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Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning
Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning

A Month from now they return… Spring time 2019, the trees were 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 was busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. These are big 5 pound 5 foot tall birds if you’ve never seen them before.

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 along 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….👀.

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

Title: Great Blue Heron Sunning

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Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice
Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

The 20th annual all Ungulate Barbershop Quartet Competition takes place mid-summer here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. These backcountry stage shows happen all the time but there is no one there to see it let alone hear it. Such vocal performances rank up there with the best ever heard on the ranch, generations of training of their voice. This of course is an all female chorus. Bass Tenor, Alto and Soprano all competing for your attention.

Pronghorn make a surprising number of sounds that most humans have never heard or recognized. I’ve heard a birdlike noise impossible to describe that I finally realized was coming from Pronghorn. That sound uttered when they are just calmly grazing about. They also vocalize a raspy grunting sound, that I call frog croaking. Only the bucks in small groups make this sounds in my experience.

By my observations, Bucks around Does, don’t seem to grunt in this way (it might be just boy talk out here in the backcountry). There is also the noise generated by snorting air through their nose. This sound resembles a deer snort to me. It’s likely a warning used to try to get another buck to move or to warn other animals in the herd (basically an alarm call). They also make the breathing in and out panting noise during the rut when chasing other bucks around. The intensity of the rut makes for entertaining backcountry viewing here in “America’s Serengeti” .

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

Title: Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice,

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Pronghorn Horn Confusion

Pronghorn Horn Confusion
Pronghorn Horn Confusion

Pronghorn Horn Confusion

This from early spring 2019. The grass is growing, the hair is shedding off this Young Pronghorn Buck. They shed in clumps giving them a haggard / mange look. He’s perfectly healthy for a young un…But WHAT is going on with his horns… You have to look very carefully lolol. These guys will be appearing here on ranch within weeks of this Mid-March Post.

Pronghorn Spring Migration:

The Pronghorn are migrating shortly but I’m not seeing them up here just yet as we have snow cover high. Moving through here from the south heading through up to 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 last 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 for the winter. 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.

Title: Pronghorn Horn Confusion

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Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing
Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing (Headline in any rural newspaper as it’s pretty quiet up here)

With several things going on in this mid-summer capture, you might focus on the Pronghorn diving under the three wire fence. The highlight on which are as bright as I’ve seen lol. It was just the perfect angle. I’m parked about 300 yards down the road. The mother and two fawns were in a hurry to leave my proximity as I just had come to a stop. Pronghorn’s tend to move when you stop. Changes in motion trigger them to move in response as I see it. If your still all the time or moving all the time, your less likely to spook them. Vehicle photography of Pronghorn is much easier than on foot lolol. These American native long distance relative of the giraffe does not appreciate the human form (maybe it’s just me”…😜)

So… Pronghorn almost always go under fences. I read once where they can jump 15 feet high. (I have not see this). I have however seen them go 6 feet. I have less than 10 images of Pronghorn Jumping Fences. I have many more of them going under fences. 📸

This is however, the ONLY image I have of a doe deer “Watching the Technique” clearly displayed here used by countless generations of Pronghorn. Deer of course tend to jump fences.

I can’t tell you how much I want summer back. As I post this midwinter, there is either mud or ice in the backcountry. Iced / melted then frozen snow drifts are really bumpy. Mud is a problem this time of yearI try not to exacerbate by making ruts with my Raptor.

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

Title: Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing

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Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast
Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

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 last 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. This is the second of two finished images from that encounter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

2×3 feet at full resolution.

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

Title: Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

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Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing
Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. As I type this a cold weather front is incoming tomorrow so a little summer bluster here for you today.

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

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

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-November kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. Here in March, anything is possible weather wise. Our biggest snows are in March and April.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

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Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

Pronking Pronghorn Levitating
Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

Catching a Pronghorn during Levitation is a demonstration of Stotting or Pronking. Relatively stiff legged they more or less pogo stick across the ground. Apparently it’s an energy efficient way of moving but not their fastest method lol.

Pronghorns are the fastest land animal in North America and pretty much hit 50 everyday around here at one time or the other lol. This apparently is an efficient way of covering ground quickly as they are moving when they do this. Maybe 30 ish…. This is harder to capture than you might think….. This is not really an everyday thing for them. Hard to capture as only once in a while do I see this. You have to be there to start with and then they have to do the behavior you want lolol. Technical camera settings are straightforward but opportunity wins every time. 📸

This of course is a summer photo as the lack of mid-winter snow AND the total absence of the Pronghorns this time of year. There are no Pronghorns on ranch that I am aware of that are overwintering here. We do keep water open but it looks like all of them have migrated south about 30 miles to the Thunderbasin National GrassLands. They gather there by the thousands for running water and lots of grass. I’ve seen individual herds of 250-300 before and they were just a random herd. I know there are bigger groups down there.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

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Coyote Glancing Back

Coyote Glancing Back
Coyote Glancing Back

Coyote Glancing Back

Here Wiley Coyote’s cousin Willey takes a second to look back just to make sure that was a camera lens I was pointing at him. I have years of long range shooting precision rifles under my belt. I’ve been shooting guns a lot longer than I’ve been shooting with cameras lolol. As a ranch owner, I share the general irritation at seeing a coyote hanging around my ground (or anybody elses). A lot of livestock has been killed by coyotes.

I think on an intellectual level, they generally get a bad rap as mostly they eat mice and voles. They will occasionally eat the face off calves while they are being born. Lambs are a favorite snack. Road Runners are too hard to find around here except the local grade school who’s sports team goes by that moniker. So what I’m saying is, this guy is lucky that last look back wasn’t his actual last look back. It’s pretty hard to get a rifle into play after using a long lensed camera. It think the camera+lens is longer…. It might be a consideration that it’s illegal to shoot from a country road except with the camera. Also shooting a suppressed rifle from a county road would be a federal crime since any criminal act committed with a National Firearms Act registered device (like a suppressor/silencer) becomes a federal felony instantly. Needless to say, this guy walked away. It’s all in the details folks….

Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands on Trail Creek Road.

Title: Coyote Glancing Back

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Snow Frame Deer Does

Snow Frame Deer Does
Snow Frame Deer Does

Snow Frame Deer Does

These two does (mother and daughter) were casually walking across the county road when the young one paused. Perfectly framed by the melt. The morning after the storm this pair was hanging around in the “Bull Pasture” just down the road from our main headquarters gate.

This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom with her yearling doe (fawn) .

I’ll watch this pair over the years as the little one grows up. She’s a member of a group that stays close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a baby maker in the years to come. She’s about 9 months old now. It’s difficult to ID particular does unless they have split or notched ears. I know their family group though anytime I see them. I’m pretty sure they know me too lolol.

There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Now, Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches.

This is a 800mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol. As I type this it’s REALLY muddy.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snow Frame Deer Does

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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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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

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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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Blue Heron Shift Change

Blue Heron Shift Change
Blue Heron Shift Change

Blue Heron Shift Change

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Blue Heron Shift Change

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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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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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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day
Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day for sure. So how do you have to sleep to get that “Cow LIck” or is that Pronghorn? Might be chilly out for this shot… (-2F). I love it when I get a Pronghorns breath. Frosty!

Shed Horn Sheath.

That appears to be a pretty sharp point on his right horn. I doubt it grew that way. I suppose he might have broken it off or is shedding the sheath (most likely). He actually might do some damage with that horn if he ever get’s big enough physically to be a “contender” in the rut. You know it’s all fun and games until someone puts out an eye. Designed to lock up in a fight, horns shape is sort of standardized. . Having said all that, this is a late migrator working his way down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The Pronghorn “herd up” about 30 miles south of my place for the winter. Those grasslands are part of the American Serengeti. down there. They have been over the rut for weeks now.

I have never found a full sized shed Pronghorn sheath. I have only found one SMALL example. I’d like to think I have a pretty sharp eye for things left on the ground having been a dinosaur/fossil hunter all my life. Patterns and shapes stand out in my mind like a starburst against the black sky. They disintegrate pretty fast I suspect.

I’m always looking down with my eye’s to the ground and I walk in the backcountry a LOT. Most folks don’t know the males do in fact shed their horns. This Pronghorn buck still has one to go. The Horns will grow back pretty quickly in the spring.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bad Horn Day

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Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

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

Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

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Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

Bumble Bee Pollen Mining
Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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

Photographic Musings:

This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸

Mini-Lesson for working on Manual:
This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎


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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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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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Split Eared Fawn with Mom

Split Eared Fawn with Mom
Split Eared Fawn with Mom

Split Eared Fawn with Mom

This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom and interesting son (fawn) . The very distinctive young one has both a split left (his) ear and UNIBROW lolol. That with the little black chin goatee beard has totally ID’d him as “Mr. Uniibrow” to me. 

I’ll watch ‘Mr Unibrow” over the years as he grows up. He’s a member of a group that stay close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a star in years to come. He’s about 7 months old now. He’s distinctive enough I’ll have images of him from now through 4 years anyway assuming he survives. 

There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches. 

This is a 1200mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Split Eared Fawn with Mom

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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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Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

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

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


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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

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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