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JHP Newsletter - 2006, No. 1, 20 January

Web: New structure (Tours & Newsletters)

I'm in the process of updating my website to include tour information and archived Newsletters. The updates will be finished by the end of the month.

Tour: Kenya in October 2006

I will be leading a photo safari to Kenya in the middle of October 2006. I'm still working on the details, but it will be for about two weeks, and we'll visit Samburu, Lake Nakuru, and Masai Mara for some of the best wildlife shooting opportunities in Africa, if not the world. Let me know if you, or anyone you know, would be interested in joining me to capture some stunning wildlife images.

Travel: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

I spent four days between Christmas and New Years at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. For those not familiar with "Bosque," it's a place where thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese winter. And for those not up on their Spanish, the place name means "Apache Woods," and was given by the early Spaniards who while traveling from El Paso to Santa Fe, were frequently attacked by Apache camped among the cottonwoods in the flood plain of the Rio Grande. After the river was dammed, halting the annual floods, man stepped in and recreated a series of ponds and wetlands that are flooded and drained each year to provide a suitable habitat for the wildlife. The weather was perfect this year, and the birds overnighted in a different location than last year, so I was able to get lots of great, and different, shots. I also shot some ducks this year, and had a blast shooting at dawn on the last morning when the sky was filled with bright orange clouds.

Sandhill Cranes in Formation
Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA
Sandhill Cranes Taking Off
Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA


Snow Goose
Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA
Northern Shoveler
Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA


Snow Geese "Blast Off" at Dawn
Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA
Snow Geese in Formation at Dawn
Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, USA

Travel: Yellowstone, Banff, and Jasper

I had a wonderful time visiting Yellowstone, Banff, and Jasper National Parks in early January. I started with two full days in Yellowstone, then spent six full days in Banff and Jasper, then two more full days in Yellowstone. The weather wasn't very cooperative with mostly solid overcast and snow. However, during the breaks, and on the two days with good weather, I was able to get lots of wildlife shots and a few landscape shots.

Yellowstone is a very different place in the winter than in the summer. There are very few visitors, and only the road from the North Entrance near Mammoth Hot Springs to Tower Junction and then on to the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City, MT, is open. Fortunately, the road from Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance goes through the Lamar Valley which is where a lot of wildlife spends the winters because it's milder there than in the rest of the park. Bison and elk were abundant. I also saw many coyotes and a few bighorn sheep and heard several wolves.

Coyote
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Bison in a Snowstorm
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta Canada are easy to get around in during the winter because most of the roads are open. I was very surprised to find animals in the same areas as I've found them in the summer because I would expect them to migrate as conditions changed. I got some great shots of bighorn sheep and elk. In Banff, I found bighorn sheep on the Minnewanka Loop between Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka at their favorite rock outcropping and also on the Bow Valley Parkway (1A) close to the Banff end at their favorite hillside. Elk were also along the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Castle junction. In Jasper, elk were plentiful near the townsite, and bighorn sheep were on the Maligne Lake road at Medicine Lake and also on the Yellowhead Highway (16) around Talbot Lake.

In the two shots below, the bull elk in the left shot was grazing peacefully near the other bull elk, but after a while he decided to show his dominance, so he started bugling as he approached the other bull. When the bulls came together, they sparred a bit just to remind each other who was the big elk in that part of Jasper.

Bull Elk Bugling
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Bull Elk Sparring
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

While driving down the Maligne Lake road in Jasper National Park along Medicine Lake, I discovered that Chevy SUVs are fender-lickin' good. When I spotted a group of bighorn sheep on the road, I stopped about 50 yards ahead of them so that I could set up to shoot and then approach them on foot. However, as soon as I stopped, all of the sheep looked at me, and started running towards me. They swarmed my vehicle and started licking the salt off of it!! After they settled down a bit, I stepped out of the vehicle with one of the mature rams on the other side of the door, and he kindly stepped aside. I set up my camera gear with the sheep at the sides and front of the vehicle, then proceeded to shoot (see below). It was great to be able to hang out with them. In the group shot below, one of the mature rams is missing because he had left the mobile salt lick and gone up the hill to munch on some vegetation.

Chevy SUVs are Fender-Lickin' Good
(Bighorn Sheep)
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The Cleaning Crew Poses for a Group Photo
(Bighorn Sheep)
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Here are three landscape shots, all of which happen to be from Yellowstone. The shot of Soda Butte Creek at Dawn was taken on the first visit, and was the only sunrise of the trip that had any color. The two shots of trees were on the second visit, when the second day was mostly sunny.

Soda Butte Creek at Dawn
Yellowstone National Park,
Wyoming, USA
Bare Trees
Yellowstone National Park,
Wyoming, USA
Lone Evergreen
Yellowstone National Park,
Wyoming, USA


Take care, and happy shooting.

— James

James Hager Photography :: www.jameshagerphoto.com

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