Posted on

Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly
Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies. That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare. Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.

During the Carboniferous geologic period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water.

They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands. I don’t see them a lot on barbed wire though lolol.

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

Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly

Posted on

Blue Heron Fledgelings Stretching

Blue Heron Fledgelings Stretching
Blue Heron Fledgelings Stretching

Blue Heron Fledgelings Stretching

It had just rained and the sky had cleared. These three Great Blue Heron fledgelings were about 6 weeks old.

These largest of the North American Herons have a small rookery of 6 nests/pairs out in the Cottonwoods. Nests built high over one of our wetlands lakes. These young birds are less than 10 weeks old and probably more than 7 weeks. They are nearly fully feathered but weren’t flying at that point. They were waiting “patiently” for both parents to come back and feed them. Almost ready to leave the rookery, these juveniles were stretching, flapping and otherwise exercising their wings.

Great Blue Herons always nest within a few miles of their hunting grounds. This colony is around a string of small ponds. I’ve seen them hunt the shores for years but have yet to catch one spearing a fish with that sharp beak. Adults are masters of the air. I’ve seen them landing on branches 50 feet up that don’t look like they could hold the 5 pound bird. These are very BIG birds with standing 5 feet tall. They sport a 5 foot wingspan. Coming in at just a few mph using the wind to literally float down for a landing. Graceful to say the least. These guys will be lucky if they don’t get wet the first time they fly starting over a lake lolol.

As a species they have been flying a while. Their Dinosaurian ancestry is obviously clear in these close up images. Just add some teeth and a tail and you’d have an Avian Dinosaur. They all didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous.

Square Aspect Ratio. 18x18in

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (the Heron rookery in the wetlands)

Title: Blue Heron Fledgelings Stretching

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching
Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching is a capture from early in 2019.

Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.

Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.

These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Great Blue Heron Launching

Posted on

Heron Catching Some Wind

Heron Catching Some Wind
Heron Catching Some Wind
A Great

A Great Blue Heron Catching Some Wind was this bird way of starting to take off. Spreading it’s wings you could see the branch lift as the weight is lessened on it. These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree.

For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. They make their living eating frogs, small mammals, fish and anything else they can catch around their realm. These guys are widespread in our Hemisphere from the Galapagos to most of North America. They breed up here though. They like places where there isn’t much human activity. Where they set up their rookery is quite a ways off an already remote county road. Isolated they are from humans up here.

Not many people ever notice the rust colored feathers on their wings leading edges. Also of note are their chest feathers. The birds actively shread them to make a powder that soaks up all the fish and oils from the wetlands.

I’ve spent many hours sitting and watching these birds. After the nest is built, mostly they hunt/sit on eggs. The male will bring the female the sticks and the female does the engineering. Both parents feed the young and share the 4 weeks of egg sitting. I’ve had a pretty good window on several of the nests all breeding season in 2019. I have quite a few images to finish from these encounters still. Job security I suppose😀

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Heron Catching Some Wind

Posted on

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

Posted on

DragonFly’s Shadow

DragonFly's Shadow
MayFly's Shadow: Longer Than It Is

DragonFly’s Shadow. These baby ble eyed dragon flies are about 1/2 inch long had longer shadows here than their own bodies. This is definitely a dragon fly as it holds it’s wings outward when at rest. These guys Blue Eyes ROCK. I’m glad they don’t have a 6 foot wing span like their ancestors did back in the Carboniferous Swamps of Pennsylvania 😲 These guys have bcen around the planet for a long time….. just saying.🤔

Damselflies and Mayflies hold their wings to the rear at rest but they are all closely related. This little guy was casting a huge shadow…it must have been a big ego boost to the little guy hard to know lolol

This was from a few weeks ago before the recent snows just now making it’s way into my workflow. My time lag from capture to posting here is right at a week at the moment. Some much longer from the summer will crop up. I’m also refinishing a lot of older images to current standards so those will get reposted from years ago . There are some great images incoming if your just tuning in. 😊

Location: Backyard, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (I have a big backyard… 😎)

DragonFly’s Shadow

Posted on

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

Posted on

Bet You Don’t See Me

Bet You Don't See Me
Bet You Don't See Me

“Bet You Don’t See Me”: This deer heard something from the 360 degree game trail camera spinning (internally of a camo’d shell) and it made her look that way for a nice portrait view of her in that moment of time and space. This Automatic camera was planted on a short t-post in the middle of a natural traffic funnel and joining of trails here on ranch.

Located down in a deep gully and several fences funneling trails down to the spot are angled inwards to here. Anything that is going this general direction is channeled to this point where I keep 2 of my best Game Trail Cameras. There is a game/fence crossing about 20 feet behind the camera so anybody wanting from Montana/Wyoming across the border and back have to go this way or jump a fence somewhere else. Mostly Pronghorn and Deer choose the easy path and don’t like jumping. Deer Jump Way more than Pronghorn do fences. So they walk right by my cameras. You’ve seen several images over the last few months from these cameras.

Game Trail Camera Thoughts


Proper placement of Game Trail Camera is about the only control you have over those contraptions. Some do very fine quality images during the day (like this one). Others are better at night. Seems no one builds the ideal Game Trail Camera for me yet lolol. I run a network numbering 26 of them currently. They cover a lot of choke points (water holes, gates to feeding grounds, etc).

You can usually set three different exposure levels and sensitivity levels for the movement IR sensor but that’s about it. Set it and walk away for weeks or months. See what wanders by and what the cameras built in auto software does 😊 . It’s be nice if they would do a 3 shot exposure bracket. Maybe someone makes one but I don’t know of the device.

This would make a tough 1000 piece puzzle lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Bet You Don’t See Me

Posted on

Bumble Bee and Lilacs

Bumble Bee and Lilacs
Bumble Bee Gathering from Lilacs in the Spring

Bumble Bee and Lilacs on the 4th of July was occurring until July 4thin 2019. I have many photos of bees on lilacs from that day. Latest Lilacs in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming that I recall lilacs in bloom. that late. There are several species of Bumblers that were working the pollen conveyer belt to the hives. I have yet to find a natural hive on the ranch but they sure are here.

We have had a large west coast honey company place hives in small truckloads on the ranch. They gather honey from the every other years Sweet Clover bloom we have here. It’s miserable for me with allergies flaring from all the clover pollen and it’s a serious fire danger. iI all that clover dries out but the honey sure is good lolol. We get a big box of honey from production each year as “rental” for the real estate the hives take up and feed from. WAY more than we use in a year.

Of course, Honey lasts way more than a human lifetime…. There is perfectly good honey found with ancient Egyptian artifacts in jars. Just heat and eat lolol. It’s full of antibacterial properties. It has been used for centuries (honey) to treat a host of ailments successfully and may be a good antibiotic I’ve heard. (rumor).

With Winter moving in early this year having had several good snows and hard freezes starting Oct 1, I thought I share an image from last spring as everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. I haven’t posted a bee for a while 😀 There will be a few bee shots incoming all winter as I refinish old images to meet my current higher standards.

Location: Backyard, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bumble Bee and Lilacs

Posted on

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).

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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

Posted on

Sunslit Twilight With a Cellulose Filter

Sunslit Twilight With a Cellulose Filter
Sunslit Sunrise With a Cellulose Filter

I certainly used a “cellulose” filter on this Sun-slit Twilight. Yup that tree is all cellulose and it filtered the light that made it through to my photon capture box. Hundreds of miles of atmosphere for light to travel through to make it into this twilight image before the sunrises above the horizon and illuminate the cloud deck. This is a night sky technically. The sun has not risen here and won’t for about 9 minutes in this timeline. It’s still 3 sun diameters below the horizon or so. Dead calm, 2 second exposure, f22, ISO 200.

This image is all about the use of negative space. 36×24.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Posted on

3 Great Blue Heron Fledglings 50 Feet Up a Cottonwood Tree

3 Great Blue Heron Fledglings 50 Feet Up a Cottonwood Tree
3 Great Blue Heron Fledglings 50 Feet Up a Cottonwood Tree

These 3 Great Blue Heron Fledges are 50 feet up a Cottonwood Tree. These are not common birds here on the high plains but they do come to roost and breed each spring. Our ranches wetlands have our share of Heron Breeding Pairs. These three are about 40 days old fledglings not yet flying but getting most of their adult feathers in. I don’t see them much on up in the drylands. Only near the ponds.

I did have at least one come onto my deck without my knowledge ….where I have had a 500 gallon tank (built into the deck 20 years ago) full of Japanese Koi that were about a foot long. It was almost entirely hidden from above by a choke cherry bush of some prestigious proportions. The heron obviously saw right through my ponds came and ate all dozen of the big ornamental gold fish I had kept in that tank for 14 years. This was a few years back and my replacements are about 8 inches long plus the choke cherry bush is more covering…… (I’m assuming it was a heron since I saw one in the yard the next day which is a rare sighting indeed here). I have photos of him flying off somewhere in my files lol.

I’ve not seen them about the nesting area since late July. This image from June of 2019. These guys were also a football field away from the vantage I had on an adjacent ridge to get this level look at the tree tops. Add a very long lens and you get “up close and personal” if you will.

Early on I can see most of the nesting in this 1/8 long mile extended cottonwood tree line. Habitants included a great horned owl and chick this year in addition to the Heron Rookery… I love this place’s diversity of subject matter.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

blissphotographics.com

Posted on

Incoming Great Blue Heron and Photobomber

Incoming Great Blue Heron and Photobomber
Incoming Great Blue Heron and Photobomber

This incoming Great Blue Heron has a photobomber in his approach. The landing pad is 50 feet up a mature cottonwood tree down in one of the ranches wetland areas. Herons are not a common bird up here but they do breed here year after year since I’ve lived here. (20 years). I’m sure I photographed these birds as fledglings years back.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Posted on

First Snow of late 2019 October 1st Bliss Dinosaur Ranch

First Snow of late 2019 October 1st Bliss Dinosaur Ranch
First Snow of late 2019 October 1st Bliss Dinosaur Ranch
First Snow of late 2019. October 1st Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. It was a wet heavy snow this morning (still snowing at this post). There is a lot of water out there sitting on trees all with their leaves. Still have electricity 🙂 4 second time exposure Location: 6AM, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands BlissPhotographics.com