2019—Candy Corn Beak

Candy Corn is one of those sugary confections that appears briefly in the fall in time for Halloween and disappears until the next Halloween rolls around.  It is pure sugar with little flavor other than sweet, has absolutely no redeeming qualities, and I’m not sure anyone actually eats them.  I do know, however,  that it looks just pretty much like the beak of a Common Gallinule (formerly known as the Common Moorhen) and that must have been what it was modeled after.

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The Anhinga, also known as the Snakebird, is a large regal looking waterbird.  This rather exotic bird uses its long, dagger-like bill to stab fish under water.   On our last day in Florida, we visited the City of Orlando Wetlands Park and this male Anhinga perched cooperatively at the tip of a skeletal tree branch while we photographed him.  He kept his eye on us as the winds began to pick up, rustling the feathers on his back and touseling the feathers on his head.

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2019—Florida Sanderling

I’m back  beach panning, one of my favorite ways to photograph birds.  In beach panning,  I lay flat on the sand so I am at eye level with the shorebirds with my camera and long lens affixed to a panning plate attached to a Frisbee. This allows me to be up close and personal with some of my favorite photographic subjects.  But, things have changed a little since my last beach panning trips in Florida and Texas.  I no longer own my Nikkor 600mm lens which is the lens I used when I was introduced to and fell in love with beach panning.  I now have a Nikkor 500mm PF lens which is about half the height and half the weight of my 600mm lens.  What I didn’t take into account until I was laying flat on the sand at Huguenot Memorial Park in Jacksonville, FL, my head scrunched sideways and my face almost pressed into the sand, was that the 500mm lens mounted on the panning plate was several inches lower than my old setup.  Moose saved  me by reminding me that I can easily hand-hold my Nikon D5 and 500mm lens.   I could still lay flat on the sand and prop myself up on my elbows getting me to the perfect elevation. Problem solved and one of my favorite shorebirds, the sandeling, walked toward me while I took its photograph to commemorate the event.

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Whiskey Mountain in the Wind River Range in Wyoming is home to the largest wintering Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep herd in North America.  This young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram trotted effortlessly across the treeless, high elevation alpine tundra, his habitat which provides quick access to the steep rocky slopes nearby, an escape from predators.

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2019—Ram Tough

The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Rams we saw near Dubois, WY last week stuck together in small groups within the band of Bighorn Sheep we were photographing.  It was such a thrill to watch them deftly pick their way down a sheer cliff then rumble together down the hillside, stopping to munch on the grasses protruding from the snow.  They exhibited a toughness and confidence that impressed me and must have impressed the ewes they were undoubtedly trying to attract.

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Black-billed Magpies and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep have a friendly, symbiotic relationship.  The Magpies are a common companion to the sheep.  They forage through their thick fur to remove ticks and other small annoyances to the sheep or, they just hang out on their backs.

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2019—The Joy of the Moment

The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep we’ve been photographing near Dubois, Wyoming have been putting on quite the show for us this past week.  Friday morning, ten rams made their way down the cliffside and onto the meadow near us to graze.  Shortly afterwards, the ewes arrived along with a couple of young rams.  About twenty of them gamboled gleefully about, leaping into the air with such abandon that the older rams stood and gaped at their playfulness. Almost as quickly as they arrived, they reversed course and raced back across the field to forage away from the rams.  I captured one young ram and one ewe as they leapt over the bunch grass and sage.  They appeared to be acting out of pure joy in the moment.

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The Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat Area just outside Dubois, WY is winter home to a herd of about 900 Bighorn Sheep.  As we drove through the area on our first morning there, we happened across a band of about 30 Bighorns resting on the side of the road, their backs covered with a light dusting of snow.  There were about 20 ewes and a dozen or so rams intent on mating with the ewes.  After we watched for a while and shot from the open windows of our vehicle, we determined that they were acclimated enough to us so when we exited the vehicle, they paid little attention to us as long as we didn’t make any sudden movements that would spook them.  We were able to photograph them for a couple of hours as they crossed the road and continued foraging in an open area near us.  I handheld my Nikon D5 and 500mm PF lens for this shot.  The snow is still visible on the sheep’s back.


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2019—Big Cone

Big Cone is a small geyser in Yellowstone Lakein the West Thumb Geyser Basin, about twenty feet from the shore.  It’s eruptions, which we did not witness, are small, only about a foot high,   Yellowstone Lake is frozen as far as the eye can see in this photograph and ice and snow surround Big Cone, as a few wisps of steam escape from the vent.


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