Northern Harriers are beautiful birds, exotic looking if you look at their faces. They are hawks but they are slim and long-tailed and they glide low over a marsh or grassland, holding their wings in a V-shape and sporting a white patch at the base of their tails. From the front, a Northern Harrier has an owlish face, more flat with eyes almost front-facing that helps it hear mice and voles beneath the vegetation. Until last week, I had never successfully photographed a Northern Harrier. They were constantly in evidence over the marshlands in the Skagit Valley. Sometimes, late in the day, I mistook a Northern Harrier for a Short-eared Owl until it got closer to me. A very cool bird to photograph!
In the winter, the snow covered knolls in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley are surrounded by mists from the hot springs and thermals that distinguish Yellowstone from any other place in the world. The mists create an ever-changing scene. At certain times of the day, the winter sun contributes deep shadows that further sculpt the hillsides. I love spending time in the Hayden Valley in the winter with its stark, quiet drama. In January, we were lucky to be the only visitors that day in Hayden Valley, a very special treat. Being alone in that vast, sparse place makes it feel even bigger and more special.