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February 2017 Daily Journal for GTNP & JH

February: “Winter Wonderland” 

Daily Updates Archives:
2017: 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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February 28, 2017 : Tuesday

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: This owl was hunting from the corrals of one of the county farms. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: Light was failing fast, but I caught this one at 1/500th Second at F/6.3. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: I slowed the shutter speed down to only 1/60th second, hand held, with VC ON using my first version of the Tamron 150-600mm. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Monitor Calibration: I hope these three images look fine on the screen. I spent a good part of the day with one of upper level technicians at X-Rite, and an additional period of time with a level 2 technician at NVidia. Maybe I can get this thing working properly tomorrow.

End of the Month: Remember, tomorrow will be a new month. I plan on posting a brand new March Journal, but of course it will take a few days to begin filling it. Check back often!

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February 27, 2017 : Monday

Box L Barn

Box L Barn: These barns and structures are located along the rough four mile section of Spring Gulch Road. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan: Captured at the observation platform on Flat Creek. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Snow in the Future: It snowed off and on all day today, creating some additional opportunities today. I check the Tuesday report and it looks like there’s a lot more in the tomorrow’s forecast.

Teton Photo Excursions

I have an opening in most dates in March and April.  If you would like to experience Jackson Hole while it’s a Winter Wonderland, click the image above to get additional information and pricing.

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February 26, 2017 : Sunday

New Feature Post: Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens: My Experiences This morning, I hit the PUBLISH button on a post that has effectively been in progress for close to four months. In reality, I’ve been writing and editing it for the better part of a week in an effort to be fair and honest. If you are thinking about buying a Tamron G2, have one already and are having problems, or are thinking of upgrading, you might find the post of interest. There’s also a section in the post called Physical Pilot Error that might be of value no matter what kind of telephoto lens you own.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: You might consider this group of shots as an extension of the new Feature Post. The Tamron G2 lens was attached to my Nikon D810 body today, and it was the one closest to me when I pulled up to the Bighorns. So today, I was very careful to set the correct VC MODE (Vibration Compensation) for each shot as I took hand held images. For this one, I switched to MODE 2, which is the one designed for panning. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 2

Eve and Ram

Ewe and Ram: Same camera and body, but set to MODE 1 which is “Basic Mode that balances finder-image stability and compensation effects”Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Cache Creek

Cache Creek: Also captured in MODE 1 (non panning mode). Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Elk Death

Elk Death: This animal appeared at the base of Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge this morning. It’s close enough to the road that it might not be attracting the normal scavengers during the daylight hours. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: This group of 30 were seen near the Kelly Warm Springs. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: I made a trip out to Slide, then found the group of Grouse closer to the road on the way back. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Barn and Red Rocks

Barn and Red Rocks: These two barns are part of the Gros Ventre River Ranch…up the Gros Ventre. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200mm Lens, Hand Held.

Elk on Wind Blown Slope

Elk on Wind Blown Slope: Also found on the Gros Ventre Road near Slide Lake. Nikon D810 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens, Hand Held with VC ON : MODE 1

Red Rocks

Red Rocks: This outcropping of rocks is near the winter turnaround near the Atherton Creek Campground. Nikon D810 and Nikon24-70mm Lens, Hand Held.

Gros Ventre MooseI saw at least nine Moose along the Gros Ventre River bottom today. This one was crossing the river well after the sun went down. Just for reference, Sunrise was at 7:03 am and Sunset was at 6:08 pm. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens, Hand Held with VC ON.

 

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February 25, 2017 : Saturday

Moose

Moose: These two were feeding on willow branches along the Gros Ventre River. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens, Hand Held with VC ON.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan: A pair of Swans circled while taking photos of the Moose. Luckily, they honked early enough for me to make changes in my camera before they flew by. The Moose were photographed, in Single Point, Single Servo focus mode with EV 0. I switched to 9 Point, Continuous Focus with EV 1. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens, Hand Held with VC On.

Mountain Goats

Mountain Goats: Taken in the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. I only saw a total of three Mountain Goats today, but didn’t actually get down the canyon until late in the day. I saw a few tracks, but no evidence of the large herds of Mountain Goats near the roadway yet. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens, on Tripod with VC Off.

Sunset in the Canyon

Sunset in the Canyon: Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens, on Tripod with VC Off.

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February 24, 2017 : Friday

Eagle on Winter Carcass

Bald Eagle on Winter Carcass: This eagle must have been hungry. The carcass was very close to the roadway, but it didn’t spook when I stopped, nor as other vehicles passed by. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Gray Landing

Great Gray Owl: I would have loved a blue sky for this shot, but much of the morning sky was winter white. I processed this one in color originally and then converted it to B&W in NIK Silver Efex Pro. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: I missed the dive to the snow. It happened way too fast! The valley temps dropped last night, causing the snow to freeze. Instead of crashing through the snow to the vole below, the owl was stopped by the frozen crust. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Moose Hockey: The local Semi-Pro hockey team hits the ice again tonight and tomorrow night at the Snow King Center. It’s always a fun and rowdy time!

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February 23, 2017 : Thursday

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle: This morning, I received a notice on my truck about the “Blizzard Warning” in effect for Jackson Hole. A Blizzard Warning sounds much more ominous than a Winter Storm Warning? It’s definitely colder today, but I don’t see a blizzard at the moment. This Eagle was sitting in a Cottonwood tree. Many of the county roads and the National Elk Refuge roads are in miserable shape. At times, you might think you are passing through a war zone! Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

Downey Woodpecker

Downey Woodpecker: I saw a male Hairy Woodpecker this morning, but didn’t get shots of him. This one came into my yard just before lunch time. Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl: From what I have experienced, Great Horned Owls spend much of their day sleeping deep in a dark tree. They get more active late in the evening and do most of their hunting at night. Nikon D810 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

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February 22, 2017 : Wednesday

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: Taken on the National Elk Refuge. Check the belly fur on this Ram. When we first see them in November, most of the fur on the bighorns is closer to the belly fur color.  Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Throughout much of the winter, the rocks at the base of Miller Butte don’t receive sunlight until 10:30 to 10:45 am. By the third week of February, the same rocks are sunlit by 9:00 am.

Coyotes

Coyotes: This elk appears to have overnight, attracting a couple of hungry Coyotes. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Coyotes

Coyotes: You’ve probably heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it!” Typically, we see a winter kill well off the road and wish it were closer. This carcass is only 35-40 yards off the road. Even though we are supposed to use the pullouts, a few people were pulled to the side of the road to view and photograph the coyotes out their window. All is well! Then someone pulled up and a guy got out of the vehicle to get his shots with his iPhone. The coyotes saw the human figure and abandoned the carcass. There’s a possibility this carcass is too close for the comfort for the scavengers. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Coyotes

Coyotes: This is my last shot before the two headed up the mountain. Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm  Lens.

Snow King

Snow King: Sometime around the 20th of February, the sun finally moves far enough north to light the ski runs on Snow King Mountain. We will likely have a couple more brutal winter storms this year, but the weeks of extreme cold should be behind us. It’s too early to think Spring, but by the last week in February, we can begin to feel optimistic! Bald Eagles and Owls are starting to pair up for the season. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

The Grand

The Grand: You might call this shot a “date stamp” image. The mountains have well above average snow, causing legitimate concerns for Spring Flooding along the Snake River, Buffalo Fork, and Flat Creek. JH News & Guide: Weather Service anticipates Snake Basin flooding. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm  Lens.

Late Edition

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: It’s easy to see how easy it would be to drive by a Great Gray Owl and never see it! Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: Evening light and clouds over Sleeping Indian, taken from Gros Ventre Junction. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Ram's Head

Ram’s Head: Taken at Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

Bighorns

Bighorns: Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

Elk on the Move

Elk on the Move: Also taken on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

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February 21, 2017 : Tuesday

EclipseIf you are going to be in Jackson Hole for this summer’s Total Eclipse, you might want to pick up Aaron Linsdau’s new book.

Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide: Commemorative Official Guidebook

I bought my copy from Aaron last night at the Teton Photography Group’s monthly meeting. Information in this book might help keep you from burning out your eyes or camera’s sensors!

 

Elk Refuge

Elk Refuge: If yesterday’s JH News and Guide is correct, today is the official count day on the National Elk Refuge. With the snow pack melting on the Refuge, several large groups of elk are foraging on the natural grasses on the hillsides, while other herds are staying on the flats waiting for the food trucks. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Buffleheads

Buffleheads: I’ve been seeing a few Buffleheads on Flat Creek. I stepped out of the truck and stood on a snow bank to get this quick record shot before they flew upstream. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Barrows Golden Eye

Barrows Golden Eye: Along Flat Creek. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Mountain Goat “No Shows”: I have a few friends that drive up and down the Snake River Canyon on a regular basis. So far this February, the Mountain Goats have been staying high on the mountainsides.

Afternoon Snow

Elk Refuge

Elk Refuge: Keep the rain…give me snow! Taken from the Elk Refuge Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Miller House

Miller House: On the National Elk Refuge during a winter snow squall. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Hardiman Barn

Hardiman Barn: Taken in the small town of Wilson, WY. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Prairie Rattler

Prairie Rattler: I was calibrating my monitor tonight and pulled up an old photo to process. We don’t have poisonous snakes in Jackson Hole, but it’s possible to find Prairie Rattlers east of Cody and in many other areas of the state. Nikon D300 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

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February 20, 2017 : President’s Day

President's Day Flags

President’s Day Flags: Taken along Center Street in downtown Jackson Hole. The “Square” is still lit with Christmas lights. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: Taken from the Gros Ventre Road near Kelly. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: Taken along Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Moose Cow

Moose Cow: I found this Moose in East Jackson this afternoon. She was taking advantage of the high snow banks to reach Crab Apples. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bighorn Ewe and Lamb

Bighorn Ewe and Lamb: Taken on Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. I counted at least 40 sheep on the lower part of the Butte or near the road this afternoon. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Bighorn Lamb

Bighorn Lamb: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

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February 19, 2017 : Sunday

Barrows Golden Eyes

Barrows Golden Eyes: Taken along Flat Creek at the North Edge of Jackson. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: Flat Creek in the foreground and cattails on the National Elk Refuge in the background. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Mister Moose

Mister Moose: Standing on a snow bank next to one of the County Roads. I drove by slowly and he never moved. By February, all of the Bull Moose have lost their antlers, along with most Buck Mule Deer and White-tailed Deer. When I did the sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge a few days ago, the driver said the Bull Elk are beginning to drop their antlers. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: Yesterday, I waited a couple of hours for a Great Gray to fly off of a brush covered branch. This one was more visible today. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle: Taken just as the Eagle took off. Eagles are common all over the southern end of the valley right now. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Elk Feeding

Elk Feeding on the National Elk Refuge: Elk gather for “breakfast” each morning and recognize the Refuge feed truck.  Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 18, 2017 : Saturday

Mallard

Mallard: Captured along Flat Creek. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle: Captured on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bighorns

Bighorns: We had a few inches of fresh snow overnight. A dozen or so Bighorns could be seen and photographed next to the road on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Immature Bald Eagle

Immature Bald Eagle: Winter kills are relatively common on the National Elk Refuge, attracting both Golden and Bald Eagles. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: Well…I found an owl. I watched it sit on that well protected branch for over two hours and it was still sitting on it when I left at dusk. Maybe next time! Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: Maybe it’s worth including this image today, too. I mentioned I stayed until dusk, which means there wasn’t much light. Originally, I had my shutter speed set to 1/1250th second, hoping the owl would drop to the snow below. The aperture was set at F/9, and ISO was set to Auto ISO (which works great on Nikon bodies). This one, taken late in the day ended up at ISO 22,800. The ISO on the previous image was ISO 7,200. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 17, 2017 : Friday

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser: I spent part of the afternoon along Flat Creek. Barrow’s Golden-eyes are fairly common right now, but this male Hooded Merganser is in the center of my “radar”. I’d love to get a few thousand images of him at close range, but he is is slightly skittish and stays on the far side of the creek. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Common Merganser

Common MerganserNikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans: With Flat Creek thawed, Trumpeters are moving up and down the valley. Lately, a couple dozen have been visible from the parking lot and observation platform. Bald Eagles, Ravens and an occasional Great Blue Heron can be seen there, too. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: This morning, skies we essentially cloudless. By 2:00 pm, they began moving in, and by 4:30 pm, very few blue patches remained. Current weather reports suggest Jackson Hole will get more snow over the next week or so. Bare hillsides may soon be white again! Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 16, 2017 : Thursday

Moulton Barn

Moulton Barn: Currently, Antelope Flats Road is plowed all the way from Highway 89/191 to the East Boundary Road. Yes…”plowed”, but not open to vehicle traffic. This morning, I hiked the road before sunrise and took quite a few images. This one was accented using a 2 million candle power flashlight. The moon is currently at half coverage, but still supplies enough light to make the Tetons glow. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

Morning/Evening Notes: I could have hiked out to the barn last evening, then stayed for a few hours as the sky darkened and stars appeared (actually, I did the shots at Snow King). The evening shots are relatively predictable, since you can see the clouds before making the hike. The moon wouldn’t have been a factor for several hours. The morning shots require a huge leap of faith if you consider it will be very dark at 5:00 – 5:30 am when you load up to head out. Sunrise, however, can offer a broad array of possibilities and light conditions.

Morning Clouds

Morning Clouds: I prefer to be able to see the top of the Grand, but today it was covered until around 9:30 am. If you are thinking of hiking out, now’s a good time (until the next storm). It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk 3/4 mile from the West side parking area. This morning (7°F), the snow pack is frozen well enough to walk around near the barns without crashing through. If you go in the afternoon, you might need show shoes or cross country skis.   Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

First Light

First Light: Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

The Peach House

The Peach House: John and Barta Moulton built this house on Mormon Row. Some people call it the Pink House. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

Aspen Stand

Aspen Stand: Taken along Mormon Row. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer: I took this image from the parking lot at Albertsons as a group of Mule Deer crossed the western ridge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 15, 2017 : Wednesday

Sparring Elk

Sparring Elk: Currently, there’s a layer of snow covering most of the National Elk Refuge. The Refuge rides are still going out on sleighs, but will eventually switch to rubber wheeled wagons. And…it won’t be long before the bulls start shedding their antlers. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: Elk seldom allow people to get this close, but do so when tourists are on the sleighs. Cows and young elk can often be seen from the Elk Refuge Road, but most of the larger bulls hang out just to the west of the Refuge Rides portal. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Elk Refuge and the Grand

Elk Refuge and the Grand: The houses in the background are Refuge employee housing. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Elk In Flat Creek

Elk In Flat Creek: Currently, an adult ticket is $21 for roughly a two hour trip. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Horses

Horses: Our team of horses following our trip. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Swan Pair

Swan Pair: Captured on Flat Creek. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Take-Off

Take-Off: Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Coyote

Coyote: This Coyote crossed the highway near the JH Airport. I saw half a dozen of them today. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Town and Jackson

Town and Jackson: Taken from Snow King Mountain. I had to dig out my old skis and boots for this shot. Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

Town and Jackson

Town and Jackson: Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

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February 14, 2017 : Valentines Day!

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: Taken near Kelly. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: Same Moose as he crossed the Gros Ventre River. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: When I was at the Kelly Warm Springs yesterday, I saw a guy glassing the area. I figured he was looking for Wolves, but when he drove by, he told me there had been a report of Sharp-tailed Grouse in that area. Hmmmmmm. I bet the bird they reported was actually a Sage Grouse—but we are in the Sharp-tails range.  The Sage Grouse above was taken at the Kelly Warm Springs this morning. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Antelope Flats

Antelope Flats Road: The Park Service Plowed Antelope Flats Road to help move a few Bison from the north country to Kelly. Unfortunately, they closed the road to vehicle traffic immediately after the Bison passed through. The three Bison I photographed at Kelly Warm Springs appear to have moved on south. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2Lens.

Snow King Jumps

Snow King Jumps: My youngest son, Corey grew up in Jackson Hole and is now a ski coach at Park City, UT. He would have loved to go off these jumps when he was younger and skiing in competitions. I believe their is a sanctioned competition upcoming at Snow King.

Cutter Races

Jackson Hole Shrine Club » Cutter Races:  CANCELLED!!!! Races were scheduled for this weekend at Melody Ranch, south of town. This is a shot from last year.

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February 13, 2017 : Monday

Bison Drive

Bison Drive: There’s a saying that goes something like this, “You can drive a Bison anywhere HE wants to go”. Even so, the Park Service escorted three more Bison down the highway from the Triangle X area. Over the weekend, they plowed Antelope Flats Road and coaxed three other bulls from the highway to the East Boundary Road. They went south to the Kelly Warm Springs. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200 mm Lens.

Bison Drive

Bison Drive: Today’s Bison drive took the same route, seen here moving onto Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Snow Banks

Snow Banks: I snapped this picture at one of parking lots at the Moose Visitor’s Center. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bison Bull

Bison Bull: I found the three bulls this afternoon at the Kelly Warm Springs. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Coyote

Coyote: This healthy looking Coyote was moving parallel to Gros Ventre Road as the last of the evening light bathed the landscape. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

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February 12, 2017 : Sunday

Morning Moon

Morning Moon: Taken at the driveway at Snake River Overlook. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Moon Set Over Snake River Overlook

Moon Set Over Snake River Overlook: This is a single image taken from the Overlook, using a D810 and Nikon 70-200mm lens. After getting a few standard horizontals, I leveled the tripod and did a few horizontals that can be stitched into a Pano. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200 mm Lens.

SRO Pano Parts

Finally, I turned the camera into Portrait mode and made a few more sets consisting of eight or nine vertical pano parts. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200 mm Lens.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle: I made an other trip down the Snake River Canyon in hopes of finding Mountain Goats, but after three hours of searching, none ever appeared. On the way home, I pulled over to photograph this Bald Eagle. I used my original Tamron 150-600mm lens on my Nikon D5 for this shot. (600mm) There’s a small amount of cropping. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle: Since the Eagle was tolerant of my truck and my presence, I pulled out my Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm lens (500mm). With the 1.5 crop factor on the D500, I had the equivalent range of 750mm. I like the two combinations, but seldom put the D500 on either the original Tamron 150-600mm lens or the Tamron 150-600mm G2. Possibly you have better luck with this combination? Both of these Eagle shot were hand held, taken over the hood of my truck, with VC/VR turned on. Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

Porucpine

Porcupine: I got lucky this afternoon and was able to get shots of this elusive critter. Normally, they are buried deep in the branches, but this one had a couple of unobstructed views of its face.  Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 11, 2017 : Saturday

Returning to Normal: Over the past week, it seemed we were getting slammed with closures and disasters! I am happy to report things are coming back around. The 14 power poles have been replaced and power has been returned to the Teton Village area. Teton Pass is open again, along with Hoback Canyon and the Snake River Canyon. The road going North out of Jackson is now clear and dry. Snow King Mountain was also closed after an avalanche, but it is up and running again.

Bald EagleI covered a lot of ground today. Like always, I saw a few subjects that were either just “okay”, too far away, or didn’t hang around long enough to get a photo. Most notable was an Ermine with a vole in its mouth. Dang!

Still, I managed to get a few worthy shots. This Bald Eagle was on a power pole north of Kelly. I cropped it, then removed a few distractions. There were quite a few Sage Grouse along the Gros Ventre Road, near Kelly. The road from the Kelly Warm Springs was closed this morning. The road north from there was open. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

There were a couple of Gray Wolves east of Teton View Overlook, along with several Coyotes. Another Coyote was working the banks of Oxbow Bend. I saw quite a few Fox tracks, but the only actual Fox was far out in Pilgrim Creek. I saw a Porcupine near the Highway at the Gros Ventre. Numerous Bald Eagles were hanging around on the National Elk Refuge. I didn’t see any owls today.

Barrows Golden Eye

Barrows Golden Eye: Flat Creek is open with a variety of waterfowl visible. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan: Also captured at Flat Creek. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Stretching Trumpeter Swan

Stretching Trumpeter Swan: Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: Today was the first time is a long time we’ve been able to see mountains on either side of the valley. This was taken on the Elk Refuge Road. The road has been closed some lately, but was open again by afternoon. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: For the past we weeks, about all we’ve been seeing have been Ewes and Lambs. This afternoon, a couple of Rams joined them. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Young Moose

Young Moose: This youngster was milling around near Boyle’s Hill Road. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 10, 2017 : Friday

Continued Closures: JH Ski Resort will be closed for the next WEEK due to downed power poles. Check their site for possible openings. The power outage is also responsible for the cancellation of the JH Ski Joring event originally scheduled for that area.  Teton Pass is closed all day with a possible opening at 8:00 am on Feb. 11. Hoback Canyon Road is closed.  It appears Highway 89/191 between Moose and Moran is open again. For updated info, go to WYORoad

Upcoming February Activities:

Sear Roof

Sears Roof: I took this photo a couple of days ago, showing the destruction caused by the heavy snow. Yesterday, Teton Pass, Hoback Canyon, and the Snake River Canyon were closed. Most of the supplies for Jackson, including food and gasoline, comes in from the two south access points, so there was a run on groceries and gasoline. A few stations sold out completely. Much of the Jackson work force drives to the area from either Victor/Driggs, or Alpine, so when both roads are closed, many businesses are forced to work with only skeleton staff.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer: Typically, I put out just enough seeds in my bird feeders for that day. Each night, one or more Mule Deer enter the yard to polish off whatever is left. This morning, I stocked the bird feeders, and even before I could get back inside, this pregnant doe was beginning a morning feast. Nikon D810and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

Baby Moose

New Feature Post: Baby Moose of the Tetons. I started collecting photos for this post before we left for Costa Rica last month. This morning, I finished processing more photos and then compiled them in this post. Photos date from 2007 to 2016. Hopefully, you will enjoy this post!

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February 9, 2017 : Thursday

Continued Closures: JH Ski Resort will be closed for the next WEEK due to downed power poles. Check their site for possible openings. The power outage is also responsible for the cancellation of the JH Ski Joring event originally scheduled for that area.  Teton Pass is closed all day with a possible opening at 8:00 am on Feb. 11. Nixel has been sending constant updates and notices of closures, including one for the Snake River Canyon near Wolf Creek. It appears Highway 89/191 between Moose and Moran is open again. For updated info, go to WYORoad

Elk Herd

Elk Herd: Taken on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Feed Wagon

Feed Wagon: On the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Pronghorns

Pronghorns: Instead of heavy overnight snows, we had rain. Streets are a mess, but the rain melted some of the snow on the National Elk Refuge and exposing more grass for the Pronghorns.  Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bighorn Ewe

Bighorn Ewe: Taken at the base of Miller Butte.  Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Common Merganser

Common Merganser: Taken along Flat Creek. Notice the rain drops. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans: Taken along Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Coyote

Coyote: If a Coyote wanders too far out of Grand Teton National Park, they can be shot. (That’s what I have been told anyway) As a result, most of them are leery of humans and tend to move away quickly. This Coyote was standing behind a snow bank next to the highway—not far from the Gros Ventre River. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Coyote

Coyote: I found a safe place to pull over and grabbed the camera. Instead of running, it chose to lie down in the snow with little concern for me. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Coyote

Coyote: I took 643 images of the Coyote over a period of 17 minutes. I chose the ones where it was looking at me, but actually, it was looking around much more than looking my direction. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Coyote

Coyote: I kept hoping it would find a vole and do a vertical plunge into the snow, but that never happened. It was getting dark, so I packed up the camera and headed on home, feeling blessed the Coyote allowed me to be part of its evening hunt. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 8, 2017 : Wednesday

Continued Closures: It’s cloudy this morning, but more snow is in the forecast for this afternoon. 8-10 power lines went down on the Moose-Wilson Road yesterday, closing the JH Ski Resort for Today. Check their site for possible openings. Highway 89-191 between Moose and Moran is still closed, along with the Hoback Canyon. Keep an eye on WYORoad for updates. Black ice is reported on most roads that are open.

Shovelers

Shovelers: Right now, this is a booming business. Just about every house needs the heavy snow shoveled from the roof. More snow is on the way! Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker: I saw a Hairy Woodpecker out the back window, so I grabbed the camera and went to the blind. Within a short period of time, several of species of winter birds came to the yard. I haven’t been as diligent about feeding the back yard birds this year as in other years. I wasn’t sure how long it would take for them to return to the yard once I filled the feeders. The answer…one day! Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker: Last Summer, I had a nest pair of Northern Flickers in my yard. I’d like to think this is one of them. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Here are a couple of related posts:

Area Birds: n January and February we  typically see Pine Grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwings, Bohemian Waxwings, and a few Crossbills around the valley floor. The Grosbeaks and Waxwings find Crabapples and Chokecherry trees in the neighborhoods. This year, it has been slow for those birds, but the heavy snowfall my have had something to do with their behavior.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker: Males have the patch of orange on their cheeks as seen here. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie: These birds often travel in small groups. Once one finds food, it doesn’t take long for others to appear. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Gray Wolf

Gray Wolf: I don’t see Wolves too often. This one was on Crystal Butte on the National Elk Refuge. I had hoped it would cross to road to Miller Butte, but instead it moved uphill into the tree line. Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm Lens.

Elk Herd

Elk Herd: The feed wagons spread pellets in several areas of the Refuge each day. This group was fairly close to the Miller House. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 7, 2017 : Tuesday

Weather!!!!! That’s the initial headline for today. We had roughly 5″ of fresh snow in town overnight, with 8″ of new snow at the JH Ski Resort (15″ new in the past 24 hours). Teton Pass is currently closed. Highway 89/191 between Moose and Moran is closed. Yesterday, I mentioned heavy snow collapsed my bird blind. Last evening, we received a report that heavy snow had collapsed the roof at the Sears/Axis/JH Bowl building. If you are traveling the region, I’d suggest keeping an eye on the WY Road reports and various links in the Navigation Bar on this site. You might also try some of the area Web Cams, also in the list. As I write this note at 8:00 am, it is snowing, and the Weather Channel shows snow for the rest of the day. The wind picks up to 24 mph later in the afternoon. Expect more road closures!

Mule Deer

Mule Deer: I cleared off some of my bird feeders and added some new sunflower seeds. After a couple of hours driving around Wilson, I returned to 4″ of new covering the seeds. This was taken on Fish Creek Road, north of Wilson. I didn’t see owls today. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Pine Boughs

Pine Boughs: Also taken in Wilson. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Snow

Snow! I pulled over to snap this photo of a house north of Wilson. There’s a tunnel cut to the front door. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

Watch Dog

Watch Dog: I guess this is a different form of wildlife. He was sitting in this spot when I drove by, and he was in the same spot when I came back through. He was watching people trying to plow themselves out of their driveway along Fish Creek Road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70 mm Lens.

Bird Blind

Bird Blind: Not too pretty, but it should be functional.

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee: I shot this one from the new blind. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 6, 2017 : Monday

Winter Storm Warning: The area is still under the advisory until 5:00 pm on Tuesday. The report mentions heavy wet snow and slick roads.

Eagle and Ravens

Eagle and Ravens: This was taken during a snow storm on the National Elk Refuge. One of the Pronghorns apparently succumbed to the long winter. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Pronghorn in Snow

Pronghorn in Snow: Travel through deep snow is tough on the Pronghorns wintering on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bighorn Ewe

Bighorn Ewe: I don’t recall hearing an official count, but there are roughly 150 Bighorns on the National Elk Refuge, but only a few of them have been coming off the butte and to the roadway. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Moose Cow and Calf

Moose Cow and Calf: I only had to walk 50 feet for this shot. Quite a few moose winter inside the town boundaries, including this pair that hangs in my neighborhood. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: I haven’t taken many photos of my wintering birds this year. Yesterday, I was ready to walk out the door to do just that, but found my “grill gazebo” crumpled under the weight of the recent snows. The light weight materials were never intended on supporting four or five hundred pounds! This Squirrel is feeding on sunflower seeds in a feeder near my front porch. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 5, 2017 : Superbowl Sunday!

First GuideNew Feature Post! Customizing Perspective Corrections in Lightroom

If you are an Adobe CC subscriber, this new post might be well worth reading! In the 2015 release, they included a new tool in the Upright grouping that puts you in control. The page shows several examples and a few screen grabs to help demonstrate the new feature.

Snake River Canyon Elk

Snake River Canyon Elk: Immediately after submitting the new Feature Post, I loaded up and headed down the Snake River Canyon in search of Mountain Goats. These Elk were huddled under a tree in an area where I had expected to see the Goats. I didn’t see a single one! The cashier at the convenience store at the junction said they have been down, but I haven’t  really been hearing that story from people I know that travel through the canyon regularly. February is usually a good month, however. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bookends

Bookends: If you drive south of Alpine about two miles, you should see a lot of Elk gathered in a State feed ground. There’s a nice sized pullout along the fence and even a viewing hut. Today, some of them were close to the fence, but the snow is too deep to walk to it. There are a few spots where you can easily shoot over the fence. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Alpine Feed Grounds

Alpine Feed Grounds: Another view of the area. In Jackson, most of the elk are fed pellets, while the Alpine group appears to be fed hay or alfalfa. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: This bull has a non-typical antler on its left side. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

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February 4, 2017 : Saturday

We are still under a Winter Storm Warning, though temperatures are hovering closer to the freezing point.

Easy Meal

Easy Meal: Taken at the edge of Kelly. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Sheep Herder's Wagons

Sheep Herder’s Wagons: Also in Kelly. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: I saw two groups of Sage Grouse along the Gros Ventre Road this morning. This one was close to Kelly. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Pronghorns

Pronghorns: Taken on the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Barrow's Golden Eyes

Barrow’s Golden Eyes: Flat Creek is now about 50% open water. Trumpeter Swans were also lining the edge of the ice shelf. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

Snow King

Snow King: Cougar Lift at Snow King Resort. Nikon D5 and Original Tamron 150-600 mm Lens.

There is another JH Moose / Colorado Beavers hockey game at Snow King Resort tonight. See the photos I added last night!

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February 3, 2017 : Friday

Temporary Closure: “The unplowed section of the Moose-Wilson Road between the Death Canyon Road junction and Granite Canyon Trailhead is temporarily closed to all public entry due to wildlife activity and to protect human safety.” The JH News and Guide indicated this closure is a result of two moose carcasses along the trail–probably downed by wolves seen recently in the area. Click the link for more info a maps.

Moose-Wilson Road: The last I heard, we are still under a Winter Storm Warning. At some point, the refs will need to throw a “piling on” penalty flag! We already have a LOT of snow! I checked out the Moose-Wilson Road today, pulling over in one of the few pull-outs to take the photo below. In most areas, the snow bank is even with the hood of my truck. Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-870 mm  Lens.

Moose-Wilson Road

Moose-Wilson Road:  I had to work a bit to be able to shoot over the snow bank. I spent part of the afternoon looking for Great Gray Owls, but didn’t spot them. Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-870 mm  Lens.

Sage Grouse

Sage Grouse: These two Grouse were feeding on the sagebrush along Gros Ventre Road. There were another couple of dozen Sage Grouse farther off the road. Lately, I have been seeing them closer to Kelly, but today, they were relatively close to the highway. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk: This raptor was working the trees along the highway near the National Fish Hatchery. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Mule Deer Doe

Mule Deer Doe: A lot of Mule Deer are grazing the hillside along the highway near the National Elk Refuge. This one was near the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Mule Deer Doe

Mule Deer Doe: I can’t imagine there’s a lot of nutrition in the sagebrush seeds and stems, but at this time of the year, Mule Deer are feeding on them. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Eagles

Eagles: This isn’t much of a shot, but there are hints associated with it. There were four Eagles resting in the big cottonwood next to the Miller House on the National Elk Refuge. There are several carcasses on the Refuge right now, attracting Ravens, Crows, Magpies, and Eagles. I didn’t see them, but I’d also expect to see Coyotes and Foxes in the area. Wolves are also reported in the area. A few Bighorns were grazing near the road, but I didn’t see the nicer Rams. Also, keep an eye out for the Pronghorns wintering on the Refuge. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Moose Hockey

Moose Hockey!  Darla and I went to an action packed JH Moose Hockey game at Snow King Resort tonight. They faced off with the Colorado Beavers. Tickets are only $10 for adults and $5 for kids, and I the beer is cold! There is another game at Snow King tomorrow if you are in town. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200 mm Lens. (manual mode with 1/1000th second, F/3.2 and Auto ISO)

Moose Hockey

Moose Hockey: I had to break out my press pass to be able to shoot from the Beaver’s seats. When shooting through the Plexiglass, everything had a milky look. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200 mm Lens. (manual mode with 1/1000th second, F/3.2 and Auto ISO)

Moose Hockey

Moose Hockey: I had hoped to be able to use a strobe, but when I asked, Security told me they don’t allow flashes. Bummer! Still, the D5 handled the low light with ISO at 3500 to 4000 and I was still able to freeze most of the action. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200 mm Lens. (manual mode with 1/1000th second, F/3.2 and Auto ISO)

Moose Hockey

Moose Hockey: Colorado scored with only a minute or so left in regulation to tie the game. In overtime, the JH Moose scored quickly to win the game! Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200 mm Lens. (manual mode with 1/1000th second, F/3.2 and Auto ISO)

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February 2, 2017 : Thursday

Buried Owl

Some Days Are Diamonds, Some Days are Stone! It’s not that easy to spot a Great Gray Owl on any day. Throw in a wall of snow, and it can be even tougher. Still, anytime you find one, you know there is a possibility of getting something either worthwhile or even GREAT! It’s that possibility that prompts a photographer to stand in the blowing snow for an hour or two. Even if you spot them 50 yards out initially, there’s always there’s a chance it will fly closer, or better yet, dive to take a vole right at your feet!  Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Great Gray in Snow

Today, one moved to a prime hunting spot! It was still 40 yards out (heavily cropped photo above), but it listened for indications of a buried meal. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Most regular readers should already know I recently returned for a couple of weeks in Costa Rica. I took over 10,500 images on the trip, but have now culled them down to roughly 950 keepers. Some of them can be seen on this recent page:  Costa Rica Scrapbook

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February 1, 2017 : Wednesday

Welcome to February at Best of the Tetons! We start the month under a Winter Storm Warning—heavy winds, blowing snow and a few fresh flakes. Avalanches have been fairly common, but so far, have been cleared up quickly. Roads are slick and ice covered in many areas.

2:25 PM Road Closure: Highway 89/191 is closed just north of the Observation Platform on Flat Creek for Avalanche Control. 2:50 Update: Nixel sent a new notice to my cell phone letting us know the roadway has been cleared. Nixel lets us know of impending Winter storms, accidents, and road closures, along with an occasional “Amber Alert”. Worth having!

Highway Bighorns

Highway Bighorns: Around nine Bighorn Sheep have somehow found their way to Highway 89. Typically, they hang along the inner road on the National Elk Refuge. The Bighorns were licking salt from the highway when I saw them early this morning, then again around noon. The photo doesn’t appear terribly sharp due to the wall of snow between me and the Sheep.  The snow bank on the far right was from an earlier avalanche, and is probably where the highway department closed the road this afternoon. Another avalanche closed Spring Gulch Road yesterday. Mule Deer can be seen regularly along the highway along the National Elk Refuge.  Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

Miller House

Miller House: Also shot through a wall of snow, blowing snow, and possible fog. Taken on the National Elk Refuge. I drove the road, hoping to see more Bighorns, but they are probably on the north side of Miller Butte today. A few Pronghorns were hunkered down on the Refuge to reduce the effects of the wind. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

May Barn

May Barn: The Town of Jackson and Jackson Parks and Recreation purchased a large parcel in East Jackson several years ago. This old barn sits near the center of the property. The Park Department grooms a Cross-Country trail for the outdoor enthusiasts. I don’t believe there is a fee to use the trails. I captured this image as a two shot “stitched” pano, then added some additional texture effects in Photoshop. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600 mm G2 Lens.

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Comments (3)

  1. George Norsworthy

    Mike – love the top most Northern Flicker photo. Gorgeous! And the Watch Dog. Really nice shooting!

  2. Trevor

    Mike you mentioned the Owls and Eagles pairing up. I am wondering if you have ever seen the Eagles go through there mating rituals? If so where and do you have photos?

  3. Right now, the pair I saw are taking over a Red-tailed Hawk nest and are breaking off branches from nearby trees to add to the nest. I haven’t seen any actually mating, however.

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