Cabin scene from the past
Here’s a cabin scene in Torrey, Utah. It looks as though this old building could tell many interesting stories. Lots of drama in those walls…
Tuesday Photo Challenge at Dutch Goes the Photo! – Scene
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.
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.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Patterns
McCoin Orchard apple blossoms
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.
A harsh landscape with soft edges
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.
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
Up close and personal with bison
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
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.
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
About page story
Yes, that pronghorn is kind of bossy, but I hope you’ll take a minute to look at my “new and improved” About page. Thanks for visiting!
Bend Branches About page
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.
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?
I’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
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.
Here’s a picture of a lichen “forest” growing on weathered wood. Worlds of wonder exist in landscapes large and small.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Wonder
A dawn lily
Here’s a photo I took in the early morning hours of a daylily splashed with rain. It looks like a perfect little cup of gold.
You get a two-fer today since this is being posted under Friday Flowers and Cee’s Flower of the Day . Enjoy!
Great Horned Owl Up Close
Here’s a shot of the piercing gaze of a great horned owl. The bird looks even more powerful and full of wisdom in black and white.
Cee’s Black And White Photography Challenge – Birds
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
A stately lupine
This lupine flower stands tall and stately in my garden. Though different from its wild cousins, it is just as beautiful.
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!
“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
Things to come
Delicate pink strawberry blossoms capturing the passing rain to feed the succulent fruit to come.
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…
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
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.
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
Blooming lupine amidst obsidian
Lupine plants were in full bloom on a recent trip I took to Glass Buttes, Oregon. They have beautiful flowers and a unique leaf form. The palmately divided leaves of lupine can have five to 28 leaflets. Water often funnels down the leaflets and collects at their base.
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 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?
Weekly Photo Challenge – Lines
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.
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.
We 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.
Visits 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.
Waterfowl 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.
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.
Small 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.
Dining 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.
Home on the range
Wranglers 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.
Daily prompt – Partake
Last weekend I saw this yellow-headed blackbird rising above the misty steam surrounding Crystal Crane Hot Springs in Oregon. He looked almost like some mystical character awakening from a dream.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Awakening
Every time I see a killdeer, it brings a smile to my face.
A 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.
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’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
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 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.
And of course the wildlife.
Yellowstone National Park gets visitors from all over the world. 4,116,524 people visited in 2017.
May we all continue to safeguard and preserve its scenery, forests, and wild creatures.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Favorite Place
Silent barks speak with voices needing to be heard.
Unknown worlds are tucked into their cracks and crevices.
Layers peel away to reveal glimpses of their hearts.
Their eyes gaze at us with infinite wisdom.
They sometimes wear disguises to cover up who they are.
But by peeking under silent barks, we learn we are all the same beneath.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Out of This World
I noticed this crazy quilt of colors along the shores of Little Lava Lake in September. The sedges and rushes varied in their color and had interesting forms. It was almost as if they formed a single living organism.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Variations on a Theme
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.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Silence
Here is a weathered old tree that is beautiful even without any leaves. Its trunk leans and twists but the tree still manages to keep standing.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Weathered