Patterns in water: Lens-Artists Challenge

Hard and soft patterns in water

To me, this image of patterns in water looks like the chiseled profile of a white-frosted creature from another world. The shape is echoed in the shoreline across the stream.

Patterns in water Amber Echoes 2June2018

Amber Echoes

This image looks like an alien planet where worlds float on pale greenish-gold islands anchored by strong strands of green. Once the worlds are full, they detach from their moorings and float away.

Patterns in water Floating Green Worlds 2June2018

Floating Green Worlds

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Patterns

 

Apple blossoms: Friday Flowers

McCoin Orchard apple blossoms

Apple blossoms at the McCoin Orchard at Gray Nutte, Oregon 9may2018

I saw these apple blossoms in the McCoin Orchard near the trailhead for the Gray Butte trail. This orchard, near Terrebonne, Oregon, was originally planted in the late 1880s and it was rescued by range specialists 100 years later.

There’s a nice hike here with some spectacular views of the country. The close up views of spring flowers are great as well.

Soft sights at Sunset Lake: LAPC

A harsh landscape with soft edges

Soft sights at Sunset Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

There are many soft sights to see in Yellowstone National Park’s harsh environments. Soft and steaming mist drifts over Sunset Lake. Soft puffy clouds float over rounded hills in the distance.

Soft sights at Sunset Lake, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

The colors along the shorelines blend softly into one another giving the lake its name. To me, it is a mystical sort of place that has many stories to tell.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Soft

Bison coming right at you: TWI – Action

Up close and personal with bison

Bison coming at you in Yellowstone National Park,WY 30May2018

I was glad I was inside my car when I saw these bison coming right at us. Some people think they are calm and tame like a domestic cow. They’re not! Bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and cows weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Since they can run up to 30 miles per hour, it’s best to keep your distance.

Here’s another post on them plus a link to more information. Bison Celebrating 4th.

Travel with Intent Photo Challenge – Action

 

 

Scooby Doo & Calypso Too: TWI – Dwarf mini

A dwarf mini with big attitude

We used to have two miniature horses. One, Scooby Doo pictured on the left, was a dwarf mini. He stood at only 27″ at the withers. His pedigreed companion, Calypso Blue pictured on the right, stood at 32″.  Calypso was calm and even-tempered. Scooby had a lot of personality and let you know it.

Scooby Doo & Calypso too Dwarf Mini and Mini horse 9January2002

When it was time to move, the farrier who trimmed our horse’s hooves took Scooby. He had worked with a lot of horses in his days and could see that Scooby was a big personality in a small package.

Travel with Intent – Dwarf

Cooling Otters: Lens-Artists Photo Challenge

Three guys cooling their jets

When it’s as hot as it’s been (102 degrees here yesterday!) I wish I could do a little cooling off by being an otter. Here are three cooling otters in motion.

Three Otters Cooling at the High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon 19March2018

They always look like they’re having so much fun.

Can you imagine sliding down an embankment and cooling off in a clear mountain stream?

Otters Cooling 2 27September2016I’m also including a short video of three North American river otters at play at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. You can hear fellow volunteer Jonny Goddard, AKA Otter Brother, in the background “directing” them.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Cooling

Green Worlds Beneath Me: Photo Challenge – Wonder

Tiny worlds beneath me

I often have to remind myself to look down and notice the worlds beneath me when I’m taking pictures. Here’s a picture of aquatic plants being combed by the waves and highlighted by the sun.

Green worlds beneath me. Aquatic plants at Yellowstone National Park, WY 2June2018

Here’s a picture of a lichen “forest”  growing on weathered wood. Worlds of wonder exist in landscapes large and small.

Worlds beneath me - a lichen forest on weathered wood 21June2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Wonder

Layers at Three Creek Lake

Looking for layers

I was just thinking about a kayaking trip last fall to Three Creek Lake near Sisters, Oregon.  When I was looking for photos of layers for the Travel at Wit’s End challenge, that trip came to mind.

Yes, there were obvious layers in the rock faces bordering the lake, but there were other layers as well.

  • Green reflections of trees in the lake.
  • Snow covering parts of the scenery.
  • Reflections in the lake highlighted by snow.
  • New growth in a forest bordered with an edge of sedges.
  • Rocks in volcanic-hued rainbows of color.
  • Waves lapping at the shore.

Sometimes you need to look a little harder to find nature’s hidden layers.

Travel At Wit’s End – Layers

Grand Prismatic Circles: Travel with Intent – Circle

Circles within circles at Grand Prismatic Spring

Circles of varying size dissected with cracks and surrounded by steaming mists arising from a rainbow of color at North America’s largest hot spring. Oh the wonder!

Grand Prismatic Spring Circles, Yellowstone National Park, WY 3June2018

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”     Ralph Waldo Emerson

To see a photo of this spring as a thunderstorm approaches, see An Artist’s Wish.

Travel with Intent – Circle

All-time Favorites: WPC

The theme for the very last Weekly Photo Challenge was All-time Favorites. I’m late getting these up because my computer was in the shop and I was traveling. So without further ado…

North American River Otter 24Sept2016

North American river otter

All-time Favorite Critters

I have a lot of photos of animals so it’s hard to choose favorites but here goes. Here’s a handful for you.

All-time Favorite Landscapes & plants

This was even harder to narrow down! Here’s another handful.

All-time Favorite History Photos

And here’s a dash of history for good measure. Hope you enjoy them!

Final Weekly Photo Challenge – All-Time Favorites

Lamar Valley Elk: FOWC

Elk at Yellowstone

Here’s a group of elk making their way through a small lake in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. A peaceful scene is mirrored in the lake. However, the elk are in an area where several wolf packs live.

Lamar Valley Elk Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018Lamar Valley Elk 2 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018Lamar Valley Elk 3 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 1June2018Lamar Valley Elk 4 1June2018

Did you know that the environment is changing in a positive way since reintroducing wolves? To see a fascinating video about this, click How Wolves Change Rivers.

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge – Mirror

Time Lines 2: Bryce Canyon National Park

Time Lines Bryce Canyon NPk 6May2017

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Lines of Hoodoos

Here’s one more entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge of Lines. The many layered castles in Bryce Canyon National Park are an amazing sight. A single hoodoo formation is impressive, but when you see hundreds of them in lines like soldiers standing at attention,  they are just plain stunning.

See my previous post Time Lines: Utah Parks for more pictures featuring a small taste of the geology in Utah’s parks.

Time Lines: Utah Parks

Time lines from long ago

The time lines are obvious in the many rock forms in state and national parks in Utah. Can you imagine the stories from hundreds of millions of years ago these land forms could tell us?

Time Lines Capitol Reef NPk 5May2017

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Time Lines Arches NPk 3May2017

Arches National Park, Utah

Time Lines Zion NPk 6May2017

Zion National Park, Utah

Time Lines Canyonlands NPk 4May2017

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Time Lines Dead Horse Pt StPk 3May2017

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Weekly Photo Challenge – Lines

Circling Steens Mountain Tour

Up with the birds for a Steens Mountain tour

On April 6, I was up bright and early for a birdwatching trip that would encircle Steens Mountain in a single day. Being a bit of an introvert, I wasn’t sure I wanted to partake in a tour like this one. The Steens Mountain tour was one of 22 tours available for nature enthusiasts at the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. The festival, which started in 1981, takes advantage of the annual spring bird migration in the Harney Basin. More than 300 species of birds use this area annually.

Steens mountain tour, geese beneath a stormy sky 6April2018

A land full of drama

At 6:00 am, participants in the Circle the Steens Mountain & Alvord Desert tour met at Burns High School. The weather was not cooperating for the 200-mile trip. A big storm system was blowing in. Twelve hours and 76 bird species later, we returned to the high school. Though we didn’t see any rare birds, we did see a lot, considering the weather conditions. Our views were framed by the dramatic landscapes of Harney County. The pale colored sands of the Alvord Desert stood out in contrast to the dark stormy skies. Steens Mountain provided beautiful panoramas from many different angles. We also had great views of pronghorn and deer.

Steens mountain tour, pronghorn buck eastern Oregon 6April2018

 Steens mountain tour, views of the east side of Steens Mountain, Oregon 6April2018We traveled east of Steens Mountain, south to Fields, then north along the west side of the mountain. Our tour guides, Joan Suther and Rick Hall, worked for the Bureau of Land Management locally for many years. The first brief stop was to look at burrowing owls. The small owls were seen braving the wind on this tour and the one I was on the next day. Flocks of snow geese and Ross’ geese were in fields nearby. Our next stop, at Crystal Crane Hot Springs, was much longer.

Steens mountain tour, burrowing owls eastern Oregon 6April2018Visits to places wet and wild

Crystal Crane Hot Springs is a resort with a large hot spring-heated pond and a recently created cold water pond for wildlife. We checked out the wildlife in both ponds. I’m not sure if the people visiting the hot spring appreciated a bunch of people walking nearby with cameras and binoculars.

Steens mountain tour, black-necked stilt in eastern Oregon 6April2018Waterfowl seen here, and at other ponds and lakes on this tour, included swans (tundra and trumpeter), northern shovelers, cinnamon teals, redheads, common mergansers, and American coots. Western grebes were starting to do a little mating behavior but we didn’t get to see them do their unique walking-on-water display. American avocets and black-necked stilts gracefully waded through shallow water. Killdeer were seen and heard as they tried to make sure we didn’t get too close to their nests.

Raptor rapture

We saw quite a few raptors on the Steens Mountain tour. Northern harriers drifted over marshy areas. Bald and golden eagles hunted near fields. Swainson’s hawks, red-tailed hawks, and rough-legged hawks perched on pivot irrigation systems looking for prey. American kestrels perched on power lines watching all the birdwatchers driving by. On the field trip I was on the next day, we saw a ferruginous hawk peeking out of a nest in a lone juniper tree. This tree is one of their favorites for nesting, but last year ravens took it over.

Steens mountain tour, ferruginous hawk nest eastern Oregon 6April2018Small but significant

Songbirds sought shelter from the weather but luckily we saw several species. It was a little early to see some of the shrubsteppe-dependent songbirds, but western meadowlarks and sage thrashers perched high singing their bright songs. Yellow-headed blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, and marsh wrens sung in marshy areas. The descending call of the canyon wren was heard near rocky buttes.  Say’s phoebes were seen perching briefly then flying out to do a little fly catching.

Steens mountain tour, western meadowlark eastern Oregon 6April2018Dining at an iconic location

We stopped for lunch at the Fields Station Cafe, at the southern end of Steens Mountain. The isolated small town of Fields is famous for the burgers and shakes it serves at the cafe. We ordered ahead for our large group. I didn’t know if I would partake in slurping down one of the giant milkshakes but ended up splitting one. I think I was able to finish one-quarter of a coffee milkshake. It was just enough to give me a much needed infusion of caffeine. After lunch, we crossed the highway to a grove of trees. A great horned owl, perched in the cottonwoods, eyed us warily.

Steens mountain tour, great horned owl eastern Oregon 6April2018Home on the range

Steens mountain tour, cowboy eastern Oregon 6April2018Wranglers were out on horseback herding cattle on the west side and east side of Steens Mountain. Harney County is 10,226 square miles in size. It is the largest county in Oregon and one of the largest in the United States. Yet with a population of only 7,200 people, it somehow still has a small town feel. One of our guides recognized a cowboy working the range many miles from Burns, where we started our tour.

This was a long, but good, day in Harney County. Our guides knew the country well and helped us spot wildlife. They also told us some of the interesting history related to the area. They pointed out to us what makes this country so special and that’s what made the Steens Mountain tour great.

Steens mountain tour, old cabin eastern Oregon 6April2018

Daily prompt – Partake

Have no fear, killdeer here: WPC

Every time I see a killdeer, it brings a smile to my face.

Killdeer at Summer Lake, Oregon 30March2018A bold bird

They are a bold little bird. Yes, you usually hear their distinctive kill-deer call long before you see them. Their black and white banded markings, and cinnamon-colored rump and tail feathers, make it hard to mistake them for something else.

Their bold personality is another thing I admire about them. They are a small bird, but they are fearless if you are near their nest. They assume anyone nearby is a potential predator. Killdeer bob up and down and call if you get close. If that doesn’t discourage you, they’ll drag a wing, feigning injury. The birds flap their wings on the ground while leading you on a wandering path away from the nest. Courage in the face of adversity.

Nest and young

The nest is a scrape in the ground containing three to five speckled eggs. It’s easy to overlook so watch your step if you hear an adult nearby in the spring or summer months. The young birds are covered in down and ready to run right after they hatch. They are one of the cuter birds I have seen in the wild. Watch this short video to see a chick with a vocal adult.

Killdeer baby finds Mom

Food

They eat eat a wide variety of invertebrates. Killdeer eat crayfish and aquatic insect larvae in the water and grasshoppers and beetles on land. The birds are often seen following plows in farmer’s fields hoping to catch some recently unearthed worms or insect larvae.

Killdeer at Summer Lake, Oregon 30March2018Range

Killdeer’s range covers a huge area in the Western Hemisphere and they can be found in a wide variety of habitats. You can find them around open areas such as mudflats, fields, lawns, parking lots, golf courses, and airports. Killdeer live in many areas year round. Do you have them where you live?

A group of killdeers is called a “season.” It’s a treat to see them, no matter what the season.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Smile

Yellowstone Favorite Places: WPC

I have so many Yellowstone favorite places it’s hard to choose. Here’s a collection of photos of things that make the park special. I start this post with a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt who was known as the “conservation president.”

“The only way that the people as a whole can secure to themselves and their children the enjoyment in perpetuity of what the Yellowstone Park has to give is by assuming the ownership in the name of the nation and by jealously safeguarding and preserving the scenery, the forests, and the wild creatures.”

Theodore Roosevelt, April 24, 1903 at the laying of the cornerstone of Gateway to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Favorite Places Mammoth Hot Springs 2017Yellowstone National Park, with its larger-than-life landscapes, dramatically changing weather conditions, amazing menagerie of wildlife, variety of plant life, and geology in action, is one of my favorite places. It also has a rich history as the world’s first national park.

A park is born

Evidence shows ancient peoples lived in Yellowstone Country 11,000 years ago. European Americans began exploring the lands in the early 1800’s. Teams of explorers brought back tales of wonder of this unique environment. Their work was supported by images created by artists Thomas Moran and Henry W. Elliot and photographer William Henry Jackson.  The park was established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Additional protections for the park and its wildlife were instituted in 1894 when congress passed the National Park Protection Act – now known as the Lacey Act.

President Theodore Roosevelt had a love of the land and he was instrumental in making sure many natural areas were preserved. His quote above reflects the importance of preserving wild places so that all may enjoy them “in perpetuity.”

Landscapes – large and small

Here are photos of some special landscapes.

And more of spectacular hot springs and other features.

And don’t forget to notice the tiny landscapes beneath your feet.

Wildlife

And of course the wildlife.

Visitors

Yellowstone National Park gets visitors from all over the world. 4,116,524 people visited in 2017.

Yellowstone Favorite Places 3June2015

May we all continue to safeguard and preserve its scenery, forests, and wild creatures.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Favorite Place

Silent barks: WPC

Silent barks speak with voices needing to be heard.

Silent Barks Western Juniper 8August2016Unknown worlds are tucked into their cracks and crevices.

 

Silent Barks Paper Birch 16February2018Layers peel away to reveal glimpses of their hearts.

 

Silent Barks Quaking Aspen 18November2018Their eyes gaze at us with infinite wisdom.

 

Silent Barks Hemlock 12February2016They sometimes wear disguises to cover up who they are.

 

Silent Barks Alder 3June2016But by peeking under silent barks, we learn we are all the same beneath.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Out of This World

Common Nighthawk

Silent Sleeper

You may have heard this bird flying overhead making a “peent” call. The common nighthawk is most active in the hours around sunrise and sunset. Due to their cryptic coloration and silent behavior during the day when they roost, they can be difficult to spot.

Common Nighthawk at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Common Nighthawk at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Weekly Photo Challenge – Silence