I love this little hunter. Saw him perched in a residential tree driving back from a project this morning…
I love watching and photographing Kestrels “Falco sparverius‘. Just as the “Falco” denotes he is a falcon. This one being a male…
I have a new goal.
To try and catch an America Coot “Fulica Americana” in the full act of diving. Tried for an hour yesterday. They are fast. Diving for grass on the bottom of the pond. Not too bad. Sounds Easy huh? Well it’s not. They give no real indication of when the dive starts. So all I have been getting is a partially submerged Coot with his webbed feet looking up. Give me a little bit….I will get this one! For sure.
It’s turning out to be a weird winter thus far.
No snow in the valley. Yesterday it was almost 60 degrees.
And there is a White Faced Ibis still hanging out at the FBWR. Saw him a few days ago and was surprised. I am not an Ibis expert. But it is the only one seen for a while. Just like the White Egret recently photographed, (which is gone now) I wonder why the Ibis is hanging around. They seen to fly and stay in groups. I have posted several times photographs of these beautiful birds. They never disappoint my camera and screen when I get back.
The hunters where out and some would pass the small pond the Ibis was fishing in. He would quickly get out and move away onto the ice closer the safety of the brush. Made for a strange site for me personally.
He is a very proficient fisher…..
It’a a Ghost Town near Elko Nevada.
About 50 miles northwest is a a very small place. And old place once inhabited by the pioneers, cowboys or at the very least adventurers. Have you seen this area? Not sure I would have driven my tent post permanently there. Must have been a tough bunch of people. I mean real tough. No couch watching Bones and eating Dorito chips in that town.
I am always drawn to the cemetery in these places. In there, there is the real evidence of class and style of the people who expired in this dry and unwelcoming place. A wide range of respect for the dead? Probably not. Just evidence of the financial status or position in the community. Here is an example of a headstone that stood about 6′ tall made of solid stone probably imported from Salt Lake City.
A beautiful marker from a man that lost his bride at the early age of 25. A sad story anytime a loved one is lost. What a great epitaph to his love.. “Gone but not forgotten”. Maybe a sure indication of no religious experience tying his marriage or relationship with her to a life after earth? All kinds of questions.
Then there is this headstone…….
A simple wood plate. The person beneath it now unknown to us who visit these days. Probably a beautiful headstone when placed over 100 years ago. Hand carved name, date of birth and date of passing inscribed on the plate. Maybe the work done by a family member or loved one. Why not out of stone? There are several wood headstones just like this one in the cemetery……
Name only. What is the history behind this headstone? Is it a part of another that over time had been vandalized, weathered or just aged? A man? A Woman? Or a Child? This particular head stone really move me to tears. A name not forgotten but a history vanished. What I would give for a journal of this “Hubbard”. Days on a horse? How did they survive day to day? Where did they get water? How many in their family? What games did they play….if at all. It may have been all about survival not fun and games. I wish I knew.
“DOVE” A nickname? A last name? An enduring message?
Look real close. The very faint partial wording of “in Memory “. In Memory of who? Someone important to someone else. A part of a family lineage. A spirit forgotten here on earth. Depending on what one may believe, maybe to return to rise again? Maybe to tell his/her story to others. I love to hear the stories.
Miles R. Dunton. Dien in October 17, 1906. At 57 years old. Same age as me. The fence around his headstone was made by a company based in of Salt Lake City. An ironworks company. The headstone was the nicest one in the cemetery. Mr. Dunton must have had money or the means in his family to provide this beautiful plot. There is a real interesting issue to me with this headstone. It appears to have a place for another person to be inscibed on it. Just left of Mr. Dunton. A place for a partner, spouse, child, or family member? It’s off balance with only his name. The two spires up to one point had to have some meaning as to the design. What happened to the other person? Did they move? Did they lose the means or finances to have their name inscribed? I will never know. Probably no one knows. It’s been over 100 years since Mr. Dunton was buried. Does he have living relatives now?
I stayed until sunset. All my thoughts revolved around who’s footsteps had been there before mine. How many sunsets looked like the one I was witnessing? It was very quiet. Peaceful. Probably one of the true reasons why someone could live to the age of 57 years old back then. They worked hard. Slept well? Ate only to survive not to enjoy. Sat at times and listened to the quiet. No cars, planes, or machines to interrupt the peace. Their stress was how to associate. And how to endure. I learned something in TUSCARORA. We are all people that someday will expire. Our spirits will leave us. Our memories will go with us. What will we leave behind????????
This year I am focusing more on the Biology of the birds and wildlife I photograph.
For a decade or so my winter is a little more exciting when it comes to bird photography. It easier to locate and shoot the hawks and Kestrels. My fancy is photographing all wildlife. Due to weather, travel and my close proximity to world class bird habitat, winter is prime birding time. So off I go and chase the little (and) big critters that fly.
The American Kestral. Always at the refuge. Always hunting. Can’t miss their tail feathers flapping up and down just after landing on a branch or power line. They eat insects, small mammals, birds and reptiles. Not really a migrator here in Utah I see them year round. Just love the winter shots. The snow usually highlights their bellies. They can be more readily seen with no foliage in the trees. The photograph below is a male. The male has a much more distinctive coloring. Especially down his back. The spots are much more prevalent on the male. They nest in cavities. At the refuge there are a couple of man-made nests that have been used by the Kestrels. They only have about a two foot wing span. Man! they can fly. Seen often hovering over prey along roadways. They are naturally shy. A very long lens is the best bet to get good photographs of the Kestrels. The phot0 below is shot with a 600mm lens with a 2x converter producing a 1200mm image. They are so quick and make such sudden changes that I am usually shoot at least 800 ISO. I have found myself up in the 3200 ISO range (thank you Nikon and the D3s). I almost always shoot wide open to get the highest shutter speed possible. In auto focus mostly. Shoot in aperture priority. I love this bird, He is beautiful.
Look close at the bug wing just below the claws of the Kestrel on the branch….
For many years I have wanted a Quail chick shot. My son screamed that he saw Quail chicks in our neighbors yard. Before you could say “Nikon” I had my long lens out running around looking for the miniature birds. Got one shot……..
Check out the size of this mini. Notice the nails in the boards. Compare them to the bird. The vertical boards are 3 1/2″ inches wide. This weensy guy is about 1 1/2″ tall. TINY!!!!
Ever noticed how much work women do?
This is a Yellow Headed Blackbird. A female. The males are noisy, obnoxious, colorful, and not often collecting food. At least not when I have been watching. The female work their little beaks off. They seem to be wound up tighter than a ten day clock. She is not as pretty as the male. What she doesn’t have in looks she has in effort. Her cycling of rounding up food then delivering food then back to picking food again is remarkably short. We are talking about chasing multiple bugs packing them in the beak then delivering to the family. A bunch of times. I watched this particular beauty as she would return to the same area at the refuge for bug catching. Snacks of the sort. Love this lady. She works hard to feed to her family. I still wonder what dad is doing all this time…..
Mornings and nights at the nest.
The Avocets have gotten familiar with me and my camera. For 24 days my mornings and nights (when in town) have been at this Avocet nest……
Tonight I rushed to the Avocet nest minutes before the DWS closed the gates to the Refuge. Still nesting and no sign of chicks. Several times a day the mated pair would trade nesting responsibilities. Almost to army exactness a ritual would ensue as the trade off took place. The eggs would not be exposed for more than a few seconds. Good parents I would say. As the replacement parent would approach the nest they would shake their skinny blue legs to shake of any unwanted items. In addition they would preen extensively before entering the nest. Everytime. I waited patiently watching the clock knowing that in a few minutes the DWS staff would kick me out. Lock the gate and go home. I wanted to stay and watch this new family in their home. My first Avocet birth…..
I waited then out from behind Mom popped the new chick. Less than one day old. Teeny Weeny ball of fur with a beak……..
Stumbling, barley alive this cute little chick is not more than a couple of inches tall…maybe.
Mom and dad are VERY protective of these kids. Two born, one to egg left. What a night. One of those firsts for me. One moment I soon won’t forget!