Poking Around Elk & Widgeon

What can be more delightful than an evening spent quietly meandering around a watercourse teaming with wildlife - especially if one has a good camera and lens? Little I can imagine. Especially this time of year when life is so abundant - and young are starting to appear. Thus I have been grabbing my lens and whatever time allows and poking around the ends of Elk Lake and Widgeon Pond.

Bird life is abundant, as expected. I shared some of my findings in the last post. However, fish and other critters thrive in these waters. Here is a sampling:

They are not the easiest to photograph in their habitat. However, when removed from their comfort zone, we can capture their beauty. Here are some nice examples of the two most common finned residents of Elk Lake.

There is no love loss between the two-legged predators of our finned water residents and these whiskery four-legged omnivores. While their diets definitely include fish, they also enjoy vegetation (as seen in the first picture above). Furthermore, they are such fun, social, and curious critters - I can't help but enjoy their company!

And, of course, there are the birds - of every size, shape, color, and personality. Water fowl (and those living near the water) are the most colorful of our Centennial Valley feathered friends - which makes them more than worthy subjects.

As another day ends in the Centennial, I once again thank God for the opportunity to enjoy such beauty in my very own backyard!

Lady of the Lake


Shooting The Wing

If the eye were a lens, and the brain a shutter, what images I could share with you! How often I lament my inability to capture so much of the beauty which accompanies my every waking moment. Yet, like the proverbial optomist, I continue to shoot and click - hoping, I suppose, some day to really have a half-full glass of the best-of-the-best to share with you.

Anyone who has pursued the winged creations knows the frustration. They are abundant. Any daylight hour, any season there is some flittering or fluttering, twittering or buzzing passerby tempting me to run outside and play chase! However, I am always 'it'. They are ever elusive. Thus when I capture a few decent images, I feel like I've really accomplished something.

Here are a couple dozen of the hundreds shot within the last week or so. Okay, so the first little guy doesn't really qualify, but, you have to admit he's cute - and he does look like he's curious to know what I'm going to post!

Birds in flight are particularly challenging. Obtaining the proper elevation from which to capture them at a good angle is better than half the challenge. Thus I was particularly pleased with my shot of this Northern Harrier.

Of course birds are not the only critters with wings. Catching a prone butterfly can also stretch, if nothing else, one's patience. Catching one highlighted by back or low side lighting - that is nothing short of pure luck!

Anyone who follows Elk Lake's Facebook page is familiar with the Heron who comes to dinner. Our spawning trout have become a Heron (and Eagle) smorgesboard. It is when they do not consume what they kill that I get upset. So, while I *loved* the photo opp, I was also giving him the evil eye!

Of course, not every bird photo opp presents itself 'on-the-wing' or in my backyard. In fact, not every one has even hatched (that was my 'first' duck nest find in the last 10 years)! Yet each and every one is special - if for no other reason than the images it evokes in my mind - sights, smells, sounds, the wind in my face, the light on the hillside - whatever the setting, whenever the moment. Each is another slice of life, a tidbit to be treasured, found only at Elk Lake!

So ends yet another series of gorgeous days at Elk Lake. I hope, wherever this summer finds you, you also are observing (and perhaps capturing) the beauty outside your door!

Lady of the Lake


Early Summer Menagerie

Every day brings new sights and sounds to my pristine waking world. Wildlife has returned in mass, turning my quiet backyard into a cacophony. Familiar landscapes take on new colors. Clouds drop to add mystery then raise to float like cotton candy on dark blue jelly. Critters scitter across my path or stop to ponder this odd-looking two legged creature. And, as always, my camera clicks - sometimes even capturing what I think I see!

So, it is time to add more photos from the last few weeks - mountain vistas, wildlife, familiar faces, and even a few images of the buggy kind.

I have decided half the 'trick' of good photography is learning to see. The other half is pure luck! With scenic vistas, cloud backdrops, and brilliant color splashes, I am challenged to not miss the trees in such a magnificent forest!

Of course, Elk Lake doesn't just 'look' pretty. It provides some spectacular fish habitat. Look at that Grayling! Our fish project is clearly working.

There's always room to add another picture of my favorite hiking pal. I'm not sure who enjoys our excursions more. Watching him bounce and jump by my side for the first 100 feet or so, listening to him 'talk' as I gather my gear, and just watching him soak it in is like icing on an already delicious cake!

When I think about it, I am amazed any bugs survive our winter. Top that with a short season to 'make-a-livin', and it's no wonder they are obviously busy.

The deer and elk have returned. The wolves are still here. Did you know the elk always proceed the deer, but the deer are the first to leave? And, yes, there is a story behind those blurry elk. Check out our Facebook page if you are curious. Can you find the elk in the last photo?

Life at Elk Lake has settled in to its summer routine. Isn't it nice to know some things (sometimes even the BEST things) never change?

Lady of the Lake


Late Spring Photo Montage

Just because I have been up to my elbows in pre-season chores, do not assume I have not enjoyed my 'favorite' part of ELk Lake - its wild and wooly outdoors! While my posting has been sporadic, my photo finger has been busy recording remembrances for another day.

So, while my blog posts have developed a stutter, do not interpret that to mean I'm less engaged with this land I love. In fact, if you grow weary of waiting for my next installment, drop on over to our Facebook page. Here you can pick up a 'daily dose' of Elk Lake - be it food, wildlife, or just the abounding natural beauty.

Today, I leave you with some of my favorite 2013 late spring memories. Enjoy!

The wildflowers are coming on strong. Forgive the double time given to the Arrowleaf Balsamroot. They are such a show-off, and it seems I've become a co-conspirator!

Obviously spring is coming round beautifully here on the home front. I love the way the sunshine warms the fresh new life giving it a glow only seen this time of year.

Climb high. Climb low. Wander over open hill and threw hoary draw. It matters not. Everywhere I turn, spring has taken hold. Some places it is crawling slowly across the meadows. In others it is chipping away, drip by drip, at winter's last fortress on mountain's high.

With glee and gratitude we enjoy these hills and dales we call our 'backyard'. Always knowing as the day tilts toward twilight, the jewel of it all awaits us, just over the next hill and round the next bend!

Lady of the Lake