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Sharp Tail Blue Sky

Sharp Tail Blue Sky
Sharp Tail Blue Sky

Sharp Tail Blue Sky

It’s always interesting lighting when subject patiently sitting for me is in the shade. The contrast with the Robin’s Egg Blue Wyotana sky was remarkable to me. The bird itself was a “Score” in the photon capture world I play in. I seldom get this close to any wild creature but “when I do”…… I like to bring a 28 inch long lens along.

It took me over a minute to SLOOOOOWWWLY move from under a roof clearly into this observant birds view. It was perhaps 10 yards away and was watching me like his distant cousin the hawk… This encounter didn’t last more than the next 360 degree sweep of the pocket watch dial. (you guys that grew up with only digital watches / clocks won’t get that 😜) .

I consider these birds as a food bank if shortages occur lol. They hang around here mooching off my barnyard Duck and Chicken feeding “operation”, (read my wifes hobby). I of course get to haul the feed around…. save that for another narrative I’m thinking …..👀

“Sharpies” are certainly plump flying boats. Look to me like a “Cataline PBY” aircraft plowing through the air. Landing is usually a LONG glide and a last second . I’ve seen them literally glide over a mile (with me following on the county road lolol). I find it is fairly difficult though to photograph Gliding Birds while driving along side of them. Easier in the middle of a big field lolol.

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

Title: Sharp Tail Blue Sky

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Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick
Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Sharpie On A Stick

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Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming
Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

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Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan
Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Checking Your Flight Plan

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Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse.

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Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

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SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch

SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch
SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch

“Sharpies” AKA … SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch was taken at -2 degrees about a week ago as this posts. There is an eighth inch of ice on everything. I find this is one of the best times of year to photograph them. They puff up and show off their colors keeping warm 50 feet up a cottonwood. Of course the spring when they are mating and the males have bright purple cheek patches is fun.

These guys foraged both in the trees and on the ground. They are eaters of berries, flowers, buds, grains and insects. Opportunists and omnivores just like domestic chickens. They are grouped as a prairie-chicken generally. They like to hang out up high though and aren’t hard to spot since they are plump little birds.

In the winter a pretty big group of them (50 or more) are hanging out generally around my barnyard/homestead They mooch grain the ranches domestic fowl “miss” (because the Sharpies at it first lol). The electric wire doesn’t detour them as they just fly over it. They pretty much make themselves at home. They really don’t like the human form (I don’t know why since I’ve never chased them) but cars/vehicles don’t bother them much as long as you move slowly and keep the tunes to a minimum. ).

I have a few more of these just finished that will be working their way into my posting timeline. I currently have 54 finished images to write about a 300 word each for each. 6 per day…. . Job security lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch

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2 Moons One “Sharper” Than The Other

2 Moons One "Sharper" Than The Other
2 Moons One "Sharper" Than The Other

I get little flocks of 10 to 20 Sharp Tailed Grouse, butt in this case…2 moons, one sharper than the other….

This grouse was WAAAAAYYY up a cotton wood tree, about 50 feet, add another 150 feet for my distance from the tree…. 200 feet….maybe….ALMOST enough distance to do this. Seeing the moon was hard enough lolol. Then I had to find somebody to cooperate long enough to set this up ….
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana.

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Sharp Tailed Grouse at -20 degrees F.

Sharp Tailed Grouse at -20 degrees F.
Sharp Tailed Grouse at -20 degrees F.

This Sharp Tailed Grouse was staying warm at -20 degrees F. He was in a small wind sheltered spot and in the sun. Life was good hanging out NEAR MY CHICKENS where any “extra feed was policed up by a small flock of these guys every day.

Just another mooch off the ranching operations lololol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Prickly Porcupine Picture

Prickly Porcupine Picture
Prickly Porcupine Picture

Running into a Prickly Porcupine and taking its “Picture” is always a sticky situation for a least one of us. Fortunately, this is a trail camera capture in nearly pitch black. The hard part is deciding WHERE to put the camera…… (hint look for tracks)

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Slim Pickens Sharpie Grouse

Slim Pickens Sharpie Grouse
Slim Pickens Sharpie Grouse

Slim Pickens Sharpie Grouse

This image came out well lol. Some images just work better than others. I wish I could refine that process but it seems relatively random. . I have hundred of clicks on these birds but for several reasons this came out on top to post today.

It was 5 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. This one flew up to an old lunch spot… Not much left…. A few were nice enough to sit for me in muted sunlight with a blue grey sky when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was calm for this capture. He was aware of me and considering his escape and evasion plan which he instituted shortly after this click.

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Slim Pickens Sharpie Grouse