One new photograph, almost every day of the year

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2020—Sax-Zim Bog Owl

This Barred Owl from Sax-Zim Bog in Northern Minnesota was a cooperative subject. I presume because it was the middle of the day and that’s when these diurnal creatures usually sleep, the owl was content to perch on the side of the road on a broken snag in an Aspen not bothered by the handful of birders and photographers gaping up at it. It dozed, it eyed the snow covered area beneath it for a potential meal, it stared directly into my lens. And, although we hoped it would grace us with its presence for as long as we wanted, it suddenly flew into the canopy of trees behind it and disappeared.


2020—Barred Owl

Sax-Zim Bog near Lake Superior in Minnesota is my second photography adventure in two weeks in search of owls. Sax-Zim Bog is a 300 square mile habitat and nature preserve that includes bogs and lakes and meadows and farmland. It is maintained by volunteers and friends of the bog who graciously host feeders and habitat at their homes and on their land so that the many species of boreal and other birds continue to thrive here. It is a labor of love. The snow is several feet deep off the roads and the temperatures hover in the low single digits dropping into the sub-zero range at night and when the wind whips up. Four species of owl live in the bog including the Great Gray Owl, the Boreal Owl, the Snowy Owl, and the Barred Owl. Our first day here has been spectacular. Not only have we seen lots of birds I’ve not seen before, we found two of the four kinds of owls we’re seeking. We were not close enough to the Snowy Owl to photograph it although I couldn’t resist grabbing an iPhone shot of the snowy field in which is perched. The Barred Owl was a special treat see, very cooperative, and very close. The barred pattern of its feathers perfectly matches the pattern of the aspen bark on the tree in which it sits.


2020—Willet on South Padre Island

On a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas in November 2016 with Moose Peterson we spent time standing on jetties with our tripods and long lenses photographing shore birds on the jagged rocks. Late one afternoon on South Padre Island I watched as a lone willet explored rocks near the jetty as the sun was sinking low in the sky.


2020—Peek-a-boo

A couple of years ago in Churchill, Canada, a Willow Ptarmigan peeks out from behind a spruce in search of a female Willow Ptarmigan. It was June and he was in his courtship plumage.


2020—Mockery

This Northern Mockingbird, the state bird of Texas where I took this shot, doesn’t look much like a Mockingbird. It had just finished bathing in the intense heat of late spring in South Texas and it had flown to a branch to fluff its feathers and dry off a bit. It is more like a caricature than a bird. Its feathers look more like a fur cape with a stand-up collar than feathers. It is looking at me disdainfully. It is almost a mockery of a mockingbird.


2020—Gibbon Falls

Capturing a different look of an iconic view can be a challenge. This is Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. To get this look, I closed down the lens and set the camera to its lowest ISO to get a slow shutter speed. I used a long lens, the Nikkor 80-400mm lens so I could focus just on the water and exclude any of the shore. The resulting streakiness of the flowing water reminds me of a horse’s mane.


2020—Alcatraz

The Spanish word for Gannet is Alcatraz. Although there are no Gannets on the west coast of the United States, an island in San Francisco Bay was named Alcatraces (plural of Alcatraz) by Spanish Explorer Juan Manual de Ayala in 1775 probably because he mistook Pelicans on the island for Gannets. Years after its misnomer, the now shuttered infamous federal prison known as Alcatraz, once home to the likes of Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly, was established on the island. Thousands of miles away from Alcatraz Island, on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Cape St. Mary’s, New Foundland Northern Gannets flourish in their nesting communities. Tens of thousands of the large birds congregate during the few months of the nesting season before returning to their life at sea. The birds have to look closely to figure out where their nest site and mate are on the crowded rock.


2020—Snuggling to Keep Warm

Bison in Yellowstone National Park are massive creatures. Their thick hides and dense fur help them withstand cold temperatures. I thought it was rather charming to see some of the young bison snuggling up to their mothers, seemingly to keep warm.


2020—Tiny Yellow Warbler

Warblers are small birds and the woodsy backdrop at Magee Marsh can make it hard to see them let alone get a clean shot of them. There are often twigs and leaves and branches that obscure the birds. This shot of a Yellow Warbler was unusal for me last year because there are no twigs or leaves in the way and the tiny bird appers even smaller with nothing to gauge its size.


2020—Grand Prismatic

Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park is a surreal place. It is usually windy, icy, and slippery. On our visit this year, though, the relentless wind was gone. This visit, I wasn’t worried that a gust of wind would push me off the narrow walkway into the primordial ooze. I was able to appreciate and admire the stunning vistas it offers.