Guess Who? Whoooo?

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Sometimes photos pop up at the most inconvenient moments. Like this one where I was leisurely coming down the stairs to my kitchen on the first floor of my home and saw this gorgeous creature on my back patio fence. I had to decide between taking a not-so-great picture with my phone, or taking a chance that it would still be there if I sprinted back upstairs to grab my 200mm lens. I took a chance and raced upstairs, trying to assemble my camera while flying back down again. Obviously it’s not in great focus as I was trying to catch my breath and still the camera, but at least the owl stayed put long enough to take one decent shot.

Critters on the Plains

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I’m actively trying to improve my skills at selecting the right aperture for bright, beaming sunshine. Lately I’ve been horrible at washing out my photos by forgetting to change that basic setting on my camera. This cute furball was my first subject of the day while out for a day of shooting (first rifle, then pictures). I know, ground squirrels are pests and the cause of many, many problems. But darn if they’re not cute as a button.

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I’m not sure if this is the same earless lizard I saw a few weeks ago; this one is smaller I think. No doubt, even in our shooting spot, there are many.

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I’m also trying to up-skill a bit on focusing on smaller subjects on the fly. However in this photo I was really focusing on the flowers and had no idea a grasshopper was in my view until I loaded the image to my laptop. Observant of me, no?

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This fellow was hanging on to this blade of grass for all he was worth. It’s not noticeable in the pictures but the wind was whipping and this guy had clamped onto the grass and was riding the gusts like a championship bull rider. It was a day for critters of all sizes!

A Rocky Runner

2017-07-08 Earless LizardThis was my skittish visitor who regularly frequented our target shooting location two weeks ago on a hot afternoon in Wyoming. On checking a few websites, it seems this fast sprinter is a Great Plains Earless Lizard. It was quite humorous to see it race up to us and back away again over and over. I’m not sure if it was simply curious or posturing but it certainly was a brave thing.

2017-07-08 Earless Lizard 2This second photo admittedly I had to edit extensively. Yours Truly ignored all intelligent thought and left her aperture on the wrong setting for a squint-worthy bright group of pictures. But this one I was able to edit back to a more realistic brightness and contrast to be able to post. I was hoping to keep this one as it made us chuckle to see it scurry over and then stand up to watch us a time or two before disappearing back into the scrub.

A Gift to Hold

2013-05-15 Luna Moth 1These are older photos; goodness they date to 2013. But I wanted to share them because they reminded me a special chance-meeting.

In my prior home in Virginia, I noticed this gorgeous Luna Moth on my back porch covered in dew and unable to fly at sunrise. It was a target. Large, vibrant and green laying out in the open on my deck with no cover to hide it. The back yard met  undeveloped wetlands so other animals flying or crawling about was a constant.

Having a soft spot for all creatures great and small, I stepped outside with the thinnest absorption material I could find: a single ply shred of paper napkin. The moth was obviously struggling (to this day I wasn’t sure if it was dying (as their adult lifespans are 1-2 weeks if I recall) or if it was simply too dew-covered to move). It’s rare to see Luna Moths anymore, and I wanted to offer it care whether it was going or coming.

So I spent a few quiet moments there on my back deck before work, ever-so-softly touching the corner edge of the napkin to each dew drop to absorb the water away from its wings. Once I had most of it, I waited and took the photo above. The poor thing continued to struggle. It began curling it’s legs in and shuddering slightly. So I gently lifted it onto a paper towel to let it rest as it dried, knowing it was only a matter of time until a bird or some other animal found it. I carried it on the paper towel out into the woods and carefully tucked it under a leaf on a branch to either give it a chance to start it’s short life safely or for it to pass away in hiding before being found.

But in this moment, what a fragile, fleeting and ethereal little life to have held in my hand in the morning sun.

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