Well a “White Throated Swift” if I read my audubon ID correctly. They are silly fast birds. Getting one launching from it’s home…. lol. My reaction time isn’t as fast as in my youth. As a geologists I’m less interested in the bird instead of the WONDERFUL geology behind it. I’m always thinking about Cretaceous river systems operating up here in the rock record. Geologists read rocks like a book. The local rocks make for a great story ! ..
Transition to geology:
Indeed this Swift is a cliff dweller exiting that dark subsoil homestead built out of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formation Cretaceous River bottom sediment exposed here. Those various “rocks” are all different kinds of mudstone “pebbles”. These were rolled down a very large paleo-river. Each rock torn up from the clay river bottom up stream then rounded along the way. There is a nice mix of clast sizes represented in the wall. The current velocity in that paleo-river obviously carried these pebbles to cobble sizes down river only to dump them here at this spot. That river lost it’s ability to carry this material leaving it behind for me to observe 66 million years later. No fossils in this debris which represents the source’s likely-hood of having bones in the clay. (way long discussion ommitted).
Somewhat more recently, rain water has very carefully washed the sand away from the pebbles showing this well exposed “cobblestone surface that is resultant from that pre-historic river depositional event. Notice I didn’t say “flood”. Floods wash sediment down stream as well as scouring clay chunks out of the floor of the stream. It’s the cessation of that flood that leaves this kind of debris as these transported mud clasts behind. Slower velocity drops the suspended and saltated load instantly. This pile of river gravel was eventually covered by another river cycle of deposition. The next depositional event overlapping rinse and repeat millions of times. The same river swept back and forth across the Cretaceous piedmont filling the epi-continenal sea at the time. Dinosaurs skinny dipped in these rivers sands/cobbles.
White Tail Deer Get their name from an obvious anatomical attribute. They are much more gracile than Mule Deer which co-inhabit these environs. To me it always appears that these ungulates are walking “Tippy Toes” across the road lol.
I’m assuming the same old answer of “to get to the other side” applies to the classic question. I was able to anticipate their walking across the road in front of my Ford Raptor as I was traveling. I was able to stop and turn at a right angle to the roadway to give me a full side view out both my window at their future path. Sure enough they continued on and gave me the pregnant single mother “shot” of the morning. The buck apparently was no where to be found 😔. Single motherhood is a way of life in the ungulate world. The bucks are all off at some boys club hanging out together all summer. Like a nightly card game except it’s 24-7 until the rut… 😜📷
This pair is of course a pregnant mother (left) and her yearling (right). The mother is still a month or so away from giving birth I’m thinking. They were traveling alone in the backcountry when I came along. They felt it was necessary to run in front of me instead of completely away from the road.. Whitetail Deer are not as bad as Pronghorn for running in front of your vehicle but worse than Mule Deer in my experience 👁👁
Robins that arrive too early in the spring have a tough time of it. They are usually insect and “fruit” eaters and a good friend in the yard. They do occasionally dive bomb me during nesting season a few weeks away. But in the mean time, this guy would settle for 38 degrees and a clear ground to hunt on. This little area of driveway free of snow under a large tree in the midst of a deep 4 inch crisis for this traveler. Puffed up against the cold, it will struggle for the next few days against the harsh high country spring weather. (taken a 10 days before this posts)
There are of course American Robins that Winter north of here in Canada. Generally the 36 degree isotherm contour on the map is their northern boundary. Of course any particular Robin might just be nuts and go too far north every now and then. They migrate in response to food presence / absence not temperature however. I understand they can move about 40 miles a day or night) when on the move. If earthworms or fruits are not available, the Robins will “Spread Out” in response to the diminishing food supply.
You might notice that Robins DO NOT SING out of their breeding territory. If your local neighbor hood Robins are singing, there are going to be some peepers being hatched in the not far distant future. Rarely they may produce their first songs on their wintering grounds but the majority will not until they reach their breeding grounds. . The singing is part of the way the male defends it’s territory. . Male Robins don’t particularly like other males Songs…. this breaks up the winter migratory flocks. I have another image of a half dozen Robins in a tree during this storm. All within about a 2 feet diameter circle. Still flocking and no songs…
Long Red, Orange and Yellow wavelengths survived the gauntlet of the atmospheric filters present. This lake looks HUGE but I assure you it’s a perspective trick of angle and light. It is a small melt water pond on my driveway probably 15 feet across but that is irrelevant to the illusion. If it were windy that night, this would have been a reflective mess. I know the bottom here 😜.
This low area is part of the drainage inside my compound however . I’ve seen 4 inches of water flowing through this spot before during the spring melt. It is the secondary water course through my property. When the primary water channel is full of ice, this part of my driveway is a run off channel. Plan B as it were. lolol. My buildings foundations are a foot above this. I did the surveying for many of the structures here. I taught surveying to collect seniors in the Horse Creek Area east of Dubois.
Reflections from calm water are always darker than the skies they are reflecting. Rippled water presents a smaller surface to reflect the available light so windy surfaces are even more dark. The dynamic range of these Sony Alpha 7 series never fail to amaze me and I’ve used them for 2 years now. I put a lot of clicks on camera bodies lol. Hard use up here in the backcountry. Lots of dust /environmental exposure plus wear and tear.
This location is directly on my gravel driveway. Sometimes I don’t have to go far to chase the light. . As this posts the sun is setting further to the north or straight west each night after the March 19 Equinox at 9:50 PM MST. It set at 270 degrees that day. The sun is setting/rising north of east/west roads as well. There are so many opportunities over the next week folks, pay attention to sunset and sunrise and where those “leading lines” lead to.
As I travel the misty backcountry mornings, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this twilight,
It is a truism that any fence that precludes passage is a good fence. While it won’t keep deer from penetrating, it does a good job of keep adult cattle out though. It has served it’s purpose for at least 50 years and probably much more. There is no oral history regarding this or that fence line that I have gathered over the decades I’ve lived here.
There is 30 miles of fencing up on this small ranch alone. Imaging how much work that was over the decades to 1: install and 2: maintain BLOWS my mind. 99 percent of the fence posts were hand dug. If you haven’t dug a 5 inch post hole 2 or 3 feet deep, you haven’t really experienced life. Trust me on this. I’ve had numerous first time newcomers that are not ranch wise get fairly well educated by handing them a t-post pounder/driver and a t-post to put in. There are 10,000+ t posts in 30 miles of fencing. I’d estimate there are hundreds of corner braces anyway. A hundred year old ranch has generations of little (and big) jobs invested in them. Black holes for work they are.
The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.
Taken early in the morning after sunrise last summer. A very deep focus close/far perspective of a long hill to a pass/crest in the distance. I was watching these wonderful clouds over the “hump” on the drive up. Stopped, set up, CLICK. A complex sky is a treasure but that morning was a treasure chest with all the rare contrasts the whole timeline. .
In the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Travel is much easier on the gravel roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress).
How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.
RIght at the moment we are dealing with ice and mud alternately. Spring storms are incoming typically. Most of our precipitation comes in the spring.
2:1 Aspect Diptych 2-20inch square images. Eagle head in the clouds if you look up top right. FIsh in the cloud lower left lolol.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Backcountry Windy Day Windmill (A little summer storm off in the distance, might be some wind )..
Windmill Weekend: Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Kids, don’t let it out that you look at images like this, it might get back to your mom and dad. If your parents find out, your likely to get grounded.
Soooo, that is actually the red gravel backroad curve all landscape photographers love to have in their green spring image. The storm to the south darkening the horizon. Delineated by a spot lit stripe of full sun. Those hills are about 8 miles distant from my camera’s lens. The row of trees is 3 miles out.
Telephotos Crush perspective and bring things otherwise separated objects into the same focus if you use the aperture correctly. This Windmill is about 200 yards out. This is far enough from the camera to be in it’s infinite focus zone as is the sky in the distance. In manual mode you have to use a high f-stop number for this. Close far focus perspectives from me are ALL f22 or higher depending on the lens. Really long telephotos might go f74 which is a pin point hole in the lens to let in light. ). You get some diffraction effects at high fstop if looking at bright point light sources like a starred sun. High F-stop use will also reduce the amount of light into the camera. You have to compensate by using a longer exposure or a higher camera sensitivity, or both.
Curve at the Border (remember early summer a few short months away).
A fairly well maintained county gravel road winds it’s way through my ranch. No pretense of trying to straighten this out using engineering principles back in the day. I’m pretty sure this trail was an animal trail when settlers first came here. This image was taken directly over/at the Montana/Wyoming border just before the local “pass” or high point of this particular stretch of 10 miles of gravel. That is over my shoulder.
It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color stop light from this spot and several miles from the nearest county road. I was going for the artsy side of this winding road. The Pronghorn were barely looking up several hundred yards away grazing on one of our freshly sprouting hayfields. Green Grass is Rocket Fuel to them and every other animal grazing.
This spot is literally 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole at precisely 45 degrees north latitude (the Montana/Wyoming border too).🤔 We are also about 120 miles from the geographic center of the North American continent. You couldn’t get much further from an Ocean than this spot….literally lol. No local “Red Lobster” . It’s a good thing I have all this Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation Dinosaur Bearing Sandstones all over the place covering the ranch to keep me feeling like I’m at the beach..digging a hole in 100 degree sand when I look for fossils in the summer sun… 🤣.
We pay taxes in both states. My son went to HS in Montana, our main residence is Wyoming technically by 1/2 mile. We actually have about 1/2 the ranch’s land in either state.
The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.
Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Hiding a major inflexion point in earths history…..
Reading earths book: Musings.
When the Bolide (google this) struck the earth at the End of the Cretaceous, it spread a thin layer of Iridium (an element) rich dust all over the globe. This impact occurred down in Yucatan Mexico. The rocks that make up this ridge/pass are from that moment in time. There the “K/T” iridium layer exists somewhere.
Now what does a geologist/photographer do with a hill like this…. The Bolide) Crashed into the earth, killing the dinosaurs, and many other animal groups on the planet. Huge upheavals in food chains ensued. Major extinctions do that of course and here we are. Our ancestors survived the conflagration. I traced the Rock Formation that is dinosaur bearing (Hell Creek/Lance formations) to end on this hill. The type of rock changes and SOMEWHERE in the photo, is that 4 inch thick layer of debris from that major impact. You can only tell exactly where it is from taking detailed samples up the rock section then running them through a mass spectrometer . One just looks for the Iridium spike (Iridium as an element is common in outer space but rare on earth. The impactor vaporized enriching the surface in that rare element.
The number of fossils and the diversity seems to be slowly declining near the top of the section but I don’t have HARD numbers on this. Don’t discount the pizza oven effect from the Bolides ejecta reentering the atmosphere. Massive tsunami’s hit further south. I’m sure this area got cooked. Later a blast wave plough through at the speed of sound. Anything that wasn’t under water, in a burrow or somehow hidden was killed outright on this hemisphere. The climates changed markedly and initiated a failure of major populations of animals to successfully reproduce. Ultimately it’s the inability to reproduce that causes extinction. No matter what the cause.
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 😀
Here the local Wyoming Roaming Road Block was down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. These are Pronghorn Bucks still with antlers (not for long) and does mixed. They are on the move migrating down to that remote grassland to winter over the rough Wyoming Winter.
As this was taken, I was on the road to Gillette from my ranch for a ‘day trip”. It’s about 25 gravel road miles to this spot. Then another 12 miles of gravel before I run into concrete in the form of St. Rt. 59 (Wyoming) .
The Thundbasin National Grasslands are huge chunks (several spread around a few states) of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with very few inholdings by private land holders. These ‘reserves” are hundreds of square miles of just an occasional power line and stock well or solar well. Of course there is the obligatory oil well facility but these guys don’t care about buildings. Usually geothermally warm water is the only running water and there is a few of those sources around here. They are oasis’s in the winter for wildlife living near them.
I’ve seen many very large herds of Pronghorn roaming just off one of the few maintained roads out there. Vehicle traffic is prohibited within the national grasslands. The only way to get miles back and up high is to horseback or walk in. I gave up horses a decade ago and walking more than a few miles backcountry with 20 pounds or so of gear gets pretty old pretty fast in the winter I have found. Reminds me of deer hunting when I was way younger. I’ll stick to the roads down in this country lol.
Location:25 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Thunder Basin National Grasslands, Campbell County Wyoming.
When your on the local “main road and yourDriving into the Western Sunset on the Backroads of Wyomint and Montana was taken on the Equinox when the sun set straight to the west at 270 degrees corrected for magnetic declination. This section of road is by coincidence also straight east and west. The horizon is 50 miles out and the sun is a minute from being covered by the rising horizon. (You know the sun is not setting but the horizon is rising about 4 inches the time it takes a rifle bullet to travel 1000 yards….. It only take around 3 minutes for the sun to be covered by the horizon once it touches the sun. This varies with the season because the tilt of the earth’s polar axis with the solar ecliptic
It’s starting to get icy more often. As I type this we’re in the middle of a snowy period. Winter is coming (contemporary reference)
Location, close to the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
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.
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.
X marks the spot in this Rare Phenomena called Anti-crepuscular Rays. The bright rays converging on the spot lit landscape 40 miles distant. This is a perspective phenomena with the bright morning golden hour sun shaded over my shoulder by a big cloud but the light coming down on either side of it down to a point on the horizon.
It is a “trick” of distance and light rays from a very large sun (compared to the cloud) and if youi are far enough back, with enough ice in the air, you see these rays. The exact opposite of a crown sky on the opposite horizon. I actually have photos year back of some other occurring from moonlight of all things. I’ll eventually work my way to that image too. This however was taken a week ago as this posts.
Hands down the best example I’ve seen…thought the complimentary V of the trails coming together here at the top of the ridge would be appropriate. It reminds me of the Under Armor Logo.. lololol.
Father/Son Talk..”Son, someday all this will be yours”. In the mean time ever vigilant mom watches their back while they have some quality family time right on the crest of a blind hill way on a remote county road. I stopped way back knowing I didn’t want to interrupt that family conference so I waited patiently…. figured I might as well take a photo….😂
This photo is of course an imaginary Pronghorn Family as the affiliation of the doe with the Buck is very transitory lol. The fawn will stay with the doe through the winter and weaned before the birth of her current bun in her oven. There were other does about too so he’s definitely not monogamous…..
The Pronghorn rut is over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. It’s time for them to migrate about 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.
Back Country Gravel Travel and Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains. I was driving back from Gillette and went the long way around by Recluse Wyoming. Elk Creek Road is a long High path with big views of the surrounding lower ground. Those are indeed the Big Horn Mountains about 90 miles out from the camera. I’m about 40 miles west from my ranch at this location.
The air was pretty still and the dust from my passing hung in the air. This actually is a major source of particulates in the countries air. All the dirt roads add up. Still a mongolian dust storm puts out more I suspect lolol. The last dust bloom on the left was about 4 miles out. Location: Northern Campbell Country Wyoming. Backcountry 14 miles from Recluse Wyoming.
This exceptional drive way is certainly one of if not the best ever lol. Hundred year old trees lining a groomed drive and grounds with three flags flying at the end of the visual tunnel. (you might need to zoom into see them so full screen). A zoomable ipad would be perfect…. An ideal entrance to an old restored ranch house well over 100 years old.
This was taken on the last day of fall on the way to Ucross Wyoming and eventually Sheridan on State 14/16. It’s all under snow today… (a week before this posts)…
That is a wonderful non-congested drive if you ever get the chance. Rural Wyoming at it’s finest with some awesome old ranches along the way each trying to outdo each other with the entrance. Great country here in the redoubt….
There is a reason we are called the “Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. T-rex’s Middle Toe Bone, Just before the HIGHLY desirable killing claw is a rare bone being on 2 per T-rex. The T-rex’s only constitute 2 percent of the fossil volume found in the Hell Creek Formation. This is about 1/400th of the volume of a t-rex’s skeletons proportionality so 1/400th of 2 percent.
Here the bone is still moist and has sand all over it from it’s excavation from a burial of 66 million years or more. . It was quite perfect (still is), needed NO superglue to hold it together or repair it in any way. (way unusual) It is also rare for a river water deposited bone to be “perfect” after being washed unknown miles down an ancient river, buried, washed away in a scour or channel change, rinse and repeat for 3 million years of this sand being dumped by huge rivers from the highlands to the west of here transported by water and left here for me to dig in.. I earned a Masters Degree along the way in a related geologic field to Paleontology and have been a geologist/paelontologist since I was 5 years old. It was no coincidence I moved to this spot 20 years ago. The geologic maps said this ranch was covered in younger rocks than the dinosaurs. I knew they were wrong when I asked the guy who dug all the wells in the area how far down it was to Fox Hill formation which is the local aquifer (he had worked in the area of our ranch) where everyone around here gets their water. Hell Creek is 700 feet thick. Fox Hill is the Beach Sand that the DInosaurs walked on and is stratigraphically lower/under the terrestrial Hell Creek DInosaur Bearing sand. 700 feet of Hell Creek minus 500 feet to Fox Hill made me suspect there was at least 200 feet of Hell Creek fossiliferous (possibly) layers on the surface. I was right and it was a few years before I figured out where 25 micro-sites and a bone quarry were . I also located a partial triceratops on a neighboring ranch. There are a few other spots I know of…🤔
There are in excess of 10K fossils in the ranch collection currently. Before you ask, I do not nor ever will sell fossils. They will go as a collection to a museum some day.
FYI, it is illegal to collect vertebrate remains on public/BLM/State/Indian land. Leave them be. You can only legally collect such fossils from private deeded land. So before you look, ask the landowner for permission…preferably written and no I don’t have people randomly come up here to look around on their own. No horn collectors, no hunters please. This is a private ranch.
The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Pronghorn tend to flag me down and usually seeing a car coming is enough to scatter the group. These guys were pretty casual and RIGHT on a crest in the road. This spot is voted most likely to have a bad wreck on it. You just can’t see what’s on the other side. This is part of the county road on my ranch so we pretty much drive in the grass going over it. I’ve met car/trucks RIGHT at the top and we don’t get much traffic here (like 5 or 6 cars a day). “Backroads Wyoming”. Filed under things I see about the place….
At both equinoxes, the Road Alighment of this East/West road is perfect to the setting sun. Any good east west road will do but this one has a 60 mile horizon looking over the Trail Creek/Little Powder River Drainages in the northern Wyoming/Montana borderlands.