The Ram Have it

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It’s not very often we see ram (otherwise known as mountain sheep).  I think the last time we saw them was on Canyon Lake in Mesa.  We have never seen them in Northern AZ.  There was a time ww saw some in Utah, in Zion National Park….

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But during our trip through Greer / Hannigan’s Meadow area… an area between 8500 – 9000 feet in elevation, we saw a whole herd (of 4).

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I was ready at the camera to get some shots.  They didn’t pay much attention to me when I told them they should go into the light, as they gravitated to the shade (who can blame them?), or look toward me… say cheese, er, grass?

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Look, Snow

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We finally got a little snow…. not much, but enough to have the animals hunker down and get out of the wind and snow.  This little pygmy owl sat and gazed at the snow and watched it come in.  Any time we see some of the more ‘exotic’ and rare animals, we are thrilled… and this pygmy owl was no exception.

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Leave room to Run

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While I like the action in this photo, as this buck was spooked.  It is not a great photo because it is too constrained.  It is instead, a perfect example for what not to do.  I have left no room for the buck to run.  Since I cut off the action, the viewer is left to wonder what spooked him… or where he is going.  It lacks that sense of place.

 

A better photo that shows a sense of place, and includes the subject (my buck) and his environment – the forest and trees.  One where the subject is looking at you, and it’s eyes sharp are a bonus.  Having the subject well lit, and not in the shadows help to draw the eye to your subject…. albeit often hard to get everything to line up, particularly when working in the wild.

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Happy Snow

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While the East coast is getting hit with repeated snow storms, Arizona is getting left out of the action.  Now I know most people don’t think of AZ as getting snow… but for Northern Arizona it is part of our seasons, and one we count on to get precipitation to keep our trees healthy and our forests free from wildfires.  For a  normal winter (October – March, or so) we would expect to see maybe 6′ – 10′ of snow.  While that may not be a lot for some Eastern states, it’s about right for us.  Thus far this winter, we have seen none.

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That is until this past weekend.  I’m happy to report we finally got some snow!  Woohoo.  We probably got about 8″ at our home.  Having been house bound, we opted to go to the rim to check out their snow and maybe get some pix.

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The rim probably got around a foot of snow.  It was beautiful.

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There is something special about new fallen fresh snow, clinging to the trees and their trunks.  It is a magical sight.  I never used to like snow – too cold.  But I have developed an appreciation for it’s beauty.

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… and it always tends to bring out the animals.  We were lucky to see a number of elk – all of whom where quite surprised to see our Jeep slogging through the deep snow.

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Working in the Blind

It’s funny, when working in a blind, trying to get that elusive photo of animals in their natural environment, one notices everything…. the loud whir of your AutoFocus motor you never noticed before, the deafening shutter click that alerts the animals to your presence, and the bitter cold that bites through you at dusk when the animals come in.

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But, if one is lucky, the photos that might result make the discomfort all worth the while, particularly to be able to capture photos of animals from a ‘ground level’ perspective.

 

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Elklings

 

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First it was the deer, now the elk.  We love the return of the animals.  It has been so dry.  No rain in the past or foreseeable future.  The weather is unpredictably warm.  Our plants and animals are confused beyond measure.  Bees are swarming late… baby animals are appearing late… and wild birds, normally migrated, are looking for food.

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Winter must be near… but the weather gods aren’t cooperating.  Maybe next week.  In the meantime, the animals are trying to fill up on whatever food and water they can get their mouths on…. including having elk and deer in the same space.

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We’ll enjoy what we get… when we get it.

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Fawning over our little Fawn

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We have been very fortunate since living up north that we have seen quite a number of different animals, including those fantastically cute baby elk.  But in the time that we have lived here we had yet to see any baby deer (fawn) with it’s spots still on.

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Better late than never.  We were very surprised to see this little baby fawn, still with her spots, this late in the year.  Normally the babies make their first appearance in June.  It’s hard to imagine this little one so young just as we are going into winter.

I am still learning my animal species… but it appeared that this endearing photo of this little fawn’s peck on ‘mom’s’ cheek was not well received.  The fawn looks to be a white tail… while the mom dear was a mule deer…. strange bed fellows indeed.  The ensuing sequence had this mean mom dear strike the little fawn with it’s foot, causing the fawn to run away in it’s real mom’s direction.

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It seemed the little family was hanging out together, with dad staying close by.

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She is absolutely adorable, such a precious little thing.  So vulnerable with all the newness and wonder in her eyes.   What a privilege and pleasure to see her.  Watching her seemingly experience her ‘firsts’ was a real treat.

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