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

Favorite Pictures 2017

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Favorite. I could not select just one picture so here are a few of my favorites from the past year. Enjoy!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 6May2017

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah in May 2017

This one is from my most liked post of the year – Utah National Parks: Trees & Rocks. There are lots of photogenic landscapes in Utah and this post contains a photo from each of the five national parks.

Pete French Round Barn near Diamond, Oregon 13Sept2017

Pete French Round Barn near Diamond, Oregon in September 2017 (infrared)

Here is a picture of the Pete French Round Barn. This picture is in infrared and it shows off the beautiful structure of this barn. To learn more about this barn that was built in the 1880’s and to see more photos, see my post – Pete French Round Barn.

Glowing sunrise over the High Desert of Central Oregon near Bend. 18Oct2017

Glowing sunrise over the High Desert of Central Oregon near Bend in October 2017

We see plenty of stunning sunrises and sunsets in Bend, Oregon but this one in October was especially beautiful. It was taken from my yard.

Rorschach reflections on Three Creek Lake in Oregon 24Sept2017

Rorschach reflections on Three Creek Lake in Oregon in September 2017

I often notice interesting shapes and forms when out taking pictures. Here is a shot that I called Rorschach Reflections. It was taken at Three Creeks Lake near Sisters, Oregon while I was out kayaking.

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

The eclipse as viewed from Prineville, Oregon in August 2017

The eclipse! I drove 30 minutes away and got a perfect view of the eclipse. This was my best shot. For more on that day, see – Solar Eclipse Success.

New growth on a pine tree 23June2017

New growth on a pine tree in Bend, Oregon in June 2017

Here is a simple shot of a pine tree’s new growth last summer.

Desert primrose in landscape 29May2017

Desert primrose in landscape, Bend, Oregon in May 2017

Here’s a desert primrose blooming in my garden. I’m trying to do water wise gardening. See my post Water wise gardening: Growing more with less.

Here are a few wildlife shots. A tiger swallowtail on a brilliant flower, a herd of pronghorn beneath a “rainbow” of foliage, and a small-but-mighty western kingbird.

Newspaper Rock 2, UT 4May2017

Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock in Utah in May 2017

I will leave you with this shot of Newspaper Rock in Utah. Maybe this was the first place to blog? For more on that site, see Newspaper Rock – Ancient Messages in Stone.

 

Watch out Space Station!

Yesterday I went out early in the morning to see if I could spot the International Space Station going by. I saw it and snapped a quick photo without composing it. I was using the SkyView Free app on my phone. This is the picture I got through the app!

Orion constellation about to smash the International Space Station 16November2017

Orion the Hunter is about to smash the International Space Station. Uh oh.

To find the International Space Station where you live, go to this NASA site – Spot the Station. Type in your location, click the pin on the map, and then click “View sighting opportunities.” It tells you when it will be going by, where to look in the sky, and how long it will be visible. Seeing the station zoom by is an impressive sight.

Crane Creek Ranch Sculpture

I saw this metal sculpture of a stagecoach on a recent trip and wanted to experiment with how to present it. I chose to use a digital version of the autochrome process.

Stagecoach sculpture at Crane Creek Ranch near Lakeview, Oregon Autochrome 1November2017

When this process was first presented at the Paris Photo Club by the Lumiére brothers in 1907, it was a turning point in color photography. Other methods existed but this process used a novel ingredient – potato starch. Glass plates were covered with grains of potato starch dyed red, green, and blue. Carbon black and a thin emulsion layer were added and the plate was flipped and exposed to light. The image could be developed into a transparency.  To see some of the dreamlike photos created with this process, click here.

The sculpture is on Highway 140, northeast of Lakeview, Oregon. The artwork is near a locked gate with “Crane Creek Ranch” over the entrance.

Here’s what my original image looked like:

Stagecoach sculpture at Crane Creek Ranch near Lakeview, Oregon 1November2017

Weekly Photo Challenge – Experimental

Utah National Parks: Trees & Rocks

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Structure. I immediately thought of our recent trip to the five national parks in Utah. The structure of the rocks and geological features is complimented by the trees in these parks. Whether dead and twisting, or green and contrasting, the trees are a main character in an interesting landscape.

Arches National Park, Utah 3May2017

Arches National Park, Utah

The arches are amazing at Arches National Park and standing dead trees add to the scene. You can see Double Arch in the background.

A fence along the trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah 4May2017

A fence along the trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I loved these fences made from old juniper wood in Canyonlands National Park. They helped keep people on the trail and were nice to look at too.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 5May2017

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The rainbow of colors in the cliffs of this canyon in Capitol Reef National Park were complimented by the bright green of the trees. A storm was moving in in this picture.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 6May2017

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

A windswept pine tree clings to the edge of a cliff in Bryce Canyon National Park. Puffy white clouds (like in “The Simpsons” cartoons) float gracefully in the background.

Zion National Park 6May2017

Zion National Park

Colorful and tilting structures in the rock, line a tree-filled canyon in Zion National Park. A few wispy clouds hang over the valley.

The national parks in Utah are full of interesting structures both large and small. The geology of the region tells a dramatic story. The trees and other plants living here have adapted to harsh conditions. The wildlife living here takes advantage of the local environment.

Take the time to look up but also to look down when you visit these parks. Each park is a little different from the others and each one has amazing sights worth seeing. The forces of Nature are strong here.

Solar Eclipse Success!

We traveled half an hour from our house to see the eclipse in the Path of Totality. Success!

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

Here’s some pictures I took right before the moon covers the sun.

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017Eclipse5 21Aug2017Eclipse6 21Aug2017Eclipse7 21Aug2017

My partial pictures are not quite as good because I was trying to figure out the best place for the filter.

We viewed the eclipse from Ochoco Wayside State Park, just west of Prineville, Oregon. The road up to the park was closed when we arrived there at 6:30 am so we hiked about 1/2 mile up the hill to meet more of our group who had arrived there earlier. Smoke from wildfires gave us an interesting sunrise from the 3,048 foot peak.

Sunrise Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

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