Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Backyard visitors

This past week, my backyard has seen a lot of excitement and odd visitors.  So I do not have to go far to enjoy the wilds of Idaho.

First of all came the seed crackers.  The Red-breasted Nuthatch and the Brown creeper to join the flickers, chickadees and other wintering birds.

Saturday morning I looked out the back window and found this young bull moose that had lost his antlers trying to enjoy the grandkid's play things.  The tree it is looking at is their favorite climbing tree and it, and the swings are part of the "Ninja" course we set up for the energetic kids during the summer.  He appeared to want to run the course.
He had left several piles of fresh "green olives" around the lawn and I suggested to the kids that we dip them in chocolate and sell them as snacks.  Their mothers discouraged that.

On Sunday morning I found the moose sleeping in my garden.  He decided to stop by the neighbor's outhouse before heading to the river bottoms, but he found the door shut.  I am sure he thought that the "R" on the R Mountain was referring to the outhouse as the "restroom."
There are a lot of blessings living between the Teton and Henrys Fork Rivers - and near the wilds of Idaho. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Owls - Hoot of a day

The beauty of being retired is that any day of the week can be a "Saturday" where I can just spend the full day "out and about."  Yesterday was such a day and I ended up photographing four species of owls and a lot of other wild things.

None of the owls were new discoveries as I knew where they were; I just had to be lucky and they needed to cooperate.  The Saw-whet owls are using the nest boxes already and I have been watching this one for about a month.  It was peeking out of the hole as I arrived early in the morning. 
After visiting a pair of Great-horned owls, I checked it again and it was about half way out of the nest box and still ignoring me

Then I walked down to the East Windrow at Market Lake and the Long-eared owls were out of their normal hiding places.  With the sun just coming through the thin clouds, they were easy to photograph.  At best count, all seven of them were still there.

The sizes between them are very different.  There was also a Great-horned owl in the same windrow.

After spending the day playing with other wildlife like elk, deer, coyotes, jackrabbits, waterfowl and even doing a few chores, I went to Camas NWR to watch the eagles and check on the Short-eared owls.  I found nine Short-ears working the grasslands around the empty ponds.  I hid in some reeds the owls were working.  This one about landed on me.

I was delighted to watch them display and even watched as one harvested a rodent.

After the sun went down, I located this beautifully colored Great-horned owl in some old dead cottonwoods.

I checked several areas to see if the Burrowing owls had showed up, but I was a few weeks too early.  But it was just another early morning and late evening spent with the wild creatures of Idaho.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Short-eared owls

Thursday I hit Market Lake, Mud Lake and Camas National Wildlife Refuge and saw some interesting things.  I had planned on getting to Camas to watch the eagles come into roost for the night.  I got there a little early and found four pair of Short-eared owls flirting and courting around Big Pond.  It was a sight to behold.  The light was poor as the sun was setting, but here are some of the images I captured.
They appeared curious of me and flew around for a while.

Then they started displaying.  They would fly high and then free-fall, clapping their wings under their body, making a clapping sound.  With the eight of them doing this, I was busy trying to find the one working it way toward me.

Finally as the sun was almost down, this one displayed right over my head.  It was moving so fast it was hard to capture, but I was pleased.

I finally pulled myself away from the owls and joined six people from Idaho Falls at the eagle viewing area.  We had 26 bald eagle come to roost in the large cottonwoods for the evening.

Another fantastic day enjoying the wildness of Idaho.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Spring has Sprung

With the warm February that we have had here in Idaho, the animals and birds are starting the migration and dating early.  Yesterday was very overcast, but I still went looking for action.  Too early for a good picture, I caught these two Golden eagles dating.

Then in mixed flocks of waterfowl, I found these two Canada's playing "wings" as they kept flirting with each other.

The flocks of waterfowl were joined by the first flight of Snow and Ross's geese that are about two weeks early from their normal migration here.

About 130 snows joined other waterfowl to eat the leftovers from the digestive process of a herd of bison west of Market Lake.

There were seven pair of Northern Harriers doing their mating flights over the still frozen ponds of Market Lake.  Here I caught a female harassing seven Long-eared owls in a windrow of thick brush.

It appears that six of the seven owls have chosen their partners for the nesting season while one needs a dating service to find someone before Valentine's Day.

Its beginning to look like a love fest has started in the wilds of Idaho.  May Cupid smile down on you during this time of new beginnings.