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Best of the Tetons

Elk on Ridge

April 2016 Daily Journal for GTNP & JH

“A dynamic month of changes and transitions—loaded with wildlife opportunities!” 

Daily Updates Archives:
2017: Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May:Apr:Mar: | Feb: Jan: |
2016: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan: 
2015: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013: Dec: | Nov: Oct: | Sept: | Aug:

Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP .

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April 30, 2016 : End of the Month!

Morning Fog

Morning Fog: This scene caught my eye from the highway as I was heading north this morning. I pulled over and took the shot from the National Fish Hatchery. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk Cows

Elk Cows: Taken along the East Boundary Road, just north of the Kelly Warm Springs. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk Group

Elk Group: Most of the Elk are off the National Elk Refuge now, with scattered small herds still in the southern end of GTNP. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Hunter Barn

Hunter Barn: This barn and old ranch house is at the far east end of Antelope Flats Road. The area is open to tourists and photographers, however it takes a bit of a hike to get to them. I liked the strata effect behind the barns, so I pulled over and took this from the East Boundary Road. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk Crossing

Elk Crossing: The TA Moulton Barn can be seen in the distance as this cow Elk passed by me on Antelope Flats Road. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Moulton Barn and Clearing Clouds

Moulton Barn and Clearing Clouds: A band of clouds, like this one, dancing below the Grand is not really that common. Seems like they are either covering the Grand, behind it, or hovering lower. The tip of the Grand was only visible like this for maybe 10 minutes and then covered back up. I was the only one there! D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Teton Photo Excursions. Now’s a great time to book a six to eight hour One-On-One Photography Excursion with me for May, June and July!  Learn how to better use your DSLR camera and find some of the better locations in the Park. Click the link for more details and photos! I hope to still be offering tours next year, so check out this full page of opportunities most people never see in April! It’s a sneaky, sleeper month!

Northern Flicker Male

Northern Flicker Male: As I end the month, I am optimistic the Northern Flicker pair will raise a family of young in my back yard this year. They are still mating in nearby trees on a regular basis and spend a lot of time in the nest cavity. I can occasionally hear the male pecking away on the inside of the nest, but the heavy nest building seems to be over. I am staying out of the back yard as much as possible at the moment. This shot was triggered from inside on my Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500 at 380mm, 1/5000th second, F/5.6, and Auto ISO 2000. EV was -1/3.

Tomorrow, the Teton Park Road reopens, along with the middle section of Moose-Wilson Road. I’ll be starting a brand new May Daily Journal, so sign up if you want to get notifications by email!

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April 29, 2016 :

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk: I went out this morning primarily looking for baby Bison. None of the herds I could find were close, and I know better than to hike out to them. They are dangerous and unpredictable in general, but a mother with newborns can be even more aggressive than normal. I found this Hawk sitting in an Aspen tree in front of the Peach House on Mormon Row.  D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird: Boy are these birds bright right now! This one was hunting for insects along Mormon Row Road. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird: Same bird…down in the fresh snow hunting for insects. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer: Most of my “mission” on Best of the Tetons is to act as reader’s “boots on the ground”. I try to let people know what is going on in the park and the status of the animals and landscapes. This is a good example. It’s not a shot many people would hang on their wall, but it shows the status of the shedding fur. Some people won’t photograph a shedding mammal, but I like to have some shots of about every stage in my library of images. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 28, 2016 :

JH News & Guide Story: Roadside griz viewing picks up in Teton park.  The story indicates people are seeing 6 or 7 different grizzlies, with 399 still absent from the scene. Tom Mangelsen is not happy about most of the grizzlies being collared.

Bison: Red Dogs

Bison~ Red Dogs!: This isn’t much of a shot of bison, but I wanted to document the appearance of the first babies for this year. It is difficult to say if they were born in the last 24 hours, or earlier, but these two were still a bit wobbly. I hadn’t heard of anyone seeing them before today. Bison begin their rut in August—earlier than any of the other large game animals—so it should be of no surprise they are one of the first animals in the region to produce newborns. I usually begin looking for them about 2 weeks after the opening day of Yellowstone. Over the next few weeks, I hope to get better and more interesting images of them! D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Wind Turbine

Wind Turbine: The Park Service just removed the barricades on the north end of Mormon Row. Jackson Peak can be seen behind the old wind turbine at the homestead south of Ditch Creek. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Chambers Sheds

Chambers Homestead Sheds: Taken along Mormon Row Road. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Horse Shoes

Horse Shoes: These were hanging on one of the barns at the Chambers Homestead. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Gears and Chains

Gears and Chains: There are several pieces of old farm equipment near the fences at the Chambers Homestead. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Chisler

Chisler: Uinta Ground Squirrels are making use of some of the new foot bridges the Park Service added along Mormon Row last summer. A Red-tailed Hawk pair routinely patrols the area for the little critters. I’ve also been to Mormon Row late at night and found a Great Horned Owl sitting on the TA Moulton Barn.  D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Teton Photo Excursions. Now’s a great time to book a six to eight hour One-On-One Photography Excursion with me for April, May and the summer months! Learn how to better use your DSLR camera and find some of the better locations in the Park. Click the link for more details and photos!

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April 27, 2016 :

Elk and Buck Mountain

Elk and Buck Mountain: I was driving north at 5:30 am. The thermometer read out 24°F, but there wasn’t much wind today. Clouds covered the peak of the Grand, so I watched for other opportunities. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk Crossing Kelly Warm Springs Outlet:

Elk Crossing Kelly Warm Springs Outlet: I saw a few thousand elk this morning, many of which were relatively close to the town of Kelly and the Warm Springs. Other small herds were sprinkled across the valley floor before first light. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Kelly Warm Springs

Kelly Warm Springs: This shot might have been more captivating if I could have included a herd of elk, but I like the way the light was just glancing off the two hills behind the steam. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Meadowlark

Meadowlark: It always “sounds like Spring” when you hear the familiar song of a Meadowlark. I would have preferred to capture this one while singing, but it never did while still on the top of the sagebrush. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Young Bison

Young Bison: Besides the large herds of elk, I also found a couple of mid-sized herds of Bison in the Kelly area. I waited until first light, and then captured a few of them. Along the Gros Ventre Road, I saw two White-tailed Deer, lots of Elk, a few Mule Deer, and three Moose. I also saw a couple of American Kestrels, several Hawks, and another Dusky Grouse. A Porcupine is still chewing away on a Black Hawthorn bush in the S curves near the Shane Cabin, but I have yet to find him. It must be feeding only at night. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

John Moulton Barn

John Moulton Barn: Tour buses are still taking people out to the Leks north of the John Moulton Barn. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Schwabacher Landing: I didn’t go that far north today, but I received a text from Steve Mattheis letting me know the gate is open to Schwabacher Landing now.

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April 26, 2016 :

Flicker Tossing Pulp

Flicker Tossing Pulp: The male Northern Flicker was in the new nest for a short period of time today. I’ve been staying out of the back yard lately, knowing the female is not as forgiving of sounds and movement. I saw them mating again today, and both of them are still digging out the nest and tossing the debris. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Afternoon Hike: Instead of making my normal rounds at Kelly and Antelope Flats Road, I decided to hike a couple of miles of the Snake River looking for Great Gray or Great Horned Owls. It was windy and overcast, so it felt like a good day to do it. I didn’t see any owls, however. I’ve been seeing a few American Kestrals lately, but I don’t have any shots of them. I also checked my Lightroom catalog to see when I might expect to see my first few Bullock’s Orioles. The earliest I’ve documented them is May 6th, and most years they start showing up around May 12-15th.

Great-Snowy Egret

Great-Snowy Egret: I also drove out to Kelly to see if I could find any Sandhill Cranes dancing around. As I drove over Fish Creek, I saw this white Egret. I drove to the back side of the Bagel joint and carefully approached the stream. I snapped off a few dozen images, then started noticing a third leg. It was as large as a Great Egret, but they have yellow beaks. Snowy Egrets should be smaller, with black beaks. Turns out it is a plastic statue! D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 25, 2016 :

Old Bison Bull

Old Bison Bull: I made a quick run out to Kelly and Antelope Flats in the late afternoon. Even though I did’t see them, I heard of a few Pronghorns back in the valley near the Mormon Row barns. I also heard of a Grizzly in the area. Bison herds are moving north right now, crossing Antelope Flats road in numbers while I was there.  D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk

Elk are also on the move, attempting to cross Antelope Flats Road in the late afternoon. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk Trio

Elk Trio: D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: Herons seem to be quite skittish in GTNP. This one was hunting and didn’t seem to worried about me shooting from the window of my vehicle. Watch for them along the Moose-Wilson Road and Schwabacher Landing. Nikon D810 and Tamron 1500-600mm lens.

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April 24, 2016 : Sunday in the Park

 Grizzly 610 and Cubs

Grizzly 610 and Cubs: I spent the morning near Oxbow Bend. 610 and her cubs were several hundred yards out in a meadow and stayed there all morning. This won’t be a “wall hanger” image, but it documents them being out and about. Nikon D810 and Tamron 1500-600mm lens.

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker: This nice looking bird was in the neighborhood. I had my camera set up for the bears and he flew into a tree just over my head. Nikon D810 and Tamron 1500-600mm lens.

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker: You can see the holes this bird has already punched into the bark of a Lodgepole Pine tree. Nikon D810 and Tamron 1500-600mm lens.

Bison

Bison: I ran into a couple of herds of Bison near the road just east of the JH Airport. I shot these couple of tight shots from the window of my vehicle. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bison

Bison: Lots of texture and detail in the fur of an adult Bison bull! A few Bison have migrated to Triangle X, Cunningham Cabin, and Elk Flats. D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Other Reports and Comments: The road to Schwabacher Landing is still closed at the highway entrance. Cattleman’s Bridge and Pilgrim Creek Road are still closed and barricaded. The Forest Service Road at the north end of Pacific Creek Roads has been closed to both vehicle and human entry. The gravel pit road (just south of Spread Creek) is open for about 2 miles before you hit impassable snow banks. The Convenience Store at Colter Bay is now open for the season.

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April 23, 2016 :

Flicker Approach Sequence

Flicker Approach Sequence: The Northern Flicker pair were still busy working on their nest. It was overcast, with drizzle off and on in the middle of the day. This sequence was taken at 1/5000th of a second, F/5.6 at 400mm with a D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

The Approach

The Approach: This is the third image from the sequence above. I think the grain is tolerable at ISO 4000 on this image. I’ve been going back and forth between the Flickers and my quarterly bookkeeping. The Flickers are much more fun! Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Nikon D5 and 14 FPS: On my flight to Sanibel, I read over much of the D5 Users Manual. It mentioned the camera could take “up to 14 FPS”, that that meant no focusing and the mirror had to be up. At the time, I didn’t think I’d have much use for the feature. The Flicker shots proved me wrong. Better yet, I’ve been able to change the Pv button near the top/front of the D5 to go immediately into 14 FPS. Once the Pv button is changed, all I have to do is focus on a subject, press the Pv button and then fire away! So, next time I am anticipating a Trumpeter Swan flapping its wings, I can go into that mode and capture a lot more images than ever before. There are always premium positions when the wings are fully stretched in either direction. I anticipate using it if a Fox or Coyote is ready to jump when perpendicular to me. How about a runner coming out of the starting blocks, or the serve of a tennis player….maybe the swing of a batter! I like it!

Bears?  The local photographers don’t like me giving too many details about Grizzly and Black Bear sightings on this blog. Still, sightings get posted to Facebook and other social media sites daily—and sometimes while it is happening! So, I’ll just say I know a few people are seeing them in the normal zones. If you are in the Park, you’ll find out specifics by just being in the area. To be honest, I like getting a few shots of them now and then, but I never felt the occasional “chance” to see a bear is worth all the time it takes to sit in parking lots and along the roadways. The Rangers seem to be more relaxed about the viewing distances early in the year. The 100 yard rule is still in place, however. There are so many other opportunities that pull me into other parts of the park.

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AP Image

Image Link: The Associated Press

 

JH News & Guide: “Great American Eclipse to draw tourists to Cowboy State”. Do you have your motel booked for this August 17, 2017 event? “It’s the first total solar eclipse to be seen from the mainland U.S. in almost four decades” …and Jackson Hole is in the path for optimum viewing.

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April 22, 2016 :

 Early Spring on Mormon Row

Mormon Row Feature Posts:

I go to the old homesteads along Mormon Row regularly. We now have access to the barns and homesteads via Antelope Flats Road, but as of today, Mormon Row Road is still barricaded. Last summer, the Park Service did extensive improvements and maintenance, including replacing the roofs on the two Moulton barns, adding a restroom, a bus turn around, more and better parking, a couple of foot bridges, and a path between the two areas. Crews also removed some of the old wood that might have had exposed nails, but it is still a good idea to walk carefully around the zones. The list below might help you in your photography efforts on your next trip here! The photo above was taken this morning with a Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

April 21, 2011

Is Winter Over? This photo was taken on April 21st in 2011. It could happen again!

Flicker Update: The Northern Flickers were very active building a new nesting cavity over the past few days. It appears the nest building is over now. The female is sitting in the nest with about 3/4″ of her beak protruding from the opening. This is a totally new experience for me…also exciting! You can read more about Northern Flickers on Audubon’s site.  The page says the female lays 5-8 eggs and take roughly 11-16 days to hatch. Chicks leave the nest roughly four weeks after hatching. Males help with incubating the eggs.

Male Northern Flicker

Male Northern Flicker: Apparently, the male is still interested in enlarging the nest cavity. I saw him fly in a few times today. On the first day, I was zoomed in fairly tight on the flight area and clipped off some of the wings. Afterwards, I pulled back on the zoom, allowing me more elbow room, but it usually meant cropping the image. After getting quite a few nice ones yesterday, I upped the challenge of trying to get that perfectly timed shot as it reaches to grasp the tree. In this sequence, I clipped the tips of the wing since he came in a bit higher than normal. The shot I want is a split second later when it leans back and reaches out. The wings would have fit in the frame, too. At 14 FPS, I still only get three shots with a bird in flight in the frame. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 21, 2016 :

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans: I spotted these two Swans in the pond north of Visitor’s Center as I was heading north out of town. The steam coming off the water made me to turn around.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Morning Take Off

Morning Take Off: There are a couple of pairs of nesting Swans along Flat Creek, but these two were just milling around.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mt. Moran and Passing Elk

Mt. Moran and Passing Elk: Elk, deer, moose, and bison are now scattered all over the valley floor.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird: When I stopped to photograph the Swans in the morning steam, I heard a couple of Yellow-headed Blackbirds. I returned to the area on my way home and found a couple of dozen of them. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird: Technically speaking, the area just to the north and behind the multi-agency Visitors Center is called Flat Creek Wetlands. I should add it to the Alternative Places to Visit in JH page. A few people mill around the area, but far fewer than you’d expect. They seem to always be in a hurry to get into the actual park.   Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Wren

Marsh Wren: Today, I saw a bunch of Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans, Mergansers, Cinnamon Teal, Coots, Wrens, Warblers, and at least two species of Blackbirds at the Flat Creek Wetlands.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker: The male Flicker is still digging out the cavity in the tree trunk.  1/5000th Second, F/5.6, Auto ISO 1260, Manual Focus, 14 FPS, Nikon D5, Nikon 200-500mm lens trigger by Vello RFN-4s

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April 20, 2016 :

A Cloudy Morning in Jackson Hole

Dusky Grouse

Dusky Grouse: Last night, I checked the weather forecast for this morning. It read “Mostly Clear” for the sunrise hours, so I set my alarm for 4:45am. Wrong! It was very cloudy!  Yesterday, Adam Brubaker mentioned seeing Short-eared Owls around Ditch Creek Road and near the Airport. I drove up and down the East Boundary Road and half way up Ditch Creek Road and finally spotted two mid-sized raptors cruising the sagebrush. Their heads looked too rounded to be Northern Harriers, but they were a ways out and it was still relatively dark. When I saw them (whatever they were), I pulled to the side of the road to see if I could get a better look. This Dusky Grouse appeared out of the sagebrush. It approached the van and then me, looking like it was wanting to battle “something” this morning—even if the other contestant wasn’t another Dusky Grouse. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Sparring Bison

Sparring Bison: These two young bison were sparring just north of Gros Ventre Road.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bison Cow Portrait

Bison Cow Portrait: With low light conditions, I had my Nikon D5 set to 1/320th second, F/6.3 using a Nikon 200-500mm lens, and the camera set to Auto ISO. The resulting ISO for this image was 12,800. I shot this one from the window as the herd passed by me. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Miss Rocky Yawning

Miss Rocky Yawning: Taken in the back yard before lunchtime. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Flicker Approach

Flicker Approach:  My first Flicker “action shot” of the day. I hope to improve on this capture, but it is a good starting point. At 1/1250th of a second, I was able to freeze the tail feathers. It looks like most of the rest of the fixes involve depth of field issues (edit: but I was wrong!). Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Second Approach:

Second Approach: I have my focus set just to the front of the bottom of the cavity. On this approach, she landed just to the back of the hole. On the next tries, I will pull back on the zoom to give me a little more elbow room and that should also help some with the dept of field. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Flicker Pecking

Flicker Pecking: 1/25th second capture. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mid-day Approach

Mid-day Approach: I had another similar shot taken at 1/1600th second, but it still looked like I was getting motion blur. This one was taken at 1/2500th second at F/9 and ISO 1800. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Flickers at Nest

Flickers at Nest: Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Flicker Sequence

Flicker Sequence: (Click the image to see it much larger) By late afternoon, I began to dial in the action shots. By this time, I had advanced the shutter speed to 1/4000th second. The female seems to like to swoop in from the bottom while the male showed a pattern of coming in a bit higher. I switched from Portrait mode to Landscape mode. Lastly, I took advantage of a new feature in a D5 allowing me to capture images at 14 frames per second. These extra FPS helped fill in some of the “gaps” in a sequence. I checked, and this sequence actually had 14 frames within the one second period of time. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Final Approach

Final Approach: (Click the image to see it much larger)  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens. 1/4000 Second, F/9, Auto ISO 1250, 290 mm, Manual Focus, Mirror Lockup to get 14 FPS.

Flicker Cleanout

Flicker Clean Out: The nesting cavity is now large enough for one of the birds to enter and turn around. The male spent most of the day tossing out batches of pulp. He always had his eyes closed when releasing it. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens

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April 19, 2016 :

Moose Cow in Deep Sagebrush

Moose Cow in Deep Sagebrush: It’s easy to miss moose once they bed down in mature sage. Clouds were covering the tops of the Tetons this morning, so I spent it looking for wildlife. This Moose was near the Kelly Warm Springs. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Alert Elk

Alert Elk: Prey animals take a few bits of grass, then look around for wolves and other predators. Most of them are leery of humans since they are hunted by them in the Fall. Wolves are a threat year round. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Group of Elk

Group on Ridge: These were photographed along Gros Ventre Road. There were Deer, Elk, Moose, and Bison along the roads today. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bison

Bison: This Bison was crossing the outlet at Kelly Warm Springs. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Murphy Barn

Murphy Barn: These are northernmost set of buildings on Mormon Row. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer: It’s easy to understand where they got their name! Mule Deer, like most of the other ungulates are now dispersing across the valley floor. This one was still hanging around the small town of Kelly in GTNP. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Norther Flicker Nest Building

Northern Flicker Nest Building Progress: Click this image to see it much larger! The pair of Flickers are still actively building a nest in my back yard. I initially took a few shots from inside my house, then closer from the deck firing the camera with a remote trigger. During a break period, I set up my 7′ tripod to shoot over my blind. It worked nicely! She is now past the hard shell of the tree trunk and making good progress on the softer pulp interior. She would bring out a beak full of pulp and scatter it in both directions. At the moment, I am using the new 25 point focusing zone on my D5. It covers an area similar to the 9 point zone on a D4, but has many more focusing points. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 18, 2016 :

Grand Reflections

Grand Reflections: If you follow Best of the Tetons very long, you’ll hear me talking about clouds and morning light. I set my alarm clock at a ridiculous time and head out in the dark, hoping for a few clouds behind the Tetons—but not cutting off the tops. More often than not, it doesn’t pan out exactly like I would have scripted it. Today, all the stars aligned and I was able to get a few nice shots before the wind picked up to ruffle the water. This was taken at Blacktail Ponds overlook during the short lived Alpenglow period. Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise: Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Willows

Willows: I stayed with the scene for quite a while today shooting a variety of compositions and panoramic images. Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Vista View

Spring Creek and Morning Light: Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Buck Rail Fence and Spring Creek

Buck Rail Fence and Spring Creek: Taken near Triangle X Ranch. Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Bull Elk on the Move

Bull Elk on the Move: Taken from the road and looking East towards Shadow Mountain. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Up North: After my early morning shots, I headed on North to check on the overall status there. The road to Schwabacher Landing is still closed, but it appears to be clear all the way to the parking area. The road to Lost Creek Ranch is still barricaded. The ice at Oxbow Bend is slushy and sloppy. It appears to be ready to sink soon. Jackson Lake is still frozen. The road back to Cattleman’s Bridge is still closed. The road to Cunningham Cabin is open. The Inner Park Road (Teton Park Road) and Moose-Wilson Road will open on May 1st. I’ve heard random reports of Grizzlies, a Black Bear, and Wolves up north.

Male Flicker

For What It’s Worth: D4, D5, D810, Nikon 200-500mm, & Tamron 150-600mm
I’m beginning to settle in with all of the combinations. I can’t say the newness has worn off the D5 and 200-500mm, but am beginning to select the best tools for my shooting. The D5 is a great all around body, but the D810 is probably better suited for landscapes and panoramic images. It captures at 35 mpx and does very well at low ISO settings. The D5 is better for action shooting, with a fast shutter speed and a very deep buffer. It’s also better for night photography and for shots with very high ISO. To be honest, I can’t see any degree of image quality differences between the Nikon 200-500mm and the Tamron 150-600mm lens on any of the three bodies. Lately, I have the D4 attached to my trusty 200-400mm lens and set up to photograph birds in the back yard. Flicker Image: Nikon D810, Tamron 150-600mm lens with fairly heavy crop (full image in the inset). Right now, they are pecking away at this new hole. They are still skittish, so I had to take this image from inside my back door.

Female Flicker

Female Flicker: Nikon D810, Tamron 150-600mm

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April 17, 2016 : Sunday

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: After a long week, I slept in and then hung around the house to do some Spring cleaning. This is “Rocky”, or resident Red Squirrel. She was being chased by the male yesterday. More than likely, we’ll have a new batch of little ones in the yard later in the summer. I only shot a few images in the back yard today. A pair of Northern Flicker’s are excavating a hole in a tree stump. I wanted to give them some uninterrupted time to work on it. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco: These birds are ground feeders, found commonly in GTNP and the region. I don’t get that many opportunities to photograph one on a branch or stump. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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April 16, 2016 :

Grand Peak

Grand Peak: Yesterday…too many clouds. Today…no clouds! Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bull Elk with One Antler

Bull Elk with One Antler: Once the migration off the National Elk Refuge begins, a photographer or visitor has a chance to see more animals in GTNP in April than any other month. This group of elk was photographed before the sun came up near the Kelly Warm Springs. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Migrating Bull Elk

Migrating Bull Elk: I think most of these are bulls. While one still has a nice sized rack, you can see several with ping pong sized bulbs of new antler growth and the one over the © has a larger new set of antlers. This group was ready to cross Gros Ventre Road just west of Kelly. There were lots of small herds and several large herds grazing during the morning hours today. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk On The Move

Elk On The MoveNikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Shaggy Cow Moose

Shaggy Cow Moose: I’ve seen moose with coats ranging to very shaggy or mangy to almost sleek. They’ll all have fresh new coats by early June. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Telephone Lines

Telephone Lines: The steam is from the Kelly Warm Springs.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Eagle

Eagle: Some people can distinguish a young Golden Eagle from an immature Bald Eagle by its beak. I’m not there yet! This one was sitting in a tree next to Gros Ventre Road.I received this info from Adam Brubaker in the comments below: “probably 4th year Bald Eagle. They can be difficult to tell apart. A good way to try and distinguish them is to look at their feet. Bald Eagle will have bare ankles, and Golden will have feathers all the way down their ankles.” Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Spruce Trunk

Spruce Trunk: I drove by this trunk today. The streaks of light and the highlights on the left side prompted me to turn around and take a few shots. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: I spent some time in my back yard this afternoon. I wrapped my blind and readied it for this year’s songbird migration. This Red Squirrel posed nicely on the top of a stump. It took me a while to realize this was a larger male “looking for love”. I’ve been noticing courtship behavior with Northern Flickers and Black-billed Magpies and even Northern Harriers. I’m watching for dancing Sandhill Cranes, but so far have only seen a couple and heard a few. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

House Finch

House Finch: These birds spend part of the Winter here. Cassin’s Finches will be arriving in large numbers in May. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Mallard Duck

Mallard Duck: A pair of Mallards have been coming to my yard for four or five years. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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April 15, 2016 :

Kelly Elk

Kelly Elk: I got up early today “thinking landscapes”. That was based on the overnight and morning weather reports of “partly cloudy” skies. Unfortunately, most of the tips of the Teton Range were covered up. There were another thousand or so elk leaving the Refuge and grazing in the hay fields NW of Kelly. I took this shot actually IN Kelly. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk Cows

Elk Cows: Also taken in Kelly and looking towards the NW. There were lots of elk along Teton Village road late yesterday, too. They are much less skittish than the ones leaving the Refuge. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bull Bison

Bull Bison: I took this image yesterday afternoon, but didn’t download it until now. It is cropped quite a bit, but I liked the overall texture and feel showing flakes from a lateWinter storm. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

John Moulton Barn

John Moulton Barn: I kept hoping the clouds would blow off a bit and reveal the top of the Grand. Instead, the clouds got thicker! Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200mm

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: Winter snows have helped age the new roof from last summer. I took this shot from Antelope Flats Road. Mormon Row Road is still barricaded, but you can walk to the south barns and homesteads on the new packed pebble path connecting the two areas. The road is very muddy at this time. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: This is a tight crop of a Bull Elk and its new antler growth. Most of the big bulls shed their antlers, while you can still see antlers on some of the spike bulls. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Afternoon:

Grand and Clouds

Grand and Clouds: Taken over the top of Blacktail Butte. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

West Side

West Side of the John Moulton Barn: Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk: This hawk was hunting Chislers at the Mormon Row barns. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Chisler

Chisler / Uinta Ground Squirrel: Taken at the base of the John Moulton barn. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Clouds

Clouds: John Moulton Barn…looking towards the Northeast.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird: Taken along Mormon Row. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

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April 14, 2016 :

Bison at First Light

Bison at First Light: Late yesterday, I found seven bison leaving the Refuge. I found them again this morning in better light on a ridge not far from where I saw them earlier. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bison and Gros Ventre Tree Line

Bison and Gros Ventre Tree Line: The bulls I saw still had a thick layer of Winter fur.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bison Bulls

Bison Bulls: From what I could tell, the bison were all nice sized bulls. There should be many more leaving the Refuge soon. Bison are one of the species of animals I never approach. They can run very fast and can be aggressive. All of my close-up shots were taken from inside a vehicle. These images were taken at a distance of 80-100 yards. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Moose on the Move

Moose on the Move: I probably saw at least a dozen moose this morning. This one was either spooked by something near Ditch Creek or was simply on a mission to get farther north. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Migrating Elk

Migrating Elk: Elk are still leaving the National Elk Refuge in large numbers. They are scattered all over the southern end of the Park right now. This was taken just north of Kelly, looking towards Blacktail Butte. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Moose in the Kelly Warm Springs

Moose in the Kelly Warm Springs: This bull was heading east and a fairly brisk pace.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Kelly Warm Springs

Kelly Warm Springs: I expected this bull to move through the pool, but instead made a turn towards the road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Passerby

Passerby: Taken near the Rest Room at the Kelly Warm Springs. This shot gives a fairly good feel of the size of a Wyoming moose. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 12 and 13, 2016 :

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: This is a combo post with photos from yesterday and comments today. I did a quick Kelly loop yesterday and found this bull moose near Ditch Creek. I have lots of photos of moose, but wanted to include this one showing the new antler growth. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Meadowlark

Meadowlark: I liked the location of this Meadowlark in the tree branches, however when it raised its head to sing, it was cut off by the branch overhead. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Local Area Comments: Grand Targhee Ski Resort closed last weekend. Some skiers will be working “the Pass” but the area’s commercial resorts are finished for the season. There are probably still a few Snowmobile opportunities at Togwotee. I believe a couple of entrances are opening this weekend in Yellowstone. The Inner Park Road and Moose-Wilson Road in GTNP will not open until May 1st. As of this morning, the bike path along the National Elk Refuge is closed. They open it early on some years if the elk have left the refuge…that could be any day.  Each day, I see more bikes and a few large campers rolling around the valley. Our version of Spring is kicking in.

Wildlife: I heard of a few Bison leaving the Refuge, but didn’t see any herds myself. Elk have been leaving in large numbers, and wolves are following them. I’ve heard of several sightings. I’ve also heard of a few Grizzlies being spotted and photographed now near Oxbow. I haven’t heard of any baby Grizzlies, yet. I haven’t seen any Pronghorns yet, but expect to see them soon. I checked the pond north of the Visitor’s center, mainly to see if any of the Yellow-headed Blackbirds had arrived. None yet! I saw a few Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, Coots, Mergansers, and a pair of ducks I’ll have to look up. We had drizzle, clouds and wind part of the day, with occasional breaks of sunlight.

Spring Weather: We can get a big snow storm in April, May, June and even July! We “usually” get at least one in April, and that can offer unique opportunities to capture animals and landscapes. I’m usually out during any snow storm, hoping to get the wet, heavy snow sticking to bison and moose. Spring also ushers in possibilities for lightningand rainbows.

Bison Leaving Refuge

Bison Leaving Refuge: This is a “record shot” showing a few Bison leaving the National Elk Refuge this afternoon. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 11, 2016 :

Hansen Barn and Fog

Hansen Barn and Fog: I headed up Spring Gulch Road this morning. Heavy fog usually means no shots with the Teton Range for at least a few hours. On those mornings, I like to look for alternative opportunities. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Lucas Barn and Fence

Box L Barn and Fence: Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Spring Gulch

Spring Gulch: Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Lucas Barn and Fog

Lucas Barn and Fog: Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

John Moulton Homestead

John Moulton Homestead: Taken of Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

John Moulton Homestead

John Moulton Homestead: Taken of Antelope Flats Road. Even at this time of the morning, the clouds and fog still covered the Grand. Fog usually burns off, but it is not guaranteed the peaks will be visible. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

I was hoping to find a few Elk crossing with the fog, but didn’t find them this morning.

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April 10, 2016 :

Saw-whet Owl

Saw-whet Owl: After lunch yesterday, I decided to make an impromptu trip to Idaho Falls (around 90 miles). The goal was to find a bunch of rusted old farm tools and gadgets….a treasure hunt?  I found all I could afford! Afterwards, I headed north out of town to look for owls. I found a Great Horned Owl, but not in a great place for good shots. This little Saw-whet was tight in the branches. I had to shoot up at about 45° through a bunch of twigs and still had to crop heavily. I believe there were a few Long-eared Owls around, but never got close enough to even get a record shot. On the chance I might see some Short-eared Owls, I stayed until almost dark, but I didn’t see any. There were lots of Coots in the channels, and a couple of large flocks of Yellow-headed Blackbirds. I expect them in the next few days just north of the Visitors Center. John Moulton Homestead. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Rigby Sugar House

Rigby Sugar House: This place has a lot of potential if you like “grunge” photography. I’d like to be there for a morning shoot.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens

Ririe RR and Grain Elevators

Ririe Railroad and Grain Elevators: I left Rigby (Home of the Television) and headed towards Ririe, ID. I’d hate to say I was speeding, but I didn’t exactly lolly-gag to Ririe. I was watching terrific lightning storm to the north. I was wanting to find something interesting as a foreground subject and then hope for a few bolts of lightning. I wanted a long exposure, so I set Manual Mode at ISO to 100 for 13 seconds at F/3.2. (The first few were at F/5.6, but I kept opening the aperture as the ambient light dropped). I had my Vello RFN-4s attached to the 10 pin connector, then triggered the camera. That helped reduced vibration some, but really it was just a convenience. As soon as the camera clicked at the end of an exposure, I triggered it again. As a result, I took quite a few shots with NO lightning, but still captured three or four with a bolt or two. I have a Lightning Trigger, but it was at home at the time.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens

I didn’t return home until after 10:30 pm. I was up at 5:00 am yesterday… and that was following a couple of days of getting up early and staying out really late. I set the alarm for 6:00 am this morning, but when I saw the dark skies and heard the pitter-patter of morning rain, I stayed home and processed a few of yesterday’s images. I might still get out and look for Yellowheads or other birds entering the valley.

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April 9, 2016 :

Migrating Elk

Migrating Elk: Taken near Kelly this morning. I saw around a thousand of them near the Warm Springs last evening. There were 15 moose about a mile north of these elk. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer: Also taken near Kelly. At 1/1250th second, it is fairly easy to freeze a moving animal. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer: Taken along Spring Gulch Road.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Tetons

Tetons: Taken last night near the Shane Cabin. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens

Shane Cabin

Shane Cabin: Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens

Stars

Stars: Taken at the Shane Cabin. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens

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April 8, 2016 :

Lacrosse

Lacrosse: Nikon D5. I like to go to the local soccer fields when I have a new lens, body, or accessory. Yesterday, the high school Lacrosse team was practicing and going through drills. This image is the actual JPG (Basic), straight out of the camera. Click on it to view it full size. I’ll eventually delete all of the images from yesterday, but the point is to find a subject that lets me experiment freely and work out the bugs, without feeling like I lost important, once-in-a-lifetime shots. The new Nikon D5 has at 25 point group that replaces the old 9 point group and a 75 point group that replaces the 21 point group. The extra focus points are supposed to help with action shots. The Nikon  D5 has a new setting for helping focus on erratic action, and the new 200-500mm lens has a “normal / sport” switch. Yesterday, I shot with the D5 in the predawn hour at ISO 100. Some people are complaining about it being more grainy at the lowest ISO settings than a D4, but if so, it is minimal. I would have never noticed it on the images yesterday. I put the new “touch screen” to use yesterday morning while in LiveView. It allowed me to compose and focus on a difficult scene while my camera was just above water level. The D4 is 17 mpx while the D5 is 21 mpx and it has a slightly faster frame rate. The buffer is more than doubled…now something like 200 images in a burst and the recovery is faster with the new processor and cards. The new “Store Points by Orientation and TYPE” is potentially a big improvement, even though it will probably not get a lot of press.  Each day, I find new features, or at least begin to understand how to implement them into my daily captures. Shooting Data: NIKON D5,  Nikon 200-500 at 240 mm, 1/1250 Second at f/11, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV,  Auto ISO 560

Golden Eagle on Carcass

Immature Bald Eagle on Carcass: This large raptor was feeding on a winter kill on the bike path. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Coyote

Coyote: Taken from Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: Also taken along Antelope Flats road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: I took close to a thousand images of this grouse. I kept hoping to see it strut, but I think I found it a little too late in the morning. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: I sat in the van for the grouse captures. They were not at all concerned with me today. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Additional Signs of Spring: I saw my first Osprey on a nest yesterday and Tree Swallows overhead in town. I saw a Northern Harrier near Kelly this morning. I saw the Sage Grouse this morning. They are around all winter, but are doing their mating dances and displays now. Aspens are in the puff-ball stage (not the correct name) and grass is turning green in lots of areas.

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee: After lunch, I set up my trusty Nikon D4, Nikon 200-400mm lens, and old Arca-Swiss B-1 Ballhead, and a very old aluminum Bogen tripod. The perch is a young aspen in my back yard, pruned on all lower branches by one of our wintering moose. I am hearing a Belted Kingfisher on the creek nearby. I’ve seen it once in my yard. My Mallard pair are back. Magpies and Ravens have been around lately, along with an occasional Clark’s Nutcracker. Bullock’s Orioles should show up in about a month. Nikon D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Mtn. Chickadee

Mtn. Chickadee: Nikon D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Downey Woodpecker

Downey Woodpecker: This female came to the yard while I was grilling a hamburger. Nikon D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

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April 7, 2016 :

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing: Blue hour at Schwabacher this morning. The area opened on April 1st, but the gate is still locked. NIKON D5, Nikon 24-70mm lens,  Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100,

Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam: I walked down with Randy Isaacson. We didn’t see any beavers, but saw a muskrat, Canada Geese, and a couple of Trumpeter Swans. I’d like to go back on a morning with a few more clouds. Snow is melting fast! NIKON D5, Nikon 24-70mm lens,  Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100,

Upside Down

Upside Down: Reflections in one of the Beaver ponds. NIKON D5, Nikon 24-70mm lens,  Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100,

Morning

Morning at Schwabacher LandingNIKON D5, Nikon 24-70mm lens,  Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100,

Night at Mormon Row

Night at Mormon Row: I took this shot last night, after hiking up the muddy road to the TA Moulton Barn. NIKON D5, Nikon 70-24mm lens at 24 mm, 25.00 Second at f/2.8, Manual Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 2500,

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April 6, 2016 :

Grand Peaks

Grand Peaks: I headed North this morning. I have a couple of reliable reports of at least one Grizzly sighting way up north. They said the bear was heading south when they saw it last. I figured I might have chances to see some Snowshoe Hares, Otters, Foxes, Swans, Geese, Coyotes, and possibly Wolves or Grizzlies. I also wanted to get a feel of how much snow is left in the northern part of the park. This shot was taken near the Buffalo Fork River on the Highway. I added a Topaz BW filter, which gave it a distinctive tobacco color and I added some vignette darkening. The splotches are from a texture brush used to paint away some of the vignette effect on a layer. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Road Reports:

  • Antelope Flats Road : Open
  • Mormon Row Road: Plowed but barricaded
  • Chapel of the Transfiguration: Open
  • Blacktail Pond Overlook: Open
  • Moose-Wilson Road: Still open to Death Canyon road
  • Teton Park Road: Open to Taggart Lake Trailhead
  • Gros Ventre Road: Open to Atherton Creek Campground.
  • Pacific Creek Road: Open all year to the houses. Two Ocean Lake road closed.
  • Pilgrim Creek Road: Partially Plowed but barricaded
  • Colter Bay: Most roads plowed, some barricaded
  • Leeks Marina: Plowed and Open
  • Road to Lost Creek: Plowed but barricaded
  • Cunningham Cabin: Sorry…I forgot to check
  • Cattleman’s Bridge road at Oxbow Bend: Snowed in.
  • Grassy Lake Road: Closed
  • Uhl’s Hill and Wolf Ranch Road: Closed
  • Schwabacher Landing Road: Locked but you can hike in as of April 1st.

Elk on Ridge

Elk Migration: I have been watching for this kind of opportunity for the past week or two. These bulls don’t have huge racks, but they’ll do! This was taken at the pullout with the Welcome to Grand Teton National Park sign. Of course, Sleeping Indian is in the background. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Northern Exposure

Northern Exposure: I drove all the way to Flagg Ranch where the road into Yellowstone is barricaded. This image was taken from there, looking back towards the northern end of the Teton Range. I left just a bit of the roadway. This image was given the same effects as the first one, but without the vignette effect. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Mt. Moran

Mt. Moran: Taken from the upper parking lot at mid-day. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose: Taken at Oxbow Bend.  Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Canada Gees in Landing Formation

Canada Geese in Landing Formation: I stopped at Oxbow mainly to inspect a few large sets of tracks leading to the edge of an open area, then back. It gave me a chance to try out the settings from Sanibel for birds in flight. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Tracks

Tracks: Maybe someone here can identify the track patterns above. One set came from the island at Oxbow, then it looks like they went right back to the same area.

Sanibel Osprey

Sanibel Osprey: Watch for Osprey here soon. This Osprey had three fairly large chicks waiting for food. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Sanibel Bike

Sanibel Bike: This shot was lit with a small flashlight. This is a good time of the month for light painting. Night skies will be very dark with a new moon cycle beginning! Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 5, 2016 :

Lone Photographer

Lone Photographer: Clouds covered the top half of the Teton peaks this morning. I took the opportunity to look for alternative angles. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

John Moulton Barn

John Moulton Barn: These were taken within the first few minutes of morning light on the valley floor. Sunrise is at 6:56 am now. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Murphy Barn

Murphy Barn: You can get a good idea of the snow pack in this shot. Sage Grouse are on the leks early in the morning. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: Taken from Antelope Flats Road. Mormon Row road is closed to vehicle traffic, but you can still walk to that barn. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Peach House

Peach House: Front face of the John Moulton house on Mormon Row. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration: The road to the Chapel is plowed and now open. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Box L Ranch

Box L Ranch: Taken along Spring Gulch Road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Elk Migration

Elk Migration: Taken on Spring Gulch Road. Large numbers of elk are moving off the refuge and into the surrounding mountains and river bottoms. Sleigh Rides on the Refuge are over for the season. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Bighorn Ewe

Bighorn Ewe: I dropped off some paperwork to my accountant, then drove out to the National Elk Refuge. There weren’t many elk visible, but there were 40-50 Bighorns still milling around. I saw a few Uinta Ground Squirrels. There are sprouts of green grass beginning to show on the Refuge already. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 4, 2016 :

Stars Over John Moulton Barn

Stars Over the Moulton Barn: Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Crescent Moon April 4

Crescent Moon April 4: Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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Stars Over John Moulton Barn: Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

John Moulton Barn

John Moulton Barn: Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

I wanted to get out and capture some of the winter snow around the barns this year. It is difficult to hike into the area in the middle of the night during the winter—especially considering the potential for severe cold temperatures and biting wind chill. The road is open now, so access is much better. I don’t expect the snow pack in around Mormon Row to last too much longer.

Teton Range

Teton Range: The low cloud in this photo was obscuring views of the Grand while I was at the Mormon Row Barns. I left that area and headed towards Kelly. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Elk Migration

Elk Migration: Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Late Season Bull Moose

Late Season Bull Moose: I don’t ever remember seeing a bull moose with antlers in April! This morning, I spotted at least 21 moose along the Gros Ventre and north of Kelly. Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

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April 3, 2016 :

Up at 3:00 am in Florida and on the ground in Jackson Hole at noon! …What a country! I’m uploading photos to my main computer right now and going through mail.

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: Nikon D5 and Nikon 200-500mm lens.

Back in Jackson Hole: I did a quick recon mission into the Park this afternoon. Snow is mostly melted off the valley floor south of the Gros Ventre River and even up to the Moose Junction in some areas. Antelope Flats Road is open, but Mormon Row is barricaded. Blacktail Ponds Overlook is plowed. I didn’t check the Chapel. Bluebirds are commonly seen now. No Ospreys yet. Elk were gathering at Gros Ventre Junction. Most appeared to be cows. I saw a few scattered Moose, but it was probably too early in the day to see many of them. I got a report of people still seeing Mountain Goats in the Snake River Canyon and a report of people seeing Wolves near Cunningham Cabin. I didn’t see any Bison around Kelly, so I guess they are still on the Refuge. The Moose-Wilson road was quiet, with only a Stellar’s Jay to break the silence.

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April 2, 2016 :

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl: So far this year, I have been “owl-less”. I found this adult and two youngsters in a park at Cape Coral, FL. Everyone talks about some Burrowing Owls near the library there, but I never found the library, much less the owls! Actually, I was short of time and didn’t get to look too hard.

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis: During the next month or so, White-faced Ibis migrate through Jackson Hole.  They look quite a bit like this Glossy Ibis I found at the Venice Area Audubon Society rookery. That’s a heck of a place to go if you are ever in the region. I went there two mornings in a row.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: I’ve had to cull a few images on the laptop to make room for the new images., There are still 14,000 images on the computer from our current Sanibel Island trip.  Wow! The Nikon D5, Nikon D810, Nikon 200-500mm lens, and Tamron 150-600mm lens all performed beautifully! I’ll add a few more photos and a lot more comments when I am in front of my home computer. It has been a wonderful trip. I bumped into a couple of friend/photographers from Cody, met a few local photographers, and even bumped into a Best of the Tetons reader at the rookery this morning. Small world!

Cormorant

Cormorant: You might also find Cormorants swimming around Oxbow Bend during the Summer months. MJ

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April 1, 2016 :

Great Blue Herons

Pair of Great Blue Herons: April Fools Day from Sanibel Island! Great Blue Herons can be found in Jackson Hole in the Summer. A couple of them hang around Schwabacher Landing in most years. A few are known to winter in Jackson Hole, but are usually spooky.

Jackson Hole Comments: The Ski Area at Teton Village closes on the 3rd of April. Antelope Flats Road is now open! The Inner Park Road has been plowed, and people can ride their bikes, hike, or roller blade the road during April. The road opens for vehicles on the 1st of May. Watch for elk, moose, bison, bighorns, and deer leaving the National Elk Refuge. The next few weeks should be very good!

Sunset

Sunset: Not exactly a view we see in Jackson Hole!

I have been adding a lot of photos on the new post about the Nikon D5 (and Nikon 200-500mm lens, etc.) on Sanibel Island.

We’ll be back in JH Sunday afternoon and will begin posting local photos again.

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Comments (16)

  1. Have a great time down-south. Since you seem to be having fun, we can wait awhile for you to come back to the mountains. It is beautiful here with sun and warmer weather and an “open road” for bikes and walkers. That new camera and lens seems pretty sharp if the Blue Heron photo is an example. Safe travels.

  2. Hi Mike,

    great photos as usual. My question is in regard to your new camera and lens. You have about convinced me to get the Tamron 150-600 as my go-to long lens. I already have the Nikon 200-400 but it is so big and heavy I find it hard to carry around. I am curious why you would go to the 200-500 Nikon when you seemed so satisfied with the Tamron and the images you have shot with it seem excellent. Has something changed your mind?

  3. Dave Hattori

    Mike, it was great meeting and chatting with you at the Venice Rookery the other morning! Glad to see you made it home safe. I would definitely second your recommendation on visiting the Rookery if anyone gets a chance. We got some great shots and enjoyed watching the interaction between all of the birds.

  4. Hi Terry, I let clients use a couple of my lenses when I take them out on a tour, and this gives them a chance to try out both of them. I let them use one and I use the other. At one time, I had considered buying one of the Sigma 150-600 lenses for the same purpose, but opted to picking up the Nikon 200-500mm to pair with my new D5. I am also anticipating buying a Nikon D500 in the not too distant future and thought the 200-500mm on a 1.5 crop body would be a good combination. The fixed F/5 was a nice option, but not a big issue. It will take me a few weeks of shooting in “my Teton back yard” with the various combinations to come up with any firm opinions. The Tamron is lighter, costs less, and has more reach. The Nikon 200-500mm might be a tad bit sharper…still trying to evaluate results since I introduced several new variables at one time.

  5. Hi Dave, it sounds like you had a good time at the rookery, too. I would have loved to stay longer and chatted more, but I had to get back to the island. Between the two bodies, I took close to 4000 images that morning. Wow!

  6. Jackie Ireland

    Hi Mike, Thank you for the update, could you share the moose with the little antlers and the lady on facebook? I think she is expecting. We got a picture of those two a few days ago. Most of the moose are looking very healthy. Love your blog.

  7. Great morning shoot. I really enjoyed going down to Schwabacher’s with you and talking about photography. It was a good morning, even without the clouds we had ordered.

  8. Ly Dang

    Hello Mike,
    There was a typo in your post today, April 8, 2016. The D5 has 20.8 MP NOT 24MP.
    Ly

  9. jeff c birmingham

    I under stand there was an elk carcass out by Kelly 4-9-16 with wolves eating on it have you been out that way lately????

  10. Jeff, I saw the carcass, but no wolves. News got out fast on that one and the reports I got said there were too many vehicles lined up on the road. Those kind of opportunities require you to be there when it happens and get the shots right after the kill….at least in my experience.

  11. Jeff, I saw the carcass, but no wolves. News got out fast on that one. The reports I got said there were too many vehicles lined up on the road. Those kind of opportunities require you to be there when it happens and get the shots right after the kill….at least that’s my experience.

  12. Hey Mike, I was just going to mention it looks like both Eagles you posted this month are young probably 4th year Bald Eagles. They can be difficult to tell apart. A good way to try and distinguish them is to look at their feet. Bald Eagle will have bare ankles, and Golden will have feathers all the way down their ankles.

  13. Your photos are all outstanding, but the ones of the Bluebirds really stand out to me this spring. Their color is amazing. Is this the best time of the year for their color? Off to Yellowstone again tomorrow. The red dogs are so cute and they are everywhere in Yellowstone. I hope to meet up with you again soon to get some advice on the Nikon 200-500. How is it working for you? It might be time for me to “go wildlife” to add to my landscape interests.

  14. Chen Su

    Dear Mike,

    We are planning to visit Grand Teton on May 19-20. What do you think of the chance of seeing some wildflowers in the Antelope flats area? Thanks for your great posts!

    Chen

  15. Hi Chen, I’d say you will find some Yellow Bells and some Balsom Root by then. I saw Yellow Bells yesterday near Pilgrim Creek Road. Each year is different! Good luck, MJ

  16. Ed Fuhr

    Mike, I think your photos are getting better every month. Beautiful clean images. Hope folks are signing up for your day guides. I may do so too if I can get out there in a couple of weeks. Keep up the good work.

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