Photography: My Shot — Swirling Pine Needles


Pine Needles Swirling in the Stream

After hiking for more than a week in Yellowstone National Park, we moved on to Red Lodge, Montana to continue our adventure. We decided to explore a course along the Silver Run Plateau, Trail #102, Loop #3 just outside of town.

The first part of the loop was quite rocky with boulders and large rocks buried in and around the path. The return half of the hike, however brought us nearer to the river which had much better footing and more intersting views. Along the way, we passed a feeder stream that had a very slow, but consistent flow. A large number of pine needles were “caught” in a side channel and they were swirling around in a somewhat circular motion as the water worked its way around some rocks and debris.

The pattern was very appealing and I found that watching the movement was similar to playing with a kaleidoscope.

 

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Metadata

File Name: DSC_3958.NEF
Capture time: 11:18 AM
Capture date: Sept. 17, 2018
Exposure: 1/100 sec @ f/11
Focal Length: 55mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.02mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom & Photoshop

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Yellowstone and Bear Country



I recently returned from more than a week of hiking in Yellowstone National Park and all I can say is WOW! We hiked over seventy miles, but enjoyed every hard-earned inch. We are so lucky to live in a country that has such natural beauty in abundance.

Whenever I explain to other people that I hiked in Yellowstone one of the first topics to be raised is bears. Yes, Yellowstone has bears and by reading all the literature, posted warnings and sales pitches for bear spray one would think they were lurking around every corner. I am not making light of visiting areas in bear country. It needs to be a real concern and we did take it seriously, but not everyone sees the bears of Yellowstone when they visit the park.

My wife and I both had bear bells to make noise as we walked so we didn’t startle any bears in the vicinity. One thing worse than an unintended encounter with a bear is to startle a bear unexpectedly and have them feel threatened. Wearing bear bells sometimes brought snarky comments like: “I thought you were Santa Claus.” My retort would be: “Not Santa Claus, but no bear claws!”


Yes, Yellowstone has two types of bears. Grizzlies are more agrgessive than Black bears. – Picture courtesy of naturalunseenhazards.wordpress.com

All the hype does make one a bit paranoid, but I am not sure that is a bad thing. According to the National Park Service, over 100 million people have visited Yellowstone since 1980. During that time 38 people were injured by grizzly bears.

Here is an interesting breakdown according to their website Bear-Inflicted Human Injuries & Fatalities in Yellowstone

Type of Recreational Activity: Risk of Grizzly Bear Attack

  • Remain in developed areas, roadsides, and boardwalks: 1 in 25.1 million visits
  • Camp in roadside campgrounds: 1 in 22.8 million overnight stays
  • Camp in the backcountry: 1 in 1.4 million overnight stays
  • Travel in the backcountry: 1 in 232,000 person travel days
  • All park activities combined: 1 in 2.7 million visits

Also noted is that only eight people have been killed by bears in Yellowstone since 1872. To keep things in perspective, the website reminds visitors that more people have died from drowning, burns, etc.

We had two grizzly bear encounters in and near Yellowstone National Park. We were hiking along one of the paths around Ice Lake in Yellowstone returning to the parking area. Three hikers were hiking towards us and as they passed, they explained that a mother grizzly crossed in front of them with two adolescent cubs and they were going to hike around the lake to get back to their car. This was a significant, lengthy detour part of which was uphill along the roadway.



Picture courtesy of National Park Service

All the literature I read indicated that the chances of being attacked in a group of three or more was only two percent. I suggested to the group that we continue heading back toward the parking lot and risk a bear encounter since we were a larger group and had several canisters of bear spray between us.



Picture courtesy of National Park Service

We walked quickly, but deliberately toward the area near the road where the bears were spotted. We noted their tracks along the path. Apparently they didn’t like the debris in the wooded area any more than we did and they were walking along the relatively clear hiking path.

About one quarter mile from our cars, the three bears (not those three) were spotted about 300 feet ahead of us. The mother bear (very large!) stood up on her hind legs and spread her arms wide in an “it was this big” fashion. I estimate that she stood at least nine feet tall at that point. One of the rather large cubs also stood in the same fashion while the other remained on all fours looking our way. The bears were only there for a half-minute or so when they scampered into the woods.

It was very exciting indeed, but we were glad that we did not have a more intimate bear encounter. We made it to the cars without further ado. My only regret was that the action happened so fast I couldn’t get a picture.

Our second sighting a few days later was of a grizzly with three cubs along the Beartooth Highway near Beartooth Lake. We noticed a group of people along the side of the road, a certain giveaway that something interesting was happening, and we pulled over.

Sure enough, there was a group of three Grizzly bears about 450 feet downhill munching on a carcass that I assume was that of an elk. The speculation was that this was a mother with her cubs, but the bears all looked to be similarly sized…so who knows? The bears were more interested in eating than in what we were doing and since we were a lineup of more than a dozen people standing quite a bit away uphill, it was not a tense encounter.

Bears are large and they look fat, but don’t ever think you can outrun one and don’t for one minute think climbing up a tree is going to help. Read the placards above to see how to survive a bear encounter.

I am an enthusiastic amateur photographer. I enjoy wildlife, but I don’t have an expensive wildlife kit. The closest I come is my Canon SX50HS bridge camera that has a telephoto lens of approximately 600mm of reach. This isn’t the highest quality camera or lens, but I think you can get an idea of what we saw at the bear buffet along the Beartooth Highway.


group of grizzly bears


lone grizzly bear


two grizzlies bears


lone grizzly bear with carcass



After leaving Yellowstone, we stayed in Red Lodge, Montana one night and did some hiking along the Silver Run Plateau, Trail # 102, Loop #3 in the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

There were warnings there as well.



There’s a reason for all these signs. One shouldn’t be afraid, but it is important to take precautions and be aware. They refer to it as being “Bear Aware” and they aren’t kidding.

Yellowstone even uses celebrities to help impress the importance of bear safety upon visitors.



We now have bear encounter memories that will last forever and we are very happy that they turned out the way they did.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 2

Note – If you missed part 1 of this story, you can find it here:

Birds of Arizona: Glendale Recharge Ponds – Pt. 1

As we continued our walk and circled around the pond, we came across several Cormorants sunning themselves. I usually associate these birds with shorelines, but they were probably just passing through.

cormorants

closer view of cormorants

As we returned to the parking area where our car was located, this Black Phoebe was sitting on top of a no fishing sign. It didn’t say he couldn’t catch flies!

Black Phoebe

The southern boundary of the recharge pond park, had a nice wide path for walkers and bikers.

walking path near parking area

Having had enough gnats and/or flies, we headed back to our car. We did not anticipate that a good number of the annoying recharge pond denizens would want to hitch a ride with use, but pack into the car they did.

The morning was moving on and the prime bird watching window was closing, so we decided to head to the Tres Rios Base & Meridian Wildlife Area which often attracts a variety of birds. Our GPS led us a bit off course, but we finally made it.

It is located very near the ISM Raceway, South Phoenix.

ISM Raceway, Phoenix

There was no event at the racetrack so parking was wide open. We parked along the side of the road and walked through the gate toward the river inlet.

Tres Rios Sign

While the water was not “raging,” it was moving well. Several people were fishing as we walked along the riverbank looking for birds.

Wide area of the river

We could see movement in the trees and we knew there were birds in the distance, but I am not skilled enough to be able to identify them by song. I would need a relatively good visual sighting to confidently ID a bird.

As we walked under the roadway overpass, we could see the Swallow nests

Swallow nests under the bridge

swallow nests under the bridge

I did spot another Phoebe waiting in the tall, dried grasses.

Phoebe waiting on a reed

Not having much success finding birds to identify, we decided to leave. As we made our way to the parking area, we spotted a Cormorant sunning on a partially submerged log.

Sunning Cormorant

He wasn’t alone long as a “buddy” also thought this would be a good location for sunning.

Second Cormorant heading for the perch

Two Cormorants sitting on the log

What is it they say about “birds of a feather?”

It was an interesting day and we enjoyed finally visiting the areas to see what they had to offer.

The Tres Rios Base & Meridian Wildlife Area hosts a number of events including nature awareness and bird watching opportunities. You can follow the along on their Facebook page to see what the upcoming functions offer.

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Hiking: Yellow-Throated Gilia, Sequoia National Park, CA

One of the reasons I enjoy hiking is that it offers opportunities for interesting discoveries; some anticipated and others serendipitous. We were hiking along the Crescent Meadow Loop Trail in Sequoia National Park nearly a year ago when we came across a patch of wildflowers tucked away in a wooded area…


Yellow-Throated Gilia wildflower

It was hard to believe that these were real. The colors were so vibrant and unusual in combination. It was an amazing sight. The next day we were on the Sunset Point Trail and there was a large swath of these wildflowers covering the entire hillside.


Yellow-Throated Gilia wildflower
Love those standouts adding their all white accents in the middle of the patch!

 
Nature is the art of God.” – Dante Alighieri

Read more about Yellow-Throated Gilia HERE

 

Read more JBRish.com posts:

Hiking/Exploring HERE, Nature HERE, Photography HERE


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©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



Photography: As Shot – Colorful Tom Turkey

NOTE – “As Shot” photographs are some that I have posted on Instagram, but without any unwarranted imposed crops, less detail reduction and more of an explanation.


On the road near Hereford, Arizona with storm clouds closing in

Tom shows his colors when is around the hens – Happy Thanksgiving – 2017!

On a hiking trip to Brown Canyon in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, southern Arizona, we were treated to a display by this Tom Turkey who was parading around in front of two hens.

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Metadata

File Name: turkey_tom_0597.CR2
Capture time: 2:26:46 PM
Capture date: April 12, 2014
Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 25.065mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Lens: 4.3-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

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Hiking: Bootleggers Trail, Scottsdale, Arizona

  • Address: 31402 N. 136th St., Scottsdale, AZ
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset daily
  • Amenities: Passenger vehicle and horse trailer parking. NO RESTROOMS OR WATER

A couple of days ago I wrote about capturing my first “decent” photograph of a Phainopepla while hiking along the Bootlegger Trail off of the Granite Mountain Trailhead which is part of the McDowell Mountain Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Kudos to the citizens of Scottsdale for fostering efforts to support the acquisition of desert lands to be kept in their natural desert form. As you may imagine the population growth in the southwest is booming and native desert is disappearing fast. Land put aside to remain undeveloped is a treasure that can be enjoyed by everyone.

We have hiked other areas of the McDowell Mountain Presserve, but this was the first time at this particular location and we were not disappointed. Below is the view just a few yards away from the parking area.


View from the parking area

What helps to make this area somewhat unique and interesting are the boulders and boulder formations that populate the trail.


Numerous boulders along the trail

As we began to head west, the distant hills loomed large before us.


Granite hills rise up in the distance as we begin the hike.

The essence of the area really cannot be captured in individual photos so I hope the panorama below provides a sense of the expansive, hilly terrain.


A panorama reveals the full scope of the vista


To see a larger version of the panorama, click HERE

This was just one of the many boulder formations we studied as we hiked along the trail.


Interesting boulder formation

Boulder fields with rocks piled on top of each other often surrounded the trail.


Boulder fields with piles of rocks

As we hiked, I spotted a bird atop the granite hill far in the distance. Unfortunately my telephoto lens was not long enough to acquire a very detailed photo, but my guess is that it was a Harris’s Hawk (see the second image).


A distant bird; I think a Harris's Hawk


Closer view of the hawk

This is a description of the Harris’s Hawk from All About Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

“A handsome hawk of the arid Southwest, Harris’s Hawk is a standout with bold markings of dark brown, chestnut red, and white, long yellow legs, and yellow markings on its face. The most social of North American raptors, these birds are often found in groups, cooperatively attending nests and hunting together as a team. When hunting, a group of hawks surround their prey, flush it for another to catch, or take turns chasing it. This hawk’s social nature and relative ease with humans has made it popular among falconers and in education programs. “

While this trail is listed as moderate, we are inclined to label it more appropriately as easy. There were some inclines and the path does lead up to the distant hills, but we didn’t find any sections that we felt were strenuous.


Picture of the saguaros in the foreground of the mountains


More pretty boulders with the mountains in the background

The desert is a very harsh environment and death is often in evidence. Once stately saguaros often succumb to damage or drought. Even in death, they grace the area and give evidence to the beauty that is the desert.


Dead saguaro still graces the desert

This was a lovely area with the saguaro straight ahead and the boulder formation off to the right in the shade. There was a small “window” in the bottom, middle portion of the rock formation which enabled us to get a peek of the upcoming distant vista.


A bend in the path with a saguaro and boulder formation

As desert gardeners and proponents of native vegetation we always enjoy seeing clusters of greenery in areas that receive scant rainfall.


Green desert plants contrast with all the brown rocks and land.

At the start of the trail and then again as hikers make their way back toward the parking area, there are distant views of desert mountains and nearby housing developments.


Another set of mountains can be seen off to the south-southeast

We plan to return to the Granite Mountain Trailhead to take other hikes that lead to different areas of this interesting region.

  • Length: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation change: 175 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Use: hiking, biking and horseback riding

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

© Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017 – JBRish.com



Birds of Arizona – Phainopepla ( Phainopepla nitens )

Yesterday was an interesting day for me as the weather prediction was not excellent, but still fair and relatively mild with a predicted high in the low 80’s and we were eager to take a hike. We decided to select a route off of the Granite Mountain Trailhead (The Bootlegger Trail) which is part of the McDowell Mountain Preserve.

Whenever I hike, I anticipate capturing a picture of a bird that is either better than one that I currently have of that bird or, as a bonus, a bird for which I do not have a picture.

I have seen many Phainopeplas, but I have never been able to take a good picture of one. I also know that this is the time of the year that they visit the Sonoran Desert. I spotted one just 100 yards from my backyard a few days ago, but it was not in a very nice setting so I passed.

Today I was able to take a “starter picture” of a Phainopepla that we spotted along the Bootlegger Trail. I am labeling this a starter because I am hoping to capture a photograph that is even better one of these days!

As I have stated on this blog before, I am an amateur photographer with very limited bird photography experience and just a bit more as a birder. The only camera I have with a long reach is my Canon PowerShot SX50HS and that is the equipment I used for the shot below.


Phainopepla captured at the McDowell Mountain Preserve
Phainopepla captured at the Granite Mountain Trailhead along the Bootlegger Trail which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Phainopeplas remind me of Cardinals or Waxwings because of their sleek profile and the tuft. Males are black while females are more grey. Interestingly enough, they have a red eye which is very striking and not always easy to capture in a photograph. I am placing a cropped image below to show more detail even though it may not be as sharp as I would like.


Phainopepla captured at the McDowell Mountain Preserve
A cropped version of the image above

Now I have one more picture for my collection!

Read more about Phainopeplas HERE

 
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Metadata

File Name: 000017_IMG_0806.CR2
Capture time: 9:28:51 AM
Capture date: November 15, 2017
Exposure: 1/500 sec @ f/7.1
Focal Length: 215mm
ISO: 80
Canon PowerShot SX50HS
Lens: 4.2-215mm
Edited in Lightroom

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


Picture Quote — 20170726

Today’s Picture Quote — 20170726

You make me understand how wonderful it is for little lizards when they find that one special rock that's perfect for sunning themselves on. You make me lizard-happy. - Randy K. Milholland
“You make me understand how wonderful it is for little lizards when they find that one special rock that’s perfect for sunning themselves on. You make me lizard-happy.” – Randy K. Milholland
Original Photograph Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross – 2014 – 2017


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Photo Meta Data

File Name: IMG_2262.CR2
Capture time: 10:18:27 AM
Capture date: May 9, 2015
Exposure: 1/1250 @ f5.6
Focal Length: 89mm
ISO: 120
Canon Powershot SX50 HS
Location: Las Cruces, NM

*Edited: Lightroom with text added in Photoshop

 
See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


Brodiaea elegans at Hetch Hetchy – Year of Yosemite (YOY) – Day 282

Brodiaea elegans at Hetch Hetchy – Year of Yosemite

Brodiaea elegans a beautiful purple wildflower

Part of the joy of hiking is finding nature’s surprises such as this patch of beautiful wildflowers. This pair of Brodiaea elegans blooms was striking in color especially in contrast to the dreariness of the other muted tones produced by the cloudy weather.

 
Do you have a question about our visit to Yosemite? Ask it in the comment section.

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

 
See previous Year of Yosemite (YOY) posts HERE. If you want to read the introduction to the YOY series, CLICK HERE.

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Meta Data – Day 282 YOY – Year of Yosemite

File Name: 0455.NEF
Capture time: 11:56:12 AM
Capture date: June 11, 2016
Exposure: 1/60 sec @ f/22
Focal Length: 32mm
ISO 200
Nikon D3300