Top Ten Nature Photos from 2014

SUMOFLAM PHOTOGRAPHYThroughout my travels I took over 3000 photos in 2014. Many are travel and quirky things, but there were a number of nature photos I took while on the road as well as right here at home in Lexington.  I have grown to love nature…watching squirrels play in the trees, watching geese fly overhead, gaining joy points from a sunrise. Herein are my ten favorite nature shots from 2014 and the stories behind them (and a few honorable mentions).

NUMBER 1 – BLUE HERON AT SUNRISE

Blue Heron at Sunrise

Blue Heron at Sunrise

This shot was captured only a few miles from my house on a late spring morning.  I frequent Jacobson Park on nice mornings after dropping my wife off at work at the University of Kentucky.  I like the lake there and the wildlife and the sunrises on partly cloudy days. This silhouette of the heron against the bright orange lake was one of many “lucky shots” for me in 2014.

NUMBER 2 – THE SNOWBALL SQUIRREL

The Snowball Squirrel

The Snowball Squirrel

Many of my Facebook friends have seen this shot of a squirrel that looks angry and appears to be getting ready to chuck a snowball at me.  This little guy was frolicking in our front yard after an overnight snow in February and I took about 20 photos.  As I began reviewing them, I was delighted to a chuckle to see this shot!

NUMBER 3 – MAGNIFICENT SUNRISE

Magnificent Sunrise

Magnificent Sunrise

There are many mornings that I am able to catch the sunrise after dropping of my wife.  On this particular fall morning in October I caught the magnificent glow behind the clouds.  I had to drive through a couple of neighborhoods as I saw it coming up.  To my good fortune, I came to a clearing and was able to get seven or eight nice shots.

NUMBER 4 – SPIDER WEB IN SPRING

Spider Web in Spring

Spider Web in Spring

On one trip to Jacobson Park, I came across this droplet enhanced spider web.  I love Spider Art!!

NUMBER 5 – PELICANS

Pelicans

Pelicans

In June I took a trip to Galveston, Texas and became fascinated by the brown pelicans (see my blog post).  They flew gracefully, in very specific formations and in synchronized flight.  I took this shot while sitting on the beach relaxing…a rarity for me in my travels.  But, mind you, I was there for a family reunion and we were all at the beach. Love the pelicans.

NUMBER 6 – WATERCOLOR SKY

Watercolor Sky

Watercolor Sky

My good friend Antsy McClain has a song entitled Watercolor Sky (unreleased on any albums – I have a demo version). When I see skies like this it reminds me of the title, though the song is about a broken up love relationship. “We cut our way through evergreens that stood a mile high, through a patchwork quilt of farmland and a watercolor sky.”  I love to look at the skies as I drive through the evergreens, the mountains and the patchwork quilts of farmland. This photo was taken in Lexington, ironically.

NUMBER 7 – THE BEARTOOTHS

The Beartooths

The Beartooths

I fulfilled a life long dream on Memorial Day weekend in 2014 as I got to drive the Beartooth Scenic Highway in north central Wyoming.  These mountains are spectacular (see my blog post) and my photography could never do them justice.

NUMBER 8 – ANTELOPE CONVENTION

Antelope Convention

Antelope Convention

On my trip through Wyoming (see my blog post) I ran into a herd of about 10 antelope on the side of the road.  I stopped, stayed in the car with the window open and took about 30 photos of these beautiful animals.  Apparently, in Wyoming they outnumber people.  After a while they all gracefully sped away…they are the fastest land mammals in North America.

NUMBER 9 – BIG SKY COUNTRY

Big Sky Country

Big Sky Country

As I drove on US 89 heading south in Montana, I caught this expansive view of clouds over the plains.  The dark clouds and blue sky are so Montana….

NUMBER 10 – SUNRISE

Sunrise

Sunrise

This was an amazing fall sunrise I captured one late October morning in Lexington.  I could see it peaking as I headed down Richmond Rd and found a place where I could pull off.  The clouds intensified it.  As I look at this it reminds me of woodblock drawings from 1600 Japan…the land of the Rising Sun.

HONORABLE MENTION

I have a few more shots I wanted to include in this post….other shots I am proud of.

Goslings - Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Goslings – Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Red Moon - Lexington, KY

Red Moon – Lexington, KY

Whatcha Doin'? - Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Whatcha Doin’? – Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Sunrise in Montana - US 89 east of Great Falls, MT

Sunrise in Montana – US 89 east of Great Falls, MT

Wispy Clouds - Lexington, KY

Wispy Clouds – Lexington, KY

Icicle Fence - Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

Icicle Fence – Jacobson Park, Lexington, KY

The Heavens Are Bright - clouds and sun over Shiro, Texas

The Heavens Are Bright – clouds and sun over Shiro, Texas

Serenity in Winter - Jacobson Lake, Lexington, KY

Serenity in Winter – Jacobson Lake, Lexington, KY

Date Night - Ashland, Wisconson

Date Night – Ashland, Wisconsin

Big Moon - Lexington, KY

Big Moon – Lexington, KY

Blue Heron in Flight - Lexington, KY

Blue Heron in Flight – Lexington, KY

Spring Time - Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, KY

Spring Time – Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, KY

Glacier Mountains - Bynum, Montana

Glacier Mountains – Bynum, Montana

Geese in Flight - Lexington, KY

Geese in Flight – Lexington, KY

Coming Soon to Sumoflam Singlewide Blog – 2015

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

As 2015 has already come on strong, I already have plans in the works for new blog posts and, honestly, I can’t wait, so I thought I would pop in a little teaser of what to expect over the next few weeks:

#TBT Posts

Cartoon2

Cartoon from Oita Godo Shinbun (Oita Daily News – Japan)

The #TBT (Throwback Thursday) movement is getting bigger and I have already boarded that train on my Less Beaten Paths Travel Blog as I look back at old travel journal entries that are now going to be integrated into the blog.  For this particular blog in 2015 my #TBT Theme will be “Sumoflam in the Media” and I will resurrect magazine articles, newspaper articles, television shows and commercials that I have been in over the years.

 

 

 

Second Mesa, AZ

Cover article for the Asahi Solar Magazine – Me with Hopi Indians, providing a Solar Water Heater to them in 1990.

In this I will include my short-lived TV documentaries from Japan, translated versions of my newspaper column while living in Japan, more recent publications in American Magazines and Newspapers. And, there may be a few other fun surprises.  Watch for these every Thursday (or at least every other Thursday).

A TV Food Competition Primer

FN-ShowLogo-Chopped-1920x1080I have become an avid viewer of great Food Competition programming on television, including Food Network shows such as “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “The Great Food Truck Race,” “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and more. While listening to judges, I have learned all sorts of interesting things from cooking styles, food names and, most interestingly, terminology such as “flavor profile” and others.  I will introduce you to some of these and try to explain them away. Appearance and taste aren’t the only winning things with these shows as many culinary experts are becoming TV stars.  I’ll introduce some of them as well.

Scampering with squirrels – a Photo-Essay

DSC_5838Over the last couple of years I have become enamored with squirrels!  Through all of my wildlife photography, I have captured some great squirrel shots.  At the same time, as I look out by back deck door I have thoroughly enjoyed the amazing shows that squirrels present including their leaping, their frolicking with others and their foraging.  My fascination is seemingly endless.

How to be “Awesome, but getting better”

Life is Awesome but only getting better 40 years after graduating high school

Life is Awesome but only getting better 40 years after graduating high school

I have become known for replying “I’m awesome, but getting better” when asked how I’m doing.  I am a firm believer in trying to take a positive vent on things and be resilient.

Life may be hard, but the attitude one takes can really be life changing. I enjoy every day of life despite the stresses, challenges and obstacles thrown at me. I hope to share some of this positivity in an upcoming blog post.

The Joys of Being a Grandparent

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

My nickname is “Grampz” to my Grandkidz.  We are all hip…we use the letter Z at the end.

I never dreamed of having 9 (and maybe more) grandchildren.

I may have been an OK parent, but I like to believe I am a Helluva grandparent!

Loving Nature – Nature as seen through the camera lens




A Canadian Goose lands in the lake

A Canadian Goose lands in the lake (Lexington, KY)

As I have traveled the country and even remained at home, I have fallen in love with nature and the glorious creations of God.  Despite my penchant for visiting quirky and offbeat roadside attractions, it is the wonders of nature that enthrall me on the road and even in my own home town.

A bee doing its job with the lilacs in my back yard

A bee doing its job with the lilacs in my back yard

Back in February I wrote a post about my favorite Animal Photos, but nature is not just about animals and birds and insects.  It is also about sunrises, sunsets, trees, clouds, flowers and more.  Nature gives me a better challenge to learn photography and manage my skills.

Autumn Colors on a horse farm near Lexington, KY

Autumn Colors on a horse farm near Lexington, KY

Living in Lexington, Kentucky offers me the opportunity to enjoy four real seasons…flowers in the spring, fall colors, nice summers and the occasional snows and ice of the winter.  Everyday can provide a wondrous surprise.

Windblown icicles on a lamp in Lexington

Windblown icicles on a lamp in Lexington

Following are a few photos that provide a taste of nature’s glory as I have seen it through the lens of my camera.

MOUNTAINS

The Sawtooth Mountains as viewed from Stanley, Idaho

The Sawtooth Mountains as viewed from Stanley, Idaho

I love the mountains and perhaps one of the most breathtaking views I have ever had was taken in Stanley, Idaho on a beautiful spring afternoon.  The Sawtooth Range and its jagged peaks epitomize the beauty of the Rocky Mountains to me.

Grand Tetons as seen from Driggs, Idaho

Grand Tetons as seen from Driggs, Idaho

Mountains of Glacier National Park as seen from near Babb, Montana

Mountains of Glacier National Park as seen from near Babb, Montana

SWAMPS

Cyprus in Caddo Lake as seen from Uncertain, Texas

Cyprus in Caddo Lake as seen from Uncertain, Texas

Caddo Lake is the only remaining all natural lake in the state of Texas and it is also a swamp.  I had an early morning visit there one February and really enjoyed the almost spooky serenity of the swamp and the moss hanging from the trees.

Caddo Lake in the morning

Caddo Lake in the morning

I learned to play with the camera a bit and with some color adjusting, I was able to make the above view of cyprus in Caddo Lake a bit more colorful.

FLOWERS AND TREES

Texas Bluebonnets mingle with Indian Paintbrushes near Cool, Texas

Texas Bluebonnets mingle with Indian Paintbrushes near Cool, Texas

I love the amazing variety of colorful flowers that can be seen on the road.  Driving from Weatherford, Texas to Mineral Wells, Texas in the spring, one can experience miles of flowers as seen above. A lovely experience!

A Row of Trees on farmland near Tripp, South Dakota

A Row of Trees on farmland near Tripp, South Dakota

I love old trees.  They provide protection, shade and beauty…even when leafless. One of my favorite tree photos comes from Missouri on a lonely back road.

Tree in Fog taken on a back road in Missouri

Tree in Fog taken on a back road in Missouri

Trees are not the only plants out there though.  I have discovered some awesome flower fields that are practically breathtaking, such as the tulip field and sunflower fields shown below.

Sunflowers near Seymour, Wisconsin

Sunflowers near Seymour, Wisconsin

A tulip field on a back road near Woodstock, Ontario

A tulip field on a back road near Woodstock, Ontario

And single flowers look nice as well, especially with bees on them!

Ox-Eye Daisy from McKee, KY

Ox-Eye Daisy from McKee, KY

Bee in Flower taken in my back yard

Bee in Flower taken in my back yard

I am also amazed at the delicate beauty of small flowers such as these below

Buckwheat flowers at Craters of the Moon.  The blossoms are about the size of a US dime

Buckwheat flowers at Craters of the Moon. The blossoms are about the size of a US dime

Dogtooth Trillium was taken in Oxford County, Ontario

Dogtooth Trillium was taken in Oxford County, Ontario

This asterisk was shot on Buckhorn Island, NY

This asterisk was shot on Buckhorn Island, NY

Yellow flower shot at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho

Yellow flower shot at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho

The desert offers an amazing variety of plant life as well.  I grew up around the desert never really appreciating the beauty that I now enjoy in later life.  Here are a few desert photos.

This agave, also known as a "Century Plant" was shot near Sedona, Arizona in 1983

This agave, also known as a “Century Plant” was shot near Sedona, Arizona in 1983

I took this cactus blossom at San Xavier del Bac in Tucson

I took this Christmas cactus blossom at San Xavier del Bac in Tucson

This barrel cactus in bloom was also taken in Tucson, AZ

This barrel cactus in bloom was also taken in Tucson, AZ

I really love the yucca against the white sand hills of White Sands National Monument

I really love the yucca against the white sand hills of White Sands National Monument

THE SKIES

Way above the plant life and animal life are the skies…the moon, the sun, the clouds.  These too offer some life enhancing views.

I got this moon shot on March 19 late in the evening.  This was its color.  It was awe inspiring.  Taken in Lexington, KY

I got this moon shot on March 19 late in the evening. This was its color. It was awe inspiring. Taken in Lexington, KY

I also took this on March 19 in the morning.  It is the sun behind the clouds using the blue tinted glass from inside my car.  Taken in Lexingt

I also took this on March 19 in the morning. It is the sun behind the clouds using the blue tinted glass from inside my car. Taken in Lexington, KY

This is a shot of the moon in the morning after the sun came up in Lexington

This is a shot of the moon in the morning after the sun came up in Lexington

The sun rises in Lexington with a wondrous glow

The sun rises in Lexington with a wondrous glow

And the clouds provide more fun viewing on their own.  Here are a few shots taken while I drove around town in Lexington…

Wispy clouds on a winter morning, taken in February 2014

Wispy clouds on a winter morning, taken in February 2014

Cloud furrows?  I saw these clouds one morning while filling up with gas.

Cloud furrows? I saw these clouds one morning while filling up with gas.

I am still amazed at the formation.  I wonder how these clouds could have formed these furrows so evenly.

Orange clouds of sunset over Lexington in January 2014

Orange clouds of sunset over Lexington in January 2014

X Marks the Spot.  Airline chemtrails sometimes criss-cross in the sky.

X Marks the Spot. Airline chemtrails sometimes criss-cross in the sky.

This was one of many X photos in the sky that I have taken, but certainly one of the most defined.

Watercolor skies over Lexington

Watercolor skies over Lexington

I love the “Watercolor Skies” that sunrises and sunsets bring

The moon glows at dusk over Lexington

The moon glows at dusk over Lexington

Morning sun shaded by clouds caught on a morning drive in Lexington

Morning sun shaded by clouds caught on a morning drive in Lexington

THE FOUR SEASONS

The seasons offer a plethora of natural scenes, each with its own kind of beauty….

Winter

Ice encapsulates berry covered branches

Ice encapsulates berry covered branches

Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY is iced over

Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY is iced over

Geese head south for the winter

Geese head south for the winter

Icicles decorate a plank fence in horse country

Icicles decorate a plank fence in horse country

A male cardinal perches on ice covered branches

A male cardinal perches on ice covered branches

Spring

As winter leaves, the flowers of spring cover the ground and the trees

Dogwoods and Magnolias in full bloom in Charleston, Missouri

Dogwoods and Magnolias in full bloom in Charleston, Missouri

Redbud in bloom in Kentucky

Redbud in bloom in Kentucky

Trillium only bloom for two weeks.  This is Ontario's Provincial Flower - taken in Sparta, Ontario

Trillium only bloom for two weeks. This is Ontario’s Provincial Flower – taken in Sparta, Ontario

Cherry Blossoms at Lexington Cemetery in Spring

Cherry Blossoms at Lexington Cemetery in Spring

A brightly colored lily found in Woodford County, Kentucky

A brightly colored lily found in Woodford County, Kentucky

Beautiful blossom captured at a park in Seattle, Washington

Beautiful blossom captured at a park in Seattle, Washington

Summer

Summer brings the heat and humidity in Kentucky, but also the amazing shades of green and evening shadows

Blue Heron calls out on a summer day

A Blue Heron calls out on a summer day

Corn Rows can be seen all over the Midwest as summer nears its end

Corn Rows can be seen all over the Midwest as summer nears its end

Birds convene at Jacobson Park in Lexington for the hope of a free bite of bread

Birds convene at Jacobson Park in Lexington for the hope of a free bite of bread

An old tree stands tall on a summer day

An old tree stands tall on a summer day

Afternoon shadows on a late summer day

Afternoon shadows on a late summer day

Geese take flight in Kentucky

Geese take flight in Kentucky

Graceful blue heron in flight over the water

Graceful blue heron in flight over the water

I love Blue Herons!  They are probably my favorite bird…so graceful and majestic

Fall

When fall comes along the beautiful darker oranges, browns and yellows emerge.  Like springtime, Kentucky has beautiful fall colors

So many different shades of orange and red in the fallen leaves

So many different shades of orange and red in the fallen leaves

Horse farm country in the fall

Horse farm country in the fall

Fall Colors in Lexington, KY

Fall Colors in Lexington, KY

What is Autumn without the pumpkins?

What is Autumn without the pumpkins?

More Colors of leaves

More Colors of leaves

A Few More Favorites

Squirrel Prints in the Snow

Squirrel Prints in the Snow

Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone Falls

Ducks float on the lake at sunrise

Ducks float on the lake at sunrise

A squirrel hangs on a tree

A squirrel hangs on a tree

Nature is awe inspiring.  I feel so blessed to experience it all!!

New Book on Texas Travel: Tui Snider – Unexpected Texas

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a repost from my Less Beaten Paths Travel Blog in promotion of my friend Tui Snider and her new book “Unexpected Texas”]

Tui Snider - author of "Unexpected Texas" (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Tui Snider – author of “Unexpected Texas” (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Throughout my time as a travel blogger I have had the opportunity to correspond and exchange notes with many other travel bloggers who are also find of the offbeat and quirky. One of those with whom I have worked with often is Tui Snider, from Azle, Texas.

Tui is a freelance writer and travel blogger specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her first book.

Unexpected Texas excerpt (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Unexpected Texas excerpt (courtesy of Tui Snider)

First off, I am honored to have been asked to be a part of her “Blog Tour” and to help interested travelers find another valuable guide for seeing some of the more unusual and fun parts of our great country. (Also, some lucky viewers will won some nice prizes….see below for details!!) I have had a chance to peruse this book and it is really chock full of splendid places on back roads you never heard of. Having traveled 1000s of miles of Texas backroads myself, I know that this will likely be Tui’s first book, but not last, on the wonders of Texas.

Unexpected Texas Cover features the famous Cowboy Hat adorned Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas (photo courtesy of Tui Snider)

Unexpected Texas Cover features the famous Cowboy Hat adorned Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas (photo courtesy of Tui Snider)

Some of the places, such as the Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower that adorns her cover are places I have been.

 

Sumoflam at Eiffel Tower in 2007 (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Sumoflam at Eiffel Tower in 2007 (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Looking up at Eiffel Tower (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Looking up at Eiffel Tower (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is “Even home is a travel destination,” and she believes that “The world is only boring if you take everyone else’s word for it.” She has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, “Unexpected Texas” is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas – Fort Worth region of North Texas.

The Nutt House Hotel in Granbury Square, one of the locations covered in Tui Snider's book.

The Nutt House Hotel in Granbury Square, one of the locations covered in Tui Snider’s book.

Tui provides a nice overview of the quirky, offbeat and even scary places around north Texas, sharing often overlooked travel tips for places within a day’s drive of Dallas and Fort Worth. Some of the quirkier chapters include details on how to visit the:

  • Gravesite of an alleged space alien.
  • Courthouse displaying an embalmed lizard in a velvet-lined casket.
  • Statue of Jesus wearing cowboy boots.
  • Museum commemorating the lynching of Santa Claus.
  • Life-sized wax replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
  • Building made entirely of salt.
  • 65 foot tall Eiffel Tower replica.
  • Petrified wood cafe.
  • World’s smallest skyscraper.
  • Only Michelangelo painting in America.
The Old Douglas Hotel in Mineral Wells, 1930s hotel to the stars (and Bonny and Clyde). Covered by Tui Snider in her book (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

The Old Douglas Hotel in Mineral Wells, 1930s hotel to the stars (and Bonny and Clyde). Covered by Tui Snider in her book (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Personally, I have driven hundreds of miles of roads in Texas and visited over 100 cities and towns, including a few of the places Tui covers in her book, such as Mineral Wells and the famous Douglas Hotel, where it was rumored that Bonnie and Clyde had stayed numerous times. I have also been to the Fort Worth Stockyards, Granbury, Denton, the Fossil Rim Animal Park and more. But I have barely scratched the surface in terms of the number of places Tui details in this great book!

Pecos Bill, the giant longhorn for photo ops at the Fort Worth Stockyards (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

Pecos Bill, the giant longhorn for photo ops at the Fort Worth Stockyards (photo by Sumoflam Productions)

As an author, Tui now has a page of her own on Amazon

You can also find Tui all around the web. Feel free to drop by and say say hi:

Tui Snider’s Offbeat & Overlooked Travel Blog

Tui Snider’s Facebook Author Page

Tui Snider’s awesome Instagram Page

Tui’s Pinterest Page

Sumoflam LOVES visiting Texas!!

Sumoflam LOVES visiting Texas!!

My Favorite Animal and Bird Photographs

Antelope scamper across the prairie in Eastern Montana

Antelope scamper across the prairie in Eastern Montana

Though I am mainly known for my travel blogs and photography, over the years through my travels and at parks with the grandchildren and even at home in my own backyard, I have had the opportunity to capture some fun images of animals and birds.  This post will present a few of my favorites and the stories behind them.  I hope that you will enjoy this little “animal tour.”

A blue heron in flight over the Kentucky River, near Shakertown

A blue heron in flight over the Kentucky River, near Shakertown

I have always loved watching animals and birds.  And it seems that as I have gotten older, this fascination has grown deeper.  Here are few stories and photos of some of the animals I have come across, broken down by animals, birds and insects.

LARGE ANIMALS FROM ALL OVER

Antelope Family - A doe and her two calves scamper across grassland in central Colorado

Antelope Family – A doe and her two calves scamper across grassland in central Colorado

The photo at the top of the page along with the one directly above depicts North America’s fasted land animal, the pronghorn antelope. Throughout the years I have seen thousands of these, mainly in Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.  I can recall seeing herds of them in southern Wyoming in the miud-1970s when I drive from Vernal, UT to Rock Springs, WY on business. I captured the photo of the four antelope at the top while driving from Miles City, Montana through the prairies to Shelby, Montana in March 2013.  There were actually about 8 or 9 along the side of the two lane highway.  I had to whip the camera out quickly to grab this lucky shot.  It is truly one of my favorites.  The other shot was taken in June 2013 on a road trip from Idaho Falls, ID to Dallas, TX.  I was north of Craig, Colorado on a two lane highway through the mountains.  This was captured with my telephoto lens as I took about 20 shots of them speeding across the grass.

Elk in Oregon

Elk in Oregon

I captured this shot of an elk relaxing in Western Oregon, west of aptly named Elton, Oregon.  This elk was roaming freely on an Elk Reserve with about 30 head.  I have seen similar reserves in Rexburg, Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming.  I have rarely seen an elk in the wild and usually it is cow.  The bulls are more difficult.

Longhorn Bull - Fort Worth, Texas

Toothy grin from Pecos Bill the Longhorn Bull – Fort Worth, Texas

Speaking of bulls, I got this shot of “Pecos Bill” the longhorn while visiting my sister in Fort Worth.  We went to the stockyards and this huge bull was being ridden down the street by a cowboy.  People can then pay this cowboy and have their photo taken while sitting on the bull.  No thank you….

Giraffes relax

Giraffes relax in the grass at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, Texas

On a separate trip for work to the DFW Metroplex, I had a weekend to spend with my sister and her family and we took a drive to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.  This is a great place to see wildlife up close, and that is what we got with one of the giraffes!  We even had him licking us through the window with his long black tongue!! (See full details in my blog post here)

An upclose shot of a giraffe at Fossil Rim

An upclose shot of a giraffe at Fossil Rim

Fossil Rim offered the opportunity to see other animals such as zebra, oryx, Asian deer, cheetahs, rhinoceros and a variety of big birds (see below).

Horsing Around in the snow near Versailles, Kentucky

Horsing Around in the snow near Versailles, Kentucky

I live in Lexington, Kentucky, the Horse Capital of the World.  I have plenty of photos of horses grazing in the fields, but this is one of my favorites as a galloping horse eyed me during a photo shoot on a snowy winter morning in Woodford County.  About a dozen horses were racing around in the field and a got a number of other good shots.

Amish-owned horse in Charm, Ohio

Amish-owned horse in Charm, Ohio

I got the horse above while visiting the Amish Community of Charm in Ohio. This horse was attached to one of the Amish Buggies and was parked by a shop.

Crazy Donkey seen on a back road near Winchester, KY

Crazy Donkey seen on a back road near Winchester, KY

One nice spring morning I took a back roads drive with my wife and we came across this mule who stared at us and looked almost crazy.  Couldn’t resist snapping a couple of shots.  Indeed, horses are not the only four-legged equine in Kentucky.

Bison in Yellowstone

Bison in Yellowstone

Of course, how can I leave out the amazing Bison.  Though typically also called buffalo, they are actually really bison.  I got this photo of wild bison grazing in Yellowstone National Park.  It was one of dozens of shots I got that day, including one of a HUGE bison that walked right by my car and had to be over six feet tall.  It was an amazing animal!!

SMALLER CRITTERS

Priairie Dog at Badlands National Park

Priairie Dog at Badlands National Park, South Dakota

There are also lots of smaller animals to be seen in travels and even in my own yard. One of my most endearing photos was taken at Cactus Flats, South Dakota, near the Badlands National Park. I saw this mother coddling her young.  I took about 20 shots and this one really was an “Awwww” moment for me as she hugged her babies.

Prairie Dog Mama cuddling her kids at Cactus Flats, SD

Prairie Dog Mama cuddling her kids at Cactus Flats, SD

Of course, one of the most commonly seen little critter is the squirrel.  I have seen a number of varieties on the road, including black squirrels, red squirrels and gray squirrels.  I see dozens around my house, which I think are actually Fox Squirrels.  In fact, I got some great shots of them playing in the trees on a winter morning a couple of days ago (as I write this…)

Fox Squirrels playing in a tree

Fox Squirrels playing in a tree

The Fox Squirrel is the largest species of tree squirrel in North America.  They love our neighborhood because of the abundance of nut-producing pin oak trees.

A squirrel perches on my back yard deck

A squirrel perches on my back yard deck

The little guys love to visit our deck (as do many birds – see below).  I always try to keep my camera handy at the table as quite often these guys will appear, as did this one above.

Angry Squirrel at home in Kentucky

Angry Squirrel at home in Kentucky

I have posted this photo before, but need to include it here.  I took nearly 40 shots of this squirrel poking around in the snow in my front yard in early February 2014. They were consecutive shots, so I didn’t see this shot until I went through all the photos.  I had to crop it and blow it up a bit, but it was an awesome (and lucky) shot.  It almost appears that he is angry and getting ready to heave a snowball at me!

Red Squirrel in Nebraska City, NE

Red Squirrel in Nebraska City, NE

I got about 10 shots of this red squirrel in Nebraska City, Nebraska in late 2013.  He was obviously prepping for the winter, but I thought his mouth full of nuts was priceless.

Fox in Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Fox in Grand Tetons, Wyoming

I was on a business trip in Rexburg, Idaho in March 2013 and one weekend I took a trip to the Grand Tetons National Park.  Not all of it was open since there was so much snow.  But on one side road I caught this fox diving for mice in the snow.  He stopped for a moment to pose for me.  Another lucky shot taken with my zoom lens.

Meerkat at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

Meerkat at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

I was in Omaha for the 2012 USA Swimming Olympic Qualifying events and we were broadcasting some of the events.  As part of the broadcast pieces we featured some scenes from Omaha, including the Henry Doorly Zoo. It is famous for the big dome that houses their desert wildlife, including the meerkats.  The one above practically posed for me. I swear he was smiling for the camera!!

Dog in Black Mountain, KY

Dog in Black Mountain, KY

And, for the last of the animals is this happy little dog that my wife and I came across on a trek we made into southeastern Kentucky.  We made our way up to the top of Black Mountain, the highest point in the state and there were some other folks up there.  They had this dog in a basket in their motorcycle.  He seemed pleased as punch to have an opportunity to Enjoy the Ride!

BIG BIRDS, LITTLE BIRDS

Emu at Glen Rose, Texas

Emu at Glen Rose, Texas

I have a real fascination with birds and love watching them and love photographing them.  I probably have over 2000 bird photos I have taken and I’m only adding a few of them herein, including the Emu above, which was taken at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, Texas. I also got the angry ostrich below at the same location.

Angry Ostrich at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, TX

Angry Ostrich at Fossil Rim Animal Park in Glen Rose, TX

Seems like everywhere I go I can see ducks and geese, but only once did I get the opportunity to see a group of duck hatchlings in Georgetown, KY during a fall visit to Evans Orchard.  Talk about adorable!!

Duck Hatchlings at Evans Orchard in Georgetown

Duck Hatchlings at Evans Orchard in Georgetown

Then the ducks grow up to be quackers!! They have their own dynasty!!  I took the shot below at Jacobson Park on an icy winter day.  The ducks seemed to enjoy it.

Duck Dynasty at Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY

Duck Dynasty at Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY

One of the beautiful sites we see here in Kentucky are geese in flight as they migrate north and south. Many fly right over our house.  Here are a couple of geese shots that I am proud of.

A solitary Canadian goose glides in the sky above my house in Feb. 2009

A solitary Canadian goose glides in the sky above my house in Feb. 2009

Geese flying south taken in the skies of Lexington in February 2014

Geese flying south taken in the skies of Lexington in February 2014

While on the subject of big birds, one of my all time favorites is of the girl staring down a swan at Victoria Lake in Stratford, Ontario.  I was visiting the park and taking photos of the beautiful swans when I got lucky with this shot, taken in 2008.

Stare Down - taken at Victoria Lake in Stratford, Ontario

Stare Down – taken at Victoria Lake in Stratford, Ontario

On a visit to Idaho Falls, Idaho I happened upon an amazing sight…seagulls and geese fighting over bread.  With camera in hand I got some fabulous shots.  Here is the best of “The Fight”, taken in April 2013.

The Fight - Seagulls and a Goose fight over bread in Idaho Falls, Idaho

The Fight – Seagulls and a Goose fight over bread in Idaho Falls, Idaho

This party is for the birds - geese, ducks and seagulls socialize in Idaho Falls

This party is for the birds – geese, ducks and seagulls socialize in Idaho Falls

I frequent Jacobson Park in Lexington during the summer with my grandchildren.  I always have camera in hand.  I got a great shot of ducks taking flight one afternoon. Ironically, my grandchildren were the source of this as they were chasing the ducks around.  I love this shot because there are three others below all staring at me.  It was an awesome shot (if I say so myself)

Ducks in flight at Jacobson Park in Lexington, KY

Ducks in flight at Jacobson Park in Lexington, KY

Speaking of seagulls, I have photographed them in Oregon, on the east coast and a myriad of places in between.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

Seagull - Idaho Falls, Idaho

Seagull – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Seagull in flight over Oregon Dunes in Oregon

Seagull in flight over Oregon Dunes in Oregon

Seagull in flight over Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Seagull in flight over Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

I was returning to Kentucky with my wife after a visit with my daughter’s family in Montana.  As we traveled in southern Montana, near the small town of Dell, I had hoped to take a back road to see some of the bison on Ted Turner’s expansive ranch off of I-15.  While casually driving down a dirt road overlooking the ranch I heard an eerie bird sound, almost a screeching sound, that I had never heard.  I grabbed my camera as I saw two birds in flight.  I took about 30 shots. The one below shocked me after I was able to sit down and review the photos.  What I saw were red-crested sand cranes in flight.  It was beautiful…

Sand Cranes in flight over the prairies of southern Montana, taken April 2013

Sand Cranes in flight over the prairies of southern Montana, taken April 2013

On another trip west in 2013, I was traveling across South Dakota on the Oyate Trail (US Hwys 50 and 18).  As I drove by Lake Andes, just a few mile north of the Nebraska border I saw a flock of white birds sitting in the lake.  I made my way into the town of Lake Andes and found that there was a park by the lake and the birds were all flocked on the park side of the shore.  I got as close as I could and was beyond joy to see a flock of pelicans.  Once again, I took a couple dozen shots of these beautiful birds.  Here is my favorite.

Pelicans on Lake Andes in South Dakota

Pelicans on Lake Andes in South Dakota

Water birds are not the only big birds I have come across in my travels.  On a trip in Montana I was just coming into Lewsiville when I spotted a bald eagle in a rare spot on the ground in a field, obviously looking for mice.  I had to stop and turn around and hoped that it would stay in place, which it did.

Bald eagle rests in a field near Lewisville, Montana

Bald eagle rests in a field near Lewisville, Montana

One Sunday I accompanied my wife on a church calling into the small town of McKee in central Kentucky.  On the way home we took a couple of back roads (my joy!) and came across these three turkey vultures guarding their prey. They stood firm!

Turkey vultures and dinner near McKee, KY taken in spring 2013

Turkey vultures and dinner near McKee, KY taken in spring 2013

But the all-time favorite big bird of mine is the lovely and graceful Blue Heron.  I have even nicknamed them “Herry” every time I see one.  At the top of this post I caught one gliding above the Kentucky River near Shakertown. I also see them often at Jacobson Lake in Lexington.  Here is one of my favorites. ( I will likely do a complete post just on these birds in the near future).

Blue Heron at Jacobson Lake

Blue Heron at Jacobson Lake

Blue Heron in Flight at Jacobson Lake in Lexington

Blue Heron in Flight at Jacobson Lake in Lexington

Of the large birds, I must include one more.  A few years ago we took a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo with my grand children.  While there I had the opportunity to get some close shot of a peacock.  Voila….

Peacock at Cincinnati Zoo

Peacock at Cincinnati Zoo

Then there are the smaller birds that hang around the neighborhood. Here are a few of them

A fluffy cardinal perched on snow covered tree in my backyard

A fluffy cardinal perched on snow covered tree in my backyard

A Blue Jay on a tree in my back yard

A Blue Jay on a tree in my back yard

A robin perched on my back deck

A robin perched on my back deck

Two doves in love on my back deck

Two doves in love on my back deck

A colorful bird I saw on a fence in central Missouri

A colorful bird I saw on a fence in central Missouri

A black and white bird on a fencepost near Yellowstone National Park

A black and white bird on a fencepost near Yellowstone National Park

Welcome to Fargo East

Seems like this winter has been one of the colder ones in Lexington that I ca recall. We have had a number of below zero temps and some snow and a couple of ice storms. I have started calling Lexington “Fargo East” due to the cold.

(See a nice gallery of my Winter Photos from all over)

20140205-180241.jpgI don’t mind the cold and snow at all. I’m fact, I have missed it during previous winters. It does have a serene beauty.

20140205-180454.jpgLast night we had a mild ice storm which caused downed trees, power outages, and lots of accidents. Treacherous as these can be, the resulting beauty of crystallized branches and icicle draped signs and buildings is a marvelous site to behold.

20140205-184854.jpg20140205-185000.jpg20140205-185127.jpgOf course, wildlife must adjust as well. I think this squirrel got a bit riled up trying to forage for food under the snow….

20140205-185407.jpgAnd we human animals are pretty well stuck too…grill is covered with snow and ice and frozen shut.

20140205-185509.jpgBut, all is good. The beauty of even the simplest icicles to the unique arrangement along a straight line makes up for it all. I do love this artful work of nature!

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Squirrelly Snowball

Image

Squirrelly Snowball

“Squirrelly Snowball” – took this as part of a number of squirrel shots in my front yard on Feb 4. Looked like he had a threatening face and was getting ready to throw a snowball at me for taking his picture.