First of the year Warbler for me. The Yellow Rumped Warbler is a constant companion while fishing the rivers of Montana in the spring. This beautiful little bird seems to always be feasting on the same bugs the fish are feeding on.
First of a few shots of Mountain Bluebirds taken this past month as they returned to Montana in droves
East Gallatin River, MT
Bridger Mountain Range in the background. Unseasonably warm winter in Montana this year, has led to some great fishing opportunities in 2015. It has the feeling that this year is shaping up for a fantastic fishing season. Despite the warm weather we have a decent snow pack so far. March is just around the corner and soon the hatches of spring fishing will be gearing up!
Madison River, Montana
Winter rates on Pardise Valleys famous spring creek, usually requires a trip or two every winter and spring. This past weekend a group of great friends headed south of Livingston in hopes of winter midge fishing. Some fish were caught, some snow fell, a little sunshine peeked out, and a fun day was had by all. Topped off with a great mexican dinner in downtown Livingston.
Another 50 degree day in February. It makes for some beautiful sunsets throughout southwest Montana. It has also provided some reasonably comfortable days of fishing the local watering holes.
I captured this moment last year as the snow was receding in the spring. Love the energy and patience of a coyote hunting mice and voles. This piece now hangs in the board room of the Bozeman office of the Natural Resource Defense Council.
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Found this dude curled up in the snow high on top of Blacktail Plateau in Yellowstone National Park. Second gorgeous coyote of the year for me in the Park.
A few images of frozen cattails in some ponds near Three Forks , Montana
First Coyote of the new year for me. This guy was feeding on the last bits and remains of a Bison who met its unfortunate demise on the shores of Blacktail Ponds. These ponds are a graveyard for Bison every year, and are always a good place for wildlife spotting.
We had so much fun at the Ennis Xmas bird count, we decided to try the one in Bozeman on Saturday. Once again we met Doctor Bird, George Kelly, and another good friend of his Peter, and hit the streets surrounding Bozeman near Kelly, Bear and Moffit Canyons. After a somewhat slow beginning, we discovered a prairie falcon, very nearby where Doctor Bird saw once last year
As the day wore on, we saw a few finches and sparrows and then a couple of Townsend Solitaire's. Peter spotted a large flock of Waxwings, as we stopped for a northern shrike spotting, but they were traveling fast and heading off into the distance. Then we pulled over to scan a juniper covered hillside, only to discover hundreds of Robins, many solitaires, a flicker or two, and then the large flock of waxwings.
Love the waxwings-Bohemian brand!
And of course a little love for the princes of the winter-Black Capped Chickadees
I was lucky enough to participate in the annual Ennis Christmas bird count with George Kelly. Met some wonderful people and fellow bird enthusiasts. Marginally nice weather for this time of year, and some good birding. This Harris Sparrow (picture above) was the highlight for our group, and is a fairly rare visitor to this part of the state.
Looking forwards to another Christmas count in Bozeman on Saturday.
A few house sparrows see along with the Harris Sparrow. George spotted the Harris Sparrow amongst the flurry of House Sparrows as it dove out of some ground cover.
An American Tree Sparrow. One of five individuals that magically appeared for a brief few seconds. Disappeared just as quick. It is amazing to me, as a relatively new birder to the birder world, how years of seeing "little brown birds" and casually dismissing their plainess, actually have quite beautiful and detailed feathers, once you get a closer view.
A covey of 15 or so of these Huns, tired to hide by hunkering in the snow and grass.
Topped the day off with a couple sightings of the Townsend Solitaire.
A couple of nice Whitetail bucks in the alfalfa fields of my good friends Zach and Kerry
I dig these Autumn Bighorn Rams
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November is the rut time for this area's Bighorn Sheep. These three Rams were competing for the attention of the ladies. As far as I could tell "the ladies" seemed very unimpressed. Love the horns on these guys, especially the one in the middle! 12 degrees and dropping fast when I took this image. It seems these guys love both the snow and cold. They certainly have the insulating mass for it!
Zebra Slot Canyon (Grand Staircase National Monument)-Close up of the sandstone walls sculpted by water and wind.
Upon arrival at the mouth of this slot canyon, a moderate amount of water filled the floor of the canyon. Slightly above knee deep and icy cold, the water made it a challenge to progress far up the canyon. We later found out that it was chest high just a few weeks back. Now that would have added an even greater challenge, especially keeping the camera equipment dry.
We ended up hiking to this canyon twice over the course of the time we spent in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Spectacular canyon-cannot wait to go back!
Bryce Canyon National Park. Clearing storm in the early morning hours. The outside temp was 18 degrees! A virtual heat wave compared to Bozeman Montana at the moment as we are at -5 degrees this morning.