Sanderling captured by Z 9 / 800AFS

We owe a lot to Sanderlings, they keep chasing the sea back into its place. Laying down in the sand using a panning plate to see their world from their point of view, the waves appear to be a tsunami. There are times when watching these LBJs I forget to take their photo as I so get into what they are doing. Take this individual. Just seconds after this photo was taken it did a complete 180, ran less then a foot, reached down and plucked a little worm like critter from the wet sand and sucked it down. How did it know it was there? It come in with the tsunami? Did it make some noise? How with all the chaos of the crashing waves did it find a meal? It’s just amazing how such a little critter in what appears to be a brutal world goes about life with such glee, always dealing with a tsunami!

Flight is a Beautiful Thing!

Great Egret captured by Z 9 / 800AFS

Venice Rookery, FL is a very special place where new life is celebrated every spring. Courtship of the herons and egrets is part of the excitement, eggs and nestlings is some more but the best part is the unscripted. Whether vying for platform space or spouse attention, all the bird species present so some type of display. Great Egrets seem to have as part of their theatrics flight chases and typically it’s just a couple that constantly go at it. So it was yesterday at the Venice Rookery. Once I saw the two who wanted to challenge each other in the air, I followed them as they postured with my finger on the shutter release for when they took to the air. Then I would follow the chasing egret in the viewfinder. Then it was simple panning with that one individual, shooting when the background looked good. And in that split 1/1200 the camera captured that elegance that flight is a beautiful thing.

Love is In The Air!

Great Egrets captured by Z 9 / 800AFS

It’s been way too long so it felt so good to be back at Venice Rookery. Can’t see it in this image, by this pair had a little two day old in the nest. They seemed to huddle together to keep it warm against the chill of the morning air. The perfect way to start Valentines Day!

30 Million?!

American Bison captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

We could see the white out heading our way from the west, the increasing wind told us a change was fast approaching. Hayden Valley, Yellowstone Nat’l Park is no place to be in winter during a white out because even gravity won’t help you find your way. And amidst this coming weather chaos three Bison bulls plod along looking for last falls grass they can browse on buried under the three feet of snow. There are about six thousand Bison in the park today but finding them can be a challenge in winter so the three bulls we’re focused on are a treat. I stand out in the minus temps, the wind that’s starting to howl not dampening my imagining what the scene would have been when in the 1700s with thirty million Bison roaming the west. After being blown away by the sight, I probably would have moaned it was impossible to get just one lone animal in the frame. Now I moan about just finding the one animal to fill the frame. As I shoot, I think about this paradox as the one Bison I see appears and disappears in the blowing snow. It’s about then the bulls in the distance completely disappear as the snow increases, Mother Natures signaling its time to get out of Dodge. As we roll to the north to get out Hayden, my mind comes back to that thought, thirty million?!

Time Rewards All

Pine Marten captured by Z 9 / 800f5.6AFS

If your time machine took you back forty-two years to the Central Coast of California, you would have found Sharon & I with the trunk of the Camero open, chairs out watching and photographing the Southern Sea Otter. A very endangered critter, it was the first member of the weasel family that grabbed my imagination. A few years later I was at a Black-tailed Prairie Dog town in SD where a Black-footed Ferret popped up from a burrow right next to me to give me, “that stare.” It instantly went back down and a minute later popped back up from another burrow and then disappeared. I was hooked but the weasel family is not one to easily find, study nor photograph.

There was one part of their biology I really wanted to capture, their “periscope.” Water or land based, all members of the weasel family get their head, neck and back up above the landscape to spy on what’s around them. In that process, the look on their already cute faces becomes even cuter. Last week in Yellowstone, I saw my opportunity so I went and set up to capture just that one photo. Didn’t care about any other, I just wanted that one! Because, it just takes one photo to tell the story. It was gently snowing, the light saturated from the overcast, the conditions were, picture perfect. To show off the falling snow, I needed a dark background and I wanted the Pine Martin front lit. Those two requirements dictated where I was going to stand. I was going for just that one photo. I’ve seen it in Sea Otters and River Otters, Ermine and Fishers but this I figured was going to be my best chance in forty-two years to captured it. It just required two more hours and I finally had the photo I wanted. The one Sharon said, “that’s exactly what I want for the wall.” Time rewards all.

“It was here that the romance of my life began.”

Bison captured by Z 9 / 180-400VR

The winds were picking up, the snow just starting to fall and the ground fog forming. It’s winter in Yellowstone and I know of no more beautiful place to spend with our wild heritage! We had four old, bull Bison out grazing in Hayden Valley. The windswept landscape and light brought to mind an old Teddy Roosevelt quote from No Dakota. Your fingers might be tingling from the zero temp. The blowing snow filling up your ears. Your nose running because …. and yet there we stood out in the elements with these amazing creatures. It’s all summed up … “It was here that the romance of my life began.”

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