Spring Arrives in the Rockies

This past weekend was definitely the start of the Montana spring with sun, rain, and snow…you know, spring in the Bitterroot. The Lee Metcalf NWR was alive with Great Horned Owls hooting and Red-winged Blackbirds carrying on.

First Wildflower of 2017 – Sagebrush Buttercup

Woke up this morning with a vision of a buttercup in the snow. I rushed out to Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, and intensely survey the areas under ponderosa pine. And what did I find? That’s right a Sagebrush Buttercup, and as one of our earliest bloomers, it is generally my first wildflower of the… Read more »

My First Isolation Float Tank Experience

Well, I went for my first float in a float pod at Enlyten Lab in Missoula on the Hip Strip. The experience generated a slew of experiences from boredom to self-realizing exhalation. The float tank itself is a sensory deprivation environment where you receive no input from sight, smell, sound, or sensation. Floating in a… Read more »

Bass Creek Falls Hike – Winter Edition

We did this hike last year, but with considerably less snow. It has really dumped this year in the Bitterroot Mountains, and the Bass Creek drainage is under a blanket of the white stuff. Were we deterred? Oh hell no, Jeff and I made relatively good time to the old log dam where I flew… Read more »

The Trump Control-Alt-Delete on Climate Change

President Trump hit the reset button on government dissemination of climate change information and further research into the issue. The Climate Change page was stripped from whitehouse.gov and the EPA has been ordered to removed all references to global climate change. The government is actually denying science from its own agencies. There has been a… Read more »

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge – Christmas Bird Count 2016

It was that season again…not the holidays, but the Christmas Bird Count season. Joined by Tom Forwood and Bob Danley at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. We explored the back areas of the Refuge that are typically closed to the public, and we turned up 56 species through a long day. the highlights included… Read more »

Sweathouse Falls Hike – Winter Edition

Sweathouse Falls has always been my favorite water in the Bitterroot Mountains with its stream falls off a sheer face. Another reason that this hike is among my favorites is its relatively little use (i.e. no people). This time around, Jeff and I hiked to the falls with a fresh layer of powder snow. As… Read more »

Rock Creek and the Welcome Creek Suspension Bridge

The other day, I was wanting to fly the DJI Phantom 4 drone at a new location, so decided on driving 14 miles up Rock Creek (east of Missoula, Montana) to video the Welcome Creek Suspension Bridge. The bridge crosses Rock Creek as a major access to the tiny Welcome Creek Wilderness Area. In fact,… Read more »

1st Day of Winter at Glade Creek, Lolo Pass

The first day of winter and the sunset suggests a slightly longer day than the one before. I flew the DJI Phantom 4 over Glade Creek at Lolo Pass to capture the Seussian play of pillows of deep powder snow and low angle light. Grab the image below to view a 360-degree immersive images.

Wallman Trail – Rattlesnake Recreation Area

Winter hiking offers the bundled hiker the opportunity for solitude and challenge. The solitude comes from the lack of other intrepid souls and the snow dampening any ambient sound. The depth of the snow and unsure footing creates a scenario that can be challenging, especially when breaking trail on a steep slope. So, we took… Read more »

  • Herping

    First herp of the 2012: Western Painted Turtle

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    During a quick drive through visit of Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, I spied a couple of new brown bumps on a log that I have looked at dozens of times. The brown bumps turned out to be a couple of Western Painted Turtles, my fist herps of 2012. This is the first time that… Read more »

  • Birding

    Despite the gloom, it is Freezeout

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    The fog froze in layers to the antenna and windshield as Freezeout Lake came into view, and a a flock of 200 Snow Geese cross overhead. These were the last Snow Geese that we would see for the next couple of hours. The weather man completely lied. His prediction of mid-50s with sunny skies had… Read more »

  • Wildlife

    Cattail Raccoons

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    Spent some time with a family of 5 Northern Raccoons at Lee Metcalf NWR. They were foraging on newly emergent cattail shoots, and they fed no more than 10 yards from me for the better part of 1/2 an hour. Quite an experience. After they were done feeding, they swam across the pond, and slipped… Read more »

  • Birding

    Garbage Dump Gulls at the Flathead Gullery

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    As I cleaned my over-flowing edited images folder from the past few months, I came across a series of photos from an afternoon spent with the gulls from the lovely Flathead County Sanitary Landfill or as we call it, the Flathead Gullery. Ok, it’s a dump, it stinks, it looks apocalyptic, and the gulls love… Read more »

  • Birding

    The Buteo that hovers – the Rough-legged Hawk

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    As sightings of Rough-legged Hawks become fewer and further between, I have been reviewing this past winter’s images, and I notice a series of images of hawk hovering. Rough-legged Hawks are our only buteo that regularly hovers. In fact, the only other North American raptors that regularly hover are the Osprey and the collective kites. Hovering is… Read more »

  • Birding

    Pygmy Nuthatch Addendum

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    Just when I thought that I had the most photogenic Pygmy Nuthatch, this happens.

  • Birding

    Pig Nuts – when you are just too lazy to say the whole name

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    I have always been fascinated by Pygmy Nuthatches. When I was living in the Bozeman area, I rarely got to see the,, and as soon as I moved to Missoula, I have been seeing unreal numbers. They seems to be in each and every ponderosa pine, picking at the branch-tip cones. Like a circus act,… Read more »

  • Birding

    Americans Dippers gathering nest material

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    Short film and images of American Dippers gathering moss for their nest, which is located underneath a bridge that spans rattlesnake Creek in Greenough Park. Notice that the birds are consistently dunking the nesting material, namely moss. The wetting is thought to keep the moss alive and, therefore, more pliable. The American Dipper nest is… Read more »

  • Conservation, Photography

    Sciuridae Thursday

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    As the temperatures continue to climb towards comfortable levels, the squirrels are starting to emerge. The first Columbian Ground Squirrel of 2012 Last, but not least, the ubiquitous Red Squirrel. The only squirrel is a reliably seem throughout the winter months. The Great Horned Owl – terror of squirrels

  • Birding

    Really these are the last Snowy Owls for winter 2011-2012

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    I promise, I promise these are the last Snowy Owl images for this winter (probably). I feel incredibly fortunate have spent so much time in the company of these wonderful creatures. I wish that they remain safe as they begin their northward journey to the Arctic.

  • Birding

    I see why they are called Red Crossbills

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    Of course, this title is presented with tongue firmly planted in cheek. They, or at least the males, are red, and the bills are crossed. These little finches (both Red and White-winged Crossbills) have evolved the only crossed bills of any North American bird. This arrangement of the mandibles is highly suited to prying open pine cone… Read more »

  • Birding

    Harris’s Sparrow – another rare visitor

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    This past Friday, I was privileged enough to get the opportunity to visit a local backyard and get some half decent images of a Harris’s Sparrow. The sparrow was very retiring and it took roughly one and half hours to locate the bird in a yard side hedge. But once I found it, the show was on…. Read more »

  • Poop

    Know Your Poop #2

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    In this installment of Know Your Poop, we look at a pile of scat from the Blue Mountain National Recreation Area. This collection of pellets was found in the duff of a rather open ponderosa pine stand. They are about 1/3 of inch in length, and very uniform in oval shape.

  • Birding

    Last Snowy Owls for 2012?

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    All of this winter, those of in Montana have been treated to an amazing display of Snowy Owls, especially in the Mission Valley. The owls have remained readily visible in a subdivision that sits above Polson and adjacent to agricultural towards Pablo. I have been able to visit on 7 different occasions, and I have… Read more »