Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rocky Mountain Roundup- Mammals of Rocky Mountain National Park

Coyote- Fairly common, there and even here in Ohio.  Notice it's posing behind Mountain Goldenbanner!

Best guess?  The Mountain Cottontail.  Any rabbit experts out there?  Does this one have enough hair in its ears?  This one was hanging out near our condo.

The golden-mantled ground squirrel that prompted Weston to say his longest sentence that I've heard to date.  "Hi Squirrel- How are you?" I was dumbfounded.  These things are RIDICULOUSLY tame, they're used to being fed, but there are plenty of signs that say "don't feed these squirrels!"

Higher up in elevation I found these interesting chipmunks.  I believe this is the least chimpmunk, which can be found throughout the park.

And here is my Holy Grail picture- A pika.  I was hoping for a better photo- can you see it?

And finally- the mule deer- this buck in velvet was hanging around during the wedding rehearsal dinner.  I took this shot just as we were loading the kids up in the car- I literally had put my camera into the trunk when it came into view.  Magic moment, right time, right place, and I had my camera! 

During July (and August!) 2011, I'm writing about my late June trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I hope you enjoy this brief  exetnded swing to the western U.S.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mountain Goldenbanner, Thermopsis montana

Let's continue exploring the Rocky Mountains, shall we?  At 8000 feet up, spring comes much later than it does in Ohio.  It was awesome to be there in late June but to see many "spring" wildflowers.  Perhaps the flower I photographed the most was the mountain goldenbanner, a member of the pea family.  It was everywhere in meadows at lower elevations.  At the time, I wondered why this species was so prevalent even though the park has a large elk population that has grazed many areas to the point where they need to be fenced off to exclude the elk.  After a little research tonight, however, I learned that several members of the genus Thermopsis, including this species, contain toxic alkaloids.  The elk don't touch it.

I'm almost ready to wrap up looking back on the rocky mountains.  Look for a roundup of the various animal species that we encountered that I haven't yet shown this weekend.


During July 2011, I'm writing about my late June trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I hope you enjoy this brief swing to the western U.S.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I was hoping to put together another post from Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend, but it didn't happen.  Instead, I've been playing around with Google's new social network called Google+.  I really like it's simplicity and ability to post large photos with long captions.  It's also nice to organize your friends into different groups called circles.  

I really like it- If you would like to give Google+ a try, just e-mail at hiramtom at yahoo dot com and I'll send you an invite.  Right now it's in the testing phase, so you can jump in early and see what it's all about.  I'll probably be posting images there on a more frequent basis as well.

Have a great week- I'll be back next weekend.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Adventures with a Two Year Old in Rocky Mountain National Park

Taking a break at Bear Lake

We had to stop at every trickle of running water.

And we had fun examining pebbles to determine if they'd be good to throw into Bear Lake.

Sizing up the Alluvial Fan Falls.

It's hard not to be cute when you're only two years old.

Sprague Lake, again making sure the little pebble he's about to toss into the water is suitable for that purpose.

Another week in the books- how was yours?  Let's just say I'd rather be remembering our late June 2011 trip to Rocky Mountain National Park!  Last weekend I wrote about the flora and fauna of the alpine tundra.  Here, Weston is pictured at much lower elevations in the park, although he did make it up past 9475 feet at Bear Lake.  The little guy was huffing and puffing as we took our gingerly stroll around the lake.

The whole family went to RMNP for Megan's brother's wedding- we stayed for a week, but Megan still had to do her day job while we were there.  After returning from early morning photo excursions, I would pick up Weston around 9:00 to give momma a break.  Weston and I had a blast exploring the park- even at two years old he was a super nature adventurer.

Weston's two early loves of the natural world are rocks and water.  He had no problems finding small rocks to throw.  Climbing boulders was also great fun.  All with my help, of course.  We visited short trails with easy access to the parking lot.  He walked for the most part- sometimes he would stop, look up at me, raise his arms and say "up".  That's when we'd stop and take a break.  Yes, it took us an hour to go one half mile but that's what exploring nature with a two year old is like.  And that's how it should be!  So many of the park visitors were in such a hurry to see everything, they actually saw very little.

Weston and I had a blast exploring the park together- on our next trip hopefully momma and Brody will be able to join us more frequently.


During July 2011, I'm writing about my late June trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I hope you enjoy this brief swing to the western U.S.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flora of the Alpine Tundra

We're continuing yesterday's exploration on the alpine tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park. The park experienced heavy snowfall this past spring, and the alpine regions continued to receive new snow into the last week of June. It doesn't take long, however, for the liliputian flora of the tundra to respond to a warm up. These plants have a growing season that might last three months. They've got to flower and produce seeds in that short amount of time. All of these species literally hug the ground like a carpet draped across the mountain tops.

If you have studied the flora of the east, you'll see some familiar sights. I have not taken the time to identify these particular species- please enjoy the floral show!


I've gone to a "blogging only on the weekend" format- enjoy the week, I'll catch you next weekend and I'll have more views of the Rocky Mountains.

During July 2011, I'm writing about my late June trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I hope you enjoy this brief swing to the western U.S.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yellow-bellied Marmot

In June 2010, I traveled to Yellowstone National Park and saw most every animal featured in the park brochure except two exceptions- the trumpeter swan, and the yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris).  After photographing these curious creatures at Rocky Mountain National Park, I know why.  While at Yellowstone, I stayed at low elevations where the elk, bison, and wolves hung out.  To see marmots, I needed to be high up on the alpine tundra of the mountains.

While driving up trail ridge road, I stopped at the first major parking area, the overlook of forest canyon.  It took me a little while to notice that the area was literally crawling with yellow-bellied marmots.  Well acclimated to people, these creatures reminded me of a alpine version of our groundhog.  And even more interesting, they loved to lick the rocks that made up the walls of the overlook.  One brave marmot even ventured into the walled off area meant to keep the people off the tundra and from falling into the canyon. 

I had a blast photographing these fascinating, mountain creatures which live in an area that is covered with snow 7-8 months of the year, 11,500 feet above sea level.  Tomorrow, I'll share photos of the amazing liliputian flowers of the alpine tundra that these marmots most likely call food.


During July 2011, I'm writing about my late June trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I hope you enjoy this brief swing to the western U.S.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wyoming Ground Squirrels

When we first arrived at our condo complex in Estes Park Colorado, it didn't take me long to see these chipmunk sized cheeping rodents running everywhere.  Then I started seeing bigger ones.  These little guys turned out to be Wyoming ground squirrels- Urocitellus elegans.   They were everywhere around our complex.  Underneath our condo were several unattached PVC pipes.  My guess is that the complex has decided to live with these squirrels by providing homes for them.  The meadow next door to our condo was riddled with burrows, but I didn't see one in the well manicured lawns where we stayed.  These squirrels must be a horrible pest to the residents of Estes Park, but I found them quite photogenic.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ultra-wide Views of Rocky Mountain National Park

While photographing in the park, I most likely had a telephoto lens for wildlife or the ultrawide Canon 10-22 mm lens that I borrowed from  Contrasting with yesterday's telephoto views of the park, here are several images shot at 10mm with my Canon Eos 7D.

There's a creature in this photo- can you be the first to spot it?

The first time a rented an ultra-wide lens, I didn't bring back very good photographs.  When you're viewing the world with this wide angle, the most important thing to remember is to GET CLOSE to your subject.  Whatever you are photographing, you really can't be close enough.  Remember those two words, and you'll be successful with ultra-wide lenses.



Saturday, July 09, 2011

Telephoto Views of Rocky Mountain National Park

Have you noticed that very long telephoto and very wide angle shots are trendy amongst today's photographers?  Each night before I go to bed, I use the Life "app" to review the day's top photos.  With almost predicatble regularity, each image is an extreme wide angle or a long telephoto.  What happened to the good 'ole days of the 50mm equivalent lens?  I think that focal lenght has died for photojournalism.

Anyways, As I was shooting in RMNP, I often had my long telephoto lens on the camera to capture wildlife.  Why not capture the interesting details 10 miles across the valley as well? 


Friday, July 08, 2011

Elk- Estes Park Colorado and Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park

If you'd like to photograph the American elk or Wapiti, (Cervus canadensis), you'll do well in Estes Park Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park.  There is no shortage of these amazingly huge mammals there.

After much thought, I'm going to plug on here at the Ohio Nature Blog.  The next few weeks will be dedicated to the plants, animals, and scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Expect longer more involved posts during the weekend.  I'll post quick things, iphone photos, and the like during the week as time allows. Thanks for viewing!


Thursday, July 07, 2011

New Banner, Wider Blog Layout, Wider Pictures and Video

One cure for the blog blues is to change your blog layout.  I've done that this evening, upping my blogging space to 900 pixels, which means you'll see bigger pictures here in the future.  I'll also be able to post wider videos too. And I've added a new blog banner to represent the summer season.  Can you believe I captured that image with the camera on the Iphone 4?  I snapped it on my way to work.  I've driven by this apparently abandonded farmhouse for a year, waiting for the right light and time to photograph it.  The mature wheat provided a perfect foreground, and the warm morning light was idyllic.  I hope you enjoy the new layout!


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park

Moraine Park, part of Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado.

I'm  back.  Make that we're back.  From Rocky Mountain National Park.  What a spectacularly wonderfully awesome place.  The break from blogging was welcome- I concentrated on making great images in the park.  Thanks to Megan's brother for Sam for picking a pretty amazing place to get married- Estes Park, Colorado.

Over the past few weeks I've thought about the future of this blog- where I want to take it, if I want to take it forward.  I've been doing this since 2006.  I welcome your comments.