Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Baby - it cold out there

With the temperature a minus 18 degrees, the trees were covered with frost but the birds and animals still had to eat and stay warm, so out in the wilds of Idaho I ventured.

The Red-tailed hawks were trying to keep warm but still had to go out and hunt for food.

 
This Black-capped chickadee was picking of frozen sap from the spruce trees.

 
The Cotton-tailed rabbits fluffed out their fur but stayed close to cover to escape the hawks and owls.

 
White-tailed deer ventured out looking for some grass poking out of the deep snow.

 
This porcupine uses its front paw to pull in a branch to strip it of nutrient-rich bark.

 
And then this Black-capped chickadee next to the Henrys Fork of the Snake River was picking buds of willows to survive.



 
Venturing out in the cold wilds of Idaho can be a very interesting activity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wildlife in the snow

Yesterday we got from 8 to 10 inches of fluffy snow on the desert, so I just had to spend the morning out looking for animals.  I was not disappointed except I wanted to see the elk migrating down from the mountains, but did not see them.  I was able to photograph a while Long-tailed weasel - only the second one I have been able to in my life.

The first animal I saw was a cow moose.  Later I would see four more, but no bulls.

 
The Tetons were beautiful in the morning haze cause by the zero temperatures.

 
Sharp-tailed grouse were roosting and feeding in the chokecherry bushes.


 
I saw about 30 mule deer and probably another 50 saw me as I was busting through snow drifts up past my headlights.

 
On a pile of rocks, I saw two black eyes looking at me.  It was a Long-tailed weasel.

 
I watched and photographed it for about an hour as it hunted through the rocks.

 
I did not see it harvest any rodent, but enjoyed it just the same.

 
It finally had enough of me and off it went in a hurry.

 
Just another great morning in the wildness of Idaho.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Here is my latest column from the East Idaho News:

 http://www.eastidahonews.com/2015/12/fire-at-sand-creek-pond-2-becomes-a-winner/

Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Great Gray owls

Here is my latest column for the East Idaho News.  It is about Great Gray owls - I hope you enjoy it.


http://www.eastidahonews.com/2015/12/218260/


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Backyard birds

After going through a major surgery at the University of Utah Hospital, my doctor's told me to take short, slow walks - perfect - to my bird feeders.  Hopefully I will be able to get in the truck to explore other areas in about a week or two.

Here are some that I found yesterday at my bird feeders.

A Mountain Chickadee -  There are several with one of them very dark, but elusive.

 
A Black-capped chickadee, one that will sit on my hand and eat sunflower seeds.

 
The American Goldfinch are one of the most numerous.

 
The House finch that keep their distance when I am out there.

 
Had to show you this picture of an American goldfinch leaving it roost and headed for a niger seed sack.


 
Four of the invasive Collared doves that waste a lot of seed.

 
A Downy woodpecker that was hard to photograph because it was continually pecking and blurring the pictures. 



A great way to spend a little time in the semi-wilds of Idaho.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hiking in moose country.

This afternoon I was hiking a ridge as the hunting season closed yesterday and I ran into this big bad boy and his girlfriend.
 
I don't think he saw me until the cow saw me as I was backing up away from the bull.

 
Then he saw me but I was close enough to the trees that I stopped worrying.
 

 
Even though we do not have a lot of snow, the deer are starting to migrate to the lower lands.

 
The sunset was colorful as I come out of the mountains.

 
A great way to spend a few hours after a windy cold morning in the Wilds of Idaho.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bull Moose Battle

This morning before daylight I headed into the mountains.  I saw a couple of deer and a cow and calf moose in the early morning mist and light snow.  Then I saw a big bull moose standing behind a rock.  It was way too early to get good pictures, but sometimes you have to take what you can do.

 
Next another bull showed up, but it only had one antler as the other one appeared to be broken off.

 
The two of them head toward the cow and calf.

 
The third bull was a small one that stayed away from the larger bulls.

 
A fourth showed up with very long eye-guards with smaller palms than the first bull that I saw.


 The three large bulls were walking down the ridge when the one with long eye-guards poked the one in front of it in the butt with it antlers.

 
The fight was on as the one with one antler acting as a referee - until it located me climbing the opposite ridge to get better pictures of the battle.

 
The rattling of antlers for about 20 minutes as the two big bulls battled each other.

 
I finally noticed that the one antlered bull was headed down the ridge toward me - with his tongue hanging out.  I quickly headed back to the truck, keeping it between me and the bull.  I must have been less threatening as I did not have any antlers.

 
I missed the most of the rest of the fight as I was too low to see them clearly.

 
To get rid of the one-antlered bull, I banged on the hood of the truck and all the bulls headed over the ridge. 

 
I don't know if any hooked up with the cow, but it was one of the most exciting times I have had in the Wilds of Idaho even with the poor light conditions.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fall at Camas

Many times when it is raining in Rexburg, the weather at Camas is great for observing wildlife.  Last Thursday that was the case.  Fall waterfowl migration is an exciting time to visit the national wildlife refuge.  Local birds and animals are getting ready for the winter that is just around the corner.

Both the Tundra and Trumpeter swans are migrating south and resting at Camas.
 
"Love thy neighbor" came to mind as I watched two pair of Tundra swans in a argument on Big Pond.

 
Canadas, sandhill cranes and thousands of ducks join the swans in the migration.

 
Sandhill cranes are flying out to the area stubble fields.

 
The surprise of the day was a three foot Gopher snake I ran into on a road closed to motor vehicles.

 
In the evening five whitetails came out of the bulrushes to get a drink.

 
A great way to spend an afternoon in the wilds of Idaho.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bear encounters

Here is my weekly outdoor column about my encounters with bears.

http://www.eastidahonews.com/2015/10/close-encounters-of-the-bear-kind/

Monday, September 28, 2015

Porcupines in a prickly situation

Last week while chasing elk around I ran into some very noisy porcupines as they are also in the rut.  They have the same gestation period as do elk, but I had never ran into them during this prickly situation.

As the two emerge from the dried bull rushes, the female turns and rubs noses with the male that is wailing just like a human baby crying.

 
She is a beautiful specimen with her long guard hair covering her lethal quills.

 
As she gets near me, she balances on her hind feet and tail and clicks her teeth, warning me to stay away.

 
The males quills are a mess as it looks like he has had to battle for the rights of the female.

 
Two other porcupines show up near the first two, but they are not so friendly with each other.

 
If you look closely you can see a quill stuck in the nose of this female.  No worry, porcupines are the only North American animal whose skin produces antibiotics protecting them from infection from miss-located quills.

 
Just another great day in the wilds of Idaho.