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Great Horned Take Off

Great Horned Take Off
Great Horned Take Off

Great Horned Take Off

This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They also blend in rather well. Magic in the backcountry.

I was quietly driving down low in a wash/gully in my Polaris Ranger Crew. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. Never got a look at what. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. Makes you dizzy.😄 The path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands from the famous “Hell Creek/Lance Formations. here.

It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist. MOST dinosaurs did indeed die but the ones that did’nt had feathers, a tail and teeth. Their modern descendants are flying around us now. There are two types of Paleontologists. (BAND and BAD). Birds Are Not Dinosaurs and Birds are Dinosaurs. Most are the Latter.

I have a few dozen good captures from this encounter but I have bigger “fish” to fry at the moment lol. . This G. H. Owl.

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

Title: Great Horned Take Off

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Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road
Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Why do the Pronghorns Cross the Road? Well because they are Pronghorn lolol. Wyoming is home to about 1/2 of the worlds Pronghorn. Most of them cross the road in front of you when ever they have to go out of their way to do so. 😜🤔

I thought this vibrant green grass from the month of May. May is officially the end of the average last frost in this area. Well this year we had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July. Every season was a month late. Except the fact that fall was on a tuesday this year. The next day there was 4 inches of snow everywhere and that was October 1st. We really didn’t have an “Indian Summer” this last fall. Now in Mid-Winter I’m enjoying looking at some of the artsy things I did in the spring.

This image was not so much about the Pronghorn but more about the colors/contrast of the red gravel against the grass. Both textures and colors combine for the stage of a classic Wyotana Scene. Drive the backroad gravel on open range sometime. (Get off the highway). You WILL have pronghorn try to beat your car to cross the road in front of you.

Having said that, over two decades living 70 miles from town, we have unfortunately hit/been hit by some wild animals driving our cars. In 20 years, we are 13 deer, 2 Pronghorn, 1 coyote and one cow. Total damage to vehicles, 1 side mirror, one shock steering stabilizer and a broken bolt on a license plate bracket. Good Bumpers 😀

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

Title: Pronghorns Crossing the Road

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Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery
Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Up higher in the backcountry I travel extensively. The high ridges in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands have a host of small groups of Pronghorn Does pooling their young fawns into a nursery. The other adult females/mothers are off grazing elsewhere. Of course the mothers were elsewhere unknown. However, I’m trying to figure out how the grass is better elsewhere lol. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for that behavior from my human viewpoint except… Getting away from the kids, ie. mental health lolol.

This is right at 6 months ago (as this posts) about a month after the fawns were born in June. It never got brown this summer. The babies had a banner year with good grazing. Green grass is rocket fuel to Pronghorn. Nothing like feeding the fastest land animal in north America high octane fuel lolol. I do see them eat sage brush all the time. They are the only animal I’ve ever seen nibble on it. I always thought they taste a bit like sage. I haven’t seen a Pronghorn on ranch for two months+.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. A pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns, I managed to photograph 5 in the same frame. I have more of this encounter. Those will gradually get finished over the winter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

I watched this group for about 10 minutes until something spooked the young ones but not the adult. Amazingly they all ran directly toward my camera lol.

The Pronghorn have all migrated 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands consists of a huge area of unpopulated ground. Thousands of Pronghorn migrate there.

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

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

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Shetland Pony Full Moon

Shetland Pony Full Moon
Shetland Pony Full Moon

Shetland Pony Full Moon

There is nothing like being a short pony in a deep drift. I’ve done some ‘post holing’ in my travels lol.

It was nice of this Shetland (a local by the road fixture) to pose for me in front of the setting moon one chilly morning. Getting terrestrial objects in the same focus field as the moon is a sub-discipline of mine within the large range of photographic activities I pursue. This was of course very early after sunrise. There was some red colorcast from the atmospheric filter over my shoulder at the time. Red Light is over abundant as the air and suspended ice block out most of the shorter wavelengths.

The Celts brought the breed into the English Isles where they were bred to adapt to the harsh climate. They were first domesticated around 500BC and centered around the isolated Shetland Islands north of the Scottish Mainland. This isolation protected their genetics from more “modern” hybrid animals elsewhere. Those early horses carried a lot of coal and peat for the locals. Tough little wagon pullers they are.

Stubborn, Smart, more power to weight than a full sized horse and low to the ground too. It’s hard to argue with the design but the attitude is they aren’t sure they are small. They will train beautifully but like any horse, you have to work like heck with them and train them to accept our strange requests of them.

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

Title: Shetland Pony Full Moon

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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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Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing
Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them. Automatic cameras managed and placed in the correct location is the start of this process. Then the deer have to cooperate lolol.

I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can follow the growing Mule deer. Whitetail are MUCH more shy in my experience. Quick to run from you as well.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

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Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer
Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer
Buck and Doe

Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them. Automatic cameras managed and placed in the correct location is the start of this process. Then the deer have to cooperate lolol.

The buck has it’s growing antlers covered with “velvet” which carries the blood supply to the growing bone. He has a ways to go before these antlers get interesting to hunters. He looks like a 2 year old to me but they might get bigger. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can track mule deer. THey are MUCH more shy in my experience.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland

Title: Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

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Moon Resting Before the Climb

Moon Resting Before the Climb
Moon Resting Before the Climb

Moon Resting Before the Climb

MONDAY MOONDAY : All moons all day….moon image number 5 (of 6) for the day 6pm edition..

Backcountry Moon Cradle:

I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “snag” cradle it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean it only moved after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time walking parallel Ridges on the shadow line.

Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. 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. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under.

As this 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 log / snag. Also If I move up 20 feet I’m suspended in mid air levitating above a 20 foot deep gully next to the path. The ground I am actually standing on lol. 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)

Moon Resting Before the Climb

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Horsey Belt of Venus

Horsey Belt of Venus
Horsey Belt of Venus

Horsey Belt of Venus

MOON MONDAY 3PM offer… Moon photos all day today. This is number 4.

These two jokers were hanging out where I was driving just as the moon Full December moon was setting. The pink”Belt of Venus” was pervasive in the back show that morning. Alpenglow like the Belt of Venus is a result of LOT of atmospheric ice. The pink is the light that made it over the horizon, the blue like under it is the shadow of the eastern horizon on the western atmospheric ice screen. There are not many days of the month you can catch this and then the sky has to be clear enough to see the moon down that low to the horizon. As the western horizon moves upwards, the blue will disappear along with the full moon setting in due time.

Yet another low light (civil twilight) Close / Far perspective out of a 23-135 Sony G series lens. Some lenses do this kind of thing better than others but a medium zoom of about 70mm was my pick here. High F-stop for deep focal depth of field. Camera sensitivity and speed you set to light conditions with ideally lower iso and faster shutter if you can get away with it. Riding the razor blade of light balance. F stop is your priority here unless the horses are moving. If they are moving your going to have to make your shutter speed faster and turn up your camera sensitivity to compensate for the less light due to a faster speed/shorter exposure. It’s always those three settings working your camera in manual mode. Your camera on automatic is not going to take this image.

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

Title: Horsey Belt of Venus

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Full Horse Moon

Horsey Setting Moon
Horsey Setting Moon

Full Horse Moon…. instead of Quarter Horse Moon…. 😜😄

I would like to thank the quarter horse and the moon for sitting for me. 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 horse was WAYYYY easier to get to “sign”. This was a cool morning by the way. It was around 10 degrees at the time, 10 inches of snow all over the ranch land. This neighbors horse was with his all black cohort free ranging out in the backcountry. I happened by about the same time the horizon was rising to cover the moon from below. What a coincidence 🤗

This setting moon that morning was very visible with the sun rising over my shoulder left frame. The lighting was wonderful, the sky robins egg blue with wisps of clouds. The horse was only about 150 yards out for the soft focus in the close/far perspective that this image is. I’d preferred 200-300 yards but beggar opportunist photographers can’t be choosy sometimes 😜👁 Remember trying to do a terrestrial object with the moon, distance is your friend with a telephoto. Further back, the horse would have looked much smaller to the camera. This relative to the moon which would look bigger compared to the horse. I couldn’t walk any further back and still line this up. Topography is my master.

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

Title: Full Horse Moon 122019B

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Pony Up It’s Cold

Pony Up It's Cold
Pony Up It's Cold

Pony Up It’s Cold

This beautiful little Shetland Pony was standing in it’s corral by the backcountry road I was on. Smart ponies I understand. This is not my equine but was a Christmas present I understand at a neighbors place.. An endearing face certainly. Most of us consider any equine less that 14 hands a pony. The tallest allowed for the Shetland breed is 11.5 hands here in America. I’m not an expert on these horses but I do read there are 4 breed types.

These guys were BIG in the coal mining industry in the UK as they were small enough to pull wagons of coal in a small space. They moved into the mines when the use of Women and Children was outlawed. I sincerely believe these horses rarely saw daylight out of the mines. Their power to weight ratio is way higher than a bigger horse.

The Celts brought the breed into the English Isles where they were bred to adapt to the harsh climate. They were first domesticated around 500BC and centered around the isolated Shetland Islands north of the Scottish Mainland. This isolation protected their genetics from more “modern” hybrid animals elsewhere. Those early horses carried a lot of coal and peat for the locals. Tough little wagon pullers they are.

This little fellow was far from cold in the -14 degree air he was enjoying. They have a double coat, better than what I was wearing at the time lol.

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

Title: Pony Up It’s Cold

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A Smaller Fish’s Last View

A Smaller Fish's Last View
A Smaller Fish's Last View

A Smaller Fish’s Last View

Our ranch has an Underground Aquaponic Greenhouse with LOT of things growing in 2000 gallons of circulating water. It’s underground and a greenhouse so it is legitimately called a Walipini. This is an 8 pound Tilapia in one of my tanks that I raised from fry. I have about 700 gallons of fish tanks (7 total tanks) dedicated to fish There is another 1300 gallons that are the same circulating water. It runs all winter and is currently 65 degrees with a rain forest environment.

This particular fish is 5 years old (which is old for a Tilapia). It has mostly eaten fish pellets but will eat duckweed, chunks of tomato, and bugs. I’m pretty sure that he would eat a smaller fish in a heartbeat. He is a BIG fish for the 110 gallon tank he is in. The other fish are mostly smaller or at best as big as this behemoth. I currently have about 150 pounds of Tilapia total in the system.

The Til

I’m trying to transition from a Monster Tomato Plant that over the last 5 years has slowly dominated my float/plant tanks. (Aquaponics grows stuff without soil, nothing but water for the roots). I’m growing Orchids, a monster Hoya, strawberries, some peppers and some parsley at the moment. I will slowly cut the tomato plant back until it’s gone. Slowly replacing plant volume with different vegi’s/fruits. I have found over the last 5 years that I can grow anything I can get to sprout down there.

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

Title: A Smaller Fish’s Last View

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Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside
Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

If you were to go out and try to shoot a photograph of migrating pronghorns… There is a 90 percent chance you will see the north end of a southbound Pronghorn if you try. This mixed group of guys and gals that just crossed the county road in front of my vehicle. There were hundreds in the string and I have several images from the front and crossing the red county road. None of the group jumped the fence line they were crossing. All to an animal waited patently on the one in front going UNDER the fence. I watched about 100 cross the road one animal or two at a time.

These guys were all walking away on their long traveled route. Taken down in the ThunderBasin National Grasslands from the country road. All vehicular traffic remains banned from the Grasslands. This reserve covers hundreds of square miles. This is literally part of America’s Serengeti. There are several thousand pronghorn that move down there for the winter. . I don’t know the official census but I’m betting those numbers easily. Just a few oil wells and stock tanks dot the landscape. An occasional stock tank flows year round and there are some geothermal waters that they drink in deep winter.

This large area of no human intrusion lessens the stress on the Pronghorn. The winter is bad enough with out large herds running away from humans. Every calorie is important.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

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

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis

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Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4
Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Satire: There was going to be a pickup base ball game but the Pronghorn couldn’t put enough players on the field. I would have enjoyed the play by play. Now if 4 of the deer played on the Pronghorn team, there would still be one odd man out. The someone asked who had the ball and bat and no one remembered to bring it. Go figure!

That ‘s the problem with ungulate sports. They are as a group focused on food an danger. Anything else is transitory . You will also note that the Whitetail squad also was a no show entirely. They will probably show up with their coach “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. I have no control over their actions. 😜

Back to my “normal” programming.

I don’t see close encounters of multiple species, that I can capture on one frame, of ungulates out in the backcountry. Even so, this is the Serengeti of North America up in this portion of Wyoming/Montana. The major national grassland 20 miles from here to the south puts us on a migration route with many hundreds of pronghorn passing through each late fall/early spring. The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring. Then they break up into smaller groups and finally does with fawns. Only to regroup again later in the year. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

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Tippy Toe Fawn

Tippy Toe Fawn
Tippy Toe Fawn

Tippy Toe Fawn

This game trail camera is the same camera that captured the doe I posted earlier this morning. This was taken on a different day of course since it wasn’t born just yet when the doe was caught.. This is likely one of her two fawns stretching as far as it could to see what this camera is lolol. I have a whole sequence of two fawns and the mother with the cow lick on her shoulder.

Cropping the top this off is possible. Obviously overexposed at the top right. Only behind behind that tree saved the image.. Automatic cameras….. I could have easily captured this with one of my fancy cameras but the candidness is all about me NOT being there. Thank god for the tree filter. Without that tree, this wouldn’t have been captured at all. This guy has just too much curiosity not to share with you folks. Deer babies are a spring thing….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Tippy Toe Fawn

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Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe
Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Walking up very carefully to a stock water tank late spring is the doe Whitetail. She is about as pregnant as she can be, weeks from giving birth. Two buns in the oven I suspect. I see a female deer with the same cowlick on her shoulder later in the year on the same camera with a pair of twins.

Brown/white mottled winter days like today at 42 degrees as a high ,sure make late spring days with green leaves look amazing. This “Garden of Eden “capture isn’t far from a wonderful wetland . The warm days of summer are missed up here with our Oct 1 start of winter.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

Square Aspect Ratio to 18 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland

Title: Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

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Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro
Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro

I took this image mid summer. I found this guy near a night light Soon he was popped him into a freezer bag. Refrigerate at 34 degrees for the day. When you take them out, they will hold on to thinks but will give you a bit more time to photograph them if they are cold. They warm up fast enough but will give you a few minutes anyway. I set this reddish brown fellow on a birch branch with sun exposure. The camera starts clicking away. Macro lenses will focus usually less than a foot away. Bright light is your friend for this kind of work.

To this day I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never seen it in any google image and don’t know the systematics for moths. If you know who it is, I’d love to know.

I call it the “Muppit Moth” for lack of better terms to apply. He’s definitely a hoot with those eyes. What a proboscus too. Jimmy Durante had nothing on this guy. He has a degree of cuteness that doesn’t usually go along with insect close ups. I’d love to find another one. (Any body Remember Jimmy Durante??). The peach

After about 5 minutes of gradual warm up, it flew off to the sky. Never to be seen again. This is more or less my version of catch and release. This moment in space and time however did not get away from me. ….📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Cross Eyed Moth Macro

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Jabba the Owl

Jabba the Owl
Jabba the Owl

Jabba the Owl is a Great Horned Owl AND a fledgeling laying down under a wing.

This Capture is WAAAAAY far out there for the optical technology I had at that time. At least 300 yards across a lake at 3200mm. Taken last spring before the leaves sprouted on the host Cottonwood Tree. I only got a few opportunities on this nest as the spring COttonwood leaves totally hid it from me time and time again. . I just couldn’t see him for about a month after this shot. When I finally got lucky with a certain angle and a beam of light. At these distances a quarter mile line of cottonwoods all looks alike from different angles lol. These owls have some of the best disruptive camo I’ve ever seen. It was amazing I found him this time. I do have some other images with him and a fledge standing too.

There was no other way to approach this next as just finding it against the visual noise of the treeline that ALL looks like this lolol. That is a very small area of a big row of trees looking through a long tube with no landmarks lolol. One time I had a green frog at 15 feet in algae to find while looking through a 18 inch long lens. Under High Magnifications, this is nearly an impossible task. To point a camera that precisely with consistency time and time again….nope This capture is taken off a sandbag on a Jeep Window.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Jabba the Owl

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Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me
Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

I’ve taken a lot of Pronghorn Images. These are all 2 or 3 month old fawns running at and eventually run right by me. They didn’t care at all about my Jeep Grand Cherokee running with stinky noisy me in it. I’m just another grazing animal to the wild things up here. At some point in the summer they have seen my particular rig drive by so many times, they just don’t care about it. It’s obviously not a threat. With the Pronghorn, I have to start fresh each spring as they may or may not be the same animals on my ground. I couldn’t tell without some markings to distinguish them and there are too many to keep track of lol.

Just prior to this image, I was watching/photographing a family group up the hill these guys are screaming down. The adults really didn’t scatter but something spooked these hoodlums. I think they just decided to go for a run as their species is prone to do. To this day, this timeline (which has numerous good photos) are the only images I have of these magnificent animals running at me.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. This was a pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns it appeared. There were not 5 adults. Someone was off or several had twins. I have more of these that will gradually get finished this winter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

2×3 feet at full resolution.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

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Fledgeling Great Blue Herons

Fledgeling Great Blue Herons
Fledgeling Great Blue Herons

Having a Photobomber sneak into “Fledgeling Great Blue Herons” was a plus. I was focusing on the two above and in comes the head on the lower left frame. Curiosity got him in the photo lol. I appreciate him extending his neck as the tree was in his way. They can lift their necks up so high after all. Remember these little guys stand up to 5 feet tall and weigh 4-5 pounds. Masters of their domain they are 😎

This was tough light but I’m pleased with the opportunity to catch these guys before they migrated away from the rookery following their parents south. This image was captured early summer and the cottonwoods were fully leafed. I often loose track of the nests as the trees fill in with leaves . Thusly the cover over the nests keeps the privacy curtain up rather well. Not much assistance to me but I’m sure the birds like it.

These guys were up getting some sun. Mostly they had their feathers here but they were still waiting for their first flight. Parents were due to feed them shortly. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here. The Cottonwoods line water ways and courses in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. Tall and safe from any climbing creatures, they set up a home perched way up there. There were 6 nests inhabited this year in our rookery.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Fledgeling Great Blue Herons

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Robin Head On Close

Robin Head On Close
Robin Head On Close

Robin Head On Close is just that. Territorial Robins are in the spring.

Of course I’m mixing and matching seasons as I post these days. This was this year (2019) however. This guy was dive bombing me sitting back in my side yard sipping on an umbrella drink and a telephoto that goes macro at 15 feet. He always went back to the same perch. Telegraphing his intentions is a weakness in his approach. He would stoop just before he leaped giving me enough reflect time to click the shutter. Of course I use a camera giving me 10 frames a second (then) and I just wait for him to fly into my focal plane.

He really didn’t bother me much, finished my sippy drink plus took a few dozen good frames. I got the best part of the deal. My dog was more shook up by the constant busy nature of the bird. His prey drive was wanting to kick in but I discourage that unless it’s a person as I trust his judgement. Good King Corso, 220 pounds…Robin didn’t care and was all Kamakazi in it’s actions. 20 minutes was enough shooting. Half of photography is knowing when to leave the first shooting location and look for another.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Robin Head On Close

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Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire
Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

Game Trail Camera capture: Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

I love Pronghorns color in this light. The color of their hide is very close here to the real color they sport mid day. Maybe just a TAD dark but very close. This instead of the “Golden Hour” color of much darker brown. I see a host of images of these guys much darker than I’ve ever seen them in the wild. Title: “Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire”

Running under a barbed wire is risky but moving about 20 mph as he’s doing it…. wow. These guys move through those gaps with hardly loosing any speed. I’ve seen a dozen Pronghorn moving under barbed wire in a few seconds. They don’t mess around when they feel like it’s “time to go”. I suspect someone sounds a subtle alarm and they are “outta here”. Fastest land animal in North America, they have their share of scratches along their back too. I sometimes have image after image like this on a camera as the herds move through. The automatic cameras react to the movement and capture the action.

I’ve seen Pronghorn go OVER fences before but it’s not a common occurrence. Some fen

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck

Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck
Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck

Snow Dumping on a Pronghorn Buck (or “Winter is coming” )

Winter has been here for a months already and we’re seeing snow on the ground full time now for a week anyway. This Pronghorn Buck is crossing in front of a Game trail Camera while Snow is just Dumping on him lol. Based on the timeline of images, he was following a doe through the gate walking right along the trail. I set my camera up to be focused right on the trail. This particular camera is in a very good spot ! 📸

Pronghorn Migration South

The Pronghorn are migrating now and I’m seeing groups I have never seen on ranch. Moving through here toward the south from up in Montana. They are following ancient migration routes that the cowboys used to move cattle in the late 1800’s from Miles City Montana down to Newcastle Wyoming. The local version of the “Texas Trail” runs right through the western side of our ranch. Fences are little obstacle to these animals which play the “limbo game” effortlessly. They usually do go under but I do have a few photos of Pronghorn going over fences.

I figure most of those animals that lived on ranch all summer are mostly 10 -20 miles south. They are working their way to the ThunderBasin National Grasslands where they have moving water (not frozen) and good feed. There are only a few roads through a pretty big piece of remote real estate between the Powder River Basin and the Wyoming Black Hills. Many Hundreds of square miles for herds to congregate in. Many ranchers maintain water stock tanks during the winter. This helps more on the margins but water is a rare thing up here when it’s been 30 below for a week.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck (or “Winter is coming” )

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Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

Bee Landing Pattern Alpha
Bumble Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

Bee Landing pattern alpha was tough to figure out…. I watched very carefully for a while to figure out how “Bombus” (250 species of Bumble Bee under Bombus) was approaching and landing on the bottom flower. There was a rotation involved with this bee (bumbler) moving between these two Hollyhock blooms and a few others.

Catching these guys in a 1/2 inch thick zone of focus while they are flying is “Challenging” to say the least. I have to get around 9 inches away with this particular 90mm Zeiss Macro lens to get this kind of image plus shutter speeds in the 1/4000ths range to freeze the wings. Those wings beat 250 times a second over a 90 degre arc.

Geologic Musings: There are a few fossil bees known from the Geologic Record. But the “Amber Bee Fossil “on Ebay for 12 dollars MIGHT be a fake LOLOLOLOL. Don’t buy “Amber” fossils on Ebay …. In reality, Bee fossils are quite rare and would be worth thousands on the commercial market and priceless to scientists. There was a nice bee fossil found from the Miocene northern Bohemia (recently released paper_ The Miocene was from 22-5 million years ago depending on the sequence. Technical paper but nice images in it. (Prokop,Dehon,Michez and Engel 2017 for citation if you want to look it up).

Factoids: Bumblers are the highest living insects actually preferring higher elevations. Someone found a colony on Mount Everest 18000 feet above mean sea level. Our 4000 feet elevation pales by comparison lolol. The biggest bumbler out there lives in Chili and is 1.6 inches long…. about 3 times the size of an average bumbler her in North America. Bees of course pollenate most of our crops and are a lynchpin in our ecology.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

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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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Praying Mantis Hunting

Praying Mantis Hunting
Praying Mantis Hunting

I caught this Praying Mantis hunting on some Russian Sage out in my garden about a month ago now. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects (wet and cool) so there should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species obviously thought the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. He was “thrilled” to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂

Location: Back in the woods at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch’s headquarters, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

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Coyote Hunting for Trick or Treaters

Coyote Hunting for Trick or Treaters
Coyote Hunting for Trick or Treaters

We don’t get a lot of Trick or Treaters up here and I believe this Coyote isn’t interested in treats… I’m thinking more trickster here.🎃😄 I think we have gotten 2 small groups of “trick or treaters” in about the last 8 years. They were lost I think and saw just the yard light lolol. Pretty remote up here…. 🙁

At any rate, this Game Trail Camera footage of this fellow is actually showing it squatting marking the spot with the number 2 I think I stepped in tending the cameras… Sniff Sniff… This is one of those Caught in the Act moments around 1AM that moonless night. Pitch black Infra Red flash, no visible light but maybe a slight reddish glow at the camera. Click!

Game trail Camera images all have various problems for me to fix. But to a one, are candid and of course, they are working when I’m not so I’m all for them lol. It takes a couple of trips to collect all the chips about once a week. Some will go all winter without me being able to access them so spring thaw can be helpful in my photo output :).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Buck Mule Deer Drinking at Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Drinking at Twilight
Buck Mule Deer Drinking at Twilight

Catching a Mule Deer Buck Drinking from a Stock Tank at Twilight is a tough one to do in person. This is why I run a network of high quality game trail cameras (26 currently) to catch some of the inhabitants of my ranch in a more candid way.

Photograhers notes:

Hints on using game trail cameras:

Each image is problematic from a professional photo finishing standpoint. Let’s just say these images from the GTC take a while in the digital darkroom to get them to my current fairly high standards lol. This particular image has been finished to print to 2x3feet at high resolution so you can get really good images from these cameras.

The problem with the actual Game cameras is that they are on automatic all the time. Therefore I have no real creative control over the lighting adjustment. Low med and high lolol. Some algorythm decides….. This camera is set at a low flash setting but no IR flash occurred for this twilight color shot. This was late enough in the twilight where the camera could/should have taken a night camera shot in Black and White via Infra-Red Light. Apparently it just got this in above that low light threshold and was still in color. Low light color shots are rare for a game camera. I use 20 and 30 megapixel cameras. I don’t endorse any particular kind though. Each has it’s own uses like a particular screwdriver once you get to know how they perform.

Watering holes and fence openings are obviously good attractions and “funnels” where game will trail. I look for paths up to fences that continue on the other side and often place cameras at oblique angles to the crossing to catch Pronghorn or deer going under and occasionally over fences. Look for fence crossings near water sources too since those will be frequented at least once a day by what ever is around. Leave gates open for a long time if you can and still control your own stock. The wild game will start using those gates more often.

I find that putting cattle into a pasture will pretty much destroy, mame, chew, lick and otherwise waste game trail cameras. Don’t do it for long or you will have a messy sloppy game trail camera with 5K images of a cows blurry side to go through for that one deer that was overexposed by walking too close to the camera…….🤣

It’s illegal to feed game animals in many states. Putting down “chum” to attract the animals is touchy so know your local rules. You can put down corn to feed your livestock, you can plant fields with the right plants they like but don’t put down food for the wildlife is generally the rule for Game and Fish about the country. There are exceptions I’m sure.

The only parameters you can control with most game trail cameras is exposure and IR sensitivity for detection of animal movement. Placement of the camera…. I find this is by far the most important thing. Composition of the shot and having a funnel or attraction to have the animals go to where the camera is actually pointing is the baby. Set up those funnels.

Have a great evening this Wednesday night.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Coyote Infra-Red Capture

Coyote Infra-Red Capture
Coyote in Pitch Black Under Infra-Red Light Only

I caught this Coyote Infra-Red Capture in Pitch Black conditions using Infra-Red Light only from this “best quality” Game Trail Camera. He was moving slightly but this is an excellent photo from that technology. He was down by a “landing” by a large pond and this spot has been productive for animals coming down to drink from that pond. Game Trail Cameras have come a long way but if someone sold one that gave me better images than I currently can get, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Musings:

Several cameras are planted in and around this location onea lake shore. Game trail cameras have always given us interesting images from there. Many creatures come down to this “landing” to drink. They then usually reconnoiter the relatively sheltered bare ground there under a big tree on the waters edge. I’m waiting for a Great Horned Owl to get down in this camera trap. I got one image of a Great Horned Owl here a few months ago but it’s image randomly was cut off right at it’s eyes. . The rest of the image was wonderful. I fixed the aim of that camera lololol. I’ll get him next time it comes to drink here.

I currently have 4 cameras looking in and out of this particular area. I can do it with one 360 degree game camera. Having 3 others looking in make for a sure good shot from at least one of the cameras. This stuff happens pretty fast, animals don’t dilly dally around too much. All business late night out hunting for this coyote. I hear groups of them out in that direction but I’ve never caught a “pack” on a game trail camera yet. Working on that I am. 📸

Location: Not even 100 yards from the Montana/Wyoming border, Bliss DInosaur Ranch.

Coyote Infra-Red Capture