View of Nature
by James Ownby
Update: Last month Chad Smith and I spent a week in Minnesota photographing
owls and other winter residents. I've now posted 13 new images in my Travel
Diary. Having had to cancel our puma & penguin tour in Patagonia for open heart
surgery instead, I'm recuperating at home.
Picture of the Month: March 2015
Common Redpoll, Sax-Zim Bog, St Louis County, MN
Canon 5D Mark III with 500mm lens + 1.4TE, ISO 1250, 1/800" f9
In 2000, I retired to pursue an interest in
nature photography. Here are my best images: animals (especially birds),
scenics, and wildflowers that portray the beauty found in nature. I welcome
comments and questions, so please contact me by e-mail.
All images on this site are Copyrightę 2000-2012 by James Ownby and cannot be reproduced or otherwise used for
private or commercial use without express permission of the owner.
2009 An Incident near Fort Supply
photographer soon learns that this pastime offers brief triumphs
amid long stretches of tedium and disappointment. I had traveled around western
Oklahoma for two days, mostly experiencing the latter. The
landscape of wheat fields and rolling grassland that extend to
the horizon held few birds. All were remarkably wary.
backwater hamlet of Fort Supply, population 328 and dwindling, was sere and brown on this
cold sunny January day. Quickly leaving behind its grain
elevator and boarded-up storefronts, I headed toward Woodward, passing by the Cooper
Wildlife Management Area.
On impulse, with nothing better to
do, I turned the car around, entered the reserve and soon came to a managers
residence, complete with metal storage barns and trees struggling to survive in a dry climate and relentless wind.
At once I saw them. A flock
of 50 100 Mountain Bluebirds, feeding on the ground under an aged juniper
tree. I think it was the stark contrasts that made the scene most memorable:
the deep blue sky; the drab ochre landscape; the brisk cold
wind. And these brilliant blue avian jewels, as lively and vivacious as the surroundings were dreary.
Twittering among themselves, they
would feed for a while, then for reasons known only to bluebirds, take flight en masse
and swirl about in the clear sky, now alighting on the fence
surrounding the compound. Soon they would work their way along the fence back toward the juniper and my car.
|Finally one courageous
bluebird, the catalyst if you will, would alight within range of my camera. In
seconds I had a dozen or more posing for me. Some lingered for a photo; others vanished from the field of view as they swooped back down to their juniper berry feast.
Bluebirds nest in the majestic setting of the Rocky Mountains, amid soaring peaks and
verdant forests of pine and fir. In winter they spill out into the decidedly
un-majestic southern plains, trading breathtaking mountain
vistas for bleak rolling monotony.
But I do not think these bluebirds feel the less for it, or
judge Fort Supply as I do. Perhaps for them, western Oklahoma is Palm Beach and the
French Riviera rolled into one. Here the sun shines brightly even in January; snowstorms are rare; and a bounty of juniper berries feeds them until the
Rockies beckon them home. In return, they enliven a place desperately in need of
beauty and joie de vivre. Among our winter guests here,
few are more welcome than Mountain Bluebirds.