Thursday, May 26, 2011

What the duck?

My kids and I went out looking for more gosslings, but found this hen mallard and her family instead.

The ducklings did a great job of staying with their mom as they fed and swam.

The little ducks seemed like cute little fluff balls on the water.

My kids started to get antsy and the sun was in and out, so it was time to go.

The hen watches her little ones as we left.

On our way back to the car a young red-tailed hawk flew just above our heads and alit on a pole nearby.

My son Zach saw it first, just after it flew over our heads.

It was lucky for me that both kids like hawks enough to happily wait a few more minutes as I took these photos. Kids, ducks, and a hawk, another afternoon well spent.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A little slice of Heaven

This picture of morning fog blanketing the slopes of Divide, White Calf, and Curly Bear Mountain reflected in the calm water of Saint Mary Lake is one of my favorite photos. The image was made on the east side of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana.

Speaking of beautiful places in Glacier Park. This is a photo of mature ponderosa pine trees I found just off of the Inside North Fork Road in the northwestern part of the park.  I spent quite a bit of time on a warm fall afternoon creating this and a few more photos of these beautiful large trees. While I was there, three small white-tailed bucks walked out and crossed the road within thirty yards of me. It all made for nice memories, good photos, and another beautiful day outside.

Back to Crex Meadows

I was lucky enough to make it back to the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area near Grantsburg last weekend. I was hoping to find reptiles like bullsnakes, hognose snakes, and prairie skinks. The day started out sunny and I was optimistic.

I finally found this eastern hognose snake crossing a road bordering the wildlife area.

After I pulled safely to the side of the road I picked up the snake and moved it off the road in the direction it was travelling before any other cars came. The above photo shows the snake playing dead once I put it on the ground.

I noticed a small foot sticking out of the snake's mouth while I was moving it. Turns out the snake had just eaten an American toad which it spit out once I set it down.

I was sorry the snake lost its lunch because I moved it, but hoped that my help may have kept it from being run over on the road.

I then followed the snake as it travelled more than 100 yards away from the road off into some scrub oak trees. The snake seemed to draw a straight line as it moved through the terrain, stopping frequently to look around before continuing on.

This hognose snake was the only reptile I found or photographed all day, but I did see a black bear with her cub and lots of muskrats.

Baby Geese

A beautiful ball of golden fluff. This baby Canada goose is probably a couple of days old.

Another gossling and a beautiful blue sky.

In order to keep the gosslings safe and their parents happy, I usually only spend a minute or two with each baby goose.

This adult Canada goose is a really good parent, telling me to keep my distance while shielding its gosslings. Most geese stay near water while the gosslings are little. At the first sign of possible danger the adult geese lead their babies into the water and out away from shore. The water provides safety from most mammals, but leaves the gosslings open to predation from snapping turtles and large fish.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Beautiful baby geese.

It's just the right time of year for gosslings, lots and lots of gosslings. Baby Canada geese really look great as little golden fluff balls, but they quicky grow out of that phase. Once the eggs start hatching it's time to take some photos.

A deft and gentle hand helped to make this photo possible. My sons Josh and Zach played the role of highly experienced goose wranglers.

A beautiful and relaxed gossling.

The gosslings grow so quickly, it is only a matter of days before they are no longer quite so cute and attractive.

Sunny days in May are a great time to be outdoors with my kids, a camera, and beautiful baby geese.