Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall elk

A beautiful bull elk a few miles from Clam Lake Wisconsin.

This small bull elk is checking behind it as another bull bugles in the distance.

I located this elk calf and cow wearing a radio collar near the edge of a logging clear cut.  I found them here twice over the course of three days.

This bull elk was staying near the cow and calf.

This is another photo of the best bull I was able to photograph this fall. The bull came out near the road to gather one of the cows from his harem. The cow had walked across the highway to the other side. The bull came up to the edge of the road and waited until the cow came back to his side and rejoined four other cows in his harem.

Here's a glimpse of a little fall color seen from one of the forest roads near Clam Lake.  I made several trips to the area to see, hear, and photograph elk during the rut with some success. 

I learned that Wisconsin elk have very different habits than the elk in Wyoming and Alberta.  Out west the elk seem to gravitate towards open meadows during the fall rut.  The Wisconsin elk seem quite content to stay in the woods and it wasn't easy to find them out in the open during daylight hours.  

It may be that there are so few elk in the area (only 140 or so) that the entire rut dynamic is differerent.  The bull I found with the collared cow and calf seemed quite content to quietly wait nearby for the cow to come into estrus.  He never bugled and didn't seem to want to draw any attention to himself.  I'm not sure if that is normal operating procedure for these Wisconsin bulls or if this bull was mute due to his relatively small size.  Either way, it was lots of fun spending time with wild elk in Wisconsin during the rut.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Copper Falls State Park

On a beautiful October morning I drove into Copper Falls State Park near Mellen Wisconsin. I was lucky to be there on a sunny day with plenty of fall color.

I found this white-tailed deer doe standing in the woods along the park road. I parked near a picnic area and playground at the end of the road and walked along a trail covered with pine needles.

The trail offers this view of the Tyler Forks River joining the Bad River.

The woods looked and smelled great as spots of sun reached the forest floor.

The park trail leads from one beautiful view to the next. Here is a photo of the Tyler Forks River Cascades.

These rocks and pine roots are up above the Tyler Forks River.

This is the view from the brink of Brownstone Falls. Just downstream the Tyler Forks River enters into and becomes part of the Bad River.

Some large white pine trees line the trail while a fence keeps people from venturing down towards the river gorge.

I love the look of the light on the bark of this white pine tree. Copper Falls State Park has a nice mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. There are lots of larger red and white pine trees along with some cedars, maples, and oaks.

Here's a view of Brownstone Falls from the other side. I lucked out and had a lot of water going over the waterfalls while I was there. Usually water levels are low in the fall and waterfalls are just a shadow of their springtime selves. It had rained almost the whole day before I arrived so I had lots of water.

Above is a photo of the parks namesake, Copper Falls. The Bad River looks kind of like foamy root beer as it flows over Copper Falls.

If you get the chance to visit Copper Falls State Park, the waterfalls are pretty, the forest is beautiful, and there is a lot to see.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A colorful perch

Driving in northern Wisconsin on a beautiful September day I saw this hawk alight on a branch. In the past I haven't had the best luck photographing hawks from the road in Wisconsin. Most of the time they fly off before I get any good photos, but I keep trying. So I turned around, got the camera ready, pulled to the side of the road, turned the car off, and took this photo.

This particular juvenile red-tailed hawk didn't seem to mind me at all. It attentively watched the ground below its perch as I photographed it from my car. It was so comfortable that I was able to change to a larger lens and make the photos above and below.

I really like the look of the changing maple leaves behind the hawk. If I learned anything here it's no matter how many times I have tried something and failed, it's important to keep trying. On any given day for no reason at all things may work out.

Friday, October 2, 2009


A hungry coyote licks its lips as it trots through a black-tailed prairie dog town in western North Dakota.

Prairie dogs stand near their burrow entrances and bark alarm calls so every prairie dog knows danger is near.

The coyote can see and smell dinner everywhere, but the element of surprise is gone. It continues at a moderate pace acting disinterested in all of the towns residents. The coyote did a wonderful job of acting as if it was just passing through and nothing to worry about.

One prairie dog stayed above ground at a burrow entrance as the coyote neared to within three feet. In a flash the coyote faked a step away from the prairie dog and then quickly dove back towards it, grabbing the prairie dog by the head and neck.

The coyote carried the prairie dog away from nearby burrow entrances before stopping to eat.

The coyote began to eat.

In just a few minutes the coyote was done and walked off. I was really impressed with the hunting tactics used by the coyote to catch the prairie dog. Up until the coyote faked the move one way and snatched the prairie dog, everything about its body language and demeanor said just passing through, nothing to worry about. Good work to get dinner.