Photo Gallery and Blog 2006

Cordilleran Flycatcher
OK, it's the dead of winter again and there is nothing much to photograph. So I'll post something from last July. This little flycatcher made a nest on a building in Rocky Mountain National Park. After watching it for several hours, its behavior patterns became very clear. It liked to perch on this one particular spindly little twig of a tree, out in the open. This is great for photography--no overhanging leaves creating dark shadows and spotty light. Even better was its great tolerance for me. After a while, I was as close as ten feet from this perch, using my 400mm lens with extension tube on a tripod. The bird didn't care. It sat there for minutes on end, perfectly contented. A minute is an eternity for wildlife photography. Occasionally it would suddenly dart out from its perch, expertly snag a passing fly in mid-air, and immediately return to the perch. After all, that's what flycatchers do.

Red Fox Kit
The local foxes have been taking lessons in techniques to frustrate photographers. The roadside den site was active again this year, beginning in late April. However the foxes had made a new hole right underneath a shiny metal fence. I made many trips to check on them, usually finding nothing. A few times they were romping around right under the fence, sometimes even chewing on it. This does not make for a "natural" photograph.

One lucky morning, this one kit was snoozing at the old den hole, closer to the road and far from the pesky fence. Sometimes it would sit up a little and look around. I took some photos with my longest lens, 800mm, through the open passenger window of my car.

Mostly it just lay there, half asleep.

Since the little fox seemed totally indifferent to me, I decided to try some closer shots. This photo was taken with the 800mm lens plus a 1.4x converter plus a 50mm extension tube, and a prayer. The prayer was necessary to ensure stability of such an awkwardly long system. My fun was cut short when a pickup hauling a trailer of scrap metal came clanking down the road and scared the fox down into its hole, never to be seen again.

Nesting Birds
Mid to late June is the season for cavity-nesting birds. This nuthatch was back in the same hole as many years before. But finding a nuthatch is the easy part. It doesn't smile and wait for photos to be taken. Typically it will appear out of nowhere, land on the tree, then hop down the tree to its nest hole in its characteristic head-down position and dive inside. Somewhere amid all this action you have to take the photo. You get a lot of blurry ones to throw away.

This year the mountain bluebirds seemed to be especially plentiful. I found this nice bluebird nest this year. Sometimes the adults would sit on this wax currant bush, a pleasant change from the typical bare branch. Unfortunately for me, the birds also nested a week earlier than usual, perhaps due to the extremely warm weather. So I only had one day to photograph this bird before the chicks fledged.

Here is the chick, moments before fledging.

This particular morning, I thought I was going to go take some bluebird photos until I spotted this wily fellow out in the meadow. This stately coyote was calmly sitting there, enjoying the morning sunshine. It looks like a big furry dog although I imagine it wouldn't seem so cute if you were a ground squirrel. My plans for bluebirds were temporarily delayed while I took some photos of this obliging subject. Wildlife photography is very much a case of being ready when opportunity knocks.

Autumn Elk

It's September which means football and beer, and the elk rut. Of course the elk were back to their annual rutting activities in late September and October as always. Unfortunately we didn't get any snow in September so the photos are a lot of brown.

This big fellow was very active in Horseshoe Park at the crack of dawn, bugling his brains out.
By sheer luck, I saw this nice mule deer buck. All the deer in the park have been tagged because of the Chronic Wasting Disease program, which makes them pretty useless for photography. This guy happened to flip his ear around so his tag was obscured. Thanks, John. (John Deer, get it?)

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