Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Bit of Birding

I got to enjoy a short birding trip today on the way driving home from my wife's folks. We stopped by Horseshoe Lake in Loveland and found a decent variety of shorebirds. Among them was a pair of American Avocets that were wading the shallows in full breeding plumage. A few moments later they were engaged in a remarkable courtship display including rubbing up against each other and "running on water." I managed to get a couple of photos of the display from quite a distance, too bad I wasn't closer, but here they are (the female has shorter, more up-curved bill):

Also on the lake were the always goofy and punkish looking American White Pelicans doing some cooperative fishing:

Finally as the light was getting even worse we came across this nice grouping featuring a Greater Yellowlegs:

Friday, April 28, 2006

More Friday Cat Blogging

I just had to share this glamor shot of our kitty Wicket.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Purple Spring Dream

Looking forward to spring flowers. Here's one we saw on our trip through Devil's Tower.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

That's No Moon

This crab spider is almost invisible on a yarrow flower from a distance.

But up close it is exquisite.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Insect Point of View

One thing I love about the Nikon 4500 is its stunning macro ability. It's a shame Nikon didn't see fit to continue the series. Here's a sample of a few 4500 macro shots with more sure to come.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunset Serenade

Here's an old building enjoying a beautiful Colorado sunset.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging!

Meet our elder spokescat Wicket:

And her daring sidekick Blackie:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Red Desert Paint

An exploration of scale with a well known flower. Photographed here in the Red Desert, Wyoming.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Piranga ludoviciana

Western Tanager is one beautiful bird that just pops out of the frame at you with it's vibrant colors. This one was at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming and was taken with my digiscoping setup. Every year at our new house I've seen at least one of these stop by.

Illustrated Bird Behavior with Animated Gifs

I am pretty sure this was a breeding display by this Burrowing Owl from my Pawnee National Grassland trip. The owl was also calling as it did this dance. If you wish to see a higher quality version you can view it here. I will certainly have to do more gifs that are useful for showing cool animal behavior I observe in the field.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Riding the Yakima Ferry to Orcas Island

Last Thanksgiving I traveled to Orcas Island to visit my good friend Randall. Orcas is located in the San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound. The easiest way to travel to the islands is on the official Washington State Ferry system. Washington is truly lucky to have these ferries. And as a bonus if you walk on it's fairly cheap compared to going over in your car.

What follows are some of the photos I captured while on the Yakima Ferry. Amazingly it had been a typical cloudy & rainy Seattle November day right up until I arrived in Anacortes to catch the ferry. Lucky for me I arrived just in time for an amazing sunset.

In this first series the light is beginning to creep up to the saturated sunset colors that would follow later. All of these photos are from my point and shoot Nikon 4500 digicam. I would love a chance to re-shoot this trip with my D70 SLR!

After rambling through the numerous small islands of the San Juans we make a stop at Shaw Island to drop off a few passengers. Here are the guide posts for the ferry as it comes in:

And here's the quaint Shaw ferry landing:

After departing Shaw, the sunset really got going and peaked right as we headed to Orcas Island.

Here is the sunset as I arrived into Orcas Landing. I could not have asked for a more perfect day to ride the ferry.

Later on the same trip I got a chance to go to Moran State Park on Orcas. It's a magical place with gorgeous rain forest. Another really neat feature is Mount Constitution. On top there is a lookout tower with a view of the Puget Sound that might just be unrivaled. And yet again I got lucky and received another gift of a spectacular sunset. I was actually completely in the fog until I gained sufficient altitude heading towards the summit. Here are a couple of my photos from the sunset:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Birding in Pawnee National Grassland

After securing my first digital SLR I took this past Friday off from work to go test out my shiny D70. So here I combine two of my passions to test out my new toy: birding and photography. All the following photographs were taken with a fairly old Nikon 300 F4 AF with a 1.4 teleconverter at fairly high ISOs (if you care about those sort of details, heh).

It was an amazingly productive day from a birding standpoint. Spring has definitely sprung. I decided to concentrate my efforts in the Pawnee National Grassland in Northeastern Colorado. The Pawnee is some of the best remaining Central Shortgrass Prairie left in the state. Here's some photos that document a few ephemeral moments in my tangential life.

You can almost hear this proud Western Meadow Lark singing to greet spring just by looking at this picture:

One of the more ubiquitous residents in the Pawnee is the Horned Lark:

Out in Murphy's Pasture I caught a fairly rare glimpse at a Long-billed Curlew:

One characteristic feature of many shortgrass prairies are the bird-attracting pools of water that appear in spring. Here shallow depressions filled with water delight American Avocet right before sunset:

Of course being in the Central Shortgrass Prairie means seeing a few of these ecosystem engineers, black-tailed prairie dog:

Countless creatures take advantage of the habitat around dog towns. One of my absolute favorites has to be Burrowing Owl:

Here's a close-up shot I took a couple of years ago with my digiscoping setup:

Owls are not the only creatures around prairie dog towns:

Of course all this protein attracts predators, such as this Swainson's Hawk:

Wun wabbit, wun wike hell!

If you want to see larger sizes of these photos, you can see them on my Flickr Space.


Greetings and welcome to my little spot of ephemera coming at you from the Rocky Mountains. Why not pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable?