And Who Might You Be?

A lesser sandhill crane stands in a meadow near the Beaver Ponds Loop Trail in Yellowstone National Park

I wasn’t sure what I was looking at when I came across this crane in Yellowstone National Park in 2004. I was only aware of two species of crane in my country, the sandhill crane and the whooping crane. It looked like a sandhill apart from the brown coloring on its body, so I wondered if it might be a juvenile. Later research showed this to be a subspecies of sandhill, the lesser sandhill crane.

We’re moving to Arizona soon (we’re in Arizona at the moment, we found a house yesterday we’d like to rent), so I’m going to have a lot to learn as I explore my desert home. No matter how long I live here I’ll still come across identification puzzles, I still do even after being in Oregon for 21 years, a combination of my lack of skills and nature not always being so easily pinned down.

Through These Flooded Fields

A Columbian white-tailed deer fawn walks through a flooded field

The water levels at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge are managed to mimic the seasonal flooding from the Columbia River in the days before the dams. But this flooded field comes courtesy of an unusually wet winter, even for the Pacific Northwest. The fawn is a Columbian whitetail, born to one of the does that was transplanted in the third wave of relocations.

Hunter in Green

A great blue heron hunts for voles in a sea of green grass

When I visited Ridgefield a week ago I decided to only shoot with the new Sony camera and the adapter that lets me attach my Canon telephotos. I was expecting to have to rely on manual focus but the autofocus did work sometimes, although not consistently enough for this to be a combination I’ll use often for photos. For these shots I used manual focus, although I was still learning how to do it. I’d normally like a little more depth of field in a shot like this, especially to keep more of the pouring rain in focus, but by shooting wide open I was able to take more of an abstract and turn the grass that surrounded the hunting heron into a sea of green.

With the heron standing tall, you get more of a sense of the large meadow it was hunting in. I had no idea herons hunted in meadows until I moved to the Northwest, but all the voles that live here are well aware.

I didn’t have time to take any 4K videos of this heron, it struck into the ground and walked off when it came up empty, but I did take a few videos of some animals sitting in the pouring rain, including a bald eagle, a white-tailed deer, and some snipe. I’ve never edited video but I’ll see if I can learn enough to put a few clips up in the next month or so.

A great blue heron stands in a meadow in the pouring rain

Early Reward

A moose cow walks with her calf early one morning in Yellowstone National Park in July 2004

A moose cow walks with her calf (almost completely obscured by the tall grass in front of her) near the road from Mammoth to Tower in Yellowstone National Park. I am not a morning person (to put it mildly) so getting up early for photography is always a struggle. This visit to Yellowstone was in 2004 and I was still learning how productive those early hours can be. I finally decided to get up early to beat the crowds on the last day of the trip and was rewarded with close views of not just this moose and her calf but also a black bear and her two cubs, an elk cow and her calf, and bison as well.


A female American kestrel perched on a plant at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

There are a handful of true falcons that typically breed in North America, all belonging to the genus Falco, with the smallest being the American kestrel (falco sparverius). The kestrels at Ridgefield are pretty wary and often won’t stay perched if you pass on the auto tour, and probably for good reason, as there are a number of other birds of prey that share these hunting grounds that dwarf the little falcons in size.

This lovely female was a ways off the road and stayed still for a few pictures before she took to the skies again to resume the hunt.