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Grand First Light Nov2

November Daily Updates for Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole

A monthly journal of daily weather reports, road reports, wildlife reports and tidbits. Subscribe by entering your email address in the boxes on the upper right and you’ll get a notice when I add more posts.

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November 30, 2013

Today’s Outing: I set the alarm 30 minutes earlier to allow extra time to drive farther north today.

Web_Sunrise_Nov30

Teton Range: I took this image from an overlook near Lost Creek Ranch and Triangle X Ranch. I got a little color early on, then lost it before the peak color period.

Web Teton Sunrise Nov30

Teton Sunrise: Clouds in the east let a thin strips of light pass through off and on. At this point, I had driven a couple of miles south of the previous image.

Web Rams Nov30

Bighorn Rams: I drove over to Miller Butte before sunrise and caught a few rams together. I didn’t witness any head butting while I was there.

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November 29, 2013

Today’s Outing: It was 12°F in town as I headed out, but with little or no wind, it only felt cold! Yesterday, clouds in the east dulled the morning sunrise, so I went back to the Chapel for another try. Today, the sky was very clear and without any haze or thin clouds. I didn’t have the fog, but I also didn’t get the Alpenglow colors of pink and purple.

Web Chapel Before Light Nov29

Pre-dawn at The Chapel of the Transfiguration: The best I can say is you need to be in the Tetons to experience a full sunrise. The light starts out like the image above with a beautiful hue of blue behind the mountains. The rocks of the mountains have a hint of magenta or rose at this time of the morning. I tend to keep these shots dark in post processing to imitate the scene I experienced. At this time of the morning, there simply isn’t a lot of ambient light on the foreground. I took this image with a D800 and 70-200mm lens.

Web Chapel Reflection Nov29

Reflected Tetons at the Chapel of the Transfiguration: This image was taken from the back side of the Chapel with the Tetons reflected in the big glass window. I used the same equipment as the first photo.

Web Bull in Cottonwoods Nov29

Bull Moose in Cottonwoods: This bull moose was captured before the first of the morning light hit the valley floor with a D4 and 200-400mm lens.

Web Bull First Light Nov29

Bull Moose in First of the Morning Light: Taken with the same equipment as the earlier photo, but captured a few minutes later.

Web Ram Pre-Bash Nov29

Ram “Pre-Bash”: These two rams at Miller Butte were only a few feet apart when they decided to bash heads. Most of the time, they start out farther apart and rear up on their back legs before a more powerful impact. They usually close their eyes just before the bash.

Afternoon Outing: At about 2:30, I headed out one more time today.

Web Swans Approaching Nov29

Approaching Swans: This shot was taken at the Swan Pond west of Maverik Gas Station.

Web Moulton Barn Nov29

Moulton Barn and the Big Dipper: After taking shots at the swan pond, I headed north towards the barns on Mormon Row. This one has the Big Dipper just above the barn on one side and the Grand on the other.

Web Chambers Barn Nov29

Chambers Barn and the Milky Way: This barn doesn’t get a lot of attention. It’s located across the road from the Bed and Breakfast on Mormon Row. I also photographed the Chambers house with the Milky Way overhead.

Web Christmas Lights Nov29

Jackson Town Square: The town had a big ceremony at about the time I was taking my first photos of the Moulton Barn. My wife and her friends went to it and said it was a big event with a lot of people downtown. I stopped on the way home and snapped a few shots.

Web Antler Arch Nov29

Antler Arch with Lights: This is the Southwest antler arch on the town square. Last year, the square was lit with the blue/purple LED lights. This year, they used white LED lights .

Wildlife and Tidbits: The town is now in its Holiday festive mode. It seemed like there were quite a few tourists in town for the weekend. Many of the Jackson people head to Idaho Falls to shop. I saw about 30 moose today. Three were at Moose Junction early this morning. Others were near the road towards the Teton Science School. I’ve continued to see 25-40 Pronghorns north of Ditch Creek on the East side of the road out of Kelly. Each day, there are more and more elk making their way to the relative safety of the Refuge. There were over 60 Bighorns at the bottom of Miller Butte today. Flat Creek was mostly frozen in the morning and mostly thawed by the late part of the afternoon. Several more roads will be closing on December 1st, including access to Curtis Canyon. Some of the elk hunt areas also are closing.

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November 28, 2013

Today’s Outing: Happy Thanksgiving!

Web Chapel of the Transfiguration Nov28

After going through the gate at Moose, I hit fog, but when I got to the Chapel, I still had a clear view of the Tetons. I took this shot while the rich blue skies set off the snow capped mountains, but it was still long before sunrise. I took this one from the far side of the grassy island using a Nikon D800 and 70-200mm lens. I had to remove a few snow stakes from the shot in Photoshop. Notice how the Tetons loom over the Chapel at this distance.

Web Chapel with Fog Nov28

Chapel of the Transfiguration with Morning Fog: I was hoping for a rich Alpenglow morning like yesterday, but a cloud in the east baffled the light. I got just a hint of the pink in this shot taken from the middle of the road using the same equipment. Fog rolled in, which was fine. It helped define the cross.

Web Moose Bulls Greeting Nov28

Greeting Bull Moose: This shot took quite a hike to get. A few days ago, I made the same hike only to find two cow moose and no bulls. I carried both the D4 and 200-400 and a D800 paired with a 70-200mm lens which I used for this shot. These two bulls put on quite a nice sparring display for me today.

Web Moose Bulls Nov28

Bull Moose in Sagebrush: These two nice sized bulls met up for a few minutes but didn’t do much sparring.

Web Captured Leaf Nov28

Captured Leaf: I stopped to photograph a few detail shots like this one today. It was taken with the D4 and 200-400mm lens at 400mm and about 5 feet.

Web Ice Shelf Nov28

Ice Shelf: After a few cold nights, the rivers and creeks freeze over, offering numerous chances for semi-abstract images. Also shot with the D4 and 200-400mm lens.

Web Swans Swimming Nov28

Swimming Swans: Taken along Flat Creek from the observation platform with the D4 and 200-400mm lens.

Web Swans Swimming Nov28

Morning Squabble: Some swans don’t take it too kindly if another pair of swans invade their territory. Same equipment.

Web_Rams And Sleeping Indian Nov28

Rams and Sleeping Indian: Taken on the National Elk Refuge with a Nikon d4 and 200-400mm lens.

Thanksgiving Day Comments: If I have time and the money for gas, I like to try to get three or four subjects in a day. Lately, I have been up early to try to capture some of the morning light and Alpenglow. By the time that’s over, I can look for moose. They bed down by 9:00 to 9:30 am. Swans can be active in the morning hours after the sun hits them. Light hits the valley floor at Miller Butte between 9:30 am and 10:15 am depending on where you are on the road. This time of the year, the sun is very low in the sky, so it is often good photography all day long if you can find subjects.  Happy Thanksgiving to all! MJ

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November 27, 2013

Today’s Outing: Today, I snapped over 2100 images! I tend to shoot heavier with the D4, but that is also relative to subject matter. I ended up culling them down to around 200 plus about 15 I put into the Web folder for the blog posts. It was a good day!

Web Alpenglow Nov27

Alpenglow at the barns: D800 and 70-200 mm lens at about 190 yards. I was up early and passing Flat Creek at 7:00 am. I saw a group of swans sleeping across from the observation platform. After these shots, I found some moose, but abandoned them to get back into town for first light with the swans.

Web Swan Parade Nov27

Early Morning Swan Parade on Flat Creek: Shot with the D4 and 200-400mm lens from the observation platform.

Web Swan Stretch Nov27

Swan Stretching in Morning Light: Also shot with the D4 and 200-400 from the observation platform. The D4 shoots at 10 frames per second so I get to choose from the best wing positions from a sequence.

Web Sleeping Indian Nov27

Sleeping Indian in Morning Light: Shot from the observation platform with a D4 and 200-400mm lens.  This time of the year, the sun is very far to the south and adds highlights in unusual places on the peaks and rock faces.

Web Flock Geese Nov27

Morning Flock of Canada Geese: Shot from the observation platform in the morning fog with a D4 and 200-400mm lens.

Web Miller House_Nov27

Miller House in Shadows: The historic Miller House is located on the National Elk Refuge and just south of Miller Butte. I used the D800 and 70-200mm lens again for this one. A few minutes later, and the house and trees would have been in the light. I’ve shot it numerous times in all kinds of conditions, but I never let the foreground stay in silhouette. Something different!

Web Rams Head Nov27

Ram’s Head: Taken in the after light at Miller Butte with a Nikon D4 and 200-400mm lens.

Web Ewes On Ridge Nov27

Bighorn Ewes on a Ridge: Taken in the after light at Miller Butte with a Nikon D4 and 200-400mm lens.

Jackson Hole Tidbits: Thanksgiving is tomorrow. At about dark on Friday, the town of Jackson lights the trees in the Town Square. Gas went down another 10 cents per gallon. Downtown road construction is getting close to completion. Flat Creek was mostly clear by late afternoon after quite a few days of being frozen.  The Jackson Hole Ski Resort opens tomorrow. It was recently rated #1 Ski Resort and is celebrating the honor with free skiing on Friday.

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November 26, 2013

New Feature Posts: In case you missed it, I just added two new posts: Early November Landscapes:  and Early November Wildlife: . Sign up to follow this blog by entering your email in the upper right field and you’ll get an email notifying you of any upcoming posts.

Today’s Outing: We had clear skies again this morning. I headed out to Kelly and found some moose close to the road near Ditch Creek.

Web Washakie And Bull Nov26

The bull on the right is Washakie.

Web Washakie Sparring Nov26

Washakie sparred with another bull for quite a while, allowing me to get a lot of shots with different angles including some with the Tetons in the background.

Web Washakie Walking Nov26

Washakie: If you knew to be watching for the limp in his front left leg, you might see it, but otherwise it looks pretty good.

Web Miller Butte Nov26

The moose bedded down early, so I headed for Miller Butte. A few of the Bighorns were down by the road, but others rolled in from the ridge line. When I left, there were around 25 sheep near the bottom—but none of them were the bigger rams I had hoped to see. This is a cropped, long distance shot.

Wildlife: I counted just over 20 moose this morning. I am sure some were already bedded down. On the way back into town, I saw two Golden Eagles. One was perched on one of the Refuge fence posts and the other was hovering over the Refuge near the Gros Ventre River. Flat Creek was still frozen along the highway and up to the bridge by Dairy Queen. Quite a few Elk were close to the refuge fence this morning as I was driving out, but I only saw a couple of bulls on the way back. There were still lots of hunters out today.

November 25, 2013

Today’s Morning Outing: Over the weekend, I went to the Park twice, so I hung closer to home today.

 Web Swans In Shadows Nov25

With Flat Creek still frozen north of the Visitor’s Center, I headed over to the Swan Pond west of Maverick (see yesterday’s post for a map). I was there 30 minutes and took 450 shots.

Web Adult Swan Nov25

Wild Swans fly in to the area in the morning to spend the day, then fly out around 3:00 in the afternoon. There is an aerator in the middle of the pond to keep it open.  Many times, they fly right in front of you or even directly overhead.

Web Swans Landing Nov25

The Wild Swans will usually circle the pond before landing either in the open water or sliding across the frozen surface.

After my 30 minutes at the Swan Pond, I drove to Miller Butte only to find all of the Bighorns still high on the hillsides.

November 24, 2013

Today’s Outing: Crystal clear and cold here this morning! I saw 4° on the bank thermometer as I drove north. It was still dark, of course.

Web Alpenglow Nov24
Click the image to see it much larger.

Alpenglow happens about 30 minutes before the first hint of light hits to top of the Grand. There’s also a very nice period of deep blue in the sky just before the first hints of pink and purple, and it looks great with the white snow capped mountains. I was still driving through Kelly when that color was happening. This one was taken maybe half a mile north of Kelly.

Web Alpenpeach Nov24
Click the image to see it much larger.

There’s another stage of the morning when the pinks and purples of Alpenglow change to more of a pink/salmon color, followed by a dirty gray. Soon after that, we normally start getting the rose color light hitting the tops of the Grand and eventually the entire mountain, as seen in the photo from yesterday. Personally, I like to get a few clouds and I like to have a bit more foreground subject matter, but I’ll always pull over and take a few shots if the light is terrific. The shot above worked better today than other days because the low cloud isolated the row of cottonwoods from the mountains.

Web Bull In Sage Nov24

Morning Wildlife: I did the little trip through Kelly, then up to Antelope Flats road, mainly hoping to equal yesterday’s great morning with the moose at sunrise. Pardon the poor grammar, but “There ain’t no repeats!” Just like fly fishing, if you have a great morning one day, it is seldom as good the next. Something else might be great, but I find it difficult to repeat. A few days ago, I had a great day with the sheep—with them bashing heads constantly over a long period of time.  I went back the same time the next day and they were all bedded down. But, I counted close to 30 moose today. I saw two moose way out in the sagebrush, close to where I found the two nice bulls yesterday. Two of us walked all the way out only to find they were both cows—or at least antlerless moose. I included a shot with a moose in it above just to illustrate what the big picture looks like. I could have hiked out there to this bull, but pulled the plug and drove home. At 10:15 AM, I drove to Miller Butte. None of the Bighorns were even remotely close. Before going home, I stopped at the Swan Pond.

Web Swan Pond Nov24

With the cold temperatures of the past week, Flat Creek is frozen solid. The swans know where to go when that happens.

Swan Pond Map
Click the map to see it larger.

There’s a nice swan pond a couple of miles from town where a couple of conservation groups raise captive swans. An aerator keeps part of the pond open all winter. Migrating and wild local swans and other waterfowl fly in and out each day.

Web Swan Flight Nov24

Swans family in flight from this morning. This pond is only about 2 miles from my house, so I use to fill in an afternoon or morning when I don’t have much time—or simply to cure some pent up “Cabin Fever”. It’s not uncommon to come home with 600-700 photos. All images today were taken with a Nikon D4 and either a Nikon 28-300mm lens or a Nikon 200-300mm lens.

Back when the Park was closed for the Government Shutdown on October 1st, I created a page of alternative places to go in and around Jackson Hole. If you haven’t found the old feature post, here’s the link: http://www.bestofthetetons.com/2013/10/02/park-closure-alternative-places-to-visit-hike-fish-and-photograph/

Web Swan Squabble Nov24

Afternoon Outing: Around 3:00 pm, I went back to the swan pond and took quite a few images. This group was fighting for some frozen turf.

Web Swan Overhead Nov24

This Cygnet  flew straight over my head for an unusual view of a Swan in flight.

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November 23, 2013

Today’s Outings: Saturday morning! I got up early and was heading north before sunrise. It was clear, but I stopped long enough to get a shot of the Teton Range as the sun lit it up.

Web Sunrise Tetons Nov23
Click the image to see it much larger.

I like a few clouds to help fill the frame, but this one works fairly well when cropped to this faux pano image.

Web Young Bulls Nov23

This morning, I counted 26 moose . These two were part of a group of seven relatively close to the road at first light.

Web Two Bulls Nov23

I had to hike a couple of hundred yards to get to these two nice bulls. They were watching a younger bull moose and a cow approaching.

Web Moose Bull Grand Fog Nov23

There was a low cloud bank  at the base of the Tetons this morning. The fog helped isolate the antlers.

Web Bighorn Lamb Nov23

After leaving the moose in the Park, I drove over to the Elk Refuge. A few of the Bighorns were down and near the road.  I heard the rams spooked and ran back to the top of the butte. I took a few shots and headed on home.

Web Squirrel Nov23

At home, I set up the camera gear in the back yard, then put out a few peanuts and sunflower seeds. The food attracted Magpies, Clark’s Nutcrackers, my one Blue Jay, Chickadees, and a Flicker. The Red Squirrel spent the morning trying to protect his turf and stash of peanuts.

Web Bighorn Range Nov23

Around 2:30pm, I headed back to the National Elk Refuge. I counted 60 Bighorns in one large herd north of the Miller House and a friend told me he counted another 20 in a herd farther up the road.

Today, I shot over 1400 images and eventually culled them down to around 100. For the moose, I shot mostly with the Nikon D800 paired with a 200-400 mm lens. I carried my Nikon D4 with a Nikon 28-300mm lens and was able to get the wider shots. I normally can’t get the Grand in a vertical shot with a 200 mm focal length, so the wide range of the 28-300 mm gives me some extra options. I usually have that  lens with VR ON and shoot either hand held, or resting over the top of the hinge on the Wimberley Sidekick.

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November 22, 2013

Yesterday Afternoon Outing: It remained cold and windy throughout the day yesterday. I drove over to Miller Butte for the last of the light.

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Several of the rams were challenging each other as if establishing the pecking order for the actual rut. Right now, the rams are not paying that much attention to the ewes. I caught a lot of the clashes, including this one with three rams at one time.

Shooting Information: Nikon D4 with a Nikon 200-400mm lens. ISO 1000, Aperture Priority, F/8, -2/3 EV, Resulting Shutter Speed 1/2500th Second, Manual White Balance 5880K, 9 Point Continuous Focus, Long, 400mm, with a slight crop. The slideshow above consists of 8 shots out of a 34 image burst of photos taken at 10 frames per second. Action sequences like this make the D4 shine. I get good quality, fast focus, fast shooting, and I don’t have to worry about filling the buffer. At least for me, it is very difficult to time the exact split second of impact of an event like this if trying to shoot just one shot. And, in this case, the second ram came in from the side to create a secondary sequence.

Overnight and morning weather for Jackson Hole: COLD! An Idaho Falls TV channel forecasted -7 degrees F overnight. The Weather Channel is saying 3 degrees F for the low and only 31 degrees for the high tomorrow.

Area Tidbits: I saw a report saying Grand Targhee Ski Resort will open this weekend with 48″ of snow already. The Jackson Hole Ski Resort will open on Thanksgiving this year.

Todays Outings: It’s 4:45 pm as I write this addendum. As forecasted, it was very cold early this morning, then warmed to a tolerable temp later in the afternoon. The lack of wind helped. I went out at about 8:30 and found Flat Creek frozen solid along the highway and in front of the observation platform. I didn’t see any swans or ducks. I decided to head home and wait until around 10:15 am to see if I could get more shots of the rams butting heads. When I went to Miller Butte, there were plenty of ewes and lambs near the road, but the rams were bedded down on the hillside. I hung around until around noon, then had lunch in town. When I went back after lunch, they were still bedded down. Nothing looked too promising, so I headed home. At 3:00 pm, I went back to find one ram reasonably close, but the rest were just feeding and too far off. So, some days are better than others! I can’t explain why yesterday was so good and today was essentially dead when viewing at the same place and at the same times. I could have easily taken a few thousand shots of the ewes and lambs close to the road—and maybe I should have taken a few—but I have a lot of them already and none of them were doing much, nor were in interesting areas.  Yesterday, I shot over 2000 images and today I didn’t take a single photo. I guess I “averaged down” as they say in the stock market.

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November 21, 2013

Today’s Outing: At about 10:00 am, I headed for Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. I found five rams gathered together not far from the road. During the two hours I spent there, I shot almost 1700 images, many of which had some sort of action or rut behavior.

Web Bighorn Group Nov21

One of the rams above split off, leaving a nice group of four rams. The lighter ram on the left was always ready to rear up and bash heads.

Web Bighorn Clash 1 Nov21

For today’s post, I found a couple of clashing shots, but I have lots of them. Some of my keepers will have just two rams without the extra distractions.

Web Bighorn Clash 2 Nov21

After two hours of standing in the wind and cold, I was mostly frozen and ready to get back into the truck and head home. They were still bashing and clashing when I left.

 

November 20, 2013

Today in Jackson Hole: Skies were white north of town at sunrise, so I stayed close to home and will go out later today.

Web_Blue Jay Nov19

This is a shot from yesterday afternoon. We had light rain and drizzle, so I moved my blind frame to my winter shooting area to protect my gear. You can see a few drizzle streaks in these shots. The branch running across the front of the scene has caused me problems all along. I sawed it off yesterday so I should get a clean shot if a bird lands on the branch again. Many of the Blue Jay images I’ve seen have white chest feathers. I am not sure if this gray colorization is a winter color change, or possibly if this is a female. It chirps around off and on all day as if calling to any other Blue Jays that might be in the region.

Web American Goldfinch Nov19

I normally don’t take too many shots of birds on my feeders, but will do it on the first sightings just to have documentation  of seeing them. American Goldfinches are known to hang around during at least part of the winter, but I seldom see the males for some reason. They like the Nyjer seeds or thistle, so I try to make sure to have at least one feeder out for them in case they do show up.

Web Red Squirrel Nov19

This little Red Squirrel is a resident of my back yard. In the summer shot from yesterday’s photos, there is a tall tree trunk with a large box nest near the top. I put that box up for Northern Flickers, but this squirrel took it over a few years ago. This year, she had three little Red Squirrels in the box. We’ve always called it “Rocky” but I suppose we should call her “Rockette”.

Today’s Morning Outing:

Web Bighorn Herd Nov20

I made a quick trip to the National Elk Refuge in the mid-morning. These 19 rams were gathered into a single herd with no ewes. They all watched something on the butte and took off in the other direction.

Web Bighorn Running Ewe Nov20

A Ewe and a Lamb came rambling off the butte, apparently running from whatever spooked the Rams.

Web Bighorn Ewe Lamb Nov20

Bighorn Ewes and Lambs were grazing near the rocks when I first drove up.

Web Bighorn Ewe Feeding Lamb Nov20

Nursing Lamb at Miller Butte: The original Ewes and Lambs scampered across the road when the other sheep flew by.

Weather and Tidbits: We had quite a bit of snow over the weekend.  It started warming up on Monday and Tuesday with rain and drizzle during the day. Most of the snow on Miller Butte and all of the valley floor around the National Elk Refuge melted off as seen in the Bighorn shots above. The ice that covered much of Flat Creek also melted off over the past couple of days. The weather reports call for more snow tonight and tomorrow with cold temperatures again. The price of gasoline has been dropping over the past few weeks. Even though I am hearing of prices close to $3 per gallon in Idaho Falls, our price for unleaded Self-Serve is finally down to $3.29 at many stations.

Photo Safaris: I received an email from Paul Martin with 2014 information for his local photo safaris and tours. Here’s the link: http://www.paulmartinsphotosafaris.com/expext.php . If you are planning a trip to Jackson Hole and would like a personalized tour with a good photographer, give him a call. There are lots of other quality tour operators in JH, of course.

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November 19, 2013

Today in Jackson Hole: We are getting hit with another winter storm today. So far, it is mainly dark, gray and windy. It is 8:20 here right now and I didn’t go out (yet).

My Blind Summer 2013

I made a new Feature Post a couple of days ago called Western Tanagers: . There are 14 or so images I took this summer of the colorful Tanagers on the page. Most of them were taken at about 12 feet from the birds. A couple of people were curious how I got so close. Someday soon, I will create a full Feature Page on the subject (hint: sign up to follow this site!), but for now here’s a photo of my blind. The core of it is a “Grill Gazebo” I bought at WalMart for around $70. I added some tarps and covers. After taking the shot above, I added another 18″ of tarp at the bottom since a few of the birds were spooking when I moved my feet. The blind was staked to the ground at one end and wired to the fence at the other. As the birds got used to me, I moved it closer to the trees, branches and feeders.

Winter Perches 2013

This is a shot looking out into the yard, taken at the very end of the winter season and before the Spring birds started showing up. It looks somewhat similar to that out there right now, but I am constantly changing out the old trunks and branches. At this time of the year, I get Hairy and Down Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers, so I make sure there are plenty of old tree trunks for them to work over. They are attracted to suet, so I put some in the cracks and holes. Chickadees like sunflower seeds, so I put them near small perches. The Clark’s Nutcrackers, Magpies, and Jays like peanuts, so they get a daily allowance of them. I don’t usually need the blind in the winter. I can set up the tripod and the birds come in waves throughout the day.

Back Yard 2007

Lastly, here’s a shot I took back in the early summer of 2007. Trees, stumps, and feeders get changed almost daily. The blind allowed me to get about half again closer to the birds.

Morning Outing: I did a quick run to Miller Butte to check out the Bighorns. A couple of rams were down, but not doing anything interesting. The rest of the herd was still on the ridge tops. I drove over to Flat Creek where I shot a few images of a Hooded Merganser. I saw a few Buffleheads and a few Barrow’s Goldeneyes.

Web Hooded Merganser Nov19

Hooded Merganser  on Flat Creek in Jackson Hole, WY

Web Mallard Hen Nov19

Mallards are fairly common around here, but I still take photos of them, especially when they are flapping or doing something other than just swimming around.

Back at Home: I heard my Blue Jay this morning so I put out seeds and peanuts for it. So far, I still don’t have a really nice shot of the Blue Jay. Not sure if I just haven’t been lucky or if they are adept at staying out of clear view when I am out there.

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November 18, 2013

Today’s Outing:  The alarm went off at 5:00 am this morning—anticipating getting a shot at the Mormon Row barns with the moon setting over them.

Web Moon Set_Nov18

Click the image above to see it much larger.

By the time I made it to the barns, the moon was still quite high in the sky. Without the wind this morning, the 22°F temps were actually tolerable. I took photos at the scene until the moon dropped behind the mountains over Death Canyon. I shot with my Nikon D800 and either the Nikon 24-70mm lens or 70-200mm lens—depending on how far I stayed from the barn. Adding the moon into the composition changed the locations I shot today vs similar shots lacking it. I moved around a lot, so I came home with quite a few variations. For most of the shooting, there was only one other photographer there today, so it was easy to move around without getting in people’s way, or being in other’s shots. Lastly, I took a few “single” shots, but most of them were taken as four to six images that can be stitched to make a wide panoramic image. The image above was stitched with only two of the center shots.

Web Moon Death Canyon Nov18

This shot was taken just a few minutes before the moon dropped behind Death Canyon. Light was just beginning to hit the tops of the mountain peaks.

Web Peach North Sky Nov18_1200px

Click the image above to see it much larger.

The clouds in the north might have actually stole the show from the setting moon today.

Last month, I created a feature page called:Shooting the October Moon: Tips for Being at the Right Place at the Right Time . If you missed it, the page will give you information on knowing where to be in the valley for each setting moon. Also, I created a page called: Distance and Scale Relationships in the Tetons (and elsewhere) . That page helps explain that being close to the barn makes the relative size of the Tetons much smaller, or in this case, I was able to make the mountains appear massive over the smaller barn. It also helped make the moon appear larger in the scene.

The moon will set slightly farther north towards the Grand tomorrow morning, but it will set much later in the morning and will be more bleached out as it clears the ridgeline. Today, the official Moon Set was 8:13 am and tomorrow it will be 9:05 am (but you have to subtract about 15-25 minutes to allow for the mountains). Another alternative would be to park at the Taggart Lake trailhead parking lot in the morning and walk about a mile north on the main road. The angle will be cut off considerably tomorrow from that close proximity and the moon will set just to the south of the Grand quite a bit sooner than if you were on the other side of the valley.

Web Ram Standing Nov18

After making the post above, I drove over to Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. This is the first clear morning we’ve had in a while. With the low, winter sun, you can shoot just about all day.

MJ

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November 17, 2013

Today’s Outing: Today was a lot like yesterday. We are still getting hit with a winter storm, including the brisk winds to make it feel cold. I drove by Flat Creek, then made the loop to Kelly and around to the Barns. I saw a nice herd of bison north of the Gros Ventre Road near Kelly. Hunters were lined up on the road, waiting for a few elk to make the run for the Refuge. The mountains were not visible today. I saw nine or ten moose, but none were in areas that made me want to hike out. I could have taken photos at the barns, but will wait until I have a little better light. In short, I didn’t see anything in the Park that made me want to pull over and take a shot, so I headed back towards town.

Web Flat Creek Nov17

About 80% of Flat Creek was frozen over this morning, forcing swans and other waterfowl into a much smaller area.

Web Swans In Storm Nov17

Swans in a snow storm.

Web Rams Nov17

Quite a few Bighorn Sheep were down from Miller Butte again this morning, but we had much less head bashing.

Web Bighorn Pair Nov17

Rams are checking out all of he Ewes, but it appears few of them are ready for the rut at this time.

November 16, 2013

Today’s Outing:Winter is back! Overnight, we got about an inch of snow, but the brisk wind was blowing it around. You might say it was snowing sideways.

Web Miller House Nov16

Skies were gray and light was limited. I checked the swans on Flat Creek but most of them were hunkered down and not very active. I headed to the Elk Refuge to check out the bighorns. This is a photo of the historic Miller House on the Refuge Road. On clear days, you can see the Tetons over the ridgeline. The Miller House is closed to visitors during the winter.

Web Bighorn Herd Nov16

On days with high wind, the bighorns often come to the valley floor to feed. Today, I counted over 60 sheep. Something spooked the herd and they ran part way up the hillside, then settled down and continued feeding.

Web Ram Face Nov16

I didn’t see any huge rams in the herd today, but there were quite a few respectable sized rams.

Web Rams Head Butt Nov16

There were quite a few head bashes today. I didn’t see two equal sized Rams lining up and butting heads over and over, but random bashes were common. I shot with my Nikon D4 today to be able to capture up to 10 frames per second when action like this happens.

Web Bighorns 3 Heads Nov16

Rams huddled up and moved around with each other. These were close to the road when I drove up.

Web Ram Group Nov16

These are just a few of the 1600 images I took today. After standing in the snow and wind for a couple of hours, I was frozen. It felt good to get back to the warm house.

Afternoon Outing: About 3:00 pm, I drove back over to Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. It was windy, cold and snowing, but I wanted to add that variety to the shots.

Web Ram Ledge Snow Nov16

The Bighorn rams had moved from the flats to the rocky area.

Web Rams Resting Nov16

The band of heavy snow would sometimes thin to allow clean shots of the rocks and sheep.

Web Ram Downhill Nov16

Ram descending to the valley floor.

Web Ram Pausing Nov16

There wasn’t a lot of action or rut activity in the afternoon. Looking back, I might have considered changing to the D800 body. Of course, I am able to make that call with hindsight. You never know when the action will break out.

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November 15, 2013

Today’s Outing: I headed out later than some days—thinking I’d shoot along Flat Creek again today and head into the park tomorrow. It was breezy and the clouds were thicker in the south end of the valley than what I could see looking north. I turned at the Gros Ventre Road and headed towards Kelly. I found six or seven moose, so I spent the morning with them instead. The Tetons looked good today, but the moose looked more promising.

Web Custer Watching Nov15

Bull Moose Watching:

Web Two Bulls Nov15

These two bulls stopped in a little snow covered clearing and sparred for a while.

Web Two Bull Sparring Nov15

When I first started getting shots of these two, the scene was still in shadows, but a little light started filtering in.

Web Three Bulls Sparring Nov15

Another small bull heard the antlers clashing and entered the sparring action. It was a two-on-one sparring event. I took plenty of shots, then switched over for a little video which turned out very well, too.

Web Custer Walking Nov15

This bull went off on his own today.  He seemed to be heading to water, but stopped and bedded down in the cottonwoods. The other four bulls were still somewhat active for another 15 minutes before they bedded down next to each other. Needless to say, it was a good morning. I took around 2000 images split between the D800 and D4.

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November 14, 2013

Today’s Outing: I spent the entire morning alongside Flat Creek.

Web Three Swans Nov14

Most of the big birds take off into the wind. It was blowing lightly from the south today. The Swans to the south of me only swam by and the flight candidate Swans north of me seemed content to just feed and mill around.

Web Muskrat Nov14

I saw quite a few different duck species today, along with a couple of Muskrats.

Web Mallard Drakes Nov14

Morning light was hitting the Drake’s heads  and cattails nicely today. I got as low as I could to get the rippled reflections of the cattails. I was hoping for a few Barrow’s Golden Eyes, but none went by today.

Web Winter Cattails Nov14

Winter Cattails: Another of the numerous photographic opportunities along Flat Creek.

Web Mallard Drake Nov14

Another Mallard Duck  skimming water against rippled reflections of the cattails.

November 13, 2013

Today’s Outing: I did another quick trip to Flat Creek. The weather changed overnight to an overcast, dull morning. I took some of the normal shots of swans and ducks swimming around, then had a couple of opportunities for take offs. One group flew away from me and a couple flew by right in front of me.

Web Trumpeter Swan Take Off Nov13

Today, I was shooting with the Nikon D4 and 200-400 mm to get the fast frame rates. I set the ISO to 800 and Aperture to F6.3 which yielded a 1/1000th Second shutter speed with -.7 EV. That underexposed this particular shot, but gives a little wiggle room of exposure if the swan goes in front of something dark.

Web Trumpeter Swan Take Off 2 Nov13

I always love the takeoffs  when the swans appear to be walking across the water and  just before they actually get into the air. The fast shutter speed does a good job of capturing the action and splashing water trail. I didn’t do it today, but overcast days can also be good for doing the blurred, panning images on a similar shot. In that case, I’d adjust the ISO downward by quite a bit, and maybe stop down on the Aperture settings  to get the shutter speeds down to 1/40th of a second of so, then experiment on the best settings. Normally, I wouldn’t start doing that until I had quite a few sharp, frozen shots, but these are subjective or artistic decisions we get to make.

Back Yard Birding: The Blue Jay is still hanging around the yard, along with the normal cast of characters. Overcast days like today are actually good for bird photography. The sky acts like a giant light box and eliminating harsh shadows. I’ll probably set up after lunch and give it a try and maybe add some strobes and some color filters.

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11-12-13:

A Lucky Day? I guess this will be the last sequential set of dates like this until January 02, 3003?

Today’s Hour and a Half Outing: Yesterday, I mentioned seeing over 40 Trumpeter Swans near the observation platform along Flat Creek . Instead of driving into the park, I timed my morning to be there when the light first hits the water. Right now, that’s is about 8:00 am. Afternoon shots usually start around 3:00 pm and you are usually finished by 3:45 pm as the light drops behind Saddle Butte. It is possible to stay later and get some beautiful reflected light shots with the cattails reflecting in the dark water. Late evening fly-bys can happen after the water is in shadows, too.

Web Swan Outstretched Nov12

For many morning shots at the platform, you are shooting backlit subjects. For Swans, this can actually be a plus as their semi-transparent wings can light up beautifully.

Web Sleeping Indian Nov11

For shots at the Flat Creek Observation Platform, I typically us a Nikon D4 with a Nikon 200-400mm lens, mounted on my old Gitzo 1348 four piece tripod, Arca-Swiss Z1 Ball Head, and Wimberley Sidekick. The 200-400mm lens offers opportunities to shoot across the valley, close-ups, and nice shots of most of the birds. Some people show up with 500mm and 600mm lenses and seem to like the images they get. I don’t own one of the larger primes, so I don’t have to make that call!

Web Swan Take Off Nov12

The Nikon 200-400mm lens on a full frame camera allows me to pull back on the zoom and capture two or three swans on a takeoff run, then zoom out to just one bird as it gets closer and flies by. The Nikon D4 can focus and shoot at 10 frames per second and can capture around 90 RAW images in a burst without filling the buffer. For takeoffs and the stretching, I can essentially hold the shutter release down and get an entire sequence, then pick the best ones later in post processing.

Web Swan Stretch Nov12

When shooting or viewing from the observation platform, you are usually shooting slightly down on the swans and waterfowl. For this shot, I moved off the platform and slightly south to change the angle and quality of the light. The fence is a factor, but the openings are generally wide enough to shoot through.

Web Berries Nov12

There are quite a few berry bushes along the fence at Flat Creek. We didn’t have fog today, but on some days, all berries, leaves and bushes will be covered with hoar frost. Throw in the option of backlighting the subjects, there are usually quite a few possibilities while filling the wait times. My Nikon 200-400 mm lens will focus to within about 4.5 feet. At 5 feet and at 400mm, I can get tight, “macro-like” images and never change lenses. Today, I started at 8:00 am and was driving back home at 9:30. I took a lot of shots with the D4, many of which were backlit swans flapping their wings or stretching their wings. It felt like a lucky day!

Wildlife and other Tidbits: Besides the Trumpeter Swans in Flat Creek, there were lots of other waterfowl, like Mallard Ducks, Barrow’s Golden Eyes, Buffleheads, Coots and so forth. Check out this post on the American Birding Association. Susan Palta mentions Tundra Swans in the ponds near Puzzleface Ranch, along seeing a male wood duck at Flat Creek. Thanks to Richard Pontius for sending the link. Wolves and bears are reported roaming the valley after hunters have been killing some of the elk. Today, I noticed around 30 elk huddled in a tight group in the center of the National Elk Refuge. They will be safe for a while now. As I was driving back through town, I noticed the crews stringing the new LED lights around the trees and antler arches again this year. The official lighting ceremony is always held on Friday night—following Thanksgiving. We used to go to it when the kids were young, knowing Santa would be there for the event. I like to go there a few times during the winter and photograph the Town Square with all of the holiday lights.

Link for Climbers: This morning, I noticed someone came to this blog site from a new outside link. The site is wyomingwhiskey.org. I followed the link backwards to the site. Wow! There is a ton of information there, not just about mountain climbing either. I noticed a new link from their site to here. They have some terrific photos on the site, too. Check it out!

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November 11, 2013:

Monday Morning Narrative: I am never sure if people come here to see photos and get info on wildlife, or whether they also like hearing the behind-the-scenes decisions that drive the photos. Several of blog guides I read said to make the blog personal and let people get to know you. They suggest it is a key to a successful blog. I try to follow that suggestion whenever possible. It seems to me there are two reasons for adding it. First: It gives some insight to the non-photographer group that getting the beautiful shots isn’t always easy or dependable. Sometimes it takes half a dozen trips to get the one photo. Second: Visiting photographers might benefit from the information—making it easier to find good subject matter based on variables like wind, clouds, fog, rain, and snow, plus the issue of moving and migrating wildlife.

Web Murphy Barn Sunrise Nov11

Today’s Outing: I was out early two days in a row, attempting to get star shots before daylight and sunrises. Yesterday, I found a big bull moose. I figured I’d bypass the sunrise landscapes today and just look for the big bull. And, like many days, my “penciled in” plan failed as other opportunities arose. I didn’t leave as early as usual because I knew I wouldn’t be shooting as early if I found the moose. As it turned out, the sky began to turn into a bouquet of soft pinks, magentas, and lavenders. I abandoned the moose hunt and headed for the barns on Mormon Row. The short of it…I had a really great time at the barns this morning! Light and clouds were beautiful. The only caveat was the small cloud that kept holding to the top of the Grand.

Web Moulton Barn Clouds Nov11

Clouds were impressive and colorful in almost every direction early today.

Web First Light Barn Nov11

With the cloud over the Grand and the best color towards the south, I changed angles and shot towards the Southwest during first light. I took a lot of photos that direction this morning!

Web South Moulton Barn Nov11

Bands of soft, puffy clouds  started developing to the south so I changed barns. This Oklahoma photographer was doing detail shots of the doors and texture. I took plenty of shots with and without him.

Web Head Gate Nov11

Taken along the fence with the remnants of the old head gate in the foreground.

Web Migrating Swans Nov11

Migrating Swans along Flat Creek:  I pulled over at the observation platform and snapped a few shots for today’s post. I counted over 40 swans.

Web Swans Nov11

Cygnets were mixed in with the adults. I hung around for a while, hoping for some flight shots, but they appeared content feeding and basking in the sun.

WebBright Sun Nov11

Closing Narrative: As I was driving up Mormon Row to head home, I noticed most of the clinging cloud had burnt off the top of the Grand. I pulled into a turnout, turned off the engine and snapped this shot to include here on the daily updates. There were still some lingering small clouds but the sun had risen enough to be blanketing the entire scene with even, bright light. This was taken at 8:15 AM! The difference in the quality of the light from the first photo today to this photo is amazing! The window for good shooting was no more than about 45 minutes. The “magic light” period was maybe only 15 minutes today. With low, Winter light, you can still shoot most of the day, but the colorful light only happens for a short period in the mornings and afternoons unless there is some sort of storm passing through. Lastly, I don’t get killer landscape shots that often. Most of them are “average” images, but I have to be out a lot to stumble into one of the spectacular mornings when everything unfolds perfectly.

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November 10, 2013:

Today’s Outing: I was up early and traveling North long before there was any light. I headed for Snake River Overlook to try to capture the stars over the Teton Range. It was tempting to go to Schwabacher Landing again, but I had been there the day before.

Web SRO Stars Nov10

Most of the parts were in place for a good shoot, but there was a cloud hanging to the top of he Grand. I shot a few, but quickly changed focus to Mt. Moran. I could probably lighten this shot some, but I normally prefer night shots to look like night shots. That’s always a subjective call.

Web Triangle X Fence Nov10

There were times when I thought I might get to see the peaks of the Grand, so I kept an eye on it while taking shots towards Mt. Moran. This one was taken from the parking area near Triangle X. The exposure was long enough for me to add a little light to the foreground area with a large flashlight.

Web Buffalo Valley Sunrise Nov10

I moved on north to the Cunningham Cabin parking area. I took this shot aiming towards Buffalo Valley.

Web Mt. Moran Sunrise Nov10

The morning colorful light was limited mainly to the north end of the valley. This was taken at Cunningham Cabin.

Web Wide Antlers Nov10

On the way home, I made the loop at Antelope Flats Road, past the barns, and back towards Kelly. This nice bull was already bedded down. It might have been nice to hang around for him to get up, but it could have been 30 minute or three or more hours. I kept thinking of the Blue Jay and other birds in the back yard—so I headed towards to town to make this daily post and hopefully capture a few more birds in the lens.

Other Wildlife Reports: During the Government Shutdown and Park Closure, a young Great Gray Owl put on a nice show for many of the displaced photographers for several days in a row. Unfortunately, that young owl was hit by a car and killed. Yesterday, I could hear numerous shots while I was down in the river bottom at Schwabacher Landing. The shots were coming from the Blacktail Butte area. At the time I thought there must have been several people shooting at numerous elk—or they were terrible marksmen.  When I drove down Antelope Flats road, the Park Service was moving the carcass to a closed area. The rangers said the “hunter(s?)” was shooting in a closed area and too close to the houses on the north end of the butte. I didn’t hear any shots today, but I was much too far north of the hunt areas to hear shots. Before actually heading home, I drove to the National Elk Refuge to see if any Bighorns had moved to Miller Butte. I didn’t see any, but I heard a few had moved into the area already. There were a dozen swans in the small pond north of the Miller House. Clouds were still clinging to the tops of the Grand as I headed home from the Refuge.

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November 9, 2013:

Today’s Outing:  I could see stars this morning when I woke up at 5:00 AM. And, the wind chimes seemed uncharacteristically quiet! I headed towards Schwabacher Landing.

Web Go-NoGo Nov9

So, here’s what I saw when I parked the truck. The clouds that had been covering the Tetons were lifting, leaving a couple of ribbons dancing over the peaks. You could just imagine hearing Mission Control’s commander going down the check list: Wind…none…GO; Temps…tolerable…GO; Snow on the Mountains…GO; Clear Skies in the East…Yes…GO; Clear view of the Grand…maybe…Take a chance…GO!

Web Schwabacher 1st Pool Nov9

By the time I made the 20 minute hike to the area, clouds started covering the peak of the Grand. They only got thicker.

Web Mount Moran_Nov9

The clouds and sky turned pink and purples, but I had to aim in different directions today.

Web Southern Mtns Nov9

The dancing ribbon of clouds turned out to be the star of the show. While I took quite a few photos I liked today, I would have loved to include the peaks of the Grand in the shots.

Web Bear Tracks Nov9

Schwabacher Landing:  There was about an inch of snow on the gravel road down to Schwabacher Landing. It was covered with wildlife tracks including deer, elk, wolves and bears.

 

Web Beaver Pond Nov9

The beavers and Schwabacher Landing have been busy since I was there. They’ve built at least three large dams.

Today in Jackson Hole:  Yesterday, I saw a Blue Jay in the back yard. I set up the gear and managed to capture a few shots of it again today.

Web Blue Jay Nov9

As far as I can tell, there is only one Blue Jay coming to the yard.

Web Downey Woodpecker Nov9

Downey Woodpecker: Female.

Web_RedSquirrel_Nov9

The Red Squirrel had her hands full with two Clark’s Nutcrackers and one Blue Jay.

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November 8, 2013:

Today’s Outing: My thermometer read 39° F this morning. The warmer temps yesterday afternoon and overnight melted a lot of the snow around the valley. Most of it was gone in the valley floor this morning. What a difference a day can make!

Web Sunrise Clouds Nov8

There was a stiff wind blowing clouds down the backbone of the Teton Range. The big clouds in the East opened up for just a few minutes to light part of the Grand.

Web Eight Bulls Nov8

Yesterday, I counted 26 moose scattered all over the sage flats along the Gros Ventre and north from the little town of Kelly. Today, I only found 16. I walked about a mile through the sagebrush to get to eight of them. As it turned out, all of them were bulls, but there was no way I could have known from the road. The problem with a large group like this is getting many of them with their heads up at one time. I went out with a Nikon 200-400mm lens mounted on a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 28-300mm lens on a Nikon D4 body. I used the latter to get this wide shot—something I could never do with just a telephoto. It’s a nice option to have even if the moose didn’t cooperate and look at me.

Web Four Moose Nov8

I was still dealing with mediocre light today. I kept hoping it’d pop through and give me a few shafts of light. Two of the bulls had their heads up in this one.

Web Vertical Moos Tetons Nov8

One of the big bulls stood in front of the Grand for a while. I was far enough back to get this shot with the D800 and the 200-400mm lens at 400mm.

Web Washakie Pair Nov8

Yesterday, I mentioned seeing a bull that looks a lot like Washakie and posted a photo of him. This morning, “Faux-Washakie” and Washakie were next to each other in the sage. Washakie still has a small limp, but he didn’t show it when he approached the other bull with his “swagger” technique.

Today in Jackson Hole:

Web Stellars Jay Nov8

Okay, I know this is not much of a photo, but this Blue Jay  is the way out of it’s normal range. At first, I thought it was a female Steller’s Jay. I hope it comes back regularly so I can get much better shots.

Web Northern Flicker Nov8

Northern Flickers add a bit of color in the Winter. They come to my yard to feed on suet I put in holes and cracks of the tree trunks.

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November 7, 2013:

Today’s Outing: Another Winter day here in Jackson Hole! Early morning temperatures hovered around 34° F, so we got a mixture of snow and drizzle.

Web Moose In Snow Sage_Nov7

I turned at the Gros Ventre junction and headed towards Kelly, then North towards Antelope Flats. I found at least 26 moose this morning—all out in the sagebrush as seen above. This is one of the first shots I took this morning. I was about 80 yards away at the time. I would have preferred a little more light, but shot at ISO 1250 for the first ten or fifteen minutes.

Web Bull Wide Rack Nov7

These shots are always tough because you are shooting through 4o yards of snow between the camera and the animal. The camera’s autofocus will sometimes grab snow in front of the subject. Shoot a lot and keep the few good ones! This bull has a much wider rack than most of the bulls I’ve seen this year.

Web Washakie Look Alike Nov7

I heard a report that Washakie had made it out to the sage flats. I found this bull today in the sage. I don’t think it’s Washakie, though he has a lot of the characteristics. This one lacks the cut in the right ear and wasn’t limping.

Web Resting Bull In Snow Nov7

The bull with the wide antlers bedded down in the sagebrush. Unfortunately, he settled into an area with high sagebrush in front of his face.  I didn’t see a good angle and I didn’t want to get any closer. I hope to get a similar shot this year with snow on the antlers and fur.

Wildlife Report: There were at least a hundred Bison in the yellow grass area north of Kelly and 25-30 Pronghorns in the yellow grass area south of the Kelly Warm Springs. On the way back into town, I saw a hawk perched on one of the Refuge fence posts. It might have been a Red-tailed Hawk, but something tells me it was a Ruff-legged Hawk. They usually show up right after the first snow falls. There were quite a few rifle shots this morning in the area around Blacktail Butte. It didn’t phase the moose from what I could tell, but the shots were quite a ways off. If there are gut piles around the kill areas, there will soon be grizzlies and eagles on them.

Landscape Report: Hmmmmmm! It looked like someone hung a huge white sheet in front of the mountains today. Vista landscapes would have been darned hard to find. Smaller, intimate landscape shots would have worked fine, but I spent my morning with the moose since they were out.

Back Yard Report: Squirrel, Magpies, Clark’s Nutcracker, Chickadees, Eurasian Collared Doves,

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November 6, 2013:

Web Clarks Nutcracker Nov6

Today in Jackson Hole: We’ve definitely been getting an early start to winter! It was dark, cloudy, slightly breezy, and we had light snow off and on all day. Weather reports seem to indicate this trend will continue for a while longer. I stayed home and added a few maps to the winter page and the maps page. In the afternoon, I went outside and shot about 80 images of the birds and squirrel. I only kept a few of them today. This Clark’s Nutcracker steals nuts from the stash of the Red Squirrel. He often pulls out several and drops them to the ground. There were magpies in on the game today. They’d wait until the Clark’s Nutcracker dropped them and they’d swoop down to get the easy bounty.

Web Magpie Nov6

Black-billed Magpie  waiting a chance to get an easy meal.

Web Red Squirrel Berries Nov6

Red Squirrel  feeding in a nearby berry bush.

Web Mountain Chickadee Nov6

Both Mountain Chickadees and Black-capped Chickadees  come to feeders all year long. They seem to have about equal numbers. The Northern Flicker was in the yard today. I heard the chirps of a Nuthatch, but I couldn’t tell whether it was a Red-breasted Nuthatch or a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Wildlife Reports: I didn’t get out of town today—partially because of a flat tire yesterday. I had to wait until 4:00 pm to get it put back on my truck.  I saw a photo from today of a bull moose with at least one shed antler. That seems very early to me. The newspapers reported slow elk hunting so far this year, but the inclement weather may push the elk towards the Elk Refuge.  Bison are also staying off the Refuge. I’ve heard a couple of reports of Mountain Goats being seen in the Snake River Canyon. Trumpeter Swans should start migrating through the valley soon.

Sign Up Today! I am working on another feature post with a few old GTNP maps from the ’40s. It will also contain scans of a few old postcards with comments how they relate to the maps. If you click the box in the upper right and add your email address, the software will notify you when I add the post.

Tomorrow:  I plan on going out in the morning and at least making the loop to Kelly and around to Antelope Flats road. I’d like to drive out the Gros Ventre a little ways to see if any of the Bighorn Sheep are in the red rocks near Slide Lake.

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November 5, 2013:

Today in Jackson Hole:  Boy, I hate to sound like a wimp, but it’s cold here…unseasonably cold! At 8:00 am, I am seeing numbers ranging from 5°F to 16°F. It’s fairly calm with partly clear skies. It feels more like mid-January than early November. From my vantage point in town, it looks like the mountains are either cloud covered or fog covered. It might be a good time to be out as it clears. Yesterday, I had end to end little projects to work on and never took a single shot. That doesn’t happen too often. I put out food for the birds early. By mid-morning, I could see a few birds and hear the Clark’s Nutcrackers calling in their buddies. The red squirrel spent quite a bit of his time chasing them off the peanut feeder.

Web Peach House With Shadows Nov1

This is a shot I took on November 1, 2013 on Mormon Row.

Peach House Nov4

This one was taken on November 4, 2011 from about the same place. The two images highlight how much different the valley can appear from year to year.

Shane Cabin Snow Nov19

Two weeks later in 2011, we got a big storm and it looked like this shot at the Shane Cabin!

Afternoon Shots: It warmed up just a bit in the afternoon, so I set up the tripod with a D800 and 200-400 lens and waited.

Web Flicker Nov5

A male Northern Flicker seemed interested in coming to one of the tree trunks so I hung around long enough to capture a few images.

Web Afternoon Squirrel Nov5

This little Red Squirrel  is a regular visitor in the back yard. A few Black-billed Magpies  flew around the yard, but never came in close.

November 4, 2013

Today in JH:  Temps were in the 20°F range early this morning with a high of under freezing forecasted for today.I heard the wind chimes this morning and opted to stay home, especially once I could see the clouds covering the mountains. Yesterday, I went out for a little while to check out the new time changes. We get first light at 7:00 am now and the sun was goes down at 5:00 pm. Days continue to get shorter from here until the third week in December. It’s just after 8:00 am as I write this. That means Yellowstone is just now locking the gates at all entrances EXCEPT from the North Entrance to Upper Mammoth Terrace Drive, and Mammoth via Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance.

Moose Cow and Calf Portraits Nov3

This is a shot from yesterday afternoon. I cropped in tight in Lightroom to get just the portrait shot above. Clouds covered the tops of the mountains all day yesterday. We have a lot of snow in our front yard here in town, but the ground is only partially snow covered in much of the valley floor. We apparently got the bulk of the storm in town.

With the cold temps, fog, clouds, and wind, I will hang close to the house today and hopefully get a few shots of the birds and squirrels.

Recent New Feature Posts:  In case you haven’t seen them, I was busy in the past week and weekend adding Feature Posts.

GTNP Park Road Closures: At midnight on October 31st, the park locked gates on the inner loop road at the Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge. The closure cuts off vehicle access to places like String Lake, Jenny Lake, The Old Patriarch Tree, The RKO Road, Spaulding Bay, and so forth. The other crucial road closure is on the Moose/Wilson road between Death Canyon and Granite Canyon Trailhead. This closure cuts off access to the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve and also the road up to White Grass Ranch. Grassy Lake road, off the Rockefeller Parkway also closed last night.

Dornan’s Store at Moose: The little store at Dornan’s closes today. It will reopen the day after Thanksgiving. As far as I know, there are no additional stores or services inside the park after today. The other closest store and gas station is just outside the park in the Buffalo Valley.

Yellowstone Park Road Closures: Sunday November 3rd is the last full day of travel through most of Yellowstone—all park roads close to the public at 8 a.m., Monday November 4 EXCEPT from the North Entrance to Upper Mammoth Terrace Drive, and Mammoth via Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance. Except for the roads between the North and Northeast entrances visitors must be off park roads and all through travel must be completed by 8 a.m. Monday November 4. Source

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November 3, 2013

Web Bull Crossing Sage Nov3

Today’s Outing:  The morning started out cloudy, but the sun finally broke through. The Tetons were covered with no chance of photographing them. I found a total of nine moose this morning, so I concentrated on them. There were about a hundred bison in the hayfields north of the GV road near Kelly. A couple of Pronghorns were standing in the road on Antelope Flats. They spooked back to join another couple of Pronghorns north of the road.

Web Bull Creekside Nov3

Four bulls were gathered together, but only one of the small bulls went to the water while I was there.

Web Sparring Moose Nov3

Before bedding down, two of the mid-sized bulls sparred for a while. I shot some with the D800 and then switched to the D4, but the action was over quickly.

Web Watching Moose Nov3

One of the bulls  kept looking off to the side, but I never saw what he was seeing or hearing.

GTNP Park Road Closures: At midnight on October 31st, the park locked gates on the inner loop road at the Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge. The closure cuts off vehicle access to places like String Lake, Jenny Lake, The Old Patriarch Tree, The RKO Road, Spaulding Bay, and so forth. The other crucial road closure is on the Moose/Wilson road between Death Canyon and Granite Canyon Trailhead. This closure cuts off access to the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve and also the road up to White Grass Ranch. Grassy Lake road, off the Rockefeller Parkway also closed last night.

Dornan’s Store at Moose: The little store at Dornan’s closes today. It will reopen the day after Thanksgiving. As far as I know, there are no additional stores or services inside the park after today. The other closest store and gas station is just outside the park in the Buffalo Valley.

Yellowstone Park Road Closures: Sunday November 3rd is the last full day of travel through most of Yellowstone—all park roads close to the public at 8 a.m., Monday November 4 EXCEPT from the North Entrance to Upper Mammoth Terrace Drive, and Mammoth via Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance. Except for the roads between the North and Northeast entrances visitors must be off park roads and all through travel must be completed by 8 a.m. Monday November 4. Source

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November 2, 2013

Flat Creek Sunrise Nov2

Today’s Outing: It was cloudy in town, but the weather report suggested it would be clearing by 8:00.

Sunrise At Flat Creek Nov2

These moody early morning shots were taken at the observation along Flat Creek, just north of town.

Grand First Light Nov2

As first light hit the peaks, I pulled over and captured this fleeting shot.

Murphy Barn Nov1

This is the Murphy Barn at the far north end of Mormon Row.

Moulton Barn Nov2

Most people like the shot with the Grand in the background. There are lots of additional angles.

Cottonwoods Nov2

This row of sun lit cottonwoods were on Antelope Flats Road.

Wildlife Sightings: I saw half a dozen moose along the highway north of Moose Junction and south of Antelope Flats plus a few more by Kelly.

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November 1, 2013

Web_Peach Homestead Nov1

Today’s Outing: When I looked out this morning, I saw stars. When I drove North, it was still very cloudy. I ended up at Mormon Row where I shot all morning. The images here were taken with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 70-200mm lens. I cropped them in Lightroom to a 3:1 aspect ratio vs stitching individual shots together to make extra large panos. The one above was taken east of the Moulton barn, but looking back north. Click any of them to see them much larger.

Web_Moulton Barn Fence Nov1

Taken from the field east of the barn with the same camera and lens. When the Tetons are covered with clouds, I usually look for alternative angles that don’t rely on the peaks.

Web Moulton Barn Cottonwoods Nov1

This one was taken a few yards from the spot of the previous photo. I liked the broken shadows on the barn this morning.

Web East Barns Nov1

This shot was taken east of the Moulton Barn of the back side of the Chambers Homestead.

Web East Barn Tree Nov1

The Chambers Homestead seen from the south end looking back to the Northeast.

I changed the Header Image on the site to reflect the change in season around here.  You can view and read any of the previous three months by clicking the links above. Here’s October: October Daily Updates: Archives 2013 . There’s a lot of information in each of the Daily Reports.

New Feature Posts: I recently added two new Winter posts that might help anyone considering visiting Jackson Hole and the Tetons. Even if you don’t plan on visiting, you might be interested in how much things change here during the winter.

New Additions to the Site: I found a web site with a bunch of Web Cams from the JH Area and added the link just to the right of the Weather Channel links near the top of the page. I added links to the GTNP Supervisor’s Compendium on the Winter in the Tetons post to help clarify closures. Lastly, I’ve been adding maps to the GTNP Maps link at the top of the page. Even though it says GTNP, there are other regional Maps, including a new one for the National Elk Refuge. I have two more to add very soon with road and area closures in GTNP.

Wildlife: The Elk Reduction Program started on the 19th of October—otherwise known as the Elk Hunt inside Grand Teton National Park. I haven’t seen elk making a break for the refuge yet, nor have I been hearing any gunshots. With the recent heavy snows in the high country and on the valley floor, they will start moving soon. Some remnant rut activity has been seen recently around the dam and near Lupine Meadows. Bison are hanging around north of Kelly. The seem to know they can get shot if they go onto the National Elk Refuge. Moose have been seen in the sage flats north of Kelly after moving away from the river bottoms. The rut appears to be over for Moose. Pronghorns are gathering in larger herds now, probably in preparation for their migration south towards Big Piney. I’ve seen mule deer off and on along the Gros Ventre and near the Golf & Tennis Club, but no big bucks. On several trips down the Moose/Wilson since the Park reopened, I didn’t see any bears, nor have I heard of any lately. A grizzly or two were seen near Antelope Flats road recently. I heard it was on a road kill just off the highway, since removed. The traditional elk hunt area in the river bottom along the Snake River is closed this year, so grizzlies will have to follow new gun shots farther south. Beavers were busy in the Park during the closure and are now building a new den and new dams along the Moose/Wilson Road. Owls have been seen less lately. With the new snow, they probably had plenty of other places to hunt. Red-tailed Hawks are still around. Eagles will show up on the gut piles once elk are being killed around the Park.

Wildlife on TetonImages.com : If you have never visited my real web site, check out the Moose images and then browse the other galleries. How about some Barns!

Foliage: Leaves are blown off in almost all areas of the Park. Quite a few trees in town still have color, but wind it blowing them off quickly.

Local Tidbits: The bike path past the National Elk Refuge is now closed. Same for fishing on the Refuge. The road construction projects are still ongoing just west of downtown. Self-Serv Unleaded Gasoline dropped to $3.58 per gallon recently. Nightly parking is prohibited on town streets until April 15th.  The Kiwanis Follies are happening this weekend at the Fair Building. Daylight Savings changes Saturday night.

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