mobile blinds and most animals are not afraid of them. This baby of course wasn’t familiar with a vehicle being not that old. These guys are tiny when young. They fly pretty quickly but this guy didn’t take off. He just scampered around the grass.
Killdeer as a group are bug eaters but will eat seeds. The young feed themselves very soon with the parents supplementing their diet early on. They are quick starters you might say. This group was within 100 feet of one of the ranches water holes. I see them in my game trail cameras regularly there. I understand they have been known to wet their chest feathers to cool the eggs in a hot environment. I’ve never seen them raise two broods a year as some do. I watched this guys parents for several months. They didn’t start a second nest at least in that same spot.
This is the second Killdeer sitting on eggs that I have in my portofolio. It is silly hard to get close enough to a Killdeer to take an “eyebrow” photo. To get a Killdeer sitting on a nest without triggering it’s wounded bird display is a slow motion process. Their instinct is to play injured bird to draw you away from their bare nest. They carry on for a hour if that is what it takes to get you distracted from where their next is. It is job one for the little guys. They are actually a member of the Plover family if you keep track of such things.
This parent was sitting on 5 small eggs surrounded by rocks. Nothing soft at all. From humble beginnings….. This patch of stones are a Killdeer’s idea of good camo for little eggs that look like stones. They are dutiful parents.
I have many photos of day old chicks running around with their parents playing their part to draw me away. Of course I ignored them and took images of their chicks. Once I know where something is….matter of time Killdeer are a hoot to watch. They are a challenge to watch out of “character” and doing natural behavior. That is besides their bad acting career lol.
This pair is up on a high ridge but there is a stock water tank a few hundred yards down hill from them. I have several game trail camera photos of Killdeer drinking there. (not worth publishing). This isn’t a Game Trail Camera photo lolol . The full sized file is 40 inches x 20 inchs at 300DPI. 2:1 aspect.
Perspective: Twisted Pine Sun Down during the golden hour this fall evening. I actively pursue close/far focus opportunities when ever I see them.
The landscape here on the high ridges looking to the south west, has 130 mile long landscape to the far ridges. Wood lasts a LONG time in this dry climate. We only get 14 inches of precipitation a year on average in this area. We probably accumulated 20 this year. This is the first year in my 20 years here that it was green in August and even in September.
Every season seemed to be a month late in 2019. Winter ended late. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July at least a month late. I’ve noticed that the deer rut was even late by several weeks. It only got to 100 degrees F once this year if memory serves me right. July and August were not nearly as hot as normal so so it seemed to me. Global warming didn’t happen here this year. Far from it. I suspect it’s going to be a LONG cold wet winter. This belief is based on the fact that it already has been a long cold wet winter. It’s just Dec 1 too so this cold/wet/icy stuff might be around for a while.
We call these high ridges that we inhabit, “Little Siberia” which is appropriate as we usually have snow when others around us living lower don’t. We get some good winds up this high. I’ve had a recorded 78mph gust here back in 2012 I think. We get 60mph winds several times a summer. It’s natures way of tree trimming in the backcountry.
This is called Lone Tree Ridge Sunrise. The Clouds were such that I could point the camera into the furnace and actually see details on the edge. Such conditions where I can catch a sun surface like this are not common. The necessary glare filter here is natural cloud cover. I have a lot a captures from this morning using that veiled sun but this is one of my favorite Lone trees. It’s actually alive but it looks pretty scraggly lol.
My arrival at this alignment here is about 15 minutes too late. If the sun was lower I would have moved back from the ridge to keep the angle. Thusly more of Lone Tree would have been above the ridge . The tree is just behind the crest from this angle. Still the effect was very interesting to my artsy side so I finished the image. The yellow sun is natural as the camera saw it. It is way to bright for me to say what color it was outside the cameras protective video environment. Looking at this scene through anything but a mirrorless camera (not a DLSR) could blind you . Pick the wrong camera and you can also burn a hole in your sensor chip. Double trouble with less expensive cameras so be aware.
I worked about 15 locations over a 10 mile stretch of Wyoming Backroads that morning. It was way to muddy to go into the backcountry and tear up my two track roads. I’ll wait until it’s frozen again to venture up into the backcountry.
Killdeer Sitting on Eggs is sort of a hard to negotiate capture..
By nature, Killdeer do their best to distract you from their nesting spot. It’s essentially impossible to cross their invisible line in the sand without them putting on a show of “injured bird” holding up a wing and exposing their bright underside. These birds are WIDELY known across the US as they are either year round or breeding in the USA. Wyoming is in the breeding range for the species.
I think this is the only sitting on eggs photo I have of Killdeer. They are pretty spooky. They literally live in my yard and every year. Of course the same injured bird ritual rises and repeats. Shooting through grass has it’s issues but this is a rare image as far as I can tell. Getting within a hundred feet of a nest without a big scene occurring is unlikely. I got lucky with this one.
I knew where the nest was having run across the pair of Killdeer earlier that week. (early summer). I have photos of the eggs sitting on gravel/grass. Nothing fancy for sure. There is a lot to be said for working out of cars/vehicles. Much better than a regular blinds because vehicles have radios news and tunes. 🤠 #jeepwindowphotography
This pair is up on a high ridge but there is a stock water tank a few hundred yards down hill from them. I have several game trail camera photos of Killdeer drinking there. (not worth publishing). This isn’t a Game Trail Camera photo lolol . The full sized file is 3×2 feet at 300DPI.
“My What Long Eyelashes You Have”: Pronghorn Doe was about as close as I’ve ever been to a living Pronghorn while it was still bedded down. You can see just a little grass in this image to the right of her head. I have pull backs of course but I thought I’d look into those lovely eyes up close and personal where she needs a breath mint. In her mind I needed the mint being a smelly/noisy human. She was being tolerant of me though and relatively happy to stay where she was bedded. I completely circled her at distance and left her where she was resting. Bear in mind it took me an hour to circle her. I spiraled in as I did it and some of the last shots I took were these eye shots (which I have a long timeline of at all angles). 📸
These Pronghorn do get used to my vehicles not being a threat and are very casual at times with me around. They consider me just another grazing animal. I start and stop. Wait and seldom turn down the music lol. They are aware of me but don’t care much by the end of the summer. I’m just another animal out on the grasslands with them seeing them several times a day. I get pretty close sometimes. I’m trading off my jeep though and I suspect my new truck will take them a while to adjust to 😫
Geologic Musings: Antilocapra americana is a Pronghorns Scientific name and it’s not an Antelope or a Goat. It’s a relative of the giraffe and the only Antelocapra to survive the extinction of the megafauna at the end of the last ice age. It was good at getting away from the tiger/lion/bear population that fed on such animals here in North America just at the end of the last glaciation. 12(ish) thousand years ago. Rough neighborhood and no 7-11 on the corner…. Just saying 🤔
Ladybug, ladybug! Fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children all gone. All except one, and that’s little Ann, for she has crept under the frying pan. (tickle child under arm)
Memories of Bugs Now Frozen
Heard that rhyme as a child more than a few times and repeated it to my boy a time or two. It instantly came to my mind when I saw this little one hunting on top of this huge (relatively) Yellow Yarrow head. I have several dozen good bug photos still to finish going into winter. None still outside after all the freezes we’ve had this fall already. It’s going to be…. errrr. is an early winter this year. As I type this it is a sub-zero Windchill outside. Twitter thinks the north pole is over Wyoming/Montana.
These guys are little tanks moving about and are happy as a clam if they have their head buried in a crack with their butt exposed to the world for all to see. The armor must work though. Boy they eat aphids like they are a delicacy. This is a wild one but I bring in thousands for my aquaponic green house to control unwanted pests. I understand that some plants produce food/odors that attract Lady Bugs as they do eat nectar and pollens when their normal prey of noxious bugs aren’t about and available.
I have been known to buy thousands of lady bug for my Aquaponic Walipini Greenhouse that has been up and running now for 5 years in December. Same tomato plant and same fish after 5 years lolol. Handfulls at a time arrive to control insect pests down in that underground greenhouse. This Lady bug is a wild one though.
This is an Adult Coccinella septempunctata Linnaeus, the sevenspotted lady beetle
When a calf slips under a fence into an adjacent pasture, a sip through the wire is in order lolol. It might take it a few days to find it’s way back to mom but it usually does on it’s own. If mom is bursting, and calf is hungry, wire isn’t a problem and a situation usually presents itself to relieve the pressure that’s building lol.
It was a beautiful morning that day and I was driving my Jeep across country following cattle trails to a remote high point to watch the sunrise. This photo was just one of those things I randomly run into as I travel from location to location. Some of my best images have occurred that way and I actively try to be ready for such encounters by having my cameras reset from pointing at the sun to pointing at the backshow 😎📸.
I’m not sure how and where and particularly why calves go through barbed wire away from their mom. Curiousity I suppose is their motivation. I try to be an observer of nature when ever possible but I only get snippits here and there of the real story. I see the end result all the time. The process leading up to that result is what I’m not usually in the loop for lolol. My dad used to say “things are as they are, not as they seem OR as you are told). I try to examine all things backcountry with this philosophy in mind. I run into things every day that I’ve never seen before let alone have an explanation for lolol.
It around 6 pm as this posts so be safe for the rest of the evening. Fricking dark at 5:30 and the time changes next Sunday……Boy is daylight savings time messed up !
This Pronghorn Doe Sliding under a fence during it’s spring shedding make her back look much worse than it is. She was dumping hair by the clump along her back from rubbing on wire crossing fence lines last spring. She’s fine from this maybe a few scratches and maybe a few get infected now and then but I don’t see it very much. There are only three wires here with the 4th broken so this is a favorite place for wildlife to crawl into the hay pasture from the pasture where the water source is. (Game Trail Camera at the “funnel”). The fence has been broken here for years left for the game to get through. They are used to it…. I Even have a blurry picture of one of my Corriente’ Long Horns jumping this fence. I even have an antelope doing the same thing jumping over which is pretty rare lolol. I’ll get around to that image as I run across it and get it posted .
The Green Iridescent Bee is gathering pollen from this surviving Aster after the freezes of late. This may be one of the last outdoor insect photos of this year.
This little guy is about 1/4 of an inch long total so this is an “UltraMacro” shot with a 2x mag factor at about 1 inch distance from the bee. There are lights around the optic so the slight yellow colorcast is due to that. I corrected it best I could without washing out the actual yellow of it’s body.
How to get 1 inch away from a bee….patience, and it is very much of a photo-yoga application. Smooth movements with no sudden changes of direction help tremendously lolol. Second finished image from this Photosession timeline and is a 2×3 aspect up to 36 high.
“The Beauty and the Beast” is a photon grab from a warm active Wasp gathering pollen on a Purple Aster that we naturalized back in the “woods” years ago.
IT is covered by 4 inches of frozen snow as I type this. 75 degrees one day…..next day….. 20 degrees lololol. (Laughing maniacially).
All the vegetation up here are all still leaf bearing, covered with heavy snow. There will be some images resultant as soon as the light unflattens …..
White snow is going to be the rule not the exception this winter…. Never saw brown season this year. Missed it entirely. Went from this, to white in one day. Welcome to “fall” on the high ridges of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Fall was on a Tuesday this year… 😂
Everyone needs some Purple in their Life at least once a week🙏
I get little flocks of 10 to 20 Sharp Tailed Grouse, butt in this case…2 moons, one sharper than the other….
This grouse was WAAAAAYYY up a cotton wood tree, about 50 feet, add another 150 feet for my distance from the tree…. 200 feet….maybe….ALMOST enough distance to do this. Seeing the moon was hard enough lolol. Then I had to find somebody to cooperate long enough to set this up …. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana.
Good Wednesday Morning from the Bliss DInosaur Ranch…
The Harvest Moon Setting on the Red Hills moments after sunrise last week. I get 2 days a month to work setting and rising full moons give or take. This moon was hidden from view up until the last few minutes before official moonset that morning. It took it less than a minute to disappear after this capture.
You all have a great day but be safe in all you do.
This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn the camera side ways can loose a capture like this one lol. They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣
This is a big ol’ boy too. You don’t see many with horns taller than this.
In September, the Morning Weather at Sunrise can give me amazing Landscapes just at the end of twilight…. The back country provides my visual tunnels and leading lines, the 180 mile horizon to horizon sky here gives me the other half of the image, the lighting.
This is a “Wonder World” of Photographic subjects up here in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana
This is NUMBER ONE post through Bliss Photographics Gallery. There is group of creatures on this Dinosaur Ranch older than the owner AND the Dinosaurs. The Dragonflies have been around since the Coals Swamps of Pennsylvania back in those Carboniferous days. I followed this guy around like garden snail for about 10 minutes… That is FOREVER in my world..
I will be “trying” to post this way from now on. To you It may not seem different but I’m actually posting one photos within the website software and NOT in the standard FB window. I’m not just posting with that one click into FB but ALSO into multiple other social media site like twitter, flicker, instagram, Reddit, Blogger etc. as well as multiple FB forums all with one click (that takes 10 minutes to set up). Normally that would take me ALL day.