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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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!!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 in flight over Oregon Dunes in Oregon
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
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
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
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
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 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
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 Blue Jay on a tree in my back yard
A robin perched on my back deck
Two doves in love on my back deck
A colorful bird I saw on a fence in central Missouri
A black and white bird on a fencepost near Yellowstone National Park