Today I was able to take one of my favorite routes on the way home, through Monarch and over Kings Hill Pass. It was particularly nice because there were very few hunters out and about, and the snowmobile/skiing season is not yet underway, so there was very little traffic and I could really enjoy the trip. Unfortunately there wasn’t much wildlife around either, but I did find a Golden Eagle riding some thermals. Photographing birds-in-flight has always been a challenge for me, but armed with my new used EF 400 mm lens I fired off a few digital volleys and got quite a few keepers.
I thought I’d share one of the images, along with a well known Scripture of encouragement.
I had a four-hour westward drive this afternoon, with the low winter sun in my eyes most of the way. Keeping an eye on the colors in the sky, I had decided that there was not going to be much of a chance for a scenic sunset. For a short time my route took me through some narrow valleys that obscured the view of the setting sun, but when I came up to the high prairie near Sand Coulee, MT the sunset suddenly came alive! I pulled over as soon as I could and fired off a short burst of images, as the brilliance of the show quickly faded away.
The evening sky is but a vast canvas to the Master Creator.
I ran across this frustrated young buck trying to answer the call of fall along the Musselshell River. The rut seems to be winding down, and he wasn’t finding any receptive does this evening.
Since my first visit to the Grand Canyon in April 2012 (Who Stole the Grand Canyon?), I’ve been looking forward to returning at a time when visibility would be better. Not that the snow and fog didn’t produce some very unique views, but I didn’t get the opportunity to really appreciate the vast expanse and extreme ruggedness of the canyon. Last month’s travels put me in close proximity to the North Rim, and fortunately the government shut-down had come to an end, so I made my way down the Kaibab Plateau. The cooler temperatures of fall had already taken residence, and remnants of a recent snowfall remained in the long shadows of the pines. Along the route, there were plentiful Mule Deer and a small band of Bison leisurely grazing the dormant grass.
So far, everything indicated that the viewing conditions at the Grand Canyon would be ideal. Perhaps I might have to wait for the sun to burn the morning moisture out of the air, but…. I didn’t imagine that smog would be a problem in this part of the country. Evidently the dirty air from Las Vegas and Los Angeles rides in on westerly winds and frequently ends up trapped between the canyon walls, and that is what I encountered when I arrived at the North Rim. I was able to see the San Francisco Mountains across the canyon to the south, so conditions could have been worse. There was an informational sign indicating that those mountains are often obscured by the smog. Between the smog and the low angle of the morning sun, a distinctive blue haze was prominent in the photos that day, making processing the images a little more challenging. Still, the rugged features of the canyon are evident, as well as the beauty of this natural sculpture. (You may need to click on the individual pictures to get a larger view to better show the San Francisco Mountains and other features.)
About a year and a half ago we made a quick trip through Zion National Park and spotted three Bighorn Sheep as we were leaving.
This time around I only saw two, but they weren’t together at the time. This one was high on the rock to the south.
Along with the cooler weather, the shorter days of fall trigger a number seasonal breeding animals into estrus, which tends to cause the males to pretty much lose their minds. From what I’ve seen in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana over the past couple weeks, it is obvious that the whitetail and mule deer are in the thick of the rut right now. In fact, last Tuesday I came within about 15 feet of this Muley buck, and he never acknowledged my presence, despite my being out in the open and walking behind him.
There was quite a bit of rut activity at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, with Mule and Whitetail bucks on the move and seeking receptive does to mate with.
Closer to home, along the Musselshell River, a buck inspects a small band of deer on a hayfield.
As I drive home, yet another buck crosses in front of me as if I don’t even exist and is on a mission as he travels through our neighbor’s place.