When you watch a mother deer with her fawn, you can see the love. They interact constantly. Once the novelty of me being within telephoto range has passed, natural behavior starts to return. No more suspicion of the intrusion into their world remains as I watch the mother reach over and nuzzle her baby. I’m not so sure the fawn was stressed in the least. I’m thinking the mother was reassuring herself that the fawn was OK. This was at least 5 minutes after I started photographing them. I’m doubting she was very stressed as the photo session continued for at least another 1/2 hour. I drove off leaving them approximately in the same place as when I drove up. I can usually do this kind of work without chasing them off.
If I scare animals (bad plan). I don’t get to photograph them very long and then only their backsides as they run away. So stealth, patience and don’t push are my techniques.
These guys way laid me on the way to photograph a sunset. I often randomly encounter wild animals on my trips around the ranch. I have been known (rarely) to go up a hill with a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) high resolution thermal viewer looking for body heat. It is rare I LOOK to find animals to photograph. They almost always just appear during my daily chores and photographic trips. I consider myself a landscape photographer even as all these critter photos grace my portfolio.
These Tres Amigos are obviously conspiring to pull a prank on their mom just out of frame. They jump around bouncing and playing as you might expect to see from Mini Loki’s. These are legitimate triplets as I know the mother. She was enormous compared to the other pregnant Pronghorn Does in the area. I have watched them for hours now. Mom is relatively skinny having given birth to these three. Plop, Plop, Plop with no Fizz, Fizz I’m thinking.
“They are tight as three knots on a rope they are” 👀 . Yes they play most of the time when mom’s well used spigot(s) or sleep isn’t on the menu. I hope for the mothers sake that the grasshoppers this year aren’t going to be competing for this dry years vegetation. The grass crop is going to be hurt by this insect attack I’m afraid in this area anyway. More good timing. Waiting for the asteroid impact in 4 ,3 ,2 ,1 …..
I was lucky enough to completely circle this group with a box o’ cameras. If I am very careful and drive like a cow grazes, getting close is just a matter of time. I have to drive slowly through high grass these days as there are indeed fawns both Deer and Pronghorn potentially laying there unseen. (I only drive off trail on ground that I own).
One of my advantages taking photos is I’m very agile getting around to get the light and my subject properly oriented to each other. Owning the land, not having nearby boundaries to prevent me from moving into position. I could never approach these weeks old Fawns on foot. The Pronghorn mother wouldn’t allow it so zip gone…. My truck is my portable blind. In the Black F-150 Raptor, I must seem like a noisy grazing Black Angus to them. I need a horn that makes a moo sound on it. Think that might void the warrantee?? 😜 📷
I was watching this long eyelashed gal from afar. I wanted to see what she was getting into. It was a choice between photographing her or a heavily clouded sunset. That sunset held little appeal to me. I drive a Black F-150 Raptor in the backcountry. It has been accepted by many of the local inhabitants. This gal was totally unbothered by my presence. She even let me move around a bit.
Living on a small ranch surrounded by REALLY big ranches pretty much is living in the wilderness. No mistake, this is a wild animal. She has just accepted me as no threat. This animal has been hanging around the easy water holes about my homestead. We have kept 4 stock tanks open for any comers for 20 years now. The wildlings like easy clean water. I go out onto the ranch land several times most days. I’m seen a lot by the local denizens. If I behave properly, the animals accept me now.
Sweet Clover is a biennial plant. The Sweet Clover is abundant so mule deer and antelope use it for forage throughout the year. It gets way less palatable later in the year getting “stemmy” and coarse. It makes a lot of noise under your truck then too. Burns hot too….. Wildfire concern every other year (this year). The pollen is problematic to some (me too) but the bees take full advantage of it. We have a California Honey company show up every few years here. They put out hives and give up several big cases of honey each time. It’s payment enough for me lolol.
This Doe is the “famous” balloon pregnant from about a week ago. She, as of this narratives typing has not given birth just yet. I suspect she wishes that she has. She found herself bedded down on a fine sand derived from Mountains long removed to our west. A series of Cretaceous age river carried it here leaving them here just for her to lay on. Geology is good for something…. My ranch is a very large sand box. We have more sand here than most public beaches lol. It’s just all terrestrial sourced plus relatively old deposit dropped here over 66 million revolutions around the sun ago.
I see this gal virtually every day and I’ve not chased her off ever. I drive around wild animals like a Black Angus Cow grazing. Stopping, the engine shuts off, take some photos….engine auto starts so it’s time to move, move, repeat the process a little closer each time. It doesn’t always work. I suspect a lot of the Pronghorns have seen me for years. The new truck had to mess up some of that old good will.
She doesn’t look that “Fat” in this view but she had that belly buried in the sand. I suspect she is VERY comfortable laying there. If full disclosure after about 5 minutes of me working her with 3 different cameras / lenses, she stood up and walked over 20 feet to graze. I drove away, my Ford F-150 Raptor “Clever Girl” never raised her heart beat. Even with me moving around in the
This is actually quite a low light capture. The sun had just set so only twilight illumination. 📸
IT was very late Golden Hour Lighting and the sun was settling into a cloud deck. (thus the red colorcast… natural). I had been watching this 5x5x5 bird (5 pound, 5 foot tall bird with a 5 foot wingspan) for 15 minutes. Sitting across a pond literally on the Montana / Wyoming border, he is 50 feet up a mature CottonWood Tree. The Pond is artesian and never dries up. The birds commonly seen in marshlands in the south, are rare sightings in this backcountry setting. There is a Heron rookery on ranch so I see them more than most. This photosession was just 9 days ago as this posts.
The cottonwoods are leafing out. I could only see 1 nest in the tree line where 6 were visible a week ago. I’m worried about the huge wind storm that blew through a few days before this. I’m guessing 80 mph gusts took a few nests out. Hopefully others are just obscured by the leaves of the trees. I looked very carefully to sky other nests but could only make out one. There was a Red Tail Hawk Nest not far down the tree line that I also could not locate in the 15 minutes I was watching this timeline unfold.
Catching a bird of any size at take off is a matter of reading it’s body language. Birds OFTEN poop just before they go errrr launch (no pun intended). Then there is that Squat 200 microseconds before the feet leave the perch. Timing and anticipatory focus. I’m thinking the focal field is 2 feet deep here… maybe 3… Focus a few feet in front of where he is standing…
I left after this fellow flew the coop as the sun was going down and I was a way out in the backcountry. A few miles to go over grass fields in the dark is tricky sometimes…. .
It sure seems that all the Pronghorn Does are pregnant. This group of 6 were hanging out on the MT/WY border with apparently nothing better to do. I was able to drive by these and then come in from the other side of them for some close ups. I was actually on the road for this capture. Having a group of pronghorn already familiar with my Black Ford F-150 Raptor (Clever Girl) this early in the year is a very good thing. I actually circled these guys, got much closer and left them not the other way around. Until they get familiar with me, running away from a vehicle is the standard response.
By late summer, I’ll have these guys thinking I’m just another cow. They will pass this on to their fawns (due within the month certainly). The lack of fear for this particular truck already This will hopefully turn into many close photos of the actors in this group. This last year was a very good wet year so I expect at least several sets of twins out of this group. Six adults turn into a family of say 14 or so… The nursery is going to be busy very quickly. So turns the wheel of life.
The males are mostly off in little groups but the male that was bossing these girls around is just off screen. I’m not sure of his relationship to the developing young. I’m doubting he had control over the group all winter while they were migrating. I’m thinking he’s probably not the father…..
As I surprised her as I came up out of a valley. To the table top of this broad ridge I was traveling. This deer wasn’t familiar with my Ford F-150 Raptor . It is suprisingly stealthy for carrying a 470 HP power plant on board. The low and throaty moping sound is now familiar to close deer groups. I pass many everyday that hang out near my homestead. I would be hard pressed to make those deer familiar with me to even look up from grazing upon my proper approach. This girl became definitely intimidated by my presence (through no action of my own I point out lolol). She bolted like I threw something at her, clearing the fence efficiently.
Deer can jump 8 feet high but I find 6 feet more realistic . I have an 8 foot electric fence surrounding my Homesteads Compound surrounding about 10 acres. All of the ranches human, dog, duck, chicken and cats live inside that area. The rest of the critters get the remaining 3490 acres to wander. Before I put up our deer “resistant” fence, many thousands of dollars of attempted landscape projects were devoured with passion. The only deer that have penetrated our defenses in the last several years have been shown the gate they came in on. They are quickly detected by the dogs which don’t leave the compound lol. Now the young deer don’t know the green grass paradise right over the wire. Thusly there isn’t as much pressure to penetrate the barrier now.
I strongly suggest electric fence to keep deer out of your homestead . Particularly when surrounded by herds of deer that water on your stock tanks lolol.
This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They blend in rather well. I was “quietly” driving down low in a wash/gully in my UTV. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. I have NO idea how I saw him… 😄
A Great Horned Owl is a big bird with plenty of presence. They can live 15 years in the wild and have up to a 5 foot wingspan. The predators body can be up to 25 inches long and they weigh as much as a blue heron at 5 pounds. They are all about claws and beaks though they have some of the best disruptive Camo colors/pattern I’ve ever seen. These guys are easy to recognize due to their “plumicorns” which are feather tuffs resembling horns. . They are not ears. I understand they are the most common owl in the Americas. They range from the Arctic to South America. Interestingly, the male Great Horned Owl is Smaller than the Female but has a much lower pitched call than his mate. “Hoo, H’ Hoos”!
My path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands here. It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist.
I caught this gal Pronghorn nibbling on grass and other goodies in Silhouette. She was catching that last mouth full before the fading twilight during the new moon. It get’s REALLY dark here in the deep Wyotana backcountry. According to NASA’s website, we are as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean here. If you live near population, you really can’t appreciate how dark the night gets here.
Pronghorn are active most of the night I find. I find them sleeping at odd hours, resting when they are tired I suspect. This pregnant female is feeding for two. I can tell she’s pregnant just by her outline this time of year. The edge detail on this capture is amazing to me.
Low light/twilight work is my stock and trade. I primarily work in terrible photographic environments just like this one lol. Lack of light will make you do bad things to your camera resulting in lots of image problems. Grainy from turning up the ISO (camera sensitivity). No or a very shallow depth of focus because you turned down your f-stop number (lower) which makes your aperture (like the iris of the lens). Finally the last setting… shutter speed…. longer the shutter is open, the more the image is subject to blurring from shaking the camera. Plus the animal is not static so your looking at blurs from having too slow a shutter. Finding a balanced compromise results in images as this… Sharp, detailed and smooth colors without grain. I love the technology of mirrorless cameras….. 📸
It is always better to lead than follow but it’s good to have options. An “illusion” of siamese deer. Of course this is photoshopped but I liked it enough to play with it to start with. So at any one time, one of them is the butt head in this universe? Now bear in mind here that “all work and no play makes Frank a Dull Boy”. (Now If I keep typing that page after page….. classical reference from a movie). Early spring time is always a mix of stubble and green in the hay fields. Up in the high grounds the muley eared deer do some strange things…
At any rate the deer were standing precisely in the right place for a siamese deer illusion. Admittedly, I was very sloppy with some of the cloning in this piece of ART. I built it more for fun than anything else. Over the years I’ve found a few images that meet the qualifications for this kind of work. (cartoon really). I try to work on them but perfection is a hard thing to achieve when I’m just playing around.
I still am building 4 images a day every day including photographing them. Writing this “book” that I’ve got almost 1400 pages done…..It’s a struggle at times but I keep busy and am full time working lol. These narratives are challenging by the end of the day but it’s never boring 😜
I have not photographed many American Kestrels in my travels. They are not very large at only a foot tall. Somewhere between a robin and a crow in size. They are the most common falcon in North America as well as the smallest . They are aerial acrobats though with the ability to hoover with their head motionless. None the less they are so small buffeting in the high winds here on the high ridges is visible. The vertical slashes on the face are shared by the sexes but the blue/slate wings and brown “cap” head markings are distinguishing in the males. (Update: This has been identified by a much better raptor ID’er than I as a Swainson’s Hawk. )
Kestrel eat a broad range of grasshopper sized bugs up to mice, bats, songbirds and even smaller snakes or frogs. Opportunistic hunters they are. I have seen them hunt before but are elusive to photograph being quite small. I was very fortunate to come up over a ridge top to find this guy sitting on a snowy branch. He spent about a minute and a half after we surprised each other observing me. I immediately stopped on seeing him. It was windy so he might not have heard me as he was up wind. It only took me a few seconds to bring this long lens to the task. I clicked a few images carefully checking focus each time and off he flew with speed. Apparently not happy with the surprise and this big Black vehicle. That’s 1….
The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of their nesting season on Ranch. I have only seen 4 Herons so far but it’s early. We expect 5+ inchesnow/single digits over the weekend (a week ago as this posts). The Ranch has “left the light on” for others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 6 nests in the trees across the lake from my camera where this mated pair is building a nest. The third is probably waiting for a mate that is out hunting.
The group obviously weren’t worried about my truck as the three were mostly motionless for 20 minutes all through my maneuvering. Left them still standing like this as I backed up to leave. I drove away as the sun disappeared. It seems they just don’t care about my Black Ford Raptor. I have not been much of a concern to these birds. Many local wildlife are already familiar/tolerant to my 3 month old rig. Many see it at least 2 times a day on average.
Natural behavior occurs while I’m in this rig. I just drive around like I’m a grazing animal. Stop, Start, turn, sit a minute. The truck is all black and only a little smelly/noisy. Just like a Black Angus cow :). Going really Slow in a factory “Baja truck”…. only in America.. 😜🤘📸
I approach groups of animals living here on the huge grasslands with respect. If I scare them, I don’t get to photograph them. Of course most wild animals sense your approach early. At my crossing some pre-determined line in the sand, most bolt. Learning where that line in the sand is becomes pertinent towards the pursuit of the image.
I find stopping well back, take a few photos, figure out the light, get your settings up for a quick exit shot, then move. I usually readjust my settings for quality, get the composition set and click. Then go back to settings for speed (faster shutter, more ISO and or bigger aperture/fstop.). Move closer….rinse and repeat until you get the shot. (you might think this is “tough” light to work…. You would be right).
Most of the time with really long fixed (non-zoomable) lenses, I fill the frame, get the shot and leave without causing the animals to move. (Pronghorn excepted since they move regardless). 😜
This was an attempt to get together a backcountry soccer game but there was no crowds in the cheap seat, or the stadium for that fact but me.
Upon arriving at the venue, hearing that it’s not good to be in groups of more than 5. This of course because of the Corona Virus, the Antelope ran away. The intimidating behavior /show of force of the deer herd of course was obvious. It demonstrated the military bearing of the group. Intimidation won the day here. The Pronghorn were awarded the loss. The Deer team, awarded the win for the opposing teams failure to take the field.
Back to my normal programing
Late summer 2019 when the Pronghorn were still around. They migrate about 30 miles to the south every winter and currently are absent as this posts. I will see them within the month I would think. It depends on how late the big spring snows are. The deer winter over hanging out somewhere near the water holes we keep open for them.
There are actually two parallel trails that the deer are walking on. I point out was pure coincidence for the alignment. They continued on up the hill quite a ways like this. I just took photos and tried to keep my jaw out of the way. I’ve never seen deer make a formation before lolol.
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.
This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They also blend in rather well. Magic in the backcountry.
I was quietly driving down low in a wash/gully in my Polaris Ranger Crew. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. Never got a look at what. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. Makes you dizzy.😄 The path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands from the famous “Hell Creek/Lance Formations. here.
It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist. MOST dinosaurs did indeed die but the ones that did’nt had feathers, a tail and teeth. Their modern descendants are flying around us now. There are two types of Paleontologists. (BAND and BAD). Birds Are Not Dinosaurs and Birds are Dinosaurs. Most are the Latter.
I have a few dozen good captures from this encounter but I have bigger “fish” to fry at the moment lol. . This G. H. Owl.