Hoofing It

I just noticed my WordPress dashboard is indicating I passed a milestone of such.  Apparently a couple of posts ago I hit my 200th blog post.  Seems like yesterday when I started this whole blog thingy, but in reality it’s the middle of the third year.  Yeah, it has been work at times, but it gives me a change to show off some of my photos along with things that happen to catch my attention.  I definitely appreciate you taking the time to peruse my ramblings and offer up comments from time to time.

Apparently, Linda and I have been poisoned by the Par-A-Dice deli tonight.  My money is on the cheese fries, but the jury is still out – well, the stomach jury has definitely provided a verdict.  While waiting for this to pass, I figured a bonus post was in order.  This one will close out the large mammals from the Yellowstone trip last June.  Still trying get caught up in preparation for the upcoming vacation, this should leave me with some bird shots and a collection of water themed snaps that stood out while reviewing the vacation portfolio.  Ironically, Linda and went out on a shoot yesterday and now we have about 10 more blog topics… guess there is really no such thing as catching up.

This is a miscellaneous set and not all tack sharp by any means.  Let’s start with an Elk.

These animals are simply majestic to look at.  Although not the largest rack of the ones spotted on this trip, it was definitely up there based on size and weight.  Not being an expert on antlers, it is hard to tell how mature this one was.  The antlers were still covered with velvet and for all I know still growing.  According to the guide, they can grow 5′ long.  Oh, and they can run 35mph.  They are also called Wapiti which is Shawnee for Pale Deer.  Come for the pictures, leave a little smarter 8^).  Amazingly, these beasts were not bothered by us and generally just focused on grazing.  This buck happened to look over resulting in a perfect pose.

If you caught the previous Bison post, you know there are plenty of them out there.  Another plentiful animal is the Pronghorn.  By the time we got to South Dakota you couldn’t go 5 miles without seeing them off the side of the road.

Not one of my better pictures, but for some reason I didn’t take any other photos of them.  This is a buck per the short black mane.  Contrasting that with the elk, the male pronghorn antlers only reach about 6″ (with a extra 9″ sheath that is shed in the winter).  Although slightly slower than the elk, these guys can run 30mph for 15 miles with bursts up to 70mph making them a tough prey.  Another interesting piece of information is, thanks to conservation, they are more abundant than they were in the 1900s.  By the way, they are part of the antelope family if you were wondering.

Go ahead and hit the jump, there are two other specimens for your viewing pleasure

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Well, It’s a Critter and It’s Furry (Pt 2 of 2)

As promised, this is the second part of my two part post on furry critters.  If I was guessing on some of the categorization of the critters in the last blog, then I’m pulling them out of certain somewhere with this set.  It is hard enough to classify birds, but these animals are about impossible to distinguish one from another especially when they have essentially the same fur coloring.  So, I have taken some liberties.  Due to limited references and numerous inconsistencies on the web, there is a high probability that the animals are not properly named.  Take for instance this creature.

Based on the Rocky Mountain Guide from Audubon (region where this photo was taken), the closest I can tell is that it is a Rock Squirrel.  Am I sure about this… NO.  However, if looks like a Rock Squirrel, walks like a Rock Squirrel and unable to squeak English to correct me, we’ll be going with Rock Squirrel.  On the size scale, this was the largest off all of them I was able to snap a shot of.  Based on the glint in his eye, he seems ready to rip me to shreds.  And then there was this squirrel.

Now there were two options for this fur monster.  It has a distinguished grey color and a distinctive white outline of the eye.  After spending hours scouring the Internet and reading the paltry paragraphs in the field guide, the options are either an Abert’s Squirrel or a Red Squirrel.  The Abert’ Squirrel is suppose to be grey (check), has a white underbelly (check), tufts of hair coming off the ears (uhh, hmm) and white highlights on the end of the tail (crap).  In contrast, the Red Squirrel has a rounded ear (check), white underbelly (check), pale reddish grey coloring (uhh, hmm).  Playing the odds, the money is on Red Squirrel.

Wait a minute, now we have the pale reddish gray we were expecting in the last picture, but the tufts are there now which were more indicative of the other squirrel.  So do we have two different squirrels here or is one in some kind of disguise to hide his super squirrel ninja skilz.  One minute innocent cute and cuddly creature, the next chopping nuts with a pair of squirrel chucks.  Okay, probably not a likely scenario so sticking with the Red Squirrel option.  Oh, and based on about 40 minutes of searching the net, there appears to be a lot of images labeled similarly showing a creature with the same dark grey coloring as in the previous photo.  Maybe the fur coloring changes with maturity or seasons.  This was not confirmed with the weak descriptions in the field guide.  Although this may be the missing link.

This appears to be the transition specimen.  The fur coloring blends in between the deeper grey and the reddish hue.  It also has a similar posture (and eyeliner) along with the tufts from the first picture but still showing the rounder ear structure mentioned in the guide.  For the record, I do like this particular shot since it has both foreground and background depth (nicely blurred) and hint of symmetry with the rock.  After about 5 different cropping experiments, the center crop won out since that allowed for keeping the foreground indicator and still showing the round of the rock.  To critique myself, next time I’ll move about 15 degrees to keep the background limb from impaling the subject.  For snicks, here’s another shot of what appears to be the perfect specimen for a Rock Squirrel based on the Audubon guide.

Makes you want to reach out and pet it doesn’t it?  Wait, two words… Squirrel Fu.

Hit the jump to see a couple of other squirrel like creatures captured in the Yellowstone region.

Continue reading Well, It’s a Critter and It’s Furry (Pt 2 of 2)