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Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss
Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

ART…. THIS IS ART. Well unless you take just the right or the left side by itself. Then it is just photography. Each is one photo next to itself flipped horizonally. The Magic is different people imagine different things with such a presentation. Your tendency to see anthropomorphic shapes in random data we are teaching to computers doing facial recognition. This is of course is a brilliantly bright setting sun breaking through a crack in the clouds over a ridge 40 miles out.

Some sunsets are limited to a very little spot of the sky. To look deeply into them when no human eye could is a spiff of using good equipment. It requires one to pretty much turn off your camera to light

This is an image I didn’t know what to do with thus the obvious choice…. The clouds were absolutely ROILING like a boiling pot live real time. I don’t do video. I’m not a videographer so I need to explain what I was seeing in this viewfinder.

When I look at a scene it can instantly transformed into a vision in my mind. In this case I saw a mask I was looking to. Some childhood memory of a Halloween costume no doubt. The best images bring back memories long forgotten. I find.

Mirroring scenes is a mental exercise I do pretty much with every sunset somewhere in any extended session. It’s just a check box for me to fill if I have the time. I always look for natural body parts in clouds so a set of eyes are welcome to the parts collection. 😜😜📷

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

Title: Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

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Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring
Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.

I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.

The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick
Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick

This was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. The Prairie Sharp Tailed Grouse was about 16 feet up. . . It was about 3 degrees F at the time. .…I’ve never seen them eat those seeds before so I’m trying to figure out when perch where he did. There are better trees still with fruit on them in the yard. 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 10 others were hanging out nearby. There is a much larger flock hanging around this year. He was with a smaller division of that group. All the good images I will get of grouse this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

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

Title: Sharpie On A Stick

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Killdeer Oscar Performance

Killdeer Oscar Performance
Killdeer Oscar Performance

Killdeer Oscar Performance

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.

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

Title: Killdeer Oscar Performance

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Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming
Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Catching one coming in is harder than catching on leaving. Trust me on this 🤔📷

Duck when you hear a flock of about 100 of these guys (Sharpies) flying 10 feet over your head. There is a Large group around our compound that mob us about daily now days. These Sharp Tail Grouse are mooches off my barnyard and there i a pretty big flock that hangs out and about the place. My ducks finish feeding time leaving little behind. Amazingly, there always seems to be a flock of these guys sitting watching for an opening to come in for easy pickings. They are indeed flighty if they see human movement.

It was -10 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. A few were nice enough to post for me in bright sunlight when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was blowing directly at his rear.

I’ve worked these guys in 30 below windchill and they just hunker down. As a species they seem to weather the storm quite well. Ranging up to Alaska , (The borderlands or Alaska….. humm, close call with Alaska being a bit harsher environment lol. . As far as I can tell, they care not about snow.

They are heavy birds and fall into powder drifts readily lol. They are fairly plump birds which I consider flying boats. One hitting you would ruin your day. They have come close to me before ..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

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Deer Back Country Morning

Deer Back Country Morning
Deer Back Country Morning

Deer Back Country Morning .

WOW

I look at literally thousands of Game Trail Camera images a month these days. Less now because I can’t get to a lot of my cameras until snow melt in the spring. For now those cameras are on their own. Every once in a while, I get an image that just blows me away. This one was sitting in a “To Do” folder I went partially through today. Taken this last summer along with a lot of others and it slipped my attention until now.

Game Trail Cameras are of course limited by the technology of the camera built into the device. This image drives my OCD crazy but I left it un-touched. I was just scrolling through hundreds of black and white night images so randomly this popped up on my screen. I about fell out of the chair. As I say, the image has problems but “holy deer perspective POV batman” say’s Robin. This totally took me by surprise. Probably 1 in 10,000 images comes out this nicely from those cameras. As a photographer/graphic artist, I get enough good images from my network of 29 of these to make it worth my time once a month to visit as many as I can. I usually go out about 1/2 an hour earlier those days to stop and swap Data cards.

This is a White Tail by the bone structure in the face I believe. More gracile than the Mule Deer sub-species that shares the range. Usually there is an uneasy truce but the white tail tend to force out the Mule Deer I understand. We have both but the Mule Deer are bigger, easier to approach and know. I don’t know ANY of the Whitetail around here by an identifying mark. I have several Mule deer that I have known since they were fawns. The white tail tend to head down into the valleys during the winter. The Mule Deer stay on ranch for the duration of the cold drinking water from stock hydrant/tanks we keep open all the time.

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

Title Deer Back Country Morning

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Killdeer Wading the Lakeshore

Killdeer Wading the Lakeshore
Killdeer Wading the Lakeshore

Killdeer Wading the Lakeshore

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Killdeer Wading the Lakeshore

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Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks
Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

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.

Location: Bliss DInoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montanaf borderlands

Title: Killdeer Nest on Soft Rocks

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Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan
Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan

While Sharp Tailed Grouse don’t migrate, it’s always a good idea to check your directions. 🤗

I have SOOOO many of these guys hanging around it’s actually kind of humorous. I’ve lived here for 20 years with this year having the largest population of of the “Sharpies” I’ve ever seen. I watched a flock of at least 100 of these behemoths. I consider them flying boats. They don’t look to me like they should be able to fly but I’ve seen them glide at least a half mile before. I will get the flock on camera this winter. Snippits so far is the rule….

Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is about 8 inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.

These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. Uniquely American birds that survived the extinction at the end of the Ice Age. Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).

Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.

They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Checking Your Flight Plan

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Blue Heron Shift Change

Blue Heron Shift Change
Blue Heron Shift Change

Blue Heron Shift Change

Here I caught mother leaving the nest. She sat there for hours while dad (right) is considering how to turn the eggs or rearrange some sticks. These nests are amazing to try to do yourself. The male will bring the female sticks and she will build the nest. We have 6 heron nests in our rookery.

The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here they are hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the top. These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus actors. They are total masters of their environment!📸

This bird was sitting about 200 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by doing so….further away. . . They are pretty used to my Jeep driving around and it is a wonderful portable blind. Pairs will change egg sitting shifts at irregular times so sitting and watcing for moving birds can take hours with a small 6 mating pair rookery.

This rookery is a wonderful photo location for long lenses and the trick is not to pressure the birds which I try really hard not to do… I get lots of natural behavior shots so that is the best indicator to me. 😊 Using my Jeep for a blind, Ive been able to observe these guys for hours at a time. 800mm and 1200mm lenses are the order of the day. Long things to hang out your car window. I use a v shaped bean bag on my window for general work but I can tripod too if I have to on that same window.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Blue Heron Shift Change

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Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker's Dozen Sharp Tailed Grouse
Baker's Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse is a capture of 13 Fat little Prairie Chickens feeding on Flowering Crab Apples, taken from my front deck 2x3aspect to 3 feetBakers Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Talk about a great puzzle!. This one would be just nuts…

As the winter goes on, the Sharpie flocks gradually move in on the main homestead. They attack the peripheral Flowering Crab Trees in our gardens further out first. Then the gradually get used to me moving around. Then they don’t even care if I’m around fairly close by. . The crab “apples” are smaller than cherries in this particular tree.

I never go out with a camera given time looking like a human shape. I love bulky hoods and cloths/coats that hide my human shape. A moving lump scares these guys a lot less than a moving human. It was 7 degrees the early morning I took this and I was working them a while. Spotted them inside and I just took my time getting into position for this. I very slowly opened the outside door of which they could plainly see me. Moving maybe 3 feet a minute with an 8 pound lens and camera to get behind a porch column was necessar. I rested the camera on the column of course and tried to hide my movement behind it.

This is a 1200 mm telephoto image from about 40 feet distance from my camera lens.

There are indeed 13 grouse in this image. Feel free to count them. I’ve done it a few times very carefully and I’m seeing 13. There were a LOT more in the tree. I couldn’t get the detail I wanted and have the shot wider. The local Sharp Tail Flock around our homestead is at LEAST 100 individuals at the moment. I’ve never seen this many birds winter up here before. It was a VERY good grass year so I will stick with that as a reason.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse.

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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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Killdeer Chick Up Close

Killdeer Chick UP Close
Killdeer Chick UP Close

Killdeer Chick Up Close

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

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

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

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

Title: Killdeer Chick Up Close

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

Killdeer Nest on the Rocks
Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

Killdeer Nest on the Rocks 2:1 Aspect.

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

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Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect
Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

Taking a Great Blue Herons profile from the same elevation is a pretty low probability encounter. I use my Jeep as a portable blind. Adjacent to the 50 foot tall Cottonwood Trees, exists a steep grassy hill that reaches over 50 feet above the trees. The higher you go, the further you are away from the Heron Rookery. This required a long lens to reach out and touch this guy.

Sort of the “drone” point of view but I don’t fly the things lol. I’ve never captured an image before where you could see the top AND the bottom of a heron’s wings at flight. (I take a lot of Blue Hero). I find photographers shoot what’s in front of them…..Kinda like some hunters… I would really have liked to have this shot from the other side. The longer I work this site, the more likely this will happen again. Good photography is a function of being there and paying your dues. There are of course, some technical considerations for a long range shot. 📷 I used an 800mm telephoto lens for this image.

Photographed in the late spring. (spring was on a Friday in 2019) Swing seasons between white and brown are usually one day long in this high ridge line prairie country. Spring weather would be welcome with a storm due as I type this narrative.

The ranch wetlands these birds nest on are wonderful places for biologic productivity. The Cottonwood trees they roost in grow on a many decade old dam across a spring fed pond. That pond is also runoff catchment for several square miles but the runoff is all grassy, broad and not gully like. It’s wonderful hay country there. The pond is a nice several acre puddle. There are a series of water sources in the area so the birds to fly away to hunt as well.

Great Blue Herons are big up to 5 pound birds. That is a 5 foot wingspan across this 40×20 inch image.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

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Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

Bumble Bee Pollen Mining
Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

One of the last of the 2019 Bee images “Bumble Bee Pollen Mining” on a wildflower naturalized up in the shelter belt (woods) west of our homestead. A bit out of season 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📸

Mini-Lesson for working on Manual:
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 this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎


Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? They would work for this kind of photography pretty well I believe. Except the getting stung part lolol. (In full disclosure I’ve never been stung doing this. I’m just a really bright extra sun incoming with this illuminated lens.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail
Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. Sitting on a copper plate that protects the top of our main gate posts (18 inches in diameter) and 16 feet high. . It was about -2 at the time. . Frost on the copper… I would think the copper would be cold to stand on but what do I know? 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 50 others were hanging out nearby. There is a very large flock hanging around this year. All the good images I will get this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

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Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder
Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder was one of those looks of interest but of little concern. These Sharp Tail Grouse are mooches off my barnyard and there is a pretty big flock that hangs out and about the place.. It’s slim pickings when my ducks get done with feeding time but there always seems to be a flock of these guys sitting watching for an opening to come in for easy pickings.

It was -2 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. A few were nice enough to post for me in bright sunlight when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was blowing directly at his rear so he is slightly fluffed up for this capture.

I’ve worked these guys in 30 below windchill and they just hunker down. They seem to weather the storm quite well. They range up to Alaska and they mostly get as cold as we do there. As far as I can tell, they care not about snow. But they are heavy birds and fall into powder drifts readily lol. They are fairly plump birds which I consider flying boats. I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by one flying. They have come close to me before ..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharpie Over the Shoulder

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Killdeer Sitting on Eggs

Killdeer Sitting on Eggs
KillDeer Sitting on Eggs

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Killdeer Sitting on Eggs

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Robin Fledgeling Personally Close

Robin Fledgeling Personally Close
Robin Fledgeling Personally Close

I took a few images of this Robin Fledgeling Personally Close. He was young and foolish, I had a long lens. The two of us got along fine together. I was trying NOT to attract my resident ranch cat population up into the windbreak where this guy was trying to grow up. Flight was clumsey due to it’s flight feathers partial development.

As I say it was ignorant of this big lumbering smelly noisy human walking around might be a threat. It had drawn a line in the sand as to how close I could get to him or he would flutter off. So I went back into the house and got an 800mm lens that focuses as close as 15 feet. These captures are the result. Macro work with a 2 foot long lens is always challenging. My returning to the area, he was approximately where I left him a mere 5 minutes earlier. I’m not one to complain about negotiations with a wild creature that last longer than a few seconds…maybe a minute. In all honesty, it did take me a minute to find him again back in the pretty thick windbreak.

It looks like “Birdie Sanders” to me. Just perhaps a true characterization maybe not but there is something about the down feathers….🤔😜 It will loose those down feathers pretty quickly. It flew south with all the other Robin Red Breasts (many). There is a good population of them. They compete with Meadowlarks for bugs but the Meadowlarks VASTY outnumber them. I seem to remember that Robins are European imports but memory fades and fails. Anyone know?

I have another images of this birds wonderful face, head and eye floating around posted a few days ago.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (In the Windbreak west of our homestead.

Title: Robin Fledgeling Personally Close

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Birdie Sanders

Birdie Sanders
Birdie Sanders

Birdie Sanders was a European Robin Fledgling that was in my back yard Wind Break Woods last summer

Being a baby, his flight or fight reflex was not well developed. He could mostly fly to low branches and get away. Because it’s a baby, slow deliberate movements and this 800mm at about 15 feet was the equipment to have. Any closer would have flown.

This is a full sized image in a 2:1 Aspect up to 40×20 inch at high resolution. He was actually pretty curious about me but I didn’t want to attract my cats to the area so I didn’t linger. I managed to get a “few” images for the portfolio lol. I love the green grass summer bokeh from those ware lazy days of summer. This guy has migrated south already if he survived the summer and the one day of fall. (It was on a tuesday this year).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Birdie Sanders

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Seen: An Antler Bush

Seen: An Antler Bush
Seen: An Antler Bush

Seen: An Antler Bush

At distance, I was confused knowing the ground I was on quite well. I literally saw an out of place bush in a place it didn’t belong. Caught my attention it did. I only have one good eye. The one good eye I have isn’t great so I thought I was seeing things lol. A somewhat closer trip over to the two bedded and resting 3.5 and 2.5 year old boys seemed prudent. Eventually it made perfect photographic sense … Glasses get in my way with cameras. Usually safety glasses for open ATV’s are bad enough but necessary.

These two have seen me before hundreds of times. I’ve never pressured them by getting out of my vehicles. (That they could see)…I’ve taken some shots under and around my rigs before with the deer a stone throw on the other side. They are used to my smell and noise by now lolol. I have literally been able to drive among the wild deer out on the grasslands numerous times before.

I have accumulated many many good facial images of various deer doing natural behaviors. I’ve never pushed deer unless they were inside our deer resistant electric fenced in yard around our homestead. It’s a big fence lol. We had a couple of deer walk through an open gate today . They went out the same way they came in as we quickly knew they were there. They didn’t like my running about on a 4 wheeler looking like a threat. We don’t have our gates open too much but were expecting someone. Quick as we think they smell the few dozen apples that are under the snow now fermenting rich in sugars.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Seen: An Antler Bush

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Last of the Butterflies

Last of the Butterflies
Last of the Butterflies for 2019

This is certainly one if not THE last of the Butterflies for 2019. The next day all these flowers were frozen and most of the insects were pretty much destroyed as well if they hadn’t crawled into a warm spot. These high ridges get harsher, windier, colder, wetter weather than the lower river valleys we have such great views of. It is 12 degrees as I type this at 6AM… there is snow on the ground, hard freezes continue and will do so through the harsh winter I predict to come this year of low sunspot activity. In fact, the winter came early this year to the borderlands of Wyotana. Started October 1…

There will be a few more insect macros trickling in left over from this summer but remember I am reworking most of my older images to current standards and those will be posted as they are finished. 🤘 Those re-worked images will be working their way into my posts all winter. I am literally buried under the crush of images I have to work on this winter. Having said that… Job security is a good thing😀. I have a great deal of trouble identifying bugs, birds and flowers as I’m a paleontologist. Got my fossils all down, flowers bees and bugs….not so much lololol.

This little guy is Boloria eunomia. (Bog Fritillary is it’s common name ?) Their population exceeds 1 million and are a Northern Tier of central states and Canada distribution. Wyoming to Wisconsin then up to Alaska through Canada is common. Anybody see one further south than Wyoming?? Those that know say the population exceeds 1 million, I have maybe 1/2 that up here at times lolol… Their preferred habitat is “alpine tundra” according to the web. That pretty much describes this place most of the year lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Last of the Butterflies

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Up Close and Personal

Pronghorn Doe Up Close and Personal
Pronghorn Doe Up Close and Personal

Getting this up close and personal to a bedded Pronghorn is not a common event mostly because it took me an hour to work up to this gal who was still bedded as I drove away. I probably have 1/2 a dozen images “about” this close to a living Pronghorn but this is probably the 2nd closest I have with the closest being just an eye shot of this gal.

Approaching a Pronghorn

Some of them obviously think of my Jeep as just another grazing animal and tolerate me in pretty close as long as I drive like a grazing animal walks. (long story). Cars are without a doubt good portable blinds…no question. But the only shooting from them is with a camera lolol.

There is the discussion of getting animals used to vehicles because this isn’t a problem here so far…. It’s getting them used to the human form that is a bad thing. Hunters don’t hunt up here from vehicles if they are doing it legally. (well maybe some handicapped hunters shoot from vehicles). Hunters mostly get out on foot and because of the human form in the past shooting things at them, chasing them etc, pose an easily recognizable danger to the wildlings. If I get out of my vehicles, the result is these critters are “OUTTA THERE”. They don’t like the human form.

Poaching ?

Poaching of course is always an issue but that isn’t a really good idea on a place where the proprietor is out with cameras all the time Also this is a VERY big place so just because I have a photo of a big buck photo, I’ve got about 100 square miles to search for it. Fences are no barriers to Pronghorn and Deer. They go where they want to. If you want to poach, go elsewhere lolol.

Slow but sure wins over impatience pursuing Pronghorn Portraits all year long 📸

Location: Bilss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Up Close and Personal

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Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red
Bucks Under Night Vision Infra-Red at Night

Quality game trail Camera image of 2 Bucks Captured by Infra-Red. Out in the deep backcountry, they don’t have too much to fear up here but a few lions and human hunters… This particular night was full moon lit up so there is pretty even illumination here. There was definitely and IR flash as you can see from the highlights in the grass. I seldom get images “at night” when EVERYTHING in the landscape is visible. It takes a full moon to do this…. Hunters moon and all that. 🙂 It’s rare for me to have black and whites except from my Trail Camera captures. Most of the night shots are un-usable. This one…I think I’ll keep around lolol. 📸


This image reminds me of the old joke about the beer drinking drunk slurring out “how much are Dddeer nuts” and the bartender say’s “under a buck”.
These are well hung…err racked… err I mean nicely antlered bucks obviously🤣🤣

Still in Velvet in this September Image. That gate is currently closed to keep cattle in the far pasture. So this wildlife funnel is down for a few months and the cameras doing duty somewhere else… I move cameras around as the gates open and close around the ranch. It is a constant shuffle. I really don’t like cameras in with cattle as they goo them and otherwise mess with them. I’ve had them open cameras before which is less than ideal for the generally water resistant nature of the devices. I’ve got closeups of blurry cattle tongues “wiping” the lenses of a 200 dollar Game Trail Camera. Perfect lolol.

I’m thinking the deer in the background is a bigger buck but the contrast isn’t there to see it easily. Again, this is a game trail camera image so it’s a bit coarse.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

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Great Blue Heron Roosting

Great Blue Heron 50 Feet Up a CottonWood Tree: Breezy
Great Blue Heron 50 Feet Up a CottonWood Tree: Breezy

Great Blue Heron Roosting also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here it’s hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the top. These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus actors. They are total masters of their environment!📸

This bird was sitting about 200 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by doing so….further away. . . They are pretty used to my Jeep driving around and it is a wonderful portable blind. Pairs will change egg sitting shifts at irregular times so sitting and watcing for moving birds can take hours with a small 6 mating pair rookery.

This rookery is a wonderful photo location for long lenses and the trick is not to pressure the birds which I try really hard not to do… I get lots of natural behavior shots so that is the best indicator to me. 😊 Using my Jeep for a blind, Ive been able to observe these guys for hours at a time. 800mm and 1200mm lenses are the order of the day. Long things to hang out your car window. I use a v shaped bean bag on my window for general work but I can tripod too if I have to on that same window.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Great Blue Heron Roosting

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My What Long Eyelashes You Have: Pronghorn Doe

My What Long Eyelashes You Have: Pronghorn Doe
My What Long Eyelashes You Have: Pronghorn Doe

“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 🤔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Black Cat Considering Halloween

Black Cat Considering Halloween
Black Cat Considering Halloween

This particular Black Cat Considering Halloween is a scary thing.

In Old Britian and Europe, a black cat walking across your path was considered good fortune. Always setting up arguments with the pagan past, churches thought the cats were associated with witches. This “familiarity with witches comes from Pre-Christian/Pagan Europe when witches weren’t looked down upon. . It was the church, who apparently thought the witches were contemptuously evil and changed their reputation through sermons to the populace.

Aloof to the fuss, black cats were still seen as good luck, until the witch hunts of the 16 and 1700’s in the US and Europe caused them to be affiliated with bad luck. It probably was not a good time to be a witch I’m thinking…. So starting in the Middle Ages because it was thought that a witch could transform herself into a black cat and back again at will which leads to why black cats are still associated with the harvest festival such as Halloween. In some places still today, black cats are considered good luck. Others…. not so much lolol🤣

Factoids: Black Cats almost all have golden eyes and they tend to be healthier than other color cats. Black fur has a survival benefit in camo and not being seen particularly on an inky night. Black cats are more difficult to “Re-home” according to rescue agencies which know such things. More black cats are male than female but the Black fur turns brown in the sun for extended periods so if you want your cat black, keep it out of the sun. 🤔

The end of October is a time here in the winter(ish) borderlands when the fur starts growing quickly into a thick blanket on the barn cats in order to accommodate the coming polar vortexes that sweep over our humble abode each winter. We have seen30 below for a week one year but 20 below every year is common. Keeping everybody fed everyday is the chore here…. Water also needs to keep running to stay open. No room for mistakes in winter here.

Before you notice he (neutered) isn’t wearing a tag, none of my “Barn Cats” wear collars as they 1: don’t leave the compound much as it is way too far to the nearest neighbor across wild country and another domestic cat encounter. 2: would instantly get caught in a fence, a hole or otherwise hang themselves on all the wire surrounding a remote Wyoming/Montana ranch. 3: we have all shots and tags current neutered cats. I’ve had the same 6 cats for 8 years roughly now. We’ve only lost one cat mysteriously in 20 years….. The BobCat’s don’t like our electric wire. 😲

Needless to say, these guys are bad a** tough fellows. They survive Wyoming winters outdoor unheated with access of course to a large barn (no wind inside). They have picked some warm places and sleep together a lot. Someone saw 4 of them in an automobile tire one day. Coiled up inside happy and warm… I wan’t there or I’d be posting that photo lolol…

I do feed them freely but their sole purpose here is to hunt mice which without them, would build up to plague populations with the grain that moves through here. Well fed cats mouse better than hungry cats interestingly enough. They are well acclimated to this environment and know where all the hiding places are. Each is friendly to a cat to humans vaccinated and vet checked…. My nephew who is living on ranch, is spoiling them badly as they show up to his porch now at a designated feeding time every day now lolol.

Happy Halloween. Share freely.

Location: At the ranch Homestead, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Black Cat Considering Halloween

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Eyelash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)

Eye Lash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)
Eye Lash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)

Up Close and Personal:
A Tachnid Fly is indeed a Gardeners friend. Hairy, spiny and without a peer, eyelash winner of the insect world. Guiness should be called (or sipped from a glass) in honor of this parasitic fly that lays eggs in other garden pests. They truly help farmers/gardeners and are a huge family of flies virtually every one of which is hairy as heck lolol.
They are munching pollen here and the “Last Man Standing” as I was walking through the woods after several HARD (around 20 degrees) over night freezes “hoping” to find a macro lens subject to cooperate. In this inch across image area, there is a LOT going on. I find the macro lens a lens of discovery as much as just technical photography. The LED illuminated ring around lens I used for this is about one inch from the Fly. Patience and very slow determined “Photo-Yoga” movements are necessary to get this kind of capture. Sort of a slow dance for me now . This is great stuff up close… 📸

There were several of these guys feeding on a group of naturalized asters back in the windbreak woods behind our place. Everybody else (bugs) were absent/in hiding or killed by the freezes. Snowflakes will be my next target with this lens.

Asters of course are tough tough plants but they were on their last legs here too. Fall insect life and green leaves here in the WyoTana borderlands are winding down.

Into winter we slide with punctuated winter storm events being the rule until it gets really cold lolol (laughing maniacially). Maybe a little “Indian Summer” left in the early winter on the high plains.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana