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.
A Wind and Solar Set is a pair of usable energy alternative where nothing else is available.
I’m using “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill to pump air to de-stratify a small pond (it helps keep it open some too for barnyard ducks).
The ranch has 24 big solar panels generating electricity which mostly does water pumping in remote sites. The are most cost effective where they are no where close to electric lines. I think we have 3 wind generators set up and working small things like battery charging. As such I’m probably one of the greenest guys you know. We still pump lots of water.
The coal generated electricity pumps water to water the livestock. It’s about 30 gallons of water a day per cow in the summer. A herd of 200 cattle ( small herd) will drink 6000 gallons of water a day on a hot one….. Solar does one of our pastures completely. It was expensive to put in.
Windmills earned their keep historically with a plethora of brands dotting the landscape. There were a lot of these in this country which got electricity very late in the mid-50’s. Telephone in the 60’s. SO many of those windmills were the primary source of water for the ranch. Some places had springs up here on the “high ground” but not too many.
Most of the easy water was down in the river valleys. We are a ‘dryland’ ranch with a couple of spring fed lakes but no running water all year. We do have streams and washes that get exciting during heavy rains. Flash floods happen all the time down in the gully system around here. There is water storage on the surface here but Windmills definitely made a difference in the ability to settle the west. This Wyoming/Montana borderlands country was settled late in the early 1900’s by small ranchers.
Anybody see a face to the right of the Windmill Sail? I didn’t do it. Natural faces in clouds…
Winds Over the Big Horns Kicking up a Ground Blizzard:
I don’t see this very often either. Actively viewing the 130 intervening miles of landscape is difficult. These massive peaks are typically shrouded by mists and cloud covering . This is actually a night shot. The sun having set several minutes prior to this click. The sun’s influence though is still brightly illuminating the Blowing Snow. That is being kicked up by the hurricane winds. Hard to see blowing snow Up high on the Big Horns up on those 13,000 feet high peaks and backlighting all that isn’t easy lol.
That is a tough environment up there lol. Winds over the Bighorns are definitely making some snow drifts up high in this capture. I’m limited seeing these distant peaks by weather and clouds usually…Not so much this night lol. It’s totally cloudless but for the ground blizzard on the peaks.
Catching the sun setting behind the Big Horns has been a bucket list item of mine for 20 years. By coincidence I have never been able to get this angle and weather to cooperate.. I had to drive 10 miles south to get it this time… As the sun sets each day a little bit left, as I travel right, it keeps the sun still on the range as I move positions northward. Finding a spot to actually see over that high intervening ridge (Red Hills) , is not as easy.
Hopefully I’ll get lucky again this year and get a second chance at this alignment. A majority of the time, I can’t see the range at this distance due to the aforementioned weather window.
This was taken on the pass to RockyPoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road.
This is far northern Campbell Country Wyoming about 5 miles from Montana. It is 40 miles to the first dark ridge in the image. 800mm telephotos help a lot :). This is a VERY small area of the sky I’m photographing here. Hold a small postage stamp at the end of your reach and that is the size of this photo against the entire sky. 😜
I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture up on an Overlook to the Red Hills. As you can see by the grass, its quite windy at this moment. I’m in the shadow of a big cloud looking over the Little Powder River Valley to the Red Hills from thisoverlook. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. Antique Deering Seeder with a View
This 1930’s Deering (IH) Seed Driss has been up here a while. It has view that reach 180 miles horizon to horizon easily. This old antique planted much of the grass species in many of our hay fields generations ago. Progeny of those 1920’s seeds still populate the local grasslands today. It’s in pretty rough shape with animals rubbing against it every year, weather, freezing/thawing being the worst on the wood. This will be here another couple of hundred years as the steel frame is quite intact.
I can’t imagine the sunsets and views this old soldier of the ridge top has seen. It’s seen weather fronts, meteor showers, comets, sunset/rises, twilights, storms, lightning and god knows what else . It’s been watching roughly since Herbert Hoover was president after all. That’s a lot of time to look around and enjoy the scenery
We just got this snow storm and it’s been on the ground for a week now. Snow is starting to accumulate in the backcountry. The low areas are drifting in and are a nice trap for intrepid photographers driving about in 6 inches of snow blowing about. I am waiting for a new truck to change out my too bumpy Jeep Grand Cherokee but for now, the Jeep will have to do. No production schedule on the 2020 truck I’m ordering.
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.
It was Windy so the Reflections of this Starburst Sunset (A double crown sky) were ripply. A Starburst is one of the rarest crepuscular phenomena. This was two nights ago out on state land….. Nice little lake down there…