Saturday, January 7, 2012

Strolling dunlin, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Dunlin strolling across the tidal flats at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Throughout the fall there were a lot of migrating shorebirds feeding on the beaches of Plum Island, and I was surprised to see that some were still there when I went looking for a snowy owl last Thursday. It was not a huge flock, but maybe 50-75 sanderlings and dunlin were still chasing the waves as they rolled in and out on that cold afternoon. Unfortunately, the light was blah when I saw them, so I just watched them for a bit with the camera at my side.

Browse more photographs of dunlin

Friday, January 6, 2012

Success -- A snowy owl! Sandy Point State Reservation

Snowy owl on sea ice along the beach

As soon as we arrived in Massachusetts last September, I was investigating the nearby parks to find out what wildlife opportunities might exist. I quickly discovered that Plum Island (which contains the Parker River NWR and Sandy Point State Reservation on it) is a terrific place for birds on the Massachusetts coast. Even better news was that it often harbors a wintering population of snowy owls, and it's considered one of the best places in the lower US to find them. I think these birds are stunning, and I immediately added a snowy owl to my mental wish list for this winter. After seeing reports of owls in the area on I took a trip there in December, but came back empty handed. On my first outing of 2012 though, I was able to photograph this gorgeous juvenile along the dunes of Sandy Point State Reservation (and in this image, sitting on the ice that formed in the tidal areas). I was there for sunset, but the skies were cloudier than I expected, so I was shooting mostly in fading overcast light -- all the more reason to make a return trip under blue skies as well!

View more images of owls in my Birds of Prey Gallery.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Young moose in the sagebrush, Grand Teton National Park

Curious moose calf standing in sage brush in pre-dawn light

Our encounter with this young moose and his mother was one of the highlights of our September visit to Grand Teton National Park. We found this pair as we took a pre-sunrise drive along the Gros Ventre River, and they were feeding quite close to the road. The young one was perhaps on the verge of being weaned, since we saw him nurse as well as browse on some plants. He (or she?) also had the energy expected of a youngster as he went hopping and tromping around the sagebrush, but never straying too far from mom.

View more images of moose in my Moose Gallery.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Upper Yosemite Fall in the Snow, Yosemite National Park

Upper Yosemite Fall appears to pour out from the fog

This week I'm getting a fast reminder of what it means to be cold. After spending six years in the mild climate of coastal northern California, my blood had definitely thinned, and I was used to wearing the same layers of clothing more or less year round. Winter has finally reached Massachusetts this week though, and as I write this with the warm morning sunlight pouring through my windows, reports that my local temperature is 12°F! Yikes!

This shot of Upper Yosemite Fall is perhaps the coldest image I have in my files, since it at least includes a dusting of snow. Granted, this snowfall is from a late-season squall in mid-May, and temps in the valley were in the 40s, but still -- it looks kind of cold, right?

View more of my landscape images from Yosemite National Park.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quail for the new year, Point Reyes National Seashore

Quail on coyote brush with branches behind in Point Reyes National Seashore

On my first photography outing in 2011, I had a nice encounter with a California quail in Point Reyes National Seashore, and it turned out to be a great year of quail images for me. Since I haven't made it out with my camera yet in 2012, I thought I'd post a few shots of a quail in honor of my unofficial "Year of the Quail" last year.

Quail perched on coyote brush near Abbott's Lagoon

These two shots are of the same bird in the same bush just moments apart, and I couldn't decide between them as to which I liked more. I decided to include both as another example of why its a good idea to rotate the lens when you have a cooperative subject. Each image has its own feel -- to me, the vertical frame is more about the bird and the horizontal is more about the quail as part of its environment -- yet they were taken just moments apart.

View more images of California quail in my Quail Gallery.

Submitted to World Bird Wednesday -- Follow the link to check out this week's posts!