I immediately thought of this picture I took of a white sturgeon when I saw that this week’s photo challenge at Traveling at Wits End was Something that Doesn’t Belong.
In this photo, taken at the High Desert Museum, a young white sturgeon is surrounded by trout. It doesn’t quite fit in.
You might think this odd fish looks prehistoric and you’d be right. Sturgeon existed 200 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.
Though most sturgeon live 11-34 years, they have been known to live up to 104 years (!) They grow to an average length of 6.9 feet and sometimes grow to a length of 20 feet. The maximum weight recorded was 1,799 pounds. In fact, they are North America’s largest fish. So the fish in the picture may look small now, but it has a lot of growing to do!
Here’s a photo I took in March of three twisted swans at Summer Lake in Central Oregon. The northern shovelers surrounding them seem to be doing some contortions of their own. Can you find a raptor hiding in the background taking it all in?
The three swans have bands on their necks. I saw them there last fall and turned in my sighting to find out where they came from. I found out the young birds were banded in the spring of 2017 at Summer Lake so they haven’t strayed far from where they hatched.
This area hosts thousands of snow geese at certain times of the year. Summer Lake Wildlife Area is open to hunting so in order to avoid confusion, they have this sign posted for hunters. From a distance, snow geese and swans can be hard to tell apart.
Do you want to learn more about trumpeter swans? See my post Swan Song to learn about the conservation success story associated with this beautiful bird.
Today I took a hike up Gray Butte, northeast of Terrebonne, Oregon. It was a nice hike with lots of wildflowers and spectacular views. This view is from the edge of the Crooked River Caldera looking west to Mount Jefferson, on the right, and Black Butte, on the left. The rocks in the foreground are splattered with messages left by lichens.
My place in the world is out in the wild places of central Oregon. From dry sagebrush steppe in a caldera to lush meadows bordered by pine forests. There are so many special places to explore…
Last week I was out walking my dog on the Mill A Loop Trail in Bend, Oregon and I happened to see an osprey pair in the process of creating more ospreys. Spring is in the air!
Osprey pair on nest at Bend Whitewater Park, Oregon
Ospreys often nest in areas close to human activity. This nest is right next to the Bend Whitewater Park. There are perches and platforms installed on both sides of the Deschutes River here for birds. I’m glad to see them using the site after the initial disturbance caused by the park’s construction.
The osprey pair will lay 1-4 eggs and incubate them for 36-42 days. The nestlings will be in the nest for 50-55 days. It will be great to see more of them flying around in a couple of months.
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.
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.
In my backyard, an old western juniper tree serves as my muse. Hope you enjoy these pictures that show the many moods of my muse through the seasons. The moods in the sunsets range from a quiet blush to a loud show of anger.
My cover image shows a rainbow of emotions surrounding the tree.
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.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park
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.
The mountain bluebird perched on the snag for a long time in a drenching rainstorm. While all the other birds sought shelter, he stubbornly remained on his perch. He wondered if it really was a bluebird day. The bird thought his brilliant blue plumage would attract a mate by reminding her of the sky on a sunny day. No such luck!
After living a life full of leaps and bounds, she settled down in her favorite aspen grove. The bunchgrass waved goodbye. The rabbitbrush shaded her in her final moments. The rosebush provided fruit in celebration of her life. And finally, the aspen covered her in leaves of gold.
You can see Hart Mountain peeking out in the distance. A storm was moving in. Here are pictures of the storm as it developed. Storm Clouds over Hart Mountain.
Can you find a big buck watching over his harem in this picture? Both bucks and does can have horns, though the does’ are small or sometimes absent. Males have short black manes, a neck patch, and black markings across their forehead.
We adopted our dog, Tesla, a year ago and she is a sweet mutt. She was at a local Humane Society shelter as a young puppy as part of a litter of ten. Each puppy in this litter from Warm Springs, Oregon was given a temporary name that started with a “C.” A loving family adopted her and gave her a new name. Unfortunately, they had to return her due to their circumstances. We drove an hour through a snowstorm and walked into the shelter in Madras a half an hour after she was dropped off. She was stressed out and nervous when we met her but we knew she was the one for us.
She is a Heinz 57 mix of breeds with a very sweet personality. Tesla was a star student in her obedience class. As you can probably tell from the photos, she is kind of goofy. She likes to play with her toys while standing on her head. Her ears are sometimes up, sometimes down, or sometimes one is up while the other is down. Tesla still loves to chase her very long tail – even though she is almost two-years old.
Cartoon character modeled after our dog?
I recently saw the kid’s movie “Coco” and Tesla really reminded me of the dog, Dante, featured in the film. It was a good movie with wonderful animation. In the movie, the dog ends up being more important than he first appears to be. Here’s a short video about the dog in the movie. Dante’s Lunch – A Short Tail
What’s in a name?
Why the name Tesla? One reason is she is very fast. Here’s a short video of her in action. She LOVES to play outside!
Our dog has had three names in her short life but has found her forever home with us. Please consider adopting from a shelter if you are looking for a new best friend. To find a shelter near you, go to The Shelter Project.
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.
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
Here’s a picture of three young swallows perched in a willow tree at Sunriver, Oregon waiting for a snack. The fledglings are usually fed by the parents but sometimes they are fed by older siblings from a previous clutch.
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 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 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 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 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.
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 in Bend, Oregon in June 2017
Here is a simple shot of a pine tree’s new growth last summer.
Desert primrose in landscape, Bend, Oregon in May 2017
This young scrub jay patiently followed its cheeky parent around even though they kept dropping bark on its head. The young bird was waiting to be fed but maybe it should be thinking about leaving the nest soon. 🙂
Tomorrow many people will be eating a delicious turkey dinner. I wanted to share some pictures of what turkeys look like in the wild before they are transformed into the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal. Enjoy!
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.
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.
Last week when I visited Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, a threatening looking storm was moving in. Dark clouds temporarily blotted out the big blue sky. We didn’t stay long on this primitive dirt road near refuge headquarters. When the roads there get wet, they can turn into a muddy gumbo that makes it hard to drive. We made it out fine, flushing some sage grouse on the way. Spectacular sights!
Turning in his saddle and tilting his dusty hat to shade his eyes, he finally sees it in the distance. The round barn. The year is 1887 and he and the other vaqueros are moving a herd of horses collected over the sagebrush covered plains of the High Desert in Oregon. He had worked so many hours that week that when he finally settled down each night on a bed of hard sandy soil, he instantly fell into a deep sleep.
Moving cattle, horses, and mules for his boss, Pete French, was a hard but satisfying life. Guiding his horse with worn leather reins, he moves to the back of the herd of mustangs and starts driving them towards the barn.
Round barns – marvelous structures with a purpose
The Pete French Round Barn, near Diamond, Oregon, was built in the 1880’s. The center pole and supporting poles are made from ancient western juniper trees. The juniper shows cuts and gouges from past use but is still strong. Umbrella-like beams radiate out from the center to support the rounded roof of this 100-foot diameter barn. Horses were stabled in the middle part of the building. The 63-foot diameter rock wall in the middle section forms a round corral in the building’s interior. A 20-foot wide circular paddock surrounds it. During the long winters, 400 to 600 horses and mules were moved through and trained in the barn, safe from the harsh conditions outside.
Round barns allowed livestock to be sheltered and trained year round. Teams of horses and mules were trained to pull freight wagons in the barns. This particular barn has an interesting history.
In 1872, Pete French and a group of vaqueros were camping in an area south of present-day Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He was working for cattleman and wheat baron, Dr. Hugh Glenn, moving 1,200 shorthorn cattle to better grazing lands on Steens Mountain. French met a prospector named Porter who had about a dozen cattle and squatter’s rights to the land. He bought the cattle, rights to the land, and the “P” brand. The laws of the land were a bit different back then so when he moved the cattle onto unsurveyed land nearby, that land became his. Ranchers were required to build fences to keep cattle out of their lands.
French continued to work with Hugh Glenn and together they created French-Glenn Livestock Company. Pete French became president of the company in 1893. The company went on to become one of the best run cattle businesses of the time. French-Glenn Livestock Company had two round barns and numerous other buildings on their 150,000 to 200,000 acres of land.
Though successful as a businessman, Pete French was not well liked by some of his neighbors. Settlers were putting up fences on what they claimed was public land and French contested those claims in court. He fought with one neighbor, Edward Oliver, off and on for ten years. On December 26, 1897, they got in their last argument. Oliver shot and killed French and was later acquitted of all charges.
Preserving the past
The round barn has been carefully restored by state and federal agencies. It is now protected as the Pete French Round Barn State Heritage Site. Cycle Oregon and Trust Management Services have also put work into maintaining and improving the site.
The barn is in an isolated location but it’s a remarkable structure well worth seeing. When you stand in it and look around, you really get a feel for the history of the place. It is a place full of many stories. For driving directions, click here.
The Round Barn Visitor Center
There is also an impressive visitor center and store near the barn. The Round Barn Visitor Center contains a small museum and a store featuring clothing, jewelry, hunting knives, and a very good assortment of local and regional history books. The store also has a few snacks and beverages. The museum contains artifacts related to the Jenkins family, who have lived and worked in the area for several generations. Talk to Mr. Jenkins, the proprietor of the store, to learn more about the stories this land has to tell.
I saw this scaly lizard crawling along the rocks at Fort Rock, Oregon. It crawled up to see me at eye level. Maybe it was trying to intimidate me by pretending to be Godzilla (?) There were lots of colorful lichens on the rocks surrounding the lizard as it surveyed me.
This old building may appear dull and pedestrian to some. If you look beyond the peeling paint and overgrown yard, you will experience an environment alive with color and song. This building is one of the dorms at Malheur Field Station located near the headquarters of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Birds, and birdwatchers, flock to this oasis in the High Desert of Oregon.
Many people have learned about this area through classes at the field station and visits to the refuge. Stop on by if you are ever in the area!
Western Kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon in April 2017
Western grebes doing their mating dance, Malheur NWR, OR
These guys are so helpful at keeping our landscaping plants nice and trimmed – NOT! This is the view out my front window of three mule deer bucks. They were enjoying the plants so much they did not want to leave.
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
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
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
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
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
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.