Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Who needs sleep ......

when I'm only here for a few days,

and nights. Star trails over lodgepole pine trees.

I hadn't been to Yellowstone in awhile and was determined to make the most of my time in the park. Instead of going to sleep after the sun had set and the colors had faded, I went out looking to photograph the night skies.

I'm glad I did because it resulted in images like this one of star trails over Old Faithful Geyser.

And the night sky above lodgepole pine trees in the Upper Geyser Basin. By playing around with exposure times and shooting through the night I was able to capture some unique Yellowstone photos.

Like this image of lightning in the distance and red steam rising from Old Faithful Geyser.

And more lightning as a thunderstorm rolled through. (These images have not been manipulated or altered. This is exactly what I saw while shooting on this night. You can see why the steam is red at )

Star trails over Old Faithful.

I was short on sleep, but it was worth it. This image shows White Dome Geyser erupting at about 2 in the morning with the Big Dipper up above.

I hadn't done much night time photography before this trip, but I'm glad I didn't let that stop me from trying.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Out for Elk

My dad and I headed back to the Clam Lake area hoping to see more of Wisconsin's herd of wild elk.

On the drive down I noticed an adult bald eagle perched low in a tree at the edge of a farmers field. I scanned the area for a carcass or some other reason for the bird to be there. About fifty yards away standing in a puddle in the worked farm field was another almost adult bald eagle taking a mud bath. Here the bird is taking flight. You can see that its head and tail feathers are almost colored brown from bathing in the muddy water.

Well, I thought, that bodes well for the rest of the trip.

And it did. Once we got to Clam Lake we quickly found a group of five cows in a meadow near the road. This calf born last year walked off into the forest.

I didn't get many photos of the elk, but was glad to see them. For all of my trips to the Clam Lake area I have only seen elk 30% - 50% of the time.

We drove a little more and found a group of six cows and calves grazing and browsing the edge of a pine forest. Many of the elk were wearing ear tags and radio collars as they are intensively monitored and studied as part of the state's reintroduction efforts.

 After awhile the group of elk worked their way into the woods and we left to see what else we could find.

It was only about fifty degrees outside, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this common garter snake laying on some leaves near a log in a pine forest.

The snake had been basking in the sun on a southwestern exposed hillside.

I was able to make a few close up images before the snake went on its way.

It really was turning into a lucky day for critters. As we drove the roads looking for more animals I mentioned to my dad how I'd like to see a porcupine. Within ten minutes.....

This guy showed up crossing the road in front of us and then climbed a poplar tree. I wasn't able to get the photos I hoped for, but it was great to see him. And on request even.

The light was fading as we started to leave the Clam Lake area. On our way out we watched six bull elk walk out of a forest and into a meadow at the edge of the road. One bull had lost his antlers and had started growing new ones, the other five were spike bulls who had yet to shed their antlers.

In all we saw 24 elk, six of which were bulls, one garter snake, one porcupine, many wild turkeys, several white-tailed deer, and three bald eagles. It was a pretty good afternoon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just because..

I was working on some images from a couple of years ago and came across these of a red fox kit.

This young fox was spending time just outside of the den entrance. Yawning.



Just chillin out.

And waiting for mom or dad to bring some lunch. 

I really like red foxes and hope you enjoyed the post.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So that's what they look like.

Every year in northern Wisconsin a sure sign of spring is the sound of little frogs calling loudly from ponds and standing water in fields and ditches.

Again it's spring peeper time, and this year my sons and I went out to actually find and see the little critters.

I checked on the Internet and was told that it's easiest to catch them at night. Just take a flashlight and head to a pond where the frogs are calling. Use the light to see the reflection off their eyes and voila, you can catch a frog.

So we waited til about eleven at night and headed to a nearby pond where peepers were actively calling. We heard lots of frogs, but had no luck actually seeing their eyes or bodies. I guess I thought it was going to be easy.

It wasn't. But we didn't give up. We split up, walked into the pond and started searching the water with our flashlights. Eventually I saw something small and frog like swim down under some type of plant cover. I couldn't catch it. So we kept looking.

When I saw the next little critter in the water heading for the bottom I quickly reached down and caught it. After a brief celebration the boys and I finally got to see an actual northern spring peeper for ourselves. Yeah!

We were starting to get cold, so we put our frog in a bucket with some pond water and plants for cover and headed home. The plan was to photograph it the next morning and then return the frog to the same spot in its home pond.

All went well and the above pictures are of the actual frog in the story. Just after the photos were created we returned the frog to its home. When I was at the pond during the day putting the frog back I caught a different northern spring peeper and a green frog. I guess flashlights and nighttime don't make it easier to catch small frogs.