Some Birds Photographed This Summer

Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) AKA Whiskey Jack
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

I’ve been traveling a lot this year. In my travels, I have seen and photographed many interesting birds. I just haven’t made the time to share them. Here are a few of them. Others will follow.

First up is the Gray Jay. It is a corvid like other jays but is smaller and has a much less raucous voice. In November 2016 the BBC reported that Canada adopted this bird, also known as the Whiskey Jack, as its national bird.

The other Jay in this collection is Woodhouse’s Jay. Those of us in the west don’t see Blue Jays; they are eastern birds. Mostly, we see the scrub jay.  At one time, the Scrub Jay was just called the Western Scrub Jay. But recently, it was split into 3 separate species: the California Scrub Jay which we see here west of the Sierra Nevada mountains; the Island Scrub Jay which is only found in the Santa Cruz Islands, and Woodhouse’s Jay which is seen between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Rocky mountains and from Southeastern Oregon into Mexico.

I found the Horned Lark and the Black-throated Sparrow at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Ash Meadows is an oasis, a marshland in the Mojave Desert that is fed from springs that draw from an ancient aquifer. You’ll find it in Amargosa Valley, NV . It is a great place to visit, in the early morning.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird is a common bird in much of the western US. It thrives in marshes among the reeds and cattails.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Woodhouse’s Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)
Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park; AUG 2019
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Amargosa Valley, NV; JUL 2019
Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Amargosa Valley, NV; JUL 2019
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Mather Park, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Grand Canyon Monsoon – Part 1

Lightning Over Grand Canyon;
South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; AUG 2019

I recently had the privilege to photograph the Grand Canyon during the monsoon season of Southwestern North America. It was a marvelous time to visit this national wonder. We were treated to dark and stormy skies, lightning, rainbows and vivid sunrises and sunsets.

I generally don’t think of the southwestern US as having a monsoon season, after all, it is largely desert. I think of torrential rains in places like India and the eastern coast of Africa. But, the monsoon season in southwestern North America is very real. The term monsoon refers to the seasonal wind shift that brings in warm, humid air. Those winds cause most of the rainfall received by the desert southwest each year – all 1” to 8” of it; sometimes more and sometimes less. It can be responsible for torrential downbursts that cause flash flooding and lightning induced wildfires.

The southwestern North American monsoon season generally starts in early July and runs through September.

In this post, I am sharing a few of the images I took while at the Grand Canyon. I’ll share a few more later this week.


Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Sunrise From Imperial Point;
Point Imperial, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; AUG 2019
Milky Way From Cape Royal; Cape Royal
North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; AUG 2019
Sunset Over Grand Canyon – P1
Mojave Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National; Park; AUG 2019

Sunrise From Imperial Point – P1
Point Imperial, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; AUG 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

The California Condor

Adult and Juvenile California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus);
Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park; AUG 2019

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon National Park. While there, I saw a rare site: a juvenile and adult California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus). This vulture can reach 4 ½ feet long with a wingspan of nearly 10 feet; 25% larger than the more commonly seen Turkey Vulture.

What makes this bird remarkable, beside its size, is that it was nearly driven to extinction. Many millennia ago, it ranged across the entire North American continent. By the time European settlers arrived, it was found mostly in the western part of North America.

During the 20thcentury, California Condor populations declined until extinction became extremely likely. In 1987 all remaining 22 wild birds were captured. These birds formed the breeding stock for a federally sponsored program aimed at reestablishing them in the wild. These condors were bred and their offspring released into the wild. The birds have begun breeding in the wild. Captive birds continue to be released. The population is now expanding.

The birds can sometimes be seen in places like the Grand Canyon but seeing them is still the exception rather than the rule. So, I feel blessed to have been able to see and photograph these magnificent birds.

Note: Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.

Juvenile California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) in Flight – P1;
Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park; AUG 2019
Juvenile California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) in Flight – P2;
Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park; AUG 2019
Juvenile California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus);
Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park; AUG 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Some Random Landscapes

Grand Tetons at Twilight from Schwabacher’s Landing;
Schwabacher’s Landing, Grand Teton National Park, WY; MAY 2019

Here are a few landscapes from our recent trip to the Rocky Mountains.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Spring Foliage on Flathead River;
Confluence of Bear Creek and Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park, MT; MAY 2019
Mt Shasta;
US Rt 97 between Dorris and Weed, CA: JUN 2019
Grand Tetons at Sunrise from Schwabacher’s Landing;
Schwabacher’s Landing, Grand Teton National Park, WY; MAY 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us

Elk, Moose and Pronghorn from A Trip Through the Rocky Mountains

Male or Bull Elk (Cervus canadensis) with Antlers in Velvet;
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, WY; MAY 2019

In sharing these images today, I am using the common North American names for these animals. It was interesting learning about these animals though because, the names are not consistent. Even in North America, the Elk is referred to a Wapiti, from the Shawnee term Wa Piti meaning White-rumped. Also, Elk are sometimes claimed to be the same as the European Red Deer. However, mitochondrial testing in 2004 found that the much smaller Red Deer is a different species.[i] To confuse matters further, in Eurasia, the Moose is called an Elk.[ii]

The Pronghorn is sometimes referred to as an antelope but it is not a true antelope. Unlike true antelopes, the keratin sheathing on its horns is shed and regrown annually. The pronghorn is also the only animal that has branched horns.

The Elk and the Moose are members of the deer family, which means they have antlers made of bone. The pronghorn and true antelope, as well as cows, sheep and goats have horns which have a bony center covered by a keratinous sheath.

Anyway, forget the confusion unless it helps in social conversation and enjoy these magnificent animals.


[i] Elk Network. https://elknetwork.com/whats-the-difference-between-red-deer-and-elk/

[ii] Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moose

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Female Moose (Alces alces);
Moose Wilson RD, Grand Tetons National Park, WY
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)
Female Elk (Cervus canadensis);
Grand Tetons National Park, Near Moran, WY; MAY 2019
Female Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana);
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, WY; MAY 2019
Male or Bull Elk (Cervus canadensis) with Antlers in Velvet;
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, WY; MAY 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Banff: Glaciers, Lakes and Glacial Streams

Ten Peaks from the Road to Moraine Lake;
Moraine Lake; Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

Canada’s Banff National Park is filled with stunning mountain peaks capped with glaciers and snow. The steep, rugged mountains are the source of beautiful, turquoise streams that feed alpine lakes.

The turquoise water is interesting. As glaciers move, they polish the underlying rock, producing very fine particles of dust called rock flour. The rock flour mixes with the water traveling downstream. The color is a result of light reflecting around the densely packed dust in the water.  On bright days, with the sun in the right position, the river displays the brilliant turquoise. If the sky is more cloudy, the water will be a milky off-white. When it reaches the lakes, the rock flour eventually settles out. But, if the river is filling the lake quickly, the lakes can be turquoise also.

The mountainside on this image from Kootenay National Park is beautifully colored. But the coloring is deceptive. The rust color is dead conifers. The black is foliage that was consumed by fire. Many of the conifers died due to pine beetle infestation.

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution!

Kootenay RIver and Mount Harkin;
Kootneay National Park, British Columbia, Canada,; MAY 2019

Color born of tragedy: The rusty red color are evergreens damaged by the mountain pine beetle; the black is fire damage.
Bow Lake and Crowfoot, Bow Crow and Bow Peaks;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Moraine Lake;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Mistaya Canyon;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Bow Lake and Crowfoot Peak;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Herbert Lake; Banff National Park,
Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us

Some North American Bear Sightings

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). Also known as Grizzly Bear;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

On our recent trip through the Rocky Mountains, we were very lucky and saw a few of the North American Bears. You may see that they are identified as black bears and brown bears. I don’t know why they were named that way. Both black and brown bears can be black, brown, cinnamon and blonde. I’ve even seen black bears with white “collars”. The major differences is that the brown, or grizzly, bear has a distinctive hump and ears that are more rounded and more closely spaced. Brown bears usually grow to a larger size than black bears.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) with Cub
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) – P2;
Kootenay National Park, Alberta, Canada; May 2019

American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) – P1;
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, WY; MAY 2019
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Cub;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.