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These Elk were spotted in Yellowstone National Park while I was there last month.  I saw the two bull or male Elk sitting down beside some trees in a clearing not far off of a road.  I took these pictures while on a photo tour with an experienced guide.  These Elk seemed to be sleepy which makes sense as it was about 6:15 AM when I took the photographs.  During the mating season, bull Elk will use their antlers as battering rams and will butt heads with rivals during fights in order to win their mate (s).  The bulls shed their antlers every fall and will re-grow the huge antler racks during the next Spring.  Elk eat grasses mostly and also will occasionally munch on other low vegetation.

By the way, I saw very few Elk during this trip compared with my last trip back in August of 2011.  The Elk herds  last month may just have been in other districts of the huge park.   There were several Grizzly Bears in the same area I was taking pictures, so that is yet another reason why I likely was not seeing many Elk.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  Enjoy!

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A Hawk Cools Off

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When you think of hawks, you imagine these strong and majestic birds soaring in the skies or even perched on a stout branch of a tall tree.  Well, it may come as a surprise to some people, but hawks get hot and thirsty and dirty sometimes.  When needing to cool-off from the hot Summer temperatures here in North-Central Florida, hawks sometimes will take a dip in the nearest pond or lake or stream.

I was pretty shocked to find a hawk (I can’t say which kind it is – likely a Red-shouldered Hawk) standing chest deep in the rainfall retention pond along-side the golf course near a main roadway here in our development.  I usually see Ibis or Egrets in that spot but never a wading hawk.  I took these pictures from the open window of my pick-up truck on July 20, 2014.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  Enjoy!  Have an outstanding weekend!

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This pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are the first “Whistlers” I have ever seen in person.  I have been virtually observing the antics of Whistlers via my blog friend Tex’s blog, “The Run Around Ranch Blog”, and have always wanted to see these comical, lovely, smart wild ducks myself.  I had read that Whistling Ducks do live in Florida but I had never spotted any in the past year that I’ve lived here.  My luck changed on Saturday, July 19, 2014 when I saw this cute pair.  These ducks were paddling on a small pond in a pasture at a local race horse farm.  I saw three of the Whistlers last evening on this same pond (23 July 2014), shown first row below.

Whistling Ducks have upright posture, are a Cinnamon brown color and have a pink bill, pink legs, pink feet, with white and black wings. They have a black belly and a faint black stripe down the back of their head.  Their calls are whistling sounds, which probably are similar to but a little stronger whistle sound, than Wood Ducks.  I took these pictures from behind a tallish wooden rail fence along the roadway.   Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  I hope you have enjoyed this surprise – I sure did!  Sorry this is posted a bit late today.  I had to have an Internet tech come and do repairs to the cable system (three buildings had a similar outage here last night and this AM).  So back to normal now.

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Yellowstone National Park, June 2014.

Top left:  Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Top center:  Yellowstone Falls.  Top right:  Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Basalt Columns.

Middle row left:  Yellowstone River at Nez Perce Ford.  Middle row center:  Yellowstone Lake.  Middle row right:  A boiling Mud Pot at the Mud Volcano area.

Bottom left:  View of the Grand Teton mountains from Yellowstone National Park.  Bottom center:  The Lamar Valley.  Bottom right:  The Yellowstone River.

Sorry no pictures of geysers.  It was very cold while I was at Yellowstone – in the upper 30’s and very low 40’s F. during the day.  It snowed twice in the five days we visited, and was raining on several of the days. Brrr.   Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version of that photo.  As ever, enjoy!  This post with scenic views was by special request.  Back to wildlife with the next post, and I will have a pleasant surprise.

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Yellow-belly Marmot

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Yellow-belly Marmots

Yellow-belly Marmots

Marmots, a Jack Rabbit, Prairie Dogs, and a Golden Mantle Ground Squirrel were all recently spotted in South Dakota and in Wyoming.  I snapped these pictures of various (really cute) rodents while on my vacation in Custer State Park, South Dakota and in the magnificent Yellowstone National Park.  I saw what looks like a Snow-shoe Hare (?) in its Summer fur at our campground in Hill City, South Dakota.  There were plenty of perky Prairie Dogs along the Wildlife Loop Road in Custer State Park.  I enjoyed seeing those a lot!

A very swift and oh-so-cute, Golden Mantle Ground Squirrel (the chipmunk-looking rodent) was seen scurrying back and forth on the rocks and trail at one of the overlooks at the Yellowstone National Park’s canyon and Yellowstone Falls.  The last little critters I photographed, were a pair of sweet Yellow-belly Marmots that were quite interested in what I was up to.  All are furry, beautiful little animals and quite photogenic!  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  Enjoy!

Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog

Snowshoe Hare

Jack Rabbit

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Prairie Dog

Wading Bird Wednesday

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American White Ibises, Snowy Egrets, a Great Egret, and a Cattle Egret were all wonderful visitors to one of the rainfall ponds here in the development where I live.  This particular pond is between the golf course and a busy street.  I see wading birds there on occasion, especially after it has been raining a lot.

We have had rains almost every day for the last couple of weeks so there is enough water in this pond to attract these large birds.  The Snowy Egrets were pretty flighty while the Ibises just wanted to eat in peace.  The sole Cattle Egret watched the action from the far end of the very shallow pond.  This pond often does go completely dry.   I took these pictures yesterday afternoon (7/15/14).   Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  Enjoy!

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These American White Pelicans were spotted in the area of Fishing Bridge near Lake Yellowstone on the Yellowstone River.  I was quite happy to see the pelicans as I had previously seen White Pelicans both in Tennessee on Lake St. George in Fairfield Glade (a rare sighting) and in Florida on both coasts.  These pelicans Winter in the warmer areas such as Florida and many spots along the Gulf of Mexico.

Apparently, White Pelicans are pretty commonly seen on large rivers and lakes in the Midwestern states in the Summer months.  These large birds mostly eat fish.  This area of Yellowstone is very lovely and much less crowded than the areas near Old Faithful (about 35 miles away).  I took these pictures on June 15, 2014.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  Enjoy!

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