December, 2007

Photographing with Andy

Andy Duncan, a former student and friend (not a former friend, just a friend) of mine, and I went photographing in the wind and cold this afternoon. Andy wanted to revisit some of the warm water sloughs in the Rexburg area, while I wanted to photograph some general wintry scenes. We had a good time visiting and photographing. The weather was pretty decent, except in Menan where the wind was howling. At the end of the evening the light was pretty spectacular, although I didn’t make very good use of it. Here are some photos from today’s excursion.

Andy Photographing Texas Slough, Madison County, ID 2007

Six Trees, Chester, ID 2007

Trees in Snow, St. Anthony, ID 2007

Three Trees, Ashton, ID 2007

Warm Water Slough, Ashton, ID 2007

Seventy-Four Common Goldeneye, Ashton, ID 2007

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Merry Christmas

This afternoon after the kids had opened their presents and things had settled down I took a drive and made these photographs.

The first image is a of a lovely little warm-water slough west of Menan, you can just make out the big butte in the background. The slough usually has a few ducks and other water birds in the winter, when most everything else is frozen solid.

The second image is of a snowy farm field SE of Rexburg, which is along one of my favorite winter drives.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.

Slough west of Menan, ID 2007

Snowy Field, Walker, ID 2007

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It’s been snowing all day today. I think we got somewhere around 6″. It was great to finally get a big storm. Ethan talked me into taking he and Kevin sledding. It was a lot of fun. We went to Smith Park, which is just around the corner from our house. We played for a couple of hours, Ethan only cried twice (once when a kid flattened him as he was walking up the hill and the other when he flew off a jump and landed flat on his back), Kevin and Ethan sort of got along, and we all stayed relatively warm. The best thing that happened is while I was gone our neighbors used their snow-blower on our driveway. Here are some sledding photos.

Ethan on his Sled

Kevin Flying off the Jump

Ethan Flying off the Jump (prior to biffing it pretty good)

Ethan Pitching a Minor Fit After Crashing

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Merry Christmas Eve

While doing the Christmas Bird Count in Burton on Saturday I found this manger scene with real animals in somebody’s yard. I think it combines the perfect amount of kitsch and tenderness. Enjoy.

Manger Scene, Burton, ID 2007

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Rexburg Christmas Bird Count

Ten of us participated in the Rexburg CBC on Saturday, December 22. For those of you (which I assume is most of you) who are unfamiliar with Christmas Bird Counts, we basically count all of the birds and bird species within a 15 mile diameter circle. The Rexburg Count is centered just west of Rexburg and includes a good mix of habitat including the Menan Buttes, farm fields, warm water sloughs, the town of Rexburg, and the Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River. They are held all over the country between December 14th and January 3rd of each year. It was cold (low of 12 and high of 19) and a little snowy, but the birds were around and we had some pretty good surprises. We ended up with 68 birds on count day +3 count week birds bringing our total to 71 species for the count, which is one short of last year’s record of 72. I may try for a couple more Count Week birds tomorrow. Anyway, highlights include: 4 mountain bluebirds, Spotted Sandpiper, CW Lapland Longspurs, Hooded Merganser, 12 Common Redpolls, Northern Saw-whet Owl and 2 American Dippers. I’m very grateful to all who participated, and I’m relieved we beat Idaho Falls (although I’m reminded every year that it’s not a competition). Here’s the bird list:

Canada Goose 469
Trumpeter Swan 199
American Wigeon 1
Mallard 819
Northern Shoveler 1
Northern Pintail 2
American Green-winged Teal 17
Ring-necked Duck 22
Lesser Scaup 18
Common Goldeneye 121
Barrow’s Goldeneye 3
Hooded Merganser 1
Common Merganser 20
Gray Partridge 39
Ring-necked Pheasant 15
Wild Turkey 4
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) cw
Bald Eagle 10
Adults: 9
Immatures: 1
Northern Harrier 8
Sharp-shinned Hawk 4
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Northern Goshawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 40 – Harlan’s Hawk 2
Rough-legged Hawk 29
Golden Eagle 4
Adults: 3
Immatures: 1
American Kestrel 24
Merlin 1
Prairie Falcon 2
American Coot 12
Killdeer 1
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Wilson’s Snipe 8
Rock Pigeon 316
Eurasian Collared-Dove 154
Mourning Dove cw
Barn Owl 1
Great Horned Owl 6
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 10
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker 37
Northern Shrike 8
Steller’s Jay 2
Black-billed Magpie 477
American Crow 5
Common Raven 29
Horned Lark 366
Black-capped Chickadee 52
Mountain Chickadee 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 8
Brown Creeper 8
American Dipper 2
Mountain Bluebird 4
Townsend’s Solitaire 9
American Robin 5
European Starling 1207
Bohemian Waxwing 15
Cedar Waxwing 10
American Tree Sparrow 12
Song Sparrow 14
Dark-eyed Junco 25
Lapland Longspur cw
Snow Bunting 2
Red-winged Blackbird 41
Brewer’s Blackbird 10
House Finch 741
Red Crossbill 8
Common Redpoll 12
Pine Siskin 3
American Goldfinch 85
House Sparrow 993

While I was out and about I snapped a few photographs.

Trees and Almost the Sun, Burton, ID 2007

Frosty Russian Olive, Road and Sign, Burton, ID 2007

Owl on Post, Burton, ID 2007

Detail of (plastic) Owl on Post, Burton, ID 2007

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Scouting for the Rexburg CBC

I compile the Rexburg Christmas Bird Count, which is held this Saturday. Basically we divide a 15 mile diameter circle into different areas and different teams try to count all of the birds in those areas. For more information visit the CBC site. I’ve been doing a little bit of scouting to see what birds are around and to see if I can’t find anything unusual. I managed to locate a few nice birds this morning. I hope they stick around until Saturday.

Four Lapland Longspurs (the three left birds and the furthest right bird) mixed in with Horned Larks and a Snow Bunting, Walker, ID 2007

Lapland Longspurs are fairly regular, though difficult birds to find. We’ve only seen them once or twice on the Rexburg CBC, so I was happy to find these.

Spotted Sandpiper, Lorenzo, ID 2007

Spotted Sandpipers are common summer birds around here, but migrate south in the winter. I don’t think there has ever been a Spotted Sandpiper on the Rexburg CBC.

Common Redpoll, Burton, ID 2007

Common Redpolls are sporadic visitors to the Rexburg area. They breed far to the north and occasionally come this far south in good numbers. I’ve seen a few, but not a lot of them this winter. We get them on one out of every three Rexburg counts.

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Osgood Tree

In April of 2006 while photographing cellars I photographed a tree by an irrigation ditch. I was intrigued to the strong lean of the tree, which seemed to be drawn to the water in the ditch. Earlier this fall I was photographing cellars out there again and was saddened to see that this tree was broken. I couldn’t help but make another photograph. I’m not thrilled that the two don’t quite line up. I may have to rectify that with a different second view this spring.

It’s interesting how the smallest losses (a tree that I and maybe the farmer who uses the water from this ditch notice) have the strongest personal impact. Well, enough philosophizing, here’s the tree:

Tree Along Irrigation Ditch, Osgood, ID April 2006 and October 2007

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Winter has arrived in Rexburg.

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Another One Bites the Dust

Yesterday I discovered another potato cellar that I have photographed is no longer standing. This older cinder block cellar was just outside of Rexburg. Apparently it was burned down recently (my shoes still reek of smoke).

Potato Cellar, Rexburg, ID 2003 and 2007

I also photographed this cellar, which is also fairly close to town. I normally don’t photograph old abandoned cars (an over-photographed subject that I often discourage my students from photographing). However, I couldn’t resist this one in front of an old cellar.

Potato Cellar with Tree and Truck, Rexburg, ID 2007

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