A New Year, and already behind!
Winter really grabbed hold of the northern Rockies in November, and with the arrival of the cold weather also came the seasonal return of eagles migrating south. Both Golden and Bald Eagles are a frequent sight this time of year, and it was great to spend much of the month in Montana and Wyoming. The Mule Deer population seems to be in good shape this year, and I have had numerous opportunities to get them photographed. We have a semi-resident herd of muleys that tend to share the feed we put out for our horses and goats, so getting good shots of them is really pretty easy.
Many days in November and December never warmed up above zero degrees Fahrenheit, but I was still able to find a few critters braving the cold weather while seeking a meal.
I’ve lived in eastern Montana for 8+ years and have never seen a Sharp-tailed Grouse until now. They are fairly common gamebirds in this area, and for several weeks I spotted them in a number of locations in southern Musselshell and northern Yellowstone counties. In late December we even had them visit within a quarter-mile of home!
January’s travels took me to California for a week, followed by a week in the Seattle, Washington area. I didn’t have a lot of time for photography along the trips, but was able to make a few captures worth sharing. Below the dam at the San Luis Reservoir in California, I shot a bird that I later identified as a Loggerhead Shrike. Having never seen one before, I was pretty excited to capture a “new” bird.
En route to Seattle from California, I made a morning detour to the Ridgefield (Washington) National Wildlife Refuge. The weather was cloudy, dreary and drizzling rain, but I was still able to come away with a several good images. There was a lot of bird activity while I was there, including Tundra Swans, Great Blue Herons, and a variety of raptors and water birds. The refuge Auto Tour requires that visitors remain in their vehicles, which can present a little extra challenge to making good photographs. There were not too many others people on the tour route, so in most cases I was able to maneuver my pickup as needed to get a fairly decent angle on the birds I was shooting. There were times I was really wishing I could get out to frame better images, but I doubt the birds would have been so at ease if people crawling all over the refuge.
After spending a couple consecutive weeks away from home, I was glad to return to Montana and be reunited with Alesia and the girls. As much as I enjoy traveling, home is definitely where my heart is because “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table” (Psalms 128:3). Here are a few shots taken in Montana toward the end of January.