Thanksgiving Blessings

As we count our blessings on this Thanksgiving Day, I’ll leave you with some more images of wild turkey, captured while foraging along the snowy slopes of Waterton Canyon, Colorado:

Wild Turkey foraging in the snow

Wild Turkey foraging in the snow

Wild Turkey foraging in the snow

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 400mm to 560mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/11
  • Shutter 1/125 sec. to 1/400 sec.

 

 

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Waterton Bunny

During my hike out of Waterton Canyon on my first visit, I found this cottontail busy foraging through the snow and leaf litter:

Cottontail foraging in the snow and leaf litter

Cottontail foraging in the snow and leaf litter

Cottontail foraging in the snow and leaf litter

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 450mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 640
  • Aperture f/11
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. to 1/800 sec.

 

 

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Bighorn Sheep Rut – Post #4

Today’s post wraps up the 4-part posts of Bighorn Sheep in the rut in Waterton Canyon, Colorado. I’m sure I’ll be posting some more rut images, but these past 4 posts were captured during a single sitting while the sheep were in rut. If you missed the earlier rut posts, you can find them at these links:

Photographing the bighorn sheep rut is a wonderful learning tool for understanding the behaviors and actions the sheep take during the process of passing on their genes to future generations.

In this first image, a pair of large bighorn rams are busy jousting to determine “king of the mountain”:

Bighorn Sheep rams

While the rams are busy, the ewe slips away and climbs up the rocky slope (above the jousting rams) to a safe place, away from the rams:

Bighorn Sheep ewe, with rams below

Within a minute or so, one of the rams sees her and starts making his way to where she is positioned:

Bighorn Sheep ewe with ram

… then a second ram makes his way to the rocks:

Bighorn Sheep ewe and rams

Meanwhile, a couple of large rams, located below the ewe and rams on the slope, continue to head butt and joust for dominance rights:

Bighorn Sheep rams jousting

Bighorn Sheep rams

Then, without warning, the ewe makes a run for it … with one of the two rams hot on her trail:

Bighorn Sheep ram chasing ewe

With little hesitation, she decides to leap from the boulders and make a run for it:

Bighorn Sheep ram chasing ewe

Bighorn Sheep ram and ewe

Bighorn Sheep ram chasing ewe

As she runs off, with the ram close behind, the other rams continue to joust:

Bighorn Sheep rams jousting

Bighorn Sheep rams jousting

Bighorn Sheep rams jousting

Ya gotta love action like this!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 560mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/7.1
  • Shutter 1/800 sec.

 

 

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Bighorn Sheep Rut – Post #3

This post is the third of four that includes the behaviors and actions that I captured in the Bighorn Sheep rut in Waterton Canyon, Colorado, recently. If you missed the first two posts, here are the links:

In this third post, the action really heats up as the larger rams really get involved and exhibit some of their rut behaviors. The following images were captured on my first hike back into Waterton Canyon.

In this first image, a large ram and a single ewe (the same ewe featured in previous rut posts) are shown along the slope of Waterton Canyon:

Bighorn Sheep Ram and Ewe

Just moments later, the ram tries to mate with the ewe, but the ewe quickly rejects him:

Bighorn Sheep ram attempts to mate with a ewe

At this point, the rest of the rams become involved, with a couple of them sizing each other up :

Bighorn Sheep rams "square off"

Bighorn Sheep rams "square off"

The two rams back off a short distance, but continue to size each other:

Bighorn Sheep rams "square off"

They then move in close and proceed to head butt:

Bighorn Sheep rams butting heads

Being some distance away, and having lots of boulders and foliage between me and the sheep, it was very difficult to get clean, closeup shots of the action. In this next image, I’ve cropped the above image to give a better view of the action:

Bighorn Sheep rams butting heads

Bighorn Sheep rams butting heads

Bighorn Sheep rams butting heads

Bighorn Sheep rams butting heads

Following this action, the ewe decides to make another run from the rams. And the rams exhibited more interesting behavior. I’ll feature this action in my next bighorn rut post.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 300mm to 560mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/7.1
  • Shutter 1/800 sec.

 

 

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Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-Batman!

Well, a quick change of plans this morning. I was going to blog more on the Bighorn Sheep rut, but an unplanned event has prompted a change. Early this morning (must have been ~2:00am), my wife woke me to let me know there was a bat flying around in our bathroom! Thinking she was still asleep and just “seeing things”, I got up to check it out. Sure enough, a Brown Bat was perched on one of the bathroom walls. He then flew across the room and back. I shut the door, leaving the light on (thinking maybe he’d think it was daylight and he should be sleeping!).

When I awoke in the morning, my first thing was to see if he was still there. After looking for a little while, I could not find him. I decided to close the door and re-check the room later. I then headed into my office area to work on today’s blog post. After choosing the images to use and starting to edit them, thoughts of the bat returned to me and I went in to look for him again. This time, I found him sleeping on top of a what-not shelf. Now, the next trick was to find a way to capture him!

My first attempt was to remove the small items from the shelf and try to quietly/softly take the shelf down. But once I started to move the shelf, he awoke and stretched his wings … that was not going to work. And he was too small to try to pick up with gloves. Then I had another idea … use a trash bag to capture him. With that in mind, I grabbed a large trash bag and quickly placed it over the top of the shelf. He immediately flew into the bag. I closed the bag, took it to my covered front porch, and opened the bag. He slowly began to crawl out of the bag, eventually flying off. Here are a few images I captured of this unusual visitor.

In this first image, he is sleeping on top of the shelf (please disregard the dust on the shelf unit … this is near the ceiling, so doesn’t get much cleaning :o) ):

Brown Bat

Once outside, he began to fully wake up and crawl out of the trash bag:

Brown Bat

Outside the bag and on my porch deck, just before opening his wings and flying off:

Brown Bat

Note: all photos taken hand-held at extremely slow shutter speeds, so the focus is “soft”.

This was quite an experience! My main concern was that maybe he could be rabid … that made things a bit more dicey. The next step? Try to find how he got in (probably from some recent roofing work, but will be investigating).

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld
  • ISO 3200 (top photo) and ISO 1600 (bottom 2 photos)
  • Aperture f/6.3
  • Shutter 1/20 sec. (top 2 photos) and 1/50 sec. (bottom photo)

 

 

 

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Safe Sex …

… certainly doesn’t apply to the Bighorn Sheep rut!

On Thursday, I posted on the behavior of the Bighorn Sheep rut. I featured some images of the bighorn rams chasing a ewe. I suspect the ewe was nearly “in season” for mating and the rams were trying to rush her into mating (if you missed that post, you can find it here: “Let the Games Begin!”). The action immediately after the images in that post was simply incredible and really portrayed the essence of what the rut is all about … the intense need to mate. Today’s post starts where that post ended. With the rams in hot pursuit, the ewe decided to run (literally) up the slope to try to lose the rams:

Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe

As she ran up the steep slope, she was followed by a string of rams, all with the intent of mating:

JimBraswell-A5DMK3-9377-RamsChaseEwe-2

As the ewe turned and started running back down the slope, one of the juvenile rams attempted to mount and mate with her, a rather precarious situation:

Bighorn Sheep ram attempts to mate with a ewe

As she continued running down the slope, the ram was still attempting to mate:

Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe

At about this time, we heard splashing in the Platte River, which was right behind us. Turning around, we saw yet another adult ram running across the river to join the other rams:

Bighorn Sheep ram crossing the Platter River

Meanwhile, the rams were continuing to chase the ewe back up the slopes. My next post will take up where this post ends … with even more interesting behaviors from the sheep!

I’m not a sheep expert by any means, but I believe the ewe featured in these posts was very close to being “in season” (i.e., ready to mate), but not quite there. I believe this is why the group of rams were following her so closely, and trying to mate. But her refusals tend to indicate she was not quite ready. The rams have a unique sense of smell and, with the aid of a special sensory organ in their mouth, can help “smell” when the female is ready for mating. This is usually seen as “lip curling”, in which the ram curls his upper lip in order to “smell” better (I’ll feature this behavior in an upcoming post).

Stay tuned for the next post, which will feature the continuing story of this ewe and the group of rams chasing her.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 400mm to 560mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 200 (top 4 images) and ISO 640 (last image)
  • Aperture f/8 to f/11
  • Shutter 1/400 sec. (top 4 images) to 1/1600 sec. (last image)

 

 

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Fun Friday: No Egg on My Face … Just Snow!

Bighorn Sheep ewe, with snow on the face

This Bighorn ewe had a bit of snow on her face after eating some snow. The Platte River, which lies just a few feet behind her, was frozen, so her and the other sheep would eat snow for moisture intake. And when not eating snow, they would forage in the snowy areas for grasses.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 200mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/500 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Let the Games Begin!

Shortly after seeing the first of the Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon, a small group of us were standing on an access road photographing the sheep on the snowy slopes. Movement from our far left caused us to turn our heads in time to see a group of Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe. Here are a few images captured from a sequence of images of the action.

Two of the larger rams were going full-speed in the chase, while a younger ram backed off (for the time):

Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe

Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe

Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe

Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe

For a very brief moment, the action seemed to stall on the access road while the rest of the rams (a total of 5) caught up with the two larger rams. Then, without warning, the ewe sprinted off … with the rams in hot pursuit:

Bighorn Sheep rams chasing a ewe

What happened next was a lesson in bighorn rut behavior. Tomorrow I will publish a “Fun Friday” post with the bighorns, and then will continue with the amazing story of the bighorn rut.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 560mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/500 sec. to 1/640 sec.

 

 

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Encountering the Rams

I’ve just returned home from my trip to Waterton Canyon to photograph the Bighorn Sheep in the rut. My first encounter with several rams was within minutes of finding the first herd of Bighorn Sheep (Bighorn Sheep Herd #1). There were several large rams along the slope. Here are a couple of images captured that first morning on my hike through Waterton Canyon:

Bighorn Sheep ram in the snowy landscape

JimBraswell-A5DMK3-9897-BighornRam-4

The rut was in full-swing this trip and I will be sharing more images of my hikes in Waterton Canyon, including some of the interesting behaviors of the sheep in the rut.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 435mm to 560mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 250
  • Aperture f/11
  • Shutter 1/500 sec. to 1/640 sec.

 

 

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Bighorn Sheep Herd #1

Today’s post is the first of the Waterton Canyon Bighorn Sheep. On my first hike into the canyon, this was the first herd I came upon. There was a single, rather large ram, along with several juvenile rams, lots of ewes and even some first-year lambs. They were busy grazing along the snowy slope of the canyon:

Bighorn Sheep herd

Bighorn Sheep hered

There were approximately 25-30 sheep in this herd. After photographing for a few minutes, I headed further into the canyon, where I ran upon more sheep, and even more behaviors. I’ll post more on this activity later. Right now, it’s time to get my gear together for another wonderful day in the canyon!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 330mm to 560mm)
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/1000 sec.

 

 

 

Posted in 2014, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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