Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jumping Mouse (and Kestrel)

A photo from the neighborhood yesterday, the MPG Ranch across the river, and we called on the expert to identify this prey item. Dr. Kerry Foresman took a look and compared the tail length to the 8 or 9 inch tall male kestrel and determined Western Jumping Mouse, "Just out of hibernation," he reports. They emerge from their nest den when the soil temperatures around the cavity reach about 48 degrees, late May and Early June. Right on time, poor guy...Kerry's 2001 book on mammals of Montana has been updated, expanded and out this summer. The over 500 photographs will blow you away, and this is an absolute gem. Mountain Press is publishing so check it out, Mammals of Montana, and order a copy or two or three today. I guarantee you'll love it!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Photography Web Site and Show

With help from Dale Simmons, EzPics, our photography web site looks bright and shiny with some additional pages and lots of new photos. Check it out if you haven't in a while. A very bold Bald Eagle has been posing for photos lately, hanging out near the kestrel nest, and just a minor distraction to the male kestrel. The female does most of the incubation and hatching date will be in about three weeks, then we will have increasing prey deliveries, very exciting. In the meantime, I have been invited to display photos at Rivers Mist Gallery, downtown Stevensville, for the month of June. I'm sure I'll be adding new images the whole time, and will celebrate with First Friday at the Gallery, June 1st from 6 until 9 pm. Twenty-plus images on the walls!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Neighborhood Nest

After a week of programs, a relaxing day at home yesterday. We've been watching these young grow through the spotting scope in the living room, and finally a photo of the whole family. I am learning my way around a new camera body, a Nikon D800 that just arrived, and deadly in combination with the 500 mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter - A 700 mm, 36 megapixel monster! My good friend and fellow photographer John Salisbury told me, "Money just flows away in a never ending digital stream..." HA!  Check out his amazing landscape images: Anyway, the Bald Eagles are getting used to the dogs and me it seems, and this shot is just as the solar eclipse began. Spooky light for a while. I'll be busy between this spot on the Bitterroot River and the kestrel nest near Lolo. I sure love this time of year.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Coyote Choir Hits the Airwaves and Stage

We have had a very musical last few days, when we joined Amy Martin and Coyote Choir for an hour on Montana Public Radio's Pea Green Boat on Thursday. Our young stars crowded the studio and listened intently to instructions on how to behave during a broadcast heard 'round the world (streaming live!)  We enjoyed interviews with host Annie and four songs, and I noticed that many couldn't help but perform their "actions"even though we were on the radio; when they sing "sportin' a hide is alright if you like to wear leather," they wind their arms around overhead like swinging a lariat, cowboy style. Cracks me up every time. Then last night was the Spring Rumpus at the MCT downtown, a packed house in the theater, and I joined them briefly on stage with Sibley to say a few words. I pointed out that the falcon was nine years old, average Choir age, only she was flying free at 45 days of age, and the kids had many years to go. This was the greatest experience in my 24 years of Raptor programs, and thanks Amy. I am now an honorary Choir member!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Team Effort in Corvallis

Anyone who lives in Corvallis or attends the Elementary School (or watches KECI News) is familiar with the Great Horned Owl family in the playground. A flimsy crow's nest from last year was taken over by the owls,  two nestlings often peering down at the swing set full of kids. Last week, one adventurous baby ended up on the ground and cruised over to a neighbor's, the corner of the playground fenced off in crime scene tape while the principal Mrs. Stranahan called me for advice. I showed up just as Will Schrock of Schrock Construction was inspecting the roof of the school with an extension ladder, and our Hero of the Day. I made it up about four steps with the nestling tucked under one arm and then my knees started shaking. Afraid of heights? I guess so, but not Will who installed it 30 feet up, stepping across a big gap to place the baby in the crotch of the tree. All over in 20 minutes, and she was back with her sibling the next morning, thank goodness. We have had several calls about young owls on the ground, so just get them up in a tree and they'll figure it out from there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Shot Of the Day from Salmon, Idaho

I was invited to Eagle Valley Ranch near Salmon, a guest of long-time Raptor Backers Nikos Monoyios and Val Brackett, and new camera at the ready. I bought a Nikon D800 and still figuring it out on our  tour starting with a Bald Eagle nest, barn full of Barn Owls, Red-tails galore, and a kestrel family near the house. With the tripod set up on the patio and coals on the barbecue heating up, I noticed this hawk flying in with a snake. Both American Kestrels launched off in an attack or maybe theft, and lucky to get this image. We love Eagle Valley and will be back... a bunch! Thanks Nikos, in his first ever photography EcoTour.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Artists Shop Show

For the last three years we have had the privilege of displaying photos at The Artists Shop in downtown Missoula for BirdFest, and this year is the best, thanks Steve! Here our friend Cele points out her favorite of my 20 new photos displayed, a Snowy Owl standing in a tree on the Washington Coast. This is also the week when wildlife aficionados are flocking to Missoula for the International Wildlife Film Festival, so don't be surprised to hear five languages and see T-shirts displaying tree frogs from Columbia. It happened to me tonight!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Photography First Friday

Join everyone in Western Montana for First Friday events this week. Seems like all that are cool will be there, downtown Missoula for me with a photography show at The Artists Shop on Higgins, just off Broadway, for "BirdFest 2012." I'll have about 20 new photos on display, and the other artists at this co-op are truly amazing, everything under the sun to stun and amaze. Fantastic artists! See you Friday the 4th, from 5 until 8 pm.