a photoblog of God's handiwork.

Archive for March, 2014

On Musselshell Pond

The morning was overcast, but with snow forecast for later in the day, I figured that early morning may be my best opportunity to photograph eagles today. So I left for church a few minutes early, planning to shoot the “regular” Bald Eagles that are often warming themselves in the early morning sunshine. Despite the lack of sun, a juvenile eagle was perched in a dead tree adjacent to the pond near Musselshell.

Juvenile Bald Eagle seemingly annoyed with the noise and sparring of the Canada Geese

Juvenile Bald Eagle seemingly annoyed with the noise and sparring of the Canada Geese

As I started capturing a few images, he (or she) turned his attention to a tremendous commotion among the Canada Geese on the far side of the pond. Though I was watching the eagle, I heard a lot of honking and cackling, as well as splashing happening. Following the eagle’s lead, I turned my camera to the geese to find them sparring over pieces of real estate on the islands in the pond. Arguments and battles would ensue like lightning among groups of geese that were only a moment earlier calm and foraging. Most of the battles didn’t last very long, and the spontaneity and short duration of these episodes made them difficult to capture. However, I did manage to capture (albeit poor quality) a very interesting battle posture of one goose trying to encroach on the tip of an island. It would seem that the Canada Goose is educated in the martial arts.


Canada Geese battling over nesting territory

Canada Geese battling over nesting territory

Although these birds join large flocks to make their long migration, they try to establish semi-private nesting areas once they reach the northern destination. Despite all the bickering and fighting, they will often nest in view of one another, and may even become become semi-colonial.






A Black Bear image taken in June 2012.  More photos of this bear were posted at https://bigskyken.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/what-kind-of-bear-have-you/

Of Ice and Men

A couple weeks ago we experienced an odd chain of weather events that led to ice jams and flooding along the Musselshell River here in eastern Montana. On the morning of March 8, the ice flows came through our area and I followed the head of the high water taking both still and video footage of the event. Below are a few of the images I took, along with some video clips of the flowing ice in the riverbed.

My first vantage point allowed me to present a before and after comparison that gives an idea of how big the initial surge impacted the river.
Ice Flow Before and After

I shot this video from the same position as the ice flow fully filled the river.

Next, I moved a couple miles down river. The river level rose under the sheet of ice covering the stream until it raised enough to flow over an irrigation diversion, which caused the ice to breaks as it flowed over. A number of beavers had been wintering in the river at this spot, and were violently upset from the churning action of the ice in the river. Below is a beaver scampering for safety on the flowing ice.

This video was taken from the same location, showing the ice sheets breaking as they cross the diversion dam.

There were numerous places where ice jams formed, causing the river to find alternative courses and flooding a lot of farmland in the process. Below you can see the ice jam in the river at the bottom of the frame, with the flooded fields beyond where the water found a less restricted path.

The next video was taken at the moment when an ice jam finally broke loose after several hours.

“The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea.” Psalms 93:3-4

Oh, Haliaeetus!

Haliaeetus leucocephalus, to be precise, otherwise known as the Bald Eagle. I made a short excursion to Roundup this morning, and caught a few of these birds out and about. A juvenile was holding fast to a tree, not wanting to brave the gusty wind, but eventually decided to follow a mature eagle on a mission to the south.  Bald Eagles don’t develop the characteristic white head and dark brown body until after their fourth year.

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

A little further to the west I found a mature Bald Eagle perched in a dormant tree. Evidently he didn’t appreciate being the subject of my lens, and quickly took wing for a more private location.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle



Lunar Skyscape

Not quite full yet, today’s moon is at 87.4% and is termed a “waxing gibbous” moon. The four large craters in the upper portion of the moon are the Sea of Storms, Sea of Serenity, Sea of Tranquility and Sea of Fertility. A couple years ago I made another moon post, where I labeled a number of the visible geographic features on the lunar surface.

Today's 87.4% Waxing Gibbous moon

Today’s 87.4% Waxing Gibbous moon

Night Guide

Lighted Windsock at Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) in Montana

Lighted Windsock at Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) in Montana

Called to Fish

When you get more than one Tern in a group, you get a committee of Terns. From watching this committee of Common Terns work, I think they got a lot more done than most committees I’m familiar with. As a group, the birds looked more like a swarm as they fished a South Texas estuary on Mustang Island, hovering above the water prior to making a less than graceful plunge. Despite the lack of diving style, they appeared to be pretty good at fishing given the high percentage of successful dives.

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When Jesus Christ was recruiting disciples, He chose four fishermen to join His ranks, Andrew, Peter, James and John. I have not found any rationale spelled out in the Bible that explains why fishermen were selected, but it seems to me that their work ethic and daily routine would provide the foundational behaviors needed to do the job. The best fishing is often in the very early and very late portion of the days, thus fisherman would be used to working long days. In a time before refrigeration, fish couldn’t be stored for any significant length of time, therefore it was a daily chore to provide fresh catch everyday. And as any fisherman knows, fishing often calls for both patience and perseverance. Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Matt 4:19. Today He still seeks us to be fishers of men, that we might help others obtain the saving grace that Christ offers.