Mountain Bluebird II

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) I generally don’t post successive photos of a particular species. But, in this case I couldn’t help myself. I was torn between the photo posted yesterday and this one — just could not decide which to go with. As a consequence, you get both. I like the translucence of wing feather from back lighting when it can be achieved. This one also has the addition of some nice rim light that shows quite nicely against the dark amber of the montane field background. Mountain Bluebirds use monocular vision to locate insects on the ground when they are fairly close, they turn their head and look at the ground with one eye. When their desired prey is farther away, they use both eyes, or binocular vision. You can see that this particular bird, which had just left its perch, appears to still be looking primarily with one eye as it flies. This produces a rather pleasing tilt of the head and bank of the body just prior to it diving to the ground.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) Yesterday proved to be an excellent day to spend in the higher country at elevations in excess of 10,000 feet. Temperatures were moderate and pleasant, but locating birds proved to be more difficult than anticipated. The mountains were awash with fall colors — the gold and flame-like appearance of Quaking Aspens illuminating in the sun was extraordinary. As the day, and traveling to find suitable and apparently absent subjects passed, a flock of Mountain Bluebirds was located in a montane area with an apparent abundance of food — there were too many birds to count. The next hour was spent watching and waiting for one to come close enough to provide a decent photograph. Research indicates this is most likely a typical post-breeding migratory flock. They may move up and down the environment in search of available food sources prior to migration. This particular bird is apparently a female. There were many male Bluebirds in the flock, but none came close enough to be photographed. While not possessing the rich cerulean to methyl to cobalt blue of male Mountain Bluebird, she is still spectacular in appearance, especially with the ethereal backlit primaries.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris). I suppose I could gripe about uncooperative weather and the effects it is currently having on birds and wildlife. But, isn’t that part of the beauty of photographing these critters? My preferred subjects, are, generally unpredictable. So unpredictable and inconsistent weather coupled with unpredictable subjects just makes the process a little more difficult, and interesting. The weather has as much to do with bird and animal behavior as other conditions. However, I have not yet been too successful so far. Even during a recent trip to photograph Mountain Goats and high anticipation for close images, the goats had different ideas. During a scouting excursion, I came across some Marmots and Pikas. Having seen bi-pedal animals with regularity, they were slightly habituated to humans and were a little curious. I grabbed my three-legged chair, shouldered my camera and tripod and found a place where a family of Marmots went about their business and the Pikas scurried about gathering their larder for the approaching cold weather, and settle in. Neither cared much about my presence, as long as I minded my manners and respected their territory. Ubiquitous in some locations and perhaps overlooked, I find these large, colorful, rodents a pleasure to watch.