We in Jackson Hole are fortunate to see them often in this region, but this morning’s sighting of an adult owl landing next to one of its chicks and then soaring off moments later was unforgettable.
A family of red foxes has denned just outside Grand Teton National Park and consists of two parents and five kits. The parents are working full time to feed their hungry offspring and this image shows how one of today’s hunting expeditions was very successful.
The young kits went crazy when this adult returned to the den with a mouthful of small mammals for dinner!
Ospreys are back in Jackson Hole and almost every osprey nest along the Snake River is occupied with a pair. The bald eagle nest on Spring Creek Ranch had a late start but our local eagles are on the nest and we’ll remain hopeful that they have a successful nest this year.
Other birds to have returned recently include sandhill cranes, several different species of waterfowl and loons.
The “snipe hunt” has been a traditional practical joke on inexperienced campers and consequently has led to many thinking that a snipe is a fictional animal. It is very real but heard more often than seen so this snipe out in broad daylight was exciting to observe on today's safari.
April is a wonderful month for wildlife watching as the national parks are quiet, animals are in motion and each day seems to bring a new species out of hibernation or returning from warmer climates.
This large species of sage grouse had been in the headlines a bit lately as it has been up for consideration for increased protection under the Endangered Species Act. Grouse are often good subjects for photography as they are relatively tame, but this individual posed for our photo safari participants especially well.
During the month of April we’ll be able to observe the elaborate courtship displays that these birds exhibit on their leks (breeding grounds).
We left Spring Creek Ranch at dawn this morning to take advantage of nice lighting for this morning’s photo safari.
These excursions differ from our wildlife safaris in that we work to put ourselves in the best possible photogenic locations while discussing camera equipment and useful techniques for nature photography. We ended up with excellent opportunities to photograph the Teton Mountains, this coyote stalking prey, and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.
In the evergreen forests of North America the chattering of a red squirrel is a frequent presence to any outing. Our squirrels are active year-round, but have shown increased enthusiasm in the past couple weeks as Spring quickly approaches. Interesting sightings lately have included a porcupine, mountain goats and my first sighting of a 2010 butterfly (likely a Milbert’s tortoiseshell).
In the past few days we have literally seen thousands of animals on our safaris. Many of these were elk and bison migrating North, but we also were able to see many moose, deer, bighorn sheep and bison. This morning we had a nice view of a newborn bison which looked absolutely tiny next to its mother.
This close-up image of a long-billed curlew shows this bird’s unique bill which allows it to forage for invertebrates in open meadows and wetlands. Shorebirds like this are typically associated with coastal areas but this species thrives in mountain valleys such as Jackson Hole. Another exciting bit of local wildlife news is that today’s observation confirmed that Spring Creek Ranch’s bald eagle nest remains active with the female dutifully incubating egg(s) in preparation for our upcoming 2010 mother’s day.