Having lived in the middle of the Wind River Canyon for two decades now, I have experienced changes in weather conditions so wildly different that it seems crazy-nuts; but it's all true. I've witnessed forty-below zero-plus temperatures, a condition where the air itself turns to crystals and glitters in the morning's sunshine like diamonds; beautiful, but deadly cold. Yet, summer temperatures regularly reach over one hundred degrees, and are as dry as a desert wind.
This year winter's grip didn't seem to want to ever let go. Spring of '19 was cold and miserable, with snow, rain and cold winds; usually all in the same day. We always get a 70's blip in April or even March, but this year....snow. It never got warm and neither did I. And something else happened that I never expected: The Black-chinned Hummingbirds never did arrive here in the Wind River Canyon! The Broad-tailed hummers came and nested here, but they are a very hardy bird species....for a hummingbird. Black-chinned Hummingbird maleBlack-chinned Hummingbird male violet-flash photographed in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming. Broad-tailed Hummingbird PortraitPortrait of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird male photographed in the Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming. The portrait of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird was taken this spring! It is disappointing that the Black-chinned didn't make it here this spring, as they have the last six years! Such is life.
The Bullock's Orioles did make it here this springtime, but not in their usual abundance. Usually there are three mating pair nearby, but this year two females and one male that left in a hurry; I didn't get even a single photograph of a male oriole this year, and this has never happened before!
Certain other bird species didn't arrive here or didn't stay for very long. The grosbeaks came and went kind of all at the same time; they always nest here in the canyon. The Lazuli Buntings are not here, and they always are here; they were here for a day or so. I could go on, but it's all too boring describing what didn't happen because of climate change.
So what does a wildlife photographer photograph when his favorite hummingbirds don't show in the spring? Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are a prolific bird species that thrive just about everywhere; maybe even on your neighborhood golf course, or the park where they hiss at you like a mad snake. I knew a policeman that had them in his front yard. Getting to his front door was a lesson in running a gauntlet; the female was a real nasty bitch, too. One day in a rush I backhanded her as she came at me like a spitting cobra; I was the only visitor that she never bothered again!! Lesson learned....for both of us.
We always have geese that nest just across the Wind River from us here in the canyon. As soon as the goslings can swim, the parents (that mate for life like my wife and I) move the little geese away from the nesting area for safety concerns. Canada Geese have between 4-8 eggs and rarely do you see goslings in numbers of eight; too many hungry things out in the wild. So what do you know? The new photograph in this week's Wind River Canyon Blog is a wonderful example of great goose parenting, I gather. I have never photographed, or even seen, Canadian Geese with nine goslings! Count them. There are 11 geographical/regional races of Canada Goose. They get smaller the farther north they go, with one rare species existing on only two small islands. They seem pretty big around the Wind River Canyon, and they sure seem to have gotten something really right.
The temperature was 97 degrees yesterday; so summer is finally here in Wyoming. But, I was up on the Beartooth Pass on July 12th @ lunchtime once----in a whiteout blizzard!!! We rolled down the windows and had a birthday snow-party in July! Monday when we got back.....it was 102 down here; such is the fickle nature of weather in the Rocky Mountains.
I hope you enjoyed this Wind River Canyon Blog. Thank you for your time. All content is produced by Michael John Balog and shall not be reproduced without consent. The camera was a Canon 7D with grip and the lens was a Tamron 150-600 G2, my favorite bazooka.
To see more Hummingbirds, and wildlife like Bighorn Sheep and Bluebirds, safely visit my website from the Wind River Canyon HogbatsPhotography.com