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Friday, December 22, 2006

Getting Close – Salmon Jump

My fourth trip to try and photograph salmon jumping up a waterfall. Finally got a shot, but I think I can do better. Looks like a Coho, although this is the tale end of that run. Steelhead should be moving up the Lewis River soon.

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Watching the fish I came up with an idea for submerging a digital camera into the rough water with a video feed
. I would use the video feed to see where the camera is pointed and trigger it with a remote when I find something cool. It could be an interesting image, or a clever way to destroy an expensive camera. I am working like a mad professor in my workshop. More later.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Snake and Rat (Cat and Mouse)

I am still trying to catch up on all of the images I created this last summer and fall, and just yesterday I was working on images of ord's kangaroo rats that I photographed in the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. This is a spectacular place to visit, and I really enjoyed my little hike into the desert to photograph these kangaroo rats (they aren't really rats, but that is a story for another day).

I actually need to get better images of these little guys, but I do find this image interesting since it is a good example of their bi-pedal method of locomotion.

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One evening, after I had just finished setting up for the kangaroo rats, Just a few yards away I ran into this patient rattlesnake, apparently just waiting for evening to fall and the hunt to begin.

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Kangaroo rats are charismatic and generally easy going members of the rodent family. I occasionally forget that, for them, death could be just around the next shrub.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Results For Skunk-O-Matic

A few posts ago I reported about the remote camera that I had set up on a skunk burrow that is under a chicken coop on Sauvie Island. It turns out this little fellow was craftier than I gave him credit for, and we had an epic battle of wits. First he was curious about my gear, and actually reset the focus on my primary lens. Then my master flash failed, and for several nights he busily tripped the camera in the dead of night resulting in many dozens of black frames. Finally, after I reset the focus and recharged the flash – the skunk, in a tactical master stroke, decided to exit the burrow ass first.

However he underestimated
my determination, and he finally decided to cooperate and let me get a few shots.

Camera 1
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Camera 2
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Scared But Ready

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A young hawk sits in a kennel carrier waiting to be released into a pasture near Joseph. Just hours before some well intentioned motorists had caught up the bird and delivered it to the ODFW office believing that it had been injured. In fact, it was a juvenile fresh from the nest and had yet to master the art of flying. The bird was also stuffed full of food which can make flight challenging even for more experienced raptors. Like many birds, red-tailed hawk parents tend to keep presenting food to their young, even several days after they have bailed from the nest.

So after a traumatic capture, and then a physical inspection, it was released back where it was found. I never saw it fly away however I didn't stick around very long. The owners of the property went to check on it later, and it had vanished. The field is full of belding ground squirrel burrows, so it probably is doing well.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Beautiful, Terrible Killer

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These photos might be considered gruesome by some, but I worked hard to these images of a wild cougar with its kill.

One thing I have seen over and over again are images from Africa of a cute little impala in the jaws of a cheetah, or a young zebra in the clutches of a lion. I find it fascinating that the same kind of drama happens right here in the forests of the Northwest. But it takes place out of sight deep in the woods, and mostly undercover of darkness.

When elk cows begin to birth their calves, they seek solitude and cover. Once born the calves are helpless for around 36-48 hours, and even after they gain their legs they won't be able to run very fast until a week or two later. Their instinct when their mother leaves is to curl up and hide. Cougar and bear know when calving season arrives, and they will systematically search the calving grounds for the hiding spots of the helpless calves. It is an easy meal in a landscape that is usually not very forgiving.

Wild cougars are rarely photographed (All of those cougar calendars, and books are created using trained cougars) by professional photographers. I used a remote camera system with a motion sensor, and I worked with biologists from ODFW to get these images. The are actually two different cats. The top image is the cat returning and uncovering the calf that it buried earlier. The second image was taken on a high ridge, during a cracking thunderstorm and in a driving rain. The elk calf was in a deep tree well that was mostly sheltered, and the cat is just beginning to feed. All of these were taken at night, typically around 1AM.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Damn Cute

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6806MDF1 copy, originally uploaded by Oregon Wild.

There is a bit of a story behind this cute little fawn...

On an early morning trip near Troy Oregon, I was driving on a dirt track that was being used by logging trucks, and coming around a sharp corner what do I see? A mule deer doe and her newborn fawn - on the road. I slow to a quick stop and the doe runs off, while the fawn drops in the middle of the road and "hides" in plain sight.

I have worked around animals and biologists most of my adult life, and from experience I knew the fawn could be handled, and moved, without ill consequence if I worked quickly. Normally, I just leave wild animals alone, but I had to move the fawn off the road so it wouldn't be squashed by the next log truck.

I carefully picked up the little fellow and moved it about 30 yards into the woods, snapped a few shots with my camera, and left the scene.

The mother will call the fawn out of hiding when she perceives the coast is clear.

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Details About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
Husband, Father, Student Of Natural History, Photographer