Archive for National Wildlife Refuge

Baskett Slough Sunrise

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , on January 25, 2016 by chamimage
Sunrise on Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Sunrise on Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

It was raining when I left home in Salem, Oregon yesterday. But, some of my best landscapes have come from stormy days so I set out for a drive, if nothing else. It had stopped raining by the time I got to Baskett Slough NWR. Fog shrouded the hill I wanted to hike and I usually like to check out the ponds first, anyway so went to the pull out at the narrows. I was just leaving when a huge dusky Canada goose blast off went up right to my left, out where this image was taken.

After a few experimental shots on the geese against the foggy hillside, none of which survived editing, I noticed the break in the clouds. I grabbed my 70-200 mm lens for a few landscapes. You can see the silhouette of a bald eagle just above the horizon on the right. He was apparently what had triggered the goose blast off. They fly over and watch for geese that can’t fly. Those geese are henceforth called breakfast. He had no luck with the geese, but as I finished with the landscapes I noticed he dropped something into the water. It was about right for for a coot carcass. Quickly another bald eagle swooped up the carcass. Then two more materialized to chase the bird with the food. While editing this image I could see the other eagles perched on trees out there.

Two weeks ago I photographed an adult eagle in the back part of the refuge. When it flew, I knew exactly where it was going by the direction it flew and found it again in an old snag on the hill I like to hike. Two weeks ago my hike produced no sightings of deer, which is unusual. I was starting to wonder if they had all died off from some disease or something, but yesterday I saw deer in every location I expected to see deer.

Stormy Sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

This image from 2006 is from the same angle, a bit tighter. Some of those trees have either fallen down or been cut. The bald eagles loved those trees so it is a shame. There is more plant growth now as the marsh is filling in, as they do. Didn’t get the color of the sun shining through a lsot this time. That was also Velvia film in 2006. That was another rainy morning when I went out, anyway.

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Great Horned Owl Fledgling

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2015 by chamimage
A fledgeling great horned owl on a cottonwood tree limb in spring.

A fledgling great horned owl on a cottonwood tree limb in spring.

I checked in on these Great Horned owl fledglings last week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. I do every year.

In fact, it occurred to me that I might have photographed at least one of the parents when they were babies, too, though it looks like their typical lifespan is thirteen years so maybe not. I’ve been coming back to this nest site for about five or six years.

Some years they are still in the nest at this time of year. This year they are all over the place and flying up into trees. This one was hyperactive, its sibling was sedate. I think the sibling may have been sick. It kept its left eye closed much of the time and rarely moved around. It did grab this one’s tail in his beak and give it a yank so wasn’t too sick for pranks.

This year the beavers built a dam and the place was flooded, limiting the sight lines for photograph. And most of the trees were girdled and some were down. Park staff said they were going to relocate the beavers and it appears they have already done so. This is an old homestead with one old building still standing and they wanted to preserve it.

This year too many people knew about this site. It has always been my little secret, but somebody must have found it and posted it on some birder’s site. I didn’t see it mentioned on the grease board for sightings at headquarters. When there were other cars here I just kept on going, not wanting to add to the stress to the birds. I did notice that they always started in this tree in the morning and by evening were either across the water or deeper into the woods, as if they were escaping the onslaught of birders. If park staff notice the activity here it will probably be off limits next year until the chicks are fully fledged.

I use my 600 mm lens with a 1.7x teleconverter (1000 mm) when I photograph them to be able to keep my distance and they seem happy to go about their normal activity while I am there, with only the occasional withering gaze inherent to GH owls. I even saw one of the parents come in with a mouse. Of course this one immediately flew over for it and the sibling didn’t budge.

I saw a short-eared owl and a long-eared owl this year. I got only a badly focused photograph of the short-ear and blew it on the long-ear…twice.

The great horned nest at Page Springs campground was empty, which was a blessing because that blasted owl has kept me awake with her hooting more nights than I care to remember and it was blissfully quiet this year.

Printer Rehab

Posted in Photo Gear with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2013 by chamimage
Windblown Grass

Windblown Grass

I took my Epson 4900 printer to the printer hospital today. The prognosis is not good.

What I should say is that I roped my neighbor into helping me lug a bulky 150 pound printer downstairs and into my car to take it to the nearest repair shop 50 miles away after trying to fix it myself to avoid all of that trouble for the better part of the past six weeks.

Centennial Mountain Storm

Centennial Mountain Storm

I made the mistake of not making a print for a few months. I know now that the pigment inks in the 4900 tend to settle out and clump and then harden in the lines and the ink nozzles.

When I first turned it back on after all of that time it put zero ink on paper. All of the nozzles were clogged. Head cleaning brought back all but two of the nozzles, but at the expense of using a considerable amount of ink. Ink cartridges for the 4900 cost $89.95 each at Adorama. There are 11 of them.

Fence Post

Fence Post

After much research on line I found that this is a common problem with this printer. I also learned that the dirty little secret to fixing the last two nozzles was to soak a folded paper towel in Windex and put it into the printer and position the print head over it overnight. They say the ammonia vapors is what loosens the dried pigment so don’t use the non-ammonia kind. I don’t know if the foamy stuff might work better or not.

That cleaned up the two remaining nozzles, mostly, and I got a print made, but then I switched the black ink to matte black and could not get it to deliver any black ink from that point on, photo black or matte black. It sounds like this is something other than a simple clog. A new print head costs $1200, plus labor.

So, I am researching options in case the news is bad and the print head can’t be saved. I have about $500 in new ink cartridges invested in the 4900 so biting the bullet and fixing it is hard to not consider. I could buy a 3880, another 17 inch printer, for $1100. I think buying a used 4900 would be too risky, considering their known problems. For what it would cost to replace the print head I could pretty much write the old 4900 off and buy a new one. I am kind of stuck with Epson because I have developed a look I like with Hot Press Bright paper and know nothing at all about Canon printers.

All I know for certain right now is two things. I will be happy to get back to being able to print again and I am going to move my office downstairs.

All of the above images are from Red Rock National Wildlife Refuge in that little finger of southwest Montana that protrudes into Idaho.

Eagle Chase Scene

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , on October 6, 2013 by chamimage
Eagle Chase

Eagle Chase

I first noticed a bald eagle hovering low over the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley. I didn’t know eagles could hover.

I guess with a 30 mph head wind they can. He was trying to grab a duck off of the river, but they kept diving. It was only a matter of time before a duck came up at the wrong place and wrong time.

I was getting some nice photographs of him suspended in the air, despite the wind and rain. Then the golden eagle came along and ran the bald eagle off. My shutter speed was too slow for the spiraling shots to come out sharp.

I didn’t see any contact between them. The bald eagle was just sort of escorted out of the golden eagle’s territory.

I knew there was quite a size difference between the two kinds of eagles, but have never seen them this close together to really appreciate the contrast before.

This was taken Sept 29th. Two days later Yellowstone Park shut down with the government shut down and the fun was over. My hotel in West Yellowstone had three guests on the night of Oct 1st because all of the tour buses cancelled. All of us who traveled to a national park of monument weren’t given much consideration by our government. We actually paid for access to the park and were then denied it. I really feel for the people who traveled from Asia, Europe, etc. And for the people who are trying to make a living from tourism. For congress to use all of the above people as pawns in their little games is just unconscionable.

World Elephant Day

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2013 by chamimage
African Elephants

African Elephants

Happy World Elephant Day! These guys are crossing the Ewaso N’giro River in Samburu in northern Kenya. Yes, there are crocodiles in the river and no, they don’t care.

I like the Samburu elephants the best. The iron in the soil gives them the reddish pigment. They do interesting things, like predictably go to the river every afternoon. They travel in columns.

Not that elephants aren’t cool wherever you find them, but out on the savanna of the Serengeti they are just kind of there, in the middle of nowhere, eating.

Unfortunately, there is a good chance wild elephants will become extinct in my lifetime. Too much human encroachment and conflict and too much poaching to supply China with its insatiable appetite for ivory trinkets. Doesn’t seem worth it? To make elephants extinct just so China can carve ivory doo-dads? I don’t get it, either. But it’s a fact and it isn’t going away, in fact it’s getting worse.

There is too much money involved and too much government corruption throughout Africa to stop it.  Nobody with an equal amount of money from other countries has come forward to disincentivize the poaching yet. As with most of our problems, there is enough money and resources, just not the philanthropic and  political will. If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and Ted Turner suddenly developed a fondness for elephants there would probably be trained militias armed to the teeth out there protecting them.

In fact the very arms and helicopters provided by the United States to combat rebel militias in Africa have been used to shoot elephants for extra money for the soldiers involved. Too much money involved. Rangers were confused at repeatedly finding elephants shot through the top of their head and no human tracks coming or going. Then they caught one of the military helicopters in the reserve where it wasn’t supposed to be and the light bulb came on. The United States position is that it didn’t happen. Any of the multiple times it did.

So take a moment today to appreciate wild elephants today.

 

An Old Friend

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2013 by chamimage
Black-tail Deer

Black-tail Deer

I ran into an old friend Saturday morning while out looking for new deer fawns. Me and this guy go way back.

I was bit surprised last autumn when he was nervous and wouldn’t let me close enough to photograph him. That had not been the case before, since he grew up with me and accepted me and my tripod as just a sometimes part of the environment. One of the benefits of being in the same place for thirteen years is being able to follow the rhythms of the environment, of place, over time.

On Saturday I was back to being accepted. I was about thirty yards away when I first noticed him and he barely even bothered to keep an eye on me as he went on feeding. I spent about forty minutes with him. The last I saw of him he kicked a hind leg and then ran in to the woods. Maybe a bee stung him.

Deer Fawns

Deer Fawns

He may well have been one of these two fawns based on his approximate age. They were down in the tall grass where the does like to hide them. That damned tall grass has vexed me every year for thirteen years now. But I have to admit it is a great place to hide a fawn. I don’t think they they lose many, but there is a cougar and a bobcat to worry about. Probably coyotes, too, but I never see them.

Momma and fawns started  heading uphill towards the forest (before the ‘tourists’ arrived) so I was triangulating to head them off and get a photo when they passed through the mowed section where the trail ran. Much to my surprise they hung a left on the trail and popped up right in front of me when they crested a small rise.

Black-tail Yearling

Black-tail Yearling

I have no idea if this is the same buck as above, but he probably would have been a yearling that year. He was still with his mom at this time, but he had about a month left before the rut started and he was run off.

Black-tail Buck

Black-tail Buck

I was surprised to find him with the does at the start of the rut when he was just a forked-horn. I almost thought he might get away with it, but the next week a bigger buck had taken over and run him off. He did have the moxey to stick around on the fringes, though.

Black-tail Buck

Black-tail Buck

This bug guy that ran him off was gorgeous. He didn’t know me and kept a distance, but he had other things on his mind and came close enough at times. He mysteriously disappeared in mid rut. The does never leave the refuge and he never left the does so I don’t think he left the refuge and got shot. I don’t think he died of natural causes, either. He is not the first big buck to disappear from well within the refuge during hunting season.

Black-tail Deer Buck

Black-tail Deer Buck

So, this guy has been the only buck around since he was a forked horn. This image was from 2010, the last time he let me photograph him. I’m not sure where I was in 2011 and last year I got just shots of him peeking through the thick brush at me. I’m looking forward to autumn again.

 

To the Covered Bridge, Eventually

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2013 by chamimage
Classic International Truck

Classic International Truck

I discovered in the newspaper that there was a covered bridge nearby that I hadn’t photographed yet, so early Saturday morning I set out in that direction.

I like to keep an open mind. There are some days when I have a destination like that and I never get there. I find stuff. There was several days once where I set out to photograph OO Ranch ponds in early morning light at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and I never managed to get there before 10 am. Too much stuff in between.

Bachelor Herd

Bachelor Herd

I photographed these deer on one of those mornings.  Another morning it was a turkey vulture eating a dead road-kill snake. Another morning it was a quail on a sage brush.

To compound things, I forgot the directions I had written down, so I could get myself in the general vicinity, but had no idea what street the bridge was on.

House on Santiam River

House on Santiam River

I assumed a covered bridge would be on the river so took the street nearest the river. It turns out the Santiam River is braided in this area. One of the smaller channels went past this house.

Rather than go back the way I came when I took the wrong road, I drove up to the next street to take it back to the main road. That was how I found the International truck at the top of this post. I learned how to drive in trucks like that in my farm boy days. They had no synchro’s in the transmission so you had to double clutch. They also had no damping in the steering column so to this day I drive with my thumbs on top of the steering wheel because that wheel would spin violently if you hit a rut or pot hole.

Jordan Covered Bridge

Jordan Covered Bridge

I finally found the covered bridge on another small channel of the river. It was built in 1937 in Linn County over Thomas Creek ( Well now I have to go find Thomas Creek. Catchy name.). It was dismantled in 1985 and stored away until the Marines agreed to help rebuild it in Stayton, Oregon in 1986. On December 20, 1994 Christmas lights caught the roof on fire and the bridge burned down. In 1997 and 1998 a new bridge was built. It only has to handle foot traffic now, but it looks plenty sturdy.

Church Cross

Church Cross

Of course, getting home is not without risk of finding stuff, as well.