Choke Cherries in Bloom
It’s hard to imagine there is an entire herd of Elk at the National Bison Range. They share the hillsides, mountains and prairie land with the Bison, the coyote, the Pronghorn, the deer and all the other critters this wildlife preserve protects. In the spring, Matt and I have a spot where we watch the bunnies chasing each other around the lawn near the pond. And there are always turtles sunning themselves.
What a treat though to see this bull elk. That doesn’t happen too often and certainly not every visit do we see elk. This guy was all by himself grazing near the road at sunset yesterday evening. The sun glinted off his antlers as he posed for me. Pretty soon, he grew tired of being stared at and meandered up the hill.
This is a shot from late last summer with the kite along the Flathead River. It’s nice to view these photos right now when gray seems to be the theme around here this week. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had a mild winter since the New Year so no complaints from me. I just love the sight of the sun glinting off the water…
I must issue a sunshine alert for western Montana. We had “some” sun over the weekend and today as well. I am still getting adjusted to the extra rays. While we were flying the kite (photo above) the sun even felt warm. The wind was mischievous however and the kite wouldn’t stay aloft. As soon as we put away the kites then the wind came up again. Ha ha on us.. Still, we managed a few shots with the GoPro of the landscape west of Dixon. You can see there were storm clouds all around us.
On Saturday Matt and I were walking the road at the Bison Range, which was more or less snowbound, unless you have snowshoes or cleats. Towards twilight we started seeing flocks of birds which I think were coots. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them and they just kept on coming from the east, headed west towards the river.
All of sudden two bald eagles came up out of nowhere and it seemed to us they were engaged in an amorous dance – a dance we flightless ones on the ground do not see very often.I can count on two fingers the number of times I have witnessed this. Even though the light was dim I managed to capture a couple decent shots. They flew right toward us, swooping overhead and then near to the ground. But in a matter of seconds they flew off, following the flocks of coots and geese ahead of them.
It was one of those magical moments that happen maybe only once in a lifetime when we humans are graced by creatures which are familiar, yet they disclose or offer a part of themselves which is mysterious and wonderful.
This is a kite photo from a couple weeks ago taken just off the road at the Ninepipe bird refuge. The wind was blowing from the southwest so the big Delta was given all kinds of great updrafts. In the spring all these potholes are filled with water, of course, but we don’t want to disturb any nesting birds. Thus we are content to photograph in the fall. (Maybe this winter the ponds will fill at little too…) If we see lots of wildlife in the area then we don’t fly. We just watch through binoculars.
Last weekend we saw about 50 Bison and 2 lovely swans at a watering hole on our side of the Bison Range just off Highway 93. Sometimes we fly at a unused rest stop at the top of the hill but that afternoon we watched the Bison instead, for a long time.
Matthew and I are a team when it comes to the KAP. I usually launch and he waits until I give the kite enough altitude to attach the camera. As you can see, I didn’t have any trouble lifting the GoPro here. I do think we are going to have to get a larger spool with more line. 500 feet is fine for most flights but I don’t want to be nervous if I’m reaching the end of the line!
It was a busy but wonderful summer for us. We kayaked the Flathead River four times from May through August. Now the river is a bit low. This photo was taken a few days ago a mile or so from the Perma Bridge with the small kite. At first we launched our big kite and immediately the spool was ripped from my hands and started spinning like a top on the ground. I managed to hold onto the line (with gloves) but could feel the heat from friction, as the kite bolted upwards. Very exciting. We brought the big kite down as soon as the spool was secured and launched the little one. Too much breeze for the big guy! The small kite had no problem lifting the Go-Pro with its case. Gotta’ love that wind power.
Last week we were asked to take photos of a place outside of town. It was a gorgeous day. To the right you can see the kite line. We certainly got our walking for the afternoon. The fields of the farm were green with new grass. This photo is looking west.And this photo is looking east. The Missions are bright and still have quite a bit of snow on them. We are using a GoPro and a small Canon camera to capture kite photos. Not at the same time, but some people get two kites in the air.. Hmm…