Swans

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator)
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018

Today I am sharing images of swans I’ve photographed over the past several years.

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) are North America’s largest waterfowl. Thy can have a 6 foot wingspan and weigh as much as 26 pounds. According to All About Birds, a Website from Cornell Labs: “They breed on wetlands in remote Alaska, Canada, and the northwestern U.S., and winter on ice-free coastal and inland waters.” The odd thing here is that I found some on the icy Yellowstone River in February.

The Tundra Swan (Cygnus Columbianus) is a winter migrant to the US. We see them winter over on the Pacific Flyway from late October through about the end of February. They nest on arctic tundra. The Tundra Swan is sometimes called a Whistling Swan.

The Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor) is not native to North America; it’s a European immigrant. It is the swan we see in ponds and lakes at parks, farms and estates. According to All About Birds: “ All of the Mute Swans in North America descended from swans imported from Europe from the mid 1800s through early 1900s to adorn large estates, city parks, and zoos. Escapees established breeding populations and are now established in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Pacific Northwest of the U.S.” The ones I am presenting may be from a wild colony or may be feral.

I found the Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) in Iceland. According to Wikipedia, Whooper swans can migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles to their wintering sites in southern Europe and eastern Asia. They breed in subarctic Eurasia. Icelandic Whooper Swans breed and winter over in the United Kingdom and Ireland. They can have a wingspan of 9 feet and weigh over 30 pounds. Whooper Swans pair for life.

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Tundra Swans (Cygnus Columbianus)
Staten Island Road, Galt, CA; JAN 2018
Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus)
South Coast of Iceland; SEP 2017
Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor)
Scott Road, Folsom, CA; FEB 2016
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) – P1
Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park, WY, FEB 2013
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator)
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018
Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor) – P2
Willow Creek Recreation Area, Folsom, CA; OCT 2019
Trumpeter Swans at Sunrise (Cygnus Buccinator) -P1
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 2018
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus Buccinator) at Sunrise – P2
Swan Lake Flat, Yellowstone National Park; SEP 201
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator) – P2
Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park; FEB 2013

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

Mountain Peaks Along US Route 395 in the Eastern Sierra Nevada

Mountain Peak Along Eastern Sierra – P3 Owens River Road
Lee Vining, CA; OCT 2019

Today I am sharing images of various mountain peaks we see as we travel along US Route 395 in eastern California. Highway 395 extends from the US-Canada border to its southern terminus in the Mojave Desert at I-15 near Hiperia. Much of its way through California it traverses desert valleys sandwiched between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the White-Inyo mountains. It is absolutely stunning scenic drive. For the adventurous, there is mountain hiking and climbing and fishing. There are back road drives into the mountains to scenic lakes and great vistas. There are attractions like Mono Lake with its Tufa, the Ghost Town Bodie, The Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest, the museum and remains of the Manzanar Internment Center from World War 2 and the Movie Museum in Lone Pine. If you’ve never explored this area, I strongly recommend you check it out.

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

Stormy Sunrise from Mt Morrison Rd; Mt Morrison Rd
Mammoth Lakes, CA; OCT 2018
Mountain Peak Along Eastern Sierra – P2;
Rt 395 Between Bishop and Fort Independence; OCT 2019
Sunrise at Horshoe Lake; Horseshoe Lake
Mammoth Lakes, CA; OCT 2019
Mountain Peaks from Tule Elk Viewing Area on Highway 395
Rt 395 Between Bishop and Fort Independence; OCT 2019
View from Pleasant Valley Dam Road
Pleasant Valley Dam Road, Bishop, CA: Oct 2019
Autumn Color Along Dunderberg Meadow Road
Dunderberg Meadow Road, Virginia Lakes, CA; OCT 2019
Mountain Peak Along Eastern Sierra – P1
Mt Morrison Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA; OCT 2018

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

A Year in the Life of Deer

Black-Tailed Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) Buck;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; DEC 2015

The Black-tailed Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are found on the western Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, Southwestern United States and the West Coast of North America.

Deer are ungulates, meaning they are hooved. They are also ruminants which means they eat and send their food to the rumen; one of its stomachs. Later, it regurgitates the cud (food) from its rumen, chews it and sends it to its other stomach to digest. Male deer, like moose and elk, have antlers. Antlers are made of bone which are shed and regrown each year. (Animals like sheep, goats, cattle, and antelope have horns. Horns are made of bone covered with keratin which are permanent; not shed and regrown.) The prongs on an antler are referred to as points; a 6 point buck has 3 prongs on each antler.

Male deer are called bucks, female deer are called doe and the babies are called fawns. During most of the year, deer segregate themselves by sex; bucks in groups and doe, along with their young, in separate groups.

Each year, deer go through a reproductive cycle that begins with the “rut”[i]. The rut is the time when male deer fight for the right to breed with a harem of females and concludes with impregnated doe. As the rut commences and bucks have regrown their antlers, the bucks attempt to form a harem. One buck may challenge another for the right to breed with a harem. Bucks will lock antlers and push and fight until one is pushed backwards and loses the challenge. It is a dangerous time for bucks; they can become permanently injured. The ultimate winner breeds with the females as they enter estrus. Gestation is about 200 days.

In mid-to-late winter, the bucks drop their antlers. When the antlers regrow, they are covered with a furry skin commonly called velvet. When the antlers have completed their growth, the velvet dries and causes irritation for the bucks. The bucks rub their antlers against a tree to remove the velvet.

About the time autumn begins, when the fawns have grown and the bucks’ antlers have regrown, the rut begins again.

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

Black-Tailed Mule Deer Doe;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019
Pregnant Black-tailed Mule Deer;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Fawn;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUL 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Nursing Her Fawn;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Buck After Losing Antlers;
Buck was limping. Other bucks still had antlers. It is possible antlers were lost in combat.
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; MAR 2019


Black-tailed Mule Deer Buck with Antlers in Velvet;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019
Black-tailed Mule Deer Buck; Antlers with Velvet Partially Rubbed-off;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; SEP 2019
Bucks With Antlers Grown and Polished; the Year Begins Anew ;
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; OCT 2019

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

[1] Information obtained from: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/6/Deer/Natural-History

South African Landscapes and Seascapes

Cape Cormorants on the Western Cape
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa; SEP 2018

Three years ago, we visited South Africa. Afterward, I shared many images, mostly of the abundant and beautiful wildlife. Though I published some landscapes and seascapes, I have many that I didn’t publish. I thought I’d go back and share some of them now. There will be more in the future.

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

Tree Overlooking Sugarcane Field;
Near Eshowe, South Africa; AUG 2016
Zulu Homesteads;
Near Eshowe, South Africa; AUG 2016
Waves Breaking at Tsitsikamma Beach;
Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa AUG 2016

View of the Bush;
Elephant Plains, Sabi Sands, South Africa
Homestead Dotted Hillside;
Near Eshowe, South Africa, AUG 2016

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

Seal Rock, Oregon

Seal Rock Beach at Sunrise
Seal Rock, Waldport, OR; AUG 2019

We recently spent a few days on the beach at Waldport, OR. It is located in Oregon Dunes area of the coast. Just outside of town sets a beach amongst a craggy, old volcanic lava flow. It is a beautiful beach with many tidal pools left teeming with wildlife as the tide recedes.

On this visit, the birds really took center stage. We saw some seals, but they were offshore and all I could see were heads bobbing. So, they weren’t photo worthy. But we found some Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pelagicus); one with a chick on the nest. We found Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis), many of which were recently fledged juveniles.

The Pelagic Cormorant is found along coastal waters and eats fish and marine invertebrates. It roosts and nests on steep, inaccessible rocky cliffs. It swims and dives for food.

The Western Gull is the common gull that you find on US West Coast beaches. They like fish, marine invertebrates, bird eggs and jelly fish. They will also scavenge on carrion and human refuse.

Our experience with the Western Gull brought some amusement. The juveniles were in the water and along the shore. When they wandered too far inland, an adult would chase after and send it back to the shoreline with the others. In the early morning, we even saw adults force the young into the tidal pools to splash and bathe. It was great fun.

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

Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)
Seal Rock, Waldport, OR; AUG 2019
Juvenile Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
Seal Rock, Waldport, OR; AUG 2019
Starfish in Tide Pool
Seal Rock, Waldport, OR; AUG 2019
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)
Seal Rock, Waldport, OR; AUG 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 2

Sunset Over Grand Canyon – P2;
Rim Trail Between Mojave and Hopi Points,
South Rim, Grand Canyon National; Park; AUG 2019

This is the remaining images from the Grand Canyon that I plan to share at this time. Again, I hope you enjoy these images from this amazing place.

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

Lightning Over Grand Canyon – P1A;
South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; AUG 2019
Rainbow Over Grand Canyon;
Imperial Point, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; JUL 2019
Sunset Over Grand Canyon;
Rim Trail Between Mojave and Hopi Points, South Rim,
Grand Canyon National; Park; AUG 2019
Sunset From Imperial Point – P1;
Imperial Point, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; JUL 2019
Lightning Over Grand Canyon – P3A;
Mojave 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.

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.