Michael John Balog: Blog https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Michael John Balog hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) Sat, 04 Aug 2018 22:11:00 GMT Sat, 04 Aug 2018 22:11:00 GMT https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/img/s/v-5/u987896481-o401773244-50.jpg Michael John Balog: Blog https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog 108 120 Wyoming Hummingbirds Fighting Photographs https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/8/wyoming-hummingbirds-fighting-photographs      It was one hundred degrees in my favorite high-hide.  The breeze blowing in my face felt more like the winds of the Sinai than the Wind River Canyon.  Every sunny afternoon I'm sitting in this spot with a camera on a tripod photographing the four species of hummingbirds that migrate into Wyoming to nest and breed for the summer.  

     Definitely hot and sweaty work; like a video game in the desert your reactions need to be fast and precise.  In portraiture photography the eyes need to be in sharp focus, even when your model moves at the speed of lightning; shooting over a thousand frames a week is not uncommon.  Each digital file needs to be looked at, just in case; the nights can be long.

     July thirtieth was blistering as usual in my hide, but I was to finally capture wild animal behavior that always seemed to be impossible.  I ought to know, as I've tried to catch hummingbirds fighting/jousting a million times, it just happens in the proverbial blink-of-an-eye.

     Anyone who has observed hummingbirds knows full well that they compete for food sources, and this competitiveness looks like a knockdown fight.  At times, like the knights of old, it even looks like they're jousting with those tremendous beaks; we've seen a male Calliope hummingbird that was blind in one eye; he disappeared quickly----probably ran into a tree! 

     Photographing this behavior is next to impossible, as it happens so quickly, and without a single warning "all hell breaks loose."  And in a fraction of a second it's over, and you didn't even get to pull focus.  I've never gotten close to what I had in my minds eye.  No image of this fighting behavior was as good as what I'd wanted, so I kept trying, a thousand times over; it all happens so quickly.....

     Last week I finally made it all happen and the three photographs in this week's Wind River Canyon Blog are a genuine thrill for me.  After the fraction of a second the camera unloaded it's burst of speed, I knew there was something special inside.  Something that I'd tried getting an image of for nearly two decades!! Hummingbirds fighting in-flight, WyomingRufous Hummingbirds Fighting, Wind River CanyonRufous Hummingbirds fighting in-flight in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. Hummingbirds fighting in WyomingRufous Hummingbirds Fighting, Wind River CanyonRufous Hummingbirds fightting in-flight in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. Wyoming Hummingbirds fighting in-flightRufous Hummingbirds Fighting, Wind River CanyonRufous Hummingbirds fightting in-flight in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.      All of the fighting/jousting behavior that hummingbirds do is also quite essential.  Besides the obvious physical and flight development of the young (the hummingbird @ the bottom in the above images) they will compete for food sources the rest of their lives; a tagged female hummingbird was seen 12 years in a row!

     You don't need a camera that costs 6,000 dollars to shoot images like these (it was an old, used Canon) and the lens was not a 14 thousand dollar lens; a factory refurbished Tamron 150-600mm G2; the tripod and ball-head are nothing special, either.  All it really takes, I'm guessing here, is nearly two decades of constant dedication to my favorite sexy models----the Hummingbirds of the Wind River Canyon.

     All of the photographs, videos and wildlife stories in the Wind River Canyon Blog and HogbatsPhotography.com are produced & directed by Michael John Balog and are protected by international copyright laws ignored internationally.

Thank you.

Until next time, "keep your camera ready."

 

MjB

    

    

        

    

      

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of Wyoming Hogbats Photography HogbatsPhotography.com Hummingbird In-flight Michael John Balog Nature Photography Rufous Hummingbird Thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories Wind River Canyon Wyoming Wyoming Wildlife https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/8/wyoming-hummingbirds-fighting-photographs Sat, 04 Aug 2018 22:11:32 GMT
Wyoming Hummingbird Feeding Frenzy Video https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/7/wyoming-hummingbird-feeding-frenzy-video      Near dark in the Wind River Canyon an event happens that few have ever witnessed.  You see, hummingbirds expend so much energy during the day that at night they enter a state called torpor; a very deep sleep where a hummingbird will lower it's metabolic rate by as much as 95%!  Late in the evening, a hummingbird needs to eat just to make it through the night, and by morning the little buzzers are literally starving and need to find food quickly.  

     This situation of many hummingbirds needing and wanting to eat all at once leads to what is called by Shark Week, a feeding frenzy.  Imagine a dozen hungry sharks, or a dozen hungry tigers that are not interested in eating you!  Oh, and they are only the size of your thumb!!

     Late in the evening I like to spend some quality time with my hummingbirds (I am running 5 nectar feeders right now) and can stand two feet away from the busiest and experience this "hummingbird feeding frenzy" up close and almost scary.  I've taught others that the hummingbirds know how to fly, so don't flinch or be scared, at all; it can get really crazy, but it's loads of fun.  

     This wildlife excitement only happens when the light is lousy to shoot video.  I wanted to share this wildness with everyone.  The camcorder captures more light and color then my own eyes are capable of, but, the video isn't exactly Disney ready.  The hummingbird video below was shot with a Sony FDR-AX53 4K camcorder at 8:40 p.m.; just twenty minutes from complete darkness here in the Wind River Canyon in central Wyoming.  Just how many hummingbirds do I have in the canyon during the summer?  Multiply what you see by almost five! Hummingbird Feeding FrenzyWyoming Hummingbirds feeding frenzy video from the Wind River Canyon near dark.      The above video was shot last night.  It will let you experience some of the excitement of "hummingbird season" in the Wind River Canyon.  You will see four adult male Rufous (a rare event itself because of intense competition) and many babies and females of different species; keep your eye out 2/3 of the way through the minute-plus video to catch a glimpse of an adult Calliope Hummingbird in the top-left.  This is my 20th summer with the Wyoming Hummingbirds of the Wind River Canyon; it's been a hell-of-a-ride.

     Everything you will read or view in my Wind River Canyon Blog and my website HogbatsPhotography.com is protected under copyright laws ignored just about everywhere.

Thank you for your time.

Michael John Balog - Wind River Canyon

 

MjB

 

 

 

 

         

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) bird video birds birds of Wyoming Hogbats Hogbats Photography HogbatsPhotography.com Hummingbird hummingbird video Michael John Balog Nature Video Thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wildlife video Wind River Canyon Wyoming Wyoming Wildlife Video https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/7/wyoming-hummingbird-feeding-frenzy-video Sat, 28 Jul 2018 21:25:54 GMT
New Wyoming Hummingbird Photographs! https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/7/new-wyoming-hummingbird-photographs      There are so many hummingbirds in the Wind River Canyon right now that they drained their favorite feeder in less then 23 hours!  Running four busy hummingbird-feeders is a commitment, but it does pay rewards that can never be fully understood.  They have no natural enemies, other than stupid humans, that is, so they have little to fear in Wyoming; so few people.  

     Of course, these amazing birds would still be here without me; I'm just the hired help after all.  I guess I just make things a little bit easier, as should we all when it comes to the wild things.  There are so few unspoiled places left for wildlife to survive without the destructive nature of mankind, and that's my lecture for today's Wind River Canyon Blog.

     Two days ago, Thursday the 12th of July, I was in my favorite "high-hide" trying to take photographs of our hummingbirds.  It was so hot that the sweat was dripping in my eyes, making it difficult to see my hummers.  I tied a bandanna to my forehead and kept shooting away with my Canon on a tripod.  

     It is hot, laborious work....and I love it!  In between gulps of my cold-tea and maybe a dozen hummingbirds and a hundred frames, it started to happen.  One of the Rufous males was putting on a display; most likely not for me, but it seemed that way at the time.  With the Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens on the tripod set at 500mm, I let go with a burst @ 8 frames a second; and that's how long this hummingbird's display lasted----one second!!  One particular image was exactly what I had in my mind's eye; the photograph is below. Wyoming Hummingbird In-FlightRufous Hummingbird In-Flight, Wind River CanyonRufous Hummingbird male in-flight in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.      Early this morning, Saturday the 14th of July, with the hummingbird-feeder near empty, I cleaned it, filled it with homemade nectar (pure-sugar water), and sat down with a camera and my old-favorite lens, the 70-200mm F/4L Canon. 

     After loads of patience and a few nasty words under my breath, I'd gotten the pictures I wanted of a male Rufous Hummingbird.  I shot these two photographs (because we couldn't decide which we liked more) with manual exposure settings & manual focus!  He was sitting on an ancient basket handle in the shade, the Sun blazing down on the Wind River Canyon behind him. 

     It took few extra brain cells to make these exposures of the bird correct, but dammit if it didn't work:  these pictures were shot and in post-production this morning!  They both show off the male's gorget (named after the neck-piece that protects a knight) to full affect.  Because we couldn't decide, both photographs are shown below. Wyoming Hummingbird, Rufous, Wind River CanyonRufous Hummingbird, Wind River CanyonRufous Hummingbird male on a branch in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. Wyoming Hummingbird, male Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird male, Wind River CanyonRufous Hummingbird male on a branch in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.      Some people wonder why there are still manual settings on cameras, but this is a case in point.  As sophisticated as these cameras are, it couldn't get the exposure even close to being correct----I had tried that first!  The background is white because it's blown out completely by the sunlit Wind River Canyon, but it looks cool that way, doesn't it?  Five minutes later, with the Sun lighting him, these pictures would have looked completely different!!!

     Take notice of this male Rufous Hummingbird's tattered tail.  He is a knight, fighting other knights in the Wind River Canyon for the privilege of the company of a lady....or two.  Of the four species of hummingbirds we see in the Wind River Canyon, the Rufous is the most aggressive and dominant.  There seems to be a reason that the males are the color of the Tiger......

     Thank you for your time and reading my Wind River Canyon Blog from the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.  All photographs and wildlife stories are protected by copyright laws ignored throughout the known universe.

     *For many more hummingbird photographs and pictures of a hundred other species of Wyoming birds and Bighorn Sheep all photographed in the magical Wind River Canyon, visit my website HogbatsPhotography.com

Michael John Balog----Wind River Canyon----Wyoming

 

Thank You

 

MjB

 

 

             

 

           

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of Wyoming Hogbats Photography HogbatsPhotography.com Hummingbird hummingbird photograph hummingbird photography Hummingbirds Michael John Balog Nature Photography Rufous Rufous Hummingbird Thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories Wind River Canyon Wyoming Wyoming Hummingbirds Wyoming Wildlife https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/7/new-wyoming-hummingbird-photographs Sat, 14 Jul 2018 22:14:21 GMT
The Spider and the Wren https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/6/the-spider-and-the-wren      Many years ago I sort of inherited an old wren house.  It was broken and weathered severely but it had promise to become a home for tiny birds.  After cobbling the wooden birdhouse together I had another problem; where to put it.  

     As you may, or may not know, House Wrens are more than a little opinionated as to where a birdhouse for them is located, and of course what it is made of, and the size of the entrance; and the inside better be nice and clean!  The hole must be one and a quarter, no more, no less.  Natural wood is preferred, but the right wren house is the right birdhouse.  It's really about location, location, location; which is all any real estate agent needs to know.

     You cannot have two Wren houses any where near one another----period!  They are very territorial and will fight, and dispose of the competitions eggs and young on occasion----photos below are testament.

The Egg & I-#1The Egg & I-#1House Wren tossing an egg out of another birdhouse! The Egg & I-#2The Egg & I-#2House Wren watching the egg fall that she threw out of another nest!

     Very early one morning, at a time when we dream, I awoke knowing the perfect place to put the birdhouse; it had to be mounted under the eve within sight of my bedroom window.  Every year before spring arrives I unscrew the bottom panel and clean out the mess.  For many years now I have two families reared in this wren-house each season.  The male House Wren sings his lyrical song every morning in the Wind River Canyon while I dream to his music. 

House Wren Singing Video-Wind River Canyon, WyomingVideo of a House Wren singing his song in the quiet Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      I have photographs of baby wrens and even their parents feeding them.  I have photographs of the female lining her nest with feathers she found nearby....and every year I try for an image that has plagued me for ages:  a photograph of a female wren with a spider!!

House Wren-"Feeding Junior"-Wind River Canyon, WYHouse Wren-"Feeding Junior"-Wind River Canyon, WYHouse Wren Mother feeding her Baby Wren @ Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. House Wren Babies-Wind River Canyon, WyomingHouse Wren Babies-Wind River Canyon, WyomingHouse Wren Babies in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      House Wren, "Building the Nest"-Wind River Canyon, WyomingHouse Wren, "Building the Nest"-Wind River Canyon, WyomingHouse Wren Building Her Nest in The Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.

     This spring I was determined to fulfill my yukky desire to photograph a wren with a spider that will make some people cringe.  I'd shot images every year but hated each and every picture, but this year I had an edge....a longer lens, oh, and more determination!  I hate spiders so this was not a labor of love; not at all.  The photograph below is the result of years of shooting hundreds of photos....and I still absolutely hate spiders!

House Wren with SpiderThe Spider and the WrenHouse Wren with a Spider she has for her babies photographed in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.

My caption for this photograph would be----"Oh, Mom....spiders again!"

     The baby House Wrens that were raised with the help of this big spider have already left the nest, and the male has another girlfriend already; all within the span of several weeks!  And every morning his brilliant songs continue.

     Thank you for reading my Wind River Canyon Blog.  All wildlife stories and photographs on my website HogbatsPhotography.com are hopefully protected under copyright laws that are routinely ignored throughout the galaxy.  

Michael John Balog- wildlife photographer/writer

 

"Keep your camera ready!"      

     

 

      

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of Wyoming Hogbats Hogbats Photography HogbatsPhotography.com Michael John Balog Nature Photography Thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories Wind River Canyon Wyoming Wyoming Wildlife https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/6/the-spider-and-the-wren Sat, 30 Jun 2018 21:13:05 GMT
Wyoming Wildflowers 2018 https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/6/wyoming-wildflowers-2018      Not so long ago, I was on the south-end of the Wind River Canyon photographing wildflowers for my website HogbatsPhotography.com.  It was a warm June morning with not a single cloud in the Wyoming-blue sky.  In just over an hour I had images of 11 different species of wildflowers; the 12th, the Primrose, had wilted in the morning sun.  As I was making my way down the hillside with camera in-hand, my right foot slipped on the soft ground.  Since my right hand was occupied, I caught my slip/slide with my left hand----save the expensive camera!  

Yucca, Wind River CanyonYucca, Wind River CanyonYucca/Soapweed wildflowers blooming in the Wind River Canyon.       My left hand had landed on a small (hand sized) Yucca plant!  Native Americans used the sharp tips as sewing needles!!  I hollered some four-letter word and looked at my palm; it was covered with tiny, red pearls of blood; about nine or ten!  Apparently, I had received Mother Nature's acupuncture.  After slapping my hand to my yellow shirt, I looked at my palm and there was no more blood; I was surprised.  The rest of the way down was difficult but uneventful.  It's also called the soapweed, because with the roots you can make soap; a useful plant, and sharp!!!  The image on the left is a large Yucca (Yucca glauca) in bloom.  Deer just love the flowers.

 

 

Wyoming Indian Paintbrush, Wind River CanyonWyoming Indian Paintbrush, Wind River CanyonWyoming Indian Paintbrush wildflowers in the Wind River Canyon.       This is a photograph from that same morning of the famous Wyoming Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia).  It's kind of a semi-parasitic wildflower, because it cannot survive without the sagebrush and it's extensive root system.

     A lady once asked me why she couldn't buy seeds for the Indian Paintbrush flowers for her garden; she didn't like the answer.  Another woman told me she dug up paintbrush flowers and planted them in her garden; she wanted to know why they died; she didn't like the answer any more than the first dummy did.

 

 

 

Sego Lily, Wind River CanyonSego Lily, Wind River CanyonSego Lily wildflower in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.     This is the Sego Lily (Calochortus nuttallii) which is about the size of those small oranges; they are a real standout in the springtime.  The bulbs are edible; please don't eat them....there aren't that many around.  

     This is the state flower of Utah and is also called the Mormon Lily. 

     The Sego Lily is a beautiful wildflower in the Wyoming countryside.

 

 

 

 

Wyoming, Mouse-ear ChickweedMouse-ear Chickweed, Wind River CanyonMouse-ear Chickweed wildflowers in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.       This is one of my favorite Wyoming wildflowers, because it blooms in my front yard early in the spring.  It's name is the Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium arvense).  The flowers are about the size of a thumbnail.  This image was taken right after a mountain rainstorm. 

    

     *If you click on any image it will open full-size in my website!

 

 

 

 

 

Horsetail Wildflower, WyomingSmooth Horsetail, Wind River CanyonSmooth Horsetail wildflower in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.       This weird looking thing grows down by the creek that runs through our property, here in the Wind River Canyon.  It took forever to figure out what they are, because it wasn't what we thought they were! 

      It's the Smooth Horsetail (Equisetum laevigatum).  Believe it or not, teabags of this is available from Amazon.  The Horsetail has medicinal qualities and has been used since ancient times for things like hair-growth and arthritis, but be cautious, it can have some real nasty side effects from what I've researched.  It was also used for scrubbing pans!

 

 

 

Alpine Bladderpod, Wind River CanyonAlpine Bladderpod, Wind River CanyonAlpine Bladderpod wildflower in the Wind River Canyon.       This bizarre plant is the seedpods of a most unremarkable, small yellow wildflower.  I always thought it looked like it came from Mars!  Even with three books it was impossible to identify without the use of searches, and searches, and searches.  

      This is called the Alpine Bladderpod (Lesquerella alpina).  It's weird and it's out here in Wyoming....

 

 

 

 

 

False Solomon's Seal, Wind River CanyonFalse Solomon's Seal, Wind River CanyonFalse Solomon's Seal wildflowers in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.       These beautiful wildflowers bloom on a hillside next to the creek not far from my cabin.  They are maybe ten inches tall and bloom early in the springtime.  These massive blossoms are the False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum).  They are "false" because they don't have the medicinal qualities of it's cousin.  

     They bloom on a hillside and it's challenging to photograph them; it requires some cheesy gymnastics....and not far from those are....

 

 

 

Star False Solomon's Seal, Wind River CanyonStar False Solomon's Seal, Wind River CanyonStar False Solomon's Seal wildflower in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.       These wildflowers grow not far from the above plants, but they stick to the more shaded and damp areas; they are the Star False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellataum).  The "star" part I get....They are few and far between and hard to find in the Wind River Canyon.

 

 

    

     Putting together an album of wildflowers for my website is more of a challenge than you'd think.  First is the photography itself, which takes some walking, climbing and maybe some bleeding!  To be honest, this is the part I like best of all.  All that fresh air and hiking is good for your mind and soul.  

     Second, identification can take many, many hours of research; I still don't know what some flowers are after years of wondering.  And most books have lousy photos or are difficult to find something in particular you're looking for.  A  Kindle book on "Wyoming Wildflowers" is a jumbled mess, but still a good read; sort of.  

     The real kicker is timing; there is always something blooming in the Wind River Canyon and Wyoming----you just have to be in the correct place at the right time.  Most of these wildflowers don't bloom for very long, and some are food for wildlife:  Deer just love the Yucca flowers; and no, I haven't tried them for myself.  If my timing is wrong, then I'll have wait till next year!  And to be perfectly honest with you, some wildflowers in the canyon I've never seen blooming; I know they're there but have never seen them for myself----right place, right time.

     I am going to try and write a blog about some more Wyoming wildflowers photographed in the Wind River Canyon----if I can get the timing correct.  One of my favorites is the Monkey flower, and it's blooming right now down by the creek.  

     My sage advice....get up....get out....and go for a hike in beautiful Wyoming; and stop to smell the Wild Roses, which are still blooming right now!

     All the nature stories in the Wind River Canyon Blog and the photographs therein, and all content of my website, including wildlife videos, are produced and directed by Michael John Balog and all rights are reserved.

     Please visit my website HogbatsPhotography.com for photographs of hummingbirds, bighorn sheep, bluebirds, orioles, and many, many more of the wild animals that live in the magical Wind River Canyon.

Thank you for reading my work.

 

MjB

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

        

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography nature stories thermopolis wildflower photographs wildflowers wildlife wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming wyoming wildflowers https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/6/wyoming-wildflowers-2018 Sat, 16 Jun 2018 23:44:07 GMT
Living with Marmots in the Wind River Canyon https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/6/living-with-marmots-in-the-wind-river-canyon      The Wind River Canyon is a gorgeous emerald green right now.  Wildflowers are Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Wind River Canyon, WyomingRose-breasted Grosbeak, Wind River Canyon, WyomingRose-breasted Grosbeak, a rare visitor to the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. blooming, birds are singing and building nests, the buzz of hummingbirds can be heard, wild roses scent the morning breeze, and a tiny wren sings by my bedroom window.  The beautiful orange orioles are always a welcome sight each spring.  But most important of all, the babies of wild animals are glimpsed by the sharp eyed, or the very lucky.

     Everyone feeds the wild birds, yet sometimes there are unforeseen consequences.  We attract birds here in the canyon that may not be observed anywhere else; a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was seen here yesterday!  

     It really isn't our fault that others are attracted to the goodies we put out for the birds, even if they are really, really cute.

     After living with and photographing wild animals of all kinds for twenty years in the Wind River Canyon, something's changed.  While I'm not exactly Dr. Doolittle, I have been know to "talk to the animals" with my own unique sound and whistles.  Many birds come to know and trust me, and this is inspiring, to say the very least.  For the past two years I've been working with, and getting to know, the Marmots that live in the area.  It has taken untold hours of patience to get them to trust me even a little bit.  I suppose they have good reason not to trust anyone; they've been systematically slaughtered for over a century.

     Marmots are the most inoffensive of creatures; they're actually chubby ground squirrels.  They never seem to fight, even for a food source.  When the food is obviously limited, they never compete or argue, they share equally all the time; even in mixed age groups.  They don't growl or hiss competitively like domestic household pets.  Marmots share in a way that is atypically human, and they don't smell bad.  They seem to enjoy company and greet each other affectionately.  An older adult Marmot is always watching for trouble, and gives a crazy-loud whistle to warn the others of danger.  

     Imagine our surprise when they found the sunflower seeds we put out for the wild birds.  They're vegetarians and just love the seeds, and dry dog food that is mostly ground corn; which we thought was funny.  

     Last night I set up a photo-shoot with the baby Marmots that were born just a stone's throw away from my cabin door.  I worried that they might be frighted by the big, black lens and camera; stay calm and move slowly.  These young, baby Yellow-bellied Marmots just came out of their deep underground nests the first week in May.  They obviously trust me as I was only ten feet away; a place I've sat before with them and the adults. Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, 4 Marmot BabiesFour Marmot BabiesFour Marmot babies in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.       It was a lot of fun and a real-life natural high that only nature's wild things can deliver.  Living here in this magical canyon is a gift and sometimes even a surprise or four.  These baby Marmots are about the size of an eggplant, but a lot more adorable.  I used to "hunt" them, too; and I feel real guilty about that now that we are "Living with Marmots in the Wind River Canyon."

     Thank you for ingesting my Wind River Canyon Blog.  All wildlife stories, photographs, and videos on my website, HogbatsPhotography.com are produced by Michael John Balog and are protected by copyrights that are recognized throughout the known universe.

             

      

 

 

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/6/living-with-marmots-in-the-wind-river-canyon Sat, 02 Jun 2018 22:51:42 GMT
The Incredible Broad-tailed Hummingbird in Wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/5/the-incredible-broad-tailed-hummingbird-in-wyoming      The weather here in the Wind River Canyon has been exceptional for the past three months; Vulture, Dumb & Dumber-Wind River Canyon, WyomingVulture, Dumb & Dumber-Wind River Canyon, WyomingTwo Turkey Vultures in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. haven't had the snowblower out since the middle of February!  That in and of itself is a bit strange, but not that unusual in this century.  Little old ladies used to tell me about snowdrifts over their homes.  As kids they would sled down from the rooftops!  But this was a hundred years ago.  Now it is so warm that a little hummingbird is one of the first migrating birds to arrive in this golden canyon of Wyoming.

     Sure, there are birds that migrate into and through the canyon sooner; huge Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) always arrive in the Wind River Canyon the first week of April, but they are here to clean up nature's yucky mess. 

     Having learned long ago to put up the hummingbird feeders the last week of April for the Bullock's Orioles (Icterus bullockii); weather permitting.  Late at night I would see a hummingbird darting around in near darkness, a ruby flash of a gorget barely visible.  I would glimpse one this close to the Bullock's Oriole,male-Wind River Canyon, WyomingBullock's Oriole,male-Wind River Canyon, WyomingPortrait of a Male Bullock's Oriole, Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. night, but never really see one:  I hoped to live long enough to photograph one here in the Wind River Canyon.

     The days of May are warm in Wyoming; in the mountains 70's are like a magic trick.  The nights even now are in the low 40's in the canyon, with deep snow in the high-country.  You'd think freezing temperatures would discourage a bird as small as your thumb from even getting near Wyoming in the month of May, but you'd be wrong! 

     On May 8th @ 12:36 p.m. a Broad-tailed Hummingbird male (Selasphorus platycercus) was eating lunch on the nectar feeder by my bedroom windows.  He hung around for a few brilliant days to "garbage up." 

     A few days after his arrival, a female was observed on another of the feeders.  Even though Broad-tailed Hummingbird Waving HelloBroad-tailed Hummingbird Waving HelloThe wings of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird imaged in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming. this particular hummingbird species is the largest of the four that nest in the Wind River Canyon, they can be the most shy and are bullied by the others at times; is this why they need to arrive earlier than other hummingbirds?

     It's a real challenge to photograph any living thing that is shy, let alone a bird that is faster than your car and smaller than a salt shaker.  But hummingbird photography is what got me into documenting the wildlife in the Wind River Canyon in the first place.  

     It's amazing that a hummingbird that winters in Mexico even wants to come to Wyoming when blizzards can and do happen, but, here they are.  This morning while having coffee, we enjoyed the company of a Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) male having his breakfast after a cold and very rainy night.  The Broad-tailed now arrives before the buntings, the grosbeaks, the orioles.....even many of the Snow Birds!  

     Last summer, after nearly two decades, I finally got the photograph of a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird in-flight that was my fantasy.  I got the picture of him from my favorite "high-hide."  It's a secret spot that has yielded three first place awards at the  annual Cody Art Show!  I feel that it is a privilege to be able photograph these incredible hummingbirds, in this, one of their nesting places in Wyoming.   Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Broad-tailed Hummingbird In-FlightBroad-tailed Hummingbird In-FlightThe first time a Broad-tailed Hummingbird has been photographed in-flight in Wind River Canyon in Wyoming!      He was imaged @ 1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 400 with my old-favorite Canon 70-200mm f/4L; a lightweight and super-sharp lens.  Honestly, I've shot many hundreds of frames to get this one that I can work in post-production and love enough to put on my website HogbatsPhotography.com.

     The other two hummingbird species traditionally have arrived in early in July; Calliope (Stellula calliope) and the Rufous (Selasphorus rufus).   Callliope Hummingbird, "In Flight" - Wind River Canyon, WYCallliope Hummingbird, "In Flight" - Wind River Canyon, WYCalliope Hummingbird in-flight photographed in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. Rufous Hummingbird, Wind River Canyon,Wyoming  -  1st Place - 48th Cody Art ShowRufous Hummingbird, Wind River Canyon,Wyoming - 1st Place - 48th Cody Art ShowHummingbirds of the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming, 1st Place-48th Cody Art Show.      The Calliope Hummingbird (upper photo) is the smallest migrating bird in North America, the Rufous Hummingbird (duh, lower photo) is three and three-quarter inches of tiger attitude; hence the color, I guess.  We won't be seeing either of these species till mid-June at the earliest.  They have both been migrating into the canyon earlier than a decade and a Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Black-chinned Hummingbird, PortraitBlack-chinned Hummingbird, Portrait, Wind River Canyon, WyomingBlack-chinned Hummingbird Portrait. half ago.  Even at the smallest level climate change seems to be effecting the behavior of wildlife; these are my own observations in the Wind River Canyon.

     For those readers that have never seen a Black-chinned Hummingbird up close and personal, here is my favorite picture of a male; remember that he is the size of your thumb!

     To steal a phrase from a favorite film; hummingbirds are magical creatures and it is easy to become fascinated by them, and I hope you will, too.

 

     Thank you for reading this week's Wind River Canyon Blog about a few of my favorite things.  All wildlife stories and photographs are the creation of Michael John Balog and are protected by international copyright laws recognized by everyone but crooks.

 

MjB   

                

             

     

       

 

 

       

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming black-chinned broad-tailed calliope hogbats hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com hummingbird hummingbirds in-flight michael john balog nature photography rufous thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/5/the-incredible-broad-tailed-hummingbird-in-wyoming Sat, 19 May 2018 23:34:00 GMT
New Hawk Photographs from the Wind River Canyon! https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/5/new-hawk-photographs-from-the-wind-river-canyon      "Keep your camera ready" isn't just a snappy saying that I've written in my Wind River Canyon Blog many times, it's a steadfast rule when you live in the wild places of Wyoming; wildlife tends to appear like magic.  For instance, two days ago, Thursday, May 3rd, I had been out of the shower for a short time and noticed a hawk on an electric pole, maybe a hundred yards away!

     While watching this raptor scan the field for prey, he opened his wings and sailed down like a parachute, almost in slow-motion.  My mouth dropped open as I lost sight of this hawk; a beautiful winged display to be sure.  A very short time later, I don't know how long, he reappeared in the air, huge wings catching the afternoon canyon breeze.  

     I couldn't do much through a window at that distance, and I was mostly naked, and that's sure to scare away any raptor.  Slipping on some slippers and grabbing my favorite flannel shirt, I headed for my big-rig camera case; which is near a backdoor of the cabin.  Making some quick adjustments to my camera (ISO and shutter speed) I raced out the screen door still half undressed.  

     It was a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) and he landed on the top of a pine tree about half-way between where he'd been and my back, which was up against the house.  Setting the Tamron 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 @ 500mm, I watched this gorgeous raptor as the image-stabilization kept the image sharp in my mind, too.  Even after chasing raptors with cameras for twenty years now, my heart still races at the sight of these fascinating birds.

     This raptor saw me as I watched him through the lens; it seemed time for him to leave; I was ready with my finger on the shutter button.  It's said on Wall Street that timing is everything, and it's the same for wildlife photography.  As this spectacular bird took to the air, I let loose with a burst of 8 frames per second till the hawk was too far away to be of interest.

     Of the more than a dozen frames I had, only two blew me away!  The first two digital files of this hawk taking off were really cool, and I worked them in my usual wildlife manner; Digital Photo Professional, then Lightroom.  Couldn't decide which photo I like better, my wife couldn't either, so I printed them both large (12" by 13") to get a real look @ the pictures. Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Red-tailed Hawk in-FlightRed-tailed Hawk In-Flight, Wind River CanyonRed-tailed Hawk in-flight in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. Wyoming Red-tailed Hawk in-flight in the Wind River Canyon.Red-tailed Hawk In-Flight, Wind River CanyonRed-tailed Hawk in-flight in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.      This morning we were watching pine tree pollen swirling in the Wind River Canyon, like smoke from a forest fire, as the sun broke the eastern rim of the canyon; puffs of it rising like a blown-out candle.  The Red-tailed Hawk in the photographs has knocked off a couple of these tiny pods and the lens/camera captured these very small modules of allergy induced sneezes in my wife.  The tail of the hawk in the second image is in fine display, and his wingtips like fingers touching the canyon wind.

     In summation, real wildlife photography is not something that poses for you.  Wild animals are working for survival in a world that's more difficult for them than ever before.  They are assaulted from all sides by our civilization; many will not be here for our grandchildren.

     Thank you for your time and reading my Wind River Canyon Blog.  All these true wildlife stories and photographs are created and produced by Michael John Balog, and are protected by copyright laws recognized throughout the galaxy.

Till next time...."keep your camera ready."  Maybe keep some clothes nearby, too!

 

MjB

 

     

      

      

 

     

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) bird photography birds birds of wyoming canon hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography tamron thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/5/new-hawk-photographs-from-the-wind-river-canyon Sat, 05 May 2018 22:03:49 GMT
Do Birds Kiss? https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/4/do-birds-kiss      Living in a magical canyon in Wyoming is an education in and of itself.  Wildlife and birds live out their lives literally right in my backyard.  If I want to learn something new about the way nature really works, all I need do is walk over to a window and maybe see something that will make a cool journal entry----better yet, get your butt up and go outside!

     Nearly twenty years have already gone by since I took up residence in the Wind River Canyon, and the title of this weeks' Wind River Canyon Blog is an interesting one for me, as I have always had a keen interest in the psychology of all things:  Do Birds Kiss?  

     Up until my college years I would have probably laughed at the title of this blog; maybe your smiling right now.  But the implications of animals having emotions and even sharing those feelings with another seems alien; think about your favorite pet.  People read all sorts of emotions into their cats and dogs, but are they real? 

     We had a big sled-dog named Elvis that was smarter than some people I know, and he knew what he wanted, but was he really showing emotion when this 122 pound sled-dog wanted to "snuggle" or when he would bring his leash over to me?  Does that big hairy cat really truly love you?  My grandma swore that her little dog was trying to tell her something----"Get me out of this damn dryer!"  I contend the dog wanted to be bitten by that rattlesnake!

     Over 115 species of birds spend some of their lives here in the canyon, and I've observed instances of feelings and emotions in some of these birds.  Some show a crazy-keen interest in their young (i.e. Bullock's Orioles come to mind), others seem to care little for their offspring; any of this sound like someone you know?  But, kissing.....?

     If they weren't sharing a sunflower seed, then what were they doing?  I've witnessed this behavior in finches here in the Wind River Canyon many, many times.  Sometimes the behavior seems aggressive, but most of the time, not.  A lot like the kids in the backseat at the prom, it's hard to tell what's going to happen next.  But what are these birds doing anyway!! Two Cassin's Finches in Wyoming.Kissing Cassin's FinchesCassin's Finches kissing in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.      None of this conjecture really explains what these two finches are actually experiencing at this moment.  It's springtime and mating season is here in the Wind River Canyon again, which could easily explain this kissing behavior, if you can believe in that sort of thing.  It seems to be tender enough, considering that those beaks can crack open a seed.

     This old man now feels the rhythm of nature in ways I could never have imagined before I sat down by the creek and let time slip away.  Untold thousands of hours have been spent observing and photographing the behavior of the wildlife and rhythms of the Wind River Canyon.  The canyon is showing green again, after a very mild winter here. 

     I had the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 on a tripod, and was using our cabin as a blind last week, when I finally photographed a pair of Cassin's Finches in the act of bird-kissing.  A lot of patience and a fast finger really are a big help.  

     Find a wild green-place near where you live and sit down and try not to think; hard to do?  Now, just observe and keep quiet as the field mouse.  What do you see, now?  What do you hear?  Listen closer and you will hear and see impossible things; beautiful things.  This is how I first found a place where Mountain Bluebirds come to nest.  An unexpected thrill each and every spring.  I'd like to think some birds kiss....and you? Wyoming Mountain Bluebird In-FlightMountain Bluebird In-FlightWyoming Mountain Bluebird In-Flight Photographed in Wyoming.      All photographs and wildlife stories on HogbatsPhotography.com are protected under galactic copyright agreements and can only be used by permission of Michael John Balog.

Thank you for reading my Wind River Canyon Blog.

 

MjB

 

 

                    

 

 

 

     

 

 

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography tamron thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wind river canyon blog wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/4/do-birds-kiss Sat, 21 Apr 2018 22:01:05 GMT
The Dancing Marmots of the Wind River Canyon https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/4/the-dancing-marmots-of-the-wind-river-canyon      For many, many years I have tried in vain to capture a particular image of an animal behavior here in the Wind River Canyon.  The mammal itself isn't rare in Wyoming and is considered a pest by many people, most of whom have no intimate knowledge of these vegetarian teddy bears. 

     Observing these chubby members of the ground squirrel family that live near our cabin is fascinating and sometimes quite amusing.  This Wind River Canyon Blog is about the hidden life of the Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris); a ground squirrel that can weigh twelve pounds!

     They have been poisoned, shot to pieces, their homes bull dosed over, and as I found out from many of my American Indian friends....."very tasty if cooked right."  And the answer to your next obvious question is NO, I haven't eaten any "Rock Chuck"; the colloquial name for these fat and furry animals.

     A famous woman in a nearby town asked me pointedly one day, "Where do they go in the winter?"  I told her that they really didn't GO anywhere:  Yellow-bellied Marmots spend three-quarters of their life underground and hibernate for eight months!  Later that day, when I was mulling over the information I'd given her about the life of a Rock Chuck in Wyoming, it seemed a lot funnier if I would have told her they took a bus to Arizona in the winter:)

     Spring after spring and year after year I'd try to get a good picture of the Marmots wrestling or dancing together; a behavior others have witnessed but never photographed.  It looks like they're wrestling but it seems more fun to think of them as dancing.  Young and old alike participate in this "dancing" and it doesn't seem like it has anything to do with dominance behavior. 

     I've witnessed uncounted times in the green field, two rock chucks doing a wrestle/dance together.  Different ages, different sexes and different sizes, they all do this slightly wild dance.  It sometimes seems a little violent but there is never any blood, just this wild dance number without a tune.  It's intimate to be sure and nigh impossible to photograph because it is always too far away and it's all happening to a quick beat.  But this all changed with the monster Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens; now I could peek in on them with out being in the way. Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Yellow-bellied MarmotsMarmots Wrestling in Wind River CanyonYellow-bellied Marmots wrestling and dancing in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.      Hiding behind some wild roses last week gave me the chance to try once again to image these cute, little ground squirrels doing their morning dance.  If you've ever been to a big city dance club, it looks like that; violent but isn't really; they're just having fun.  The "Tamzooka" was hand held, because that's the way I like to work, besides, it's just a good workout.

     The lens was zoomed in at 450mm, 1/640th @ f/6.3, ISO 400.  Tamron's image stabilization worked flawlessly and helped me concentrate on my models dancing instead of the image dancing in my viewfinder.  For those who think IS is just for low-light situations, it isn't....it is very helpful when you are studying just such a wildlife situation with a telephoto lens; it holds the image still so you can concentrate your mind on the animal's behavior instead of the wobble in the viewfinder.

     One final bit of information about these cute, ground squirrels; their lifespan is fifteen years.  They dig giant holes in the ground near boulders for protection from predators, and will try and eat the veggies you're growing in your garden; now, if I can only keep them from digging huge holes in MY yard!!

     Thank you for reading my Wind River Canyon Blog direct from Wyoming.  Until next time, keep your camera ready.

     All photographs, images, and wildlife stories are produced by Michael John Balog and Hogbats Photography and are protected by copyrights known throughout the galaxy. Yellow-bellied Marmot yearling, Wind River Canyon, WyomingYellow-bellied Marmot yearling, Wind River CanyonYellow-bellied Marmot yearling in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. MjB

 

        

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com marmot marmots michael john balog nature photography rock chuck thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming yellow-bellied marmots https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/4/the-dancing-marmots-of-the-wind-river-canyon Sat, 07 Apr 2018 22:55:36 GMT
Springtime in Wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/3/springtime-in-wyoming      As the northeast part of our country has been experiencing blizzards after snowstorms (four-in-a-row), out here in Wyoming the past month has been exceptionally nice.  Here in the Wind River Canyon it has been hitting 71 degrees lately; not a record but a wonderful late-February early-March in the mountains. 

     The finches have just started to sing their songs, and bird migration into the canyon hasn't yet started.  The snow is mostly gone except for those hidden, northern hills where the sun cannot reach; every night everything freezes.  As I write this Wind River Canyon Blog it's mid-60's with a mind blowing blue sky this afternoon.  All this great Wyoming spring weather has given me time to work-out with (test) my new zoom lens.

     Just in time for this warm Rocky Mountain weather came a certified-refurbished Tamron SP150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 zoom lens....and I'm only going to write that long name down this once!  The price was great even if the warranty wasn't; such is the life of the starving artist.  It's honestly a real thrill to have a monster lens like this in my old, arthritic hands.  At one time a lens like this would have been unimaginable, or rather, just a dream.

     This super-zoom Tamron seemed real heavy at first in the field; the lens itself weighs nearly four and a half pounds!  After several weeks of daily use it all seems somehow lighter now.  Does this mean I'm getting stronger, or am I just getting used to carrying this tech-log around the canyon?  In any case, it slowly became easier.  Bottom line----used correctly, in steady hands this monster lens is a modern marvel, but it does take a commitment.

     This first picture is of one of my favorite wildlife models.  He is a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I've known and photographed since he was an ugly, brown raptor.  He was photographed on the morning of March 16th @ 1/1600, f/8, ISO 400. Wyoming Bald EagleWyoming Bald EagleBald Eagle in-flight imaged in the Wind River Canyon.      The eagle was photographed on a tripod, which is highly recommended with the Tamron 150-600mm lens.  The zoom was locked in at 500mm, which is a great feature.  He is a real beauty!!

     This next bird picture was imaged last Wednesday afternoon and was hand-held @ 400mm, 1/1000th, f/7.1, ISO 400 and is one of our favorite birds that reside all year long in the Wind River Canyon, a Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi), the most northern of the mountain-forest thrushes.  They eat juniper-berries in the winter here in the canyon, and can hover when they are feeding on their favorite food....flying bugs!  This photo is crazy sharp thanks to the new Tamron. Townsend's Solitaire photographed in the beautiful Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.Townsend's Solitaire, Wind River CanyonTownsend's Solitaire imaged in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.       As I wrote in my last blog, this Tamron is a heavy beast of a lens for the casual user, but a real magic trick of technology that at one time would have seemed impossible at any price, let alone the low price I paid.  And as summer very slowly approaches, I will practice every day in anticipation of my very favorite time of the year....hummingbird season!

     Thank you for reading about the wildlife and photography from the Wind River Canyon in wonderful Wyoming.  All content of  Wind River Canyon Blog and HogbatsPhotography.com are protected under copyright and is produced by Michael John Balog. 

We could use some snow!

MjB

Rufous Hummingbird, Wind River Canyon,Wyoming  -  1st Place - 48th Cody Art ShowRufous Hummingbird, Wind River Canyon,Wyoming - 1st Place - 48th Cody Art ShowHummingbirds of the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming, 1st Place-48th Cody Art Show.  

 

 

 

 

 

        

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com hummingbird michael john balog nature photography tamron thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/3/springtime-in-wyoming Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:44:03 GMT
A Red-tailed Hawk and a New Zoom Lens in Wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/3/a-red-tailed-hawk-and-a-new-zoom-lens-in-wyoming      Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) are neither rare nor endangered and are widespread from Alaska to Central America, yet, when was the last time you got a good glimpse of one?  Here in the Wind River Canyon they nest in the same crazy-high spot on the cliffs; unreachable for anyone without wings.  We've watched them rebuilding the same nest year after year, sometimes through a large astronomical telescope.  Raging spring blizzards have literally tore them from the cliffs, and they are back again this season for more of the same; seventy-five percent never make it past their first year!

     After the amazingly lucky incident with the Bobcat here in the canyon last month, I knew that it was time to acquire one of those new super-telephoto zooms.  Six months of research and guy-drooling led me to the one lens that was a cutting edge design, but affordable.  The big prime white lenses from Canon cost as much as a late-model car (example - 600mm f/4 = $12,999.00).  A week and a half ago I received a Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC G2----a real mouthful and a handful.  I settled for a certified refurbished that was just over 1K; a real bargain.

     With a half-century of experience, I can truly say that this new hyper-telephoto lens is a 21st century marvel; it is also a real commitment.  This is not a lens for the casual photographer, as online reviews show quite clearly.  It is very heavy compared to anything the weekender would need or want to carry around.  At 500 and 600 millimeter it is a magical beast that will wear-out the arms of anyone but a muscle-boy.  My shoulders were pleasingly sore after the first afternoon; I already feel my muscles getting stronger.

     I opened the boxes at my doctors office and went outside to test the lens for a few minutes on a dog and some buildings.  After some intense acupuncture I headed home to my cabin in the Wind River Canyon.  A male Red-tailed Hawk adult was on an electric pole and took flight when I exited the truck.  The underside of their wings are unusually beautiful and the photograph below is from that shoot; I had the new lens in my hands less than 10 minutes!  The zoom setting was maxed out at 600mm----1/1250, F/6.3 and ISO400. Red-tailed Hawk In-Flight, Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.Red-tailed Hawk In-Flight, Wind River CanyonRed-tailed Hawk in-flight in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.       It's the time of the year when raptors are defending territories.  A Red-tailed Hawk has been terrorizing small game in my section of the canyon and rebuilding the nest up on the "cliffs near the clouds."  Needing to keep "an eye peeled" at all times isn't convenient but does reap rewards.  Doing most of my photography handheld means exercising my arms and shoulders with the Tamron.  Keep in mind that the lens gets longer like Pinocchio's nose when you zoom higher!

     Yesterday morning he was hunting voles near the cabin, so I quietly ran out a backdoor to a juniper that I knew from experience would hide me till I took my shots.  I slid left and let the camera do it's thing.  RAPTOR SECRET #2 ---- birds of prey always do "number 2" before they take flight!  The best frame is below and shows him in-flight.  For those tech-geeks, the vignettes were added by me in Lightroom and is not present in the RAW files.  Lens was set at 500mm, 1/1250, F/11, and ISO 400. Red-tailed Hawk In-Flight, Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.Red-tailed Hawk In-Flight, Wind River CanyonRed-tailed Hawk in-flight in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming, photographed with a Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens.      Taking wildlife pictures in Wyoming can be a challenge; everything you want to photograph is a mile away!  The new Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC G2 lens is terrific and a delight to use.  The features and sharpness are professional and will come in handy here in the Wind River Canyon.  And I can feel my biceps getting stronger every day!

     The Wind River Canyon Blog and all the photographs on HogbatsPhotography.com are produced by Michael John Balog and are protected by international copyright laws.  

     To see Wyoming Hummingbirds photographed in the Wind River Canyon just hit this link to visit my gallery of hummingbirds on my website----Hummingbirds----you will see things you've never seen before....I promise.

Thank you for your time.

MjB     

 

 

      

        

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of prey birds of wyoming hawk hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com hummingbird michael john balog nature photography raptor raptors red-tailed hawk tamron 150-600mm g2 thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/3/a-red-tailed-hawk-and-a-new-zoom-lens-in-wyoming Sat, 10 Mar 2018 23:18:27 GMT
My First Image of a Bobcat in the Wind River Canyon https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/2/my-first-image-of-a-bobcat-in-the-wind-river-canyon      An old friend was visiting us here in the Wind River Canyon the last week during some sub-zero temperatures and a blizzard that came howling through.  Last Wednesday morning when he finally got around to starting his late-model truck....it wouldn't.  When you live on the Dark Side of the Moon you must be prepared.  A battery charger would do the trick, and we went back to watching the Olympics.

     Glancing at the clock, I walked over to the door and took a look.  The gauge looked fine and plunked back down into the couch and told him he probably could try starting his truck.  When he finally came back inside he just stood there for a moment; I asked him, "Did it start-up?"  My friend said yes, and that he was going to take his dog for a ride.  I hadn't been out of the cabin in days, except to blow the snow out of the driveway, so I bummed a ride with his black-dog that has no tail!

     Grabbing my favorite lens we headed south, which is up-river in the Wind River Canyon.  It was late-afternoon but portions of the canyon were already in shadow, this being the dead of winter.

     As he drove through the three tunnels and past the camping area, I saw a large mammal with a fuzzy tail on the other side of the Wind River; it was hunting!  I photographed a coyote a few days earlier across the river from the cabin.  My assumption at that particular moment was really, really wrong; it was not a coyote!

     When the lens snapped to focus, I realized just as fast that I had serendipity on my side again; this was a big, male Bobcat!!  He was hunting voles in the deep snow as the sun was threatening to disappear behind the canyon's rim.  Boy, did I ever luck out!  In nearly twenty years living in the canyon I had never seen a Bobcat; less than five minutes and sixty frames later it was all over, way too soon.

     I cannot afford one of those giant, crazy-expensive super-telephoto lenses, and I just hoped my 70-200mm f/4L Canon with the 1.4 extender would be enough to document such an amazing wildcat.  I knew that there was a lot of computer work ahead of me, one way or the other. Bobcat imaged in The Wind River Canyon.Bobcat in The Wind River CanyonBobcat photographed in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.      A Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is one really big kitty.  The largest wild Bobcat weighed in at an astounding 49 pounds, with unsubstantiated reports of 60 pounds!  They are 4 feet from head to the base of their stubby-tail, and usually hunt during twilight.  This male is just over two feet at the shoulder.  The oldest wild Bobcat lived 16 years, and a zoo-captive lived twice that; which goes to show how difficult living in the wild can be for wildlife.  A Bobcat has large retractable claws and have been known to take down prey as large as a deer!

     As I got back into my friend's truck I told him, "That was stupid lucky to see a Bobcat like that in the canyon!"  He said, "Like hitting the lottery?"  I told him quietly, just over the storm of the engine, "Yea, like that...."

    

     All wildlife stories and photographs in the Wind River Canyon Blog and my website  HogbatsPhotography.com are produced by Michael John Balog and are protected by copyright laws observed throughout this galaxy!!!

     Thank you for reading my blog about photographing wildlife in the Wind River Canyon in the wilds of the state of Wyoming.

 

MjB

 

      

    

      

      

 

 

    

    

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) big cats bobcat hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com lynx rufus michael john balog nature photography thermopolis wildcat wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/2/my-first-image-of-a-bobcat-in-the-wind-river-canyon Sat, 24 Feb 2018 22:37:02 GMT
A Hawk Arrives in the Wind River Canyon https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/2/a-hawk-arrives-in-the-wind-river-canyon      One early morning, not too long ago, while watching the stock-market do its morning dance from my bedroom in the Wind River Canyon, I spotted a raptor arced in-flight.  The white from under its large wings easily visible against the dark-green pines.  As the hawk curled its flight pattern it landed on a man-made perch; an electric pole.  He was at least a quarter of a mile away from my cabin. 

     When you live in the mountains it's best to keep a pair of binoculars near every window, and I grabbed the ancient-monster pair of 10 by 50's on the speaker.  He was a long way away, but it was definitely not a Red-tailed Hawk; this one seemed bigger.  I didn't recognize the species of this raptor, but it was now hunting in our stretch of the canyon.  

     Over the next week I spotted this raptor several times a day here in the Wind River Canyon, but seldom did it come hunting close enough for my meager lens.  At the moment I'm still shopping for an affordable lens with a long reach, so I loaded up the best thing I have available; an L-series 70-200mm Canon with a 1.4 III extender.  It doesn't have the reach but it does have great sharpness....it'll have to do I told myself.

     I had a handful of photographic opportunities over the week of it's presence here, but identifying the species of this hawk turned out to be as difficult as photographing him.  I had several great shots in which to i.d. this raptor; it was a late-stage juvenile, Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus).   Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Rough-legged HawkRough-legged Hawk, Wind River CanyonRough-legged Hawk photographed in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.      This particular image is one that illustrates how raptors have adapted.  It's more interesting than the usual in-flight photo, which I also took during his time here in the canyon.  This is a large bird with a wingspan over 4 and a half feet!  It seemingly hovers when hunting the voles that live all through the canyon.  This hawk showed almost as much patience hunting for his food as I did hunting for a picture.

     About a week of observing this raptor hunting our area of the Wind River Canyon and I noted one afternoon this hawk had moved on.  No raptor has ever stayed and hunted this stretch of the canyon for very long; it's not for lack of small game, that's for sure!  It seems to me that if you can fly on such wings, you should travel far.

     As a side-note....early this week, from this same window, I watched a female Bighorn Sheep moseying down the Wind River, eating and drinking along her way as she moved north in the Wind River Canyon.

     This Wind River Canyon Blog is produced by Michael John Balog and all rights are reserved, as are all of the wildlife photographs & true wildlife stories on my website-----HogbatsPhotography.com

Thank you for your valuable time.

 

MjB

      

 

 

           

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hawk hogbats hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography raptor rough-legged hawk thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/2/a-hawk-arrives-in-the-wind-river-canyon Sat, 10 Feb 2018 22:21:21 GMT
Wyoming Winter Birds https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/1/wyoming-winter-birds      Wintertime in Wyoming can be wildly brutal, or the weather can be like it is right now, here in the Wind River Canyon, with blue sky, no clouds and the temperature at 44 degrees.  The last of our snow is melting fast.  I've personally seen 42 below zero with wind chills at a staggering 70 something below!  The one thing to keep in mind is that it can only get better.....

     The above weather report is a definition of the hearty birds that reside in my ecological niche of Wyoming, specifically the Wind River Canyon.  Sure, we do get scary storms driven by mountain winds that can kill, or you could go snow-blind without your sunglasses.  And trust me when I say that frostbite hurts like hell itself.  Camera batteries quit, lenses frost over, and the color of my fingertips became an odd shade of blue!

     The most surprising bird that spends winters in the canyon is our American Robin (Turdus migratorius).  I couldn't possibly have come up with a funnier Latin-name!  They spend the winter here because of the easy food source; millions of juniper berries.  One winter afternoon I had one that allowed me to get stupid close; it's a favorite photograph of mine. American Robin/Portrait ~ Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.American Robin/Portrait ~ Wind River CanyonPortrait of an American Robin-Photographed in Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.     One of my favorite Wyoming winter birds is the Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi), because their whistle and song can be heard all winter long.  Their winter food source is the same as the robin; juniper berries.  In warm months they catch bugs in mid-air.  They also can hover in mid-air while snatching flying bugs or snagging a juniper berry.  While it's only for a few seconds at best, it really is a sight to see; and so far impossible for me to photograph.  The photograph below was taken right after a blizzard swept through the Wind River Canyon. Townsend's Solitaire-Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.Townsend's Solitaire-Wind River Canyon-WYTownsend's Solitaire with Juniper Berry in Wyoming.     Several finch species spend all year in the canyon Cassin's Finch, Male in Bloom, Wind River Canyon, WyomingCassin's Finch, Male in Bloom, Wind River Canyon, WyomingCassin's Finch, Male in Bloom this Spring, Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. eating sunflower seeds from my bird feeders, but in winter they are surprisingly dull in appearance.  The House Finch, Cassin's Finch, and American Goldfinch are regulars at my bird feeders.  In springtime the male's plumage blooms, but in winter they make boring models.  Here is a male Cassin's Finch in full spring bloom.

     I purchased a clear-plastic bird feeder that attaches to a window with suction-cups.  For months there was no interest in it at all, no matter what I put in it.  As the weather turned to snow several of the finches now use it as their breakfast spot, and we have our coffee two feet away; they've learned not to fear us.

     One day after an especially nasty blizzard a bird showed up that even I had never seen before in the Wind River Canyon----a Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra).  I ended up on my belly in the snow mere feet away, so close that a portrait of him was now easily possible.  I had never seen one before and have never seen one since. Red Crossbill-Wind River Canyon, WyomingRed Crossbill_A Portrait, Wind River CanyonRed Crossbill portrait photographed in Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      In winter, Canadian Geese (Branta canadensis) can be seen from the windows of my cabin overlooking the Wind River.  They are a common bird and seen nation-wide, so an uncommon bird-photo seems appropriate.  I had in mind the work of a popular woman artist, and this was the real challenge; work the software accordingly. Canadian Geese, In Flight, Wind River Canyon,WyomingCanadian Geese, In Flight-Wind River Canyon,WyomingCanadian Geese in flight in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      My favorite winter bird is the famously brave Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli).  They don't seem to be afraid of much, and sit impatiently nearby as I refill their feeder, calling to me to hurry up; everyone loves a chickadee.  When I'm bored, cold and lonely it's great to spend time with them----it's better than a cup of coffee. Mountain Chickadee - Wind River Canyon, WyomingMountain Chickadee - Wind River Canyon, WyomingMountain Chickadee in the Snow-Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.       On a winter's day, if you are sneaky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a bird digging a hole in a tree or maybe even in the ground.  They are in the woodpecker family, a family of birds that may be seen in Wyoming and the canyon.  Woodpeckers are not in the abundance they once were, mainly due to loss-of-habitat.  The species that I've seen and gotten to photograph in the Wind River Canyon are the Red-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus), the Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus), and my personal little favorite the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens).  If you listen closely and are very lucky, it's possible to hear them hammering away at a tree in the Wind River Canyon. Northern Flicker, Red-Shafted - Wind River Canyon, WyomingNorthern Flicker, Red-Shafted - Wind River Canyon, WyomingNorthern "Red-shafted" Flicker photographed in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. Hairy Woodpecker, Mother & Son-Wind River Canyon,WyomingHairy Woodpecker, Mother & Son-Wind River Canyon,WyomingHairy Woodpeckers in Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. Downy Woodpecker (m), Wind River Canyon, WyomingDowny Woodpecker (m), Wind River Canyon, WyomingA beautiful male Downy Woodpecker in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.      I've never really attempted to photograph ducks in the canyon, due to cost considerations of giant lenses, and honestly a lack of interest on my part.  But this all adds up to a yearly winter's obsession of mine; trying to photograph Bald Eagles in the Wind River Canyon.  While they don't nest in the canyon, they do hunt for fish up and down the Wind River; and this is the challenge.  They sometimes fly right over my house, yet try and find one when you want one, which is the real trick in photographing Bald Eagles in the canyon.  Keep an eye open at all times, and hope luck is on your side; and it won't be.  Here are a few Bald Eagle photographs that are favorites. Bald Eagle, Wind River Canyon, WyomingBald Eagle, Wind River Canyon, WyomingBald Eagle in-Flight photographed in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming. Bald Eagle, Wind River Canyon, WyomingBald Eagle, Wind River Canyon, WyomingBald Eagle in The Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. Bald Eagle, Valentine's Day, Wind River Canyon, WyomingBald Eagle, Valentine's Day, Wind River Canyon, WyomingBald Eagle photographed in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming, by Michael John Balog - HogbatsPhotography.com       One winter we had a rare-bird show up and he spent the entire winter with us.  He was really out of his usual territory, and it surprised the daylights out of us.  Every day we would look forward to seeing him at our feeders.  Anything blue in the winter is exciting, except those fingertips.  It was a beautiful specimen of a Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri). Steller's Jay-Wind River Canyon, Wyoming, photographed by Michael John Balog.Steller's Jay-Wind River Canyon, WyomingSteller's Jay photographed in Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      Some winters we see them, some winters we don't, and we don't know why.  They're small and cute and fun to photograph.  They really like the suet blocks I get for the birds, and they are not much bigger than my real obsession, hummingbirds.  I'm blogging now about the adorable Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis), we also have the White-breasted Nuthatch, but I have never seen one in the winter.  They are known as the "upside-down bird" for a reason; they are acrobats on the pines, running up and down the branches and trunks. Red-breasted Nuthatch, Wind River CanyonRed-breasted Nuthatch, Wind River CanyonRed-breasted Nuthatch male in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming. Red-breasted Nuthatch-"October Morning"-Wind River Canyon, WyomingRed-breasted Nuthatch-"October Morning"-Wind River Canyon, WyomingRed-breasted Nuthatch trying to keep warm on a cold morning in October, photographed in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.       This isn't every winter wild bird I've ever seen in the Wind River Canyon, and I probably skipped over somebody in this Wind River Canyon Blog.  I enjoy winter here in the canyon; it's amazingly beautiful, but eventually it's always nice when spring finally arrives!

     All photographs and wildlife stories are produced by Michael John Balog and all copyrights belong to the artist.  Visit www.HogbatsPhotography.com for more images of wild birds, Bighorn Sheep and hummingbirds all photographed in Wyoming and the magical Wind River Canyon. 

Thank you for your valuable time!

 

MjB

 

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

        

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/1/wyoming-winter-birds Sun, 28 Jan 2018 01:03:09 GMT
The Rarest Wild Animal You Will Ever See A Photograph Of https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/1/the-rarest-wild-animal-you-will-ever-see-a-photograph-of      When writing a blog entitled, "The Rarest Wild Animal You Will Ever See A Photograph Of," it pays to be entirely sure of the facts.  An albino anything is a rare beast and they don't survive in nature for very long; lacking in pigmentation does have it's health concerns.  Just finding an albino wild animal is "one-in-a-million."  In this 21st century self-centered culture anything of value is quickly taken, and a snow-white wild animal is definitely an easy target.

     It has been a decade since I'd first heard rumors about an albino Bighorn Sheep in and around the Wind River Canyon where I live.  While photographing Bighorn Sheep one afternoon, a retired game warden, who had been involved with their reintroduction in 1995,  said he'd heard about one that had been born nearby.  He wondered if I'd seen this albino Bighorn Sheep....I hadn't.  Then one day, there he was with the other Rams he ran with!

     This group of Rams came and went with the wind, and if I searched for them they seemed invisible.  I like to tell people that, "You don't find Bighorn Sheep in the Wind River Canyon, they find you!"  When they would make an appearance I'd dash out the door with a camera of some kind, and spend as much time as I was able----it was a crazy thrill!

     In the middle-of-the-night, after an especially exciting cession with this albino Ram, I had a dream.  It was so vivid that it still haunts me to this very day.  This Albino Bighorn Sheep was to be called "Snowflake."  I went to visit a wise Shoshone Indian I knew for answers.  

     This American Indian listened to my dream and saw the photographs I'd already taken of this very rare Bighorn Ram.  His sage advice was indeed wise, he said to me, "Don't question this gift and where it came from; accept this dream as a gift."  This Albino Bighorn Sheep was known thereafter as "Snowflake."

     One day I received an email from an acquaintance, and I knew from the link what it was.  A well know Wyoming newspaper had a photo of the woman that shot and killed Snowflake, his bloody body draped across her lap!  I didn't take the news very well; I cried like a child.  I'd spent more time with this Albino Bighorn Sheep and his friends then I'd spent with some family members.  And now he was dead, and I had the only professional photographs ever taken of Snowflake the Albino Bighorn Sheep.

     It has been just over three years since Snowflake was hunted down.  I still don't understand how a person could kill a Unicorn.  This is the only Albino Bighorn Sheep (take notice of his pink nose and hooves) any of us will ever see in our lives.  It was a very rare privilege to have spent so much time with such a unique wild animal.

    

     All photographs and wildlife stories are produced by Michael John Balog, resident of the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming, and are protected under international copyright laws.

     For more wildlife stories from the state of Wyoming-----visit Wind River Canyon Blog or my website HogbatsPhotography.com.  

*Thank you for indulging me with your time.

 

MjB

 

                      

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2018/1/the-rarest-wild-animal-you-will-ever-see-a-photograph-of Sat, 06 Jan 2018 22:39:30 GMT
The Wind River Canyon Christmas Card https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/12/the-wind-river-canyon-christmas-card

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the magical Wind River Canyon.

Thank You to everyone that visited my website in 2017!!

 

The music you hear during the Hummingbird Slideshow is "Under the Mistletoe"

 

*Click on this link to visit Hogbats Photography in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming!

*Click on this link to read my Wind River Canyon Blog.

 

     All photography and wildlife stories are written and produced by Michael John Balog, resident of the Wind River Canyon, and all rights are protected by international copyright laws.

 

Thank You!

 

MjB

 

*The Wind River Canyon Blog will return right after a very Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com hummingbird michael john balog nature photography thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/12/the-wind-river-canyon-christmas-card Sun, 17 Dec 2017 18:40:33 GMT
My Cute Little Nuthatch Wildlife Story https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/12/my-cute-little-nuthatch-wildlife-story      Last week, while writing my Wind River Canyon Blog, there was a small plink off the picture windows near where my old desk resides.  It wasn't a plunk, or a thud, it was definitely just a plink, and a small one at that.  I hopped up and looked out a window, and down there on the dry grass was a small bird in a decidedly spread-eagle position.  

     I knew what the little bird was right away.  But my photographing this species a thousand times didn't help this poor, little guy.  This bird-in-distress was a Red-breasted Nuthatch; a cute little bird species.  Running out the front door and heading down the steps I witnessed something even I had never seen----another Nuthatch flew down and landed close to his injured "friend."  It was just a moment, but the reaction from the other bird is was one that seemed to indicate the advanced trait of empathy....maybe he was just worried.

     Kneeling down, I picked up this little male and gave him the "Woodsman's Once Over" and his beak was perfect, and his eyes undamaged; a birds' eye often times will sustain an injury and will even swell-up shut:  His eyes were clear and fine.  He seemed a little loopy, but his neck was not broken; the usual cause of death from smacking into a window.

     Holding this Red-breasted Nuthatch in my hand was a real treat, but the circumstances surrounding this first meeting could have been a bit better for him.  Nonetheless, I whistled to him and enjoyed our first "talk."  After too short a time I placed him on a nearby boulder and raced into the house for a camera.  

     What surprised me the most from the resulting photo-shoot was how much he hated the click of my Canon.  Most birds and wildlife tend to ignore the sound, or barely take notice, but this male Nuthatch just hated it!  I took my time, and all too soon our time was up; he had to go....and I knew it. Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Red-breasted NuthatchRed-breasted Nuthatch, Wind River CanyonRed-breasted Nuthatch male in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.      The first thing you'll notice are the size of his feet!  Red-breasted Nuthatches spend most of their life running up and down trees....upside down.  They are a quickly moving, acrobatic little bird and rather difficult to image well, so this was a real treat of a shoot.  The darker "red" color is indicative of the male; the blue-grey is not over-saturated.  They eat bugs, seeds, my sunflower seeds, and they just love a suet block (available anywhere birdseed is sold).  

     Speaking of suet blocks, I put mine in a plastic-coated wire cage that are relatively cheap and come with a small chain for hanging them up.  Our Wind River Canyon raccoons took a liking to the suet blocks!  One morning I found ours on the ground and empty!  The small chain had bent from the weight of the fat raccoon, so I reloaded another block and bent the chain back.  I figured everything would be just fine.  The next morning the chain was still attached to the tree....but the new suet block and cage holding it were long gone!  A long search didn't help.

     After buying a new cage for another suet block, I engineered it a little differently.  I mounted it upside down to the tree by screws after removing the soft-metal chain.  Now I could hang on it and the suet cage would stay put!  Several weeks later the suet block cage is still on the old, dead tree where the bird feeder is also hung, and I locked it closed with a small climbing link.  The claw marks from the raccoons on the tree trunk are very funny.  And yes, they have knocked down the bird feeder, too.

     Back to the Nuthatch wildlife story....they were first named in 1766 by Carl Linnaeus, and are small at 4.5 inches from "head to tail."  They weigh just a third of an ounce!  About the size of a very, very, fat hummingbird.  But the real story is the close-up I wanted to capture of the feather structure of his wings.  I worked the digital file like an art project, as I do most everything now.  The result was so cool I uploaded it to my website----www.HogbatsPhotography.com. Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Detail of Red-breasted Nuthatch Wing!Detail of Red-breasted Nuthatch, Wind River CanyonClose-up detail of the feathers of a Red-breasted Nuthatch, Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming.      All too soon it was apparent it was time for him to leave.  I took the camera from my eye, and watched him fly.  I stood there for a moment in thought, then turned and went inside to finish my writing.  

     *Thank you for reading the Wind River Canyon Blog.  All rights to the story and the photographs are protected under international copyright laws and created by Michael John Balog and Hogbats Photography.

 

MjB

 

           

              

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/12/my-cute-little-nuthatch-wildlife-story Sat, 09 Dec 2017 23:03:01 GMT
My Cabin in the Woods https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/12/my-cabin-in-the-woods Wyoming, Wind River Canyon, Chimney RockWyoming, Wind River Canyon, Chimney RockChimney Rock in beautiful Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      I saw the Wind River Canyon, for the first time, in my fourteenth year.  Coming from the suburbs of Cleveland, "The Heart of Rock & Roll," it was like moving to the Moon.  The old-folks thought if the kids couldn't hear or buy rock music they could all be brainwashed; it didn't work, of course.  Late at night there was a radio-station in Oklahoma that jacked-up the power and played searing rock:  I would fall asleep with a radio under my pillow!

     Wyoming is a different place entirely, and that may be my best description.  The air is clean and the people are friendly in a way that can be disarming to travelers.  An editor at the Cody newspaper once asked me, "Why are people so friendly in Wyoming?"  I told him, "It's the altitude....lack of oxygen to the brain."  We both had a good laugh.

     There's a freedom to the air, a freedom to the open-spaces, and the mountains free your heart like few places in this country.  Mother Nature isn't just on display in Wyoming, she lives out here somewhere. All you have to do to find her is to spend some time in the high-country; mountain air cleans out all the stressful crap of the 21st century.                                                                Wind River Canyon, WyomingWind River Canyon, WyomingThe Tepees in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.

     From that late-day in July so many years ago, I knew that someday I wanted to live in the Wind River Canyon.  It was even written in a book I have...."The Wind River Canyon is a magical place."  And truly it is quite special.  The weather can change dramatically, and I mean dramatically. 

     It has been unseasonably warm for late-November and early-December, yet it has snowed three times this fall in the canyon.  We've seen 35-below zero in the canyon, with winds that could run you over, but today we could see temps near 60.  Next week my tongue could freeze to the fence-post, or I could get a sunburn, but what my tongue would be..........

     Early in the morning the cliffs are painted with gold, the air whispers the scent of juniper, and the creek sings it's tunes just beyond my backdoor.  I've photographed and cataloged more than 110 species of birds in the Wind River Canyon, and stupid-lucky enough to have spent lots of time with Bighorn Sheep:  Including the rarest of the rare, an Albino Bighorn Sheep named "Snowflake."

Rufous Hummingbird, Wind River Canyon,Wyoming  -  1st Place - 48th Cody Art ShowRufous Hummingbird, Wind River Canyon,Wyoming - 1st Place - 48th Cody Art ShowHummingbirds of the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming, 1st Place-48th Cody Art Show.      I've watched the Aurora wash across the canyon's dark sky; the Moon in eclipse framed by the cliffs, and this summer's fabulous, total solar eclipse.  The mountains of the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, the great Andromeda Galaxy, the Orion Nebula and too many deep-sky objects to name individually have all been seen from these darkest of skies.  And yet the tiny hummingbirds that come to nest in the Wind River Canyon every summer are my real favorites to photograph.

     *Hummingbirds are not my interest, they are my obsession.

     When I'm not feeling well and my colitis is flaring up, there's a special place down by the creek----my favorite spot on planet Earth, that seems to make me better.  The spring water brings life not only to the canyon, but to me.  This spot makes me feel better no matter what the cause, and I've witnessed many wonderful things while sitting by the rushing waters. 

     Big stags were seen relaxing in my front yard this fall, and raccoons, ermine, owls and many creepy, crawlies are seen often.  Bald Eagles fly over my cabin and I've heard the cry of the Golden Eagle echoing here.  Life is abundant in the Wind River Canyon. Wind River Canyon - Monochrome with TrainWind River Canyon - Monochrome with TrainMonochrome Landscape of Wind River Canyon with Train, Wyoming.       The sound of the trains rumbling through the canyon makes me smile, a love I got from staying with Nana and Gramps as a child in Ohio.  The sound of an owl hooting at 3 o'clock in the morning is amazing.  The sound of a hummingbird gets my heart to racing.  The sound of thunder echoing back and forth in the canyon should be witnessed, but right now it's as quiet as the field mice I see at night.  

Chipmunk, Wind River Canyon, WyomingChipmunk, Wind River Canyon, WyomingPhotographic Portrait of a Chipmunk in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      As I've been known to say, "The Wind River Canyon is a dynamic place to live."  Landslides, slippery roads, "Chief falling rock", blizzards, dumb drivers, no mail, 103 degrees or below zero, it all makes the canyon an interesting place to live.  If the day's news gets you down, as it always will, go for a walk in the canyon.  Clear your mind of troubles, and you will find Mother Nature at your side....or a chipmunk!

     Don't for a moment think I'm rich, the land values around here are low----and I'm not rich.  It's difficult to make a great living when you live out here, in the "middle-of-nowhere."  But I get paid in ways few can ever really understand, my images just hint at this.  Nature will change your life, just give her a chance.

 All images and stories are the property of Michael John Balog and Hogbats Photography and are protected by international copyright laws, such as they are.

Visit my website, www.HogbatsPhotography.com for many more wonderful wildlife and nature photographs from the Wind River Canyon and Wyoming.

Thank you for reading my Wind River Canyon Blog.

 

MjB 

 

 

    

      

              

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com hummingbird landscape michael john balog nature photography rufous hummingbird thermopolis wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wind river canyon blog wyoming wyoming landscape https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/12/my-cabin-in-the-woods Sat, 02 Dec 2017 22:41:18 GMT
The Summer I Spent with the Wild Turkeys https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/11/the-summer-i-spent-with-the-wild-turkeys Wild Turkeys, Wind River Canyon, WyomingWild Turkeys, Wind River Canyon, WyomingWild Turkeys In My Yard, Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.       Everyone has heard about the elusiveness and intelligence of the Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), and it's common knowledge that Ben Franklin admired this unfortunately tasty wild bird.  I've met many hunters that have never even got a shot off at one, or saw one for that matter.  Yet on a warm day in April in the Wind River Canyon, several years ago, these two showed up in my backyard here in the canyon.

     I wasn't just surprised, I was startled; Wild Turkeys had never been seen in the Wind River Canyon in the last half century, or so I was told.  I have a lot of respect for the Wild Turkey:  I had a knockdown fight with a huge, male Wild Turkey a year earlier that left nasty, red welts on my chest!  These two monsters in my yard did scare me a bit....so, I was admittedly cautious at first.

     With any wild animal it's important to know all there is about your prey; like to stay far away from wildlife that can eat you!  Eventually, going out the front door seemed like a good solution.  They could see me coming from quite a distance, and I would have lots of cement to run-off in my Nike's.  But my very first meeting didn't turn out that way.  These two Wild Turkeys were friendly towards me....weirdly so.  We quickly became fast friends. Wild Turkey, "The Big Show" - Wind River Canyon, WyomingWild Turkey, "The Big Show" - Wind River Canyon, WyomingWild Turkey strutting his stuff this Spring in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.

     These two led a charmed life that summer; traffic would stop as they crossed the road in the morning, and me with my heart in my throat watching from a window!  A big cup of sunflower seeds shaken, and my "famous" double whistle, and they would literally come running up the driveway.  We went through this feeding ritual twice every day, with me sitting right next to them.

     One very memorable July evening, we barbecued two Buffalo fillets, and our two Wild Turkeys ate their dinner right next to the picnic table where we were having ours.  It was a crazy, exciting summer's evening.  

     One of my favorite things to photograph are portraits of birds.  Some birds cooperate, some will never, ever; so you use sneaky tactics, like hide yourself.  With these two it wasn't even a challenge, it was more like photographing well behaved children.  I made the most out of the sharpness and color; to make my model really shine! Wild Turkey, "Portrait of Tom"-Wind River Canyon, WyomingWild Turkey, "Portrait of Tom"-Wind River Canyon, WyomingPortrait of a Wild Turkey, Photographed in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      One afternoon I thought it would be cool if I could capture a wildlife photograph that was the "essence of attitude."  You know, the tough side of my friends, the Wild Turkeys.  There were moments throughout the summer when it was obvious they needed time alone, and that was the pose I wanted----that look.  Keep the image-stabilization on and concentrate on the expression of your subject, be it child or wild animal.  As it turns out, again, it wasn't all that difficult; I was sitting four feet away! Wild Turkey Portrait, Wind River Canyon, WyomingWild Turkey Portrait, Wind River Canyon, WyomingWild Turkey Portrait, Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.      It's true that all good things come to an end, and I knew that these two were going to have to leave the Wind River Canyon for safer winter lands.  We were left with wonderful memories of two of the most amazing wild creatures on this planet; like the afternoon a male Rufous Hummingbird and a Wild Turkey met for the very first time in wildlife history! 

     As the hummingbird buzzed from above the outstretched neck of the Wild Turkey, they stared at each other.  No Wild Turkey had ever been this close to a hummingbird, and I am sure that no Rufous Hummingbird had ever seen a Wild Turkey!  My jaw dropped as I watched these two crazy, different birds look each other over.  What were they thinking?  They're both birds, but one weighs as much as a nickel, and the other could feed an entire family for a week!

     My wife talked about how she hoped they would return to the Wind River Canyon to visit us, but we never saw them again.  A semi-truck insanely plowed through a large flock of Wild Turkeys that winter on the far-western side of Hot Springs County, killing many, many birds.  To this very day it's hard to forget "The Summer I Spent with the Wild Turkeys."

     Wind River Canyon Blog and photographs are produced by Michael John Balog and all rights are summarily reserved, or so it may seem.

*Thank you for your time.  And yes, I still like a good Turkey sandwich.

 

MjB

 

          

 

 

 

      

    

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hogbatsphotography@outlook.com (Michael John Balog) birds birds of wyoming hogbats photography hogbatsphotography.com michael john balog nature photography thermopolis turkey wild turkey wild turkeys wildlife wildlife photography wildlife stories wind river canyon wind river canyon blog wyoming https://www.hogbatsphotography.com/blog/2017/11/the-summer-i-spent-with-the-wild-turkeys Sat, 11 Nov 2017 22:43:36 GMT