If you had the motivation, the money, and the time to work with a challenging mentor, it is likely you would improve your photography fairly quickly. But most of us don’t have the money. And even if you are retired, you probably don’t have the time to do the “homework” your mentor would give you […]
March Madness is behind us and the spring season often brings many opportunities for photography. When I moved into the mountains and began to get serious about photography, I assumed summer would be the best time to grab good photos. But my regular interaction with experienced landscape photography taught me to see the world around […]
Easter Day: No more appropriate day to go “hunting” for a Snowshoe Hare!
I told my wife I was going to Star Valley hoping for find a Snowshoe Hare. On several previous attempts this Winter/Spring, I came up empty. This morning, Easter morning, I wanted to see if “the photography gods” would pay off. Figuratively speaking, I’ve already put in a few quarters in the slot machine. My lucky day?
The Easter Bunny
I spotted this bunny near the road. I approached slowly in my car. It moved off the road and I thought I had lost it, but to my surprise, it stopped and posed for me. Thank you mister rabbit! Even if this was the only shot of the day, I had an Easter Bunny on my camera’s memory card.
Better light would have been a plus, but it was still very early in the morning. What sunlight I had was heavily filtered by the eastern clouds. Still, it’s hard to be picky when I have so few of them in my catalog.
I know a lot of photographers that have never seen a Snowshoe Hare, much less photographed one. During the winter, they are essentially solid white and can be difficult to spot against the white snow. Couple that with the fact they live in extremely dense cover and are timid by nature. Over they course of a year, I usually get plenty of chances to photograph Moose, Elk, Bison, Pronghorns, Deer, and occasionally get photos of Grizzlies and Wolves. They are typically on my tour client’s target list, but seldom want to “waste their time” looking for a little rabbit. Yes, I get it! For me, however, a Snowshoe Hare rates very high on my target list.
While in their white, winter phase they stand out like a sore thumb when they move into the exposed grasses. Hawks and Eagles around are a constant threat if they are in the open. They know it. Any little noise will send them packin’ into the thickets.
In many respects, Snowshoe Hares look a lot like the generic white bunnies you might see in the county fair 4-H barn, but Snowshoes have extra large back feet to help support them on the soft snow.
As you might expect, these critters are quick! Now you see one, now you don’t. In most cases, they rest and feed in a compact bundle, but when they are on the move, they are quite lanky.
I’ve only ever seen one Snowshoe Hare in the town of Jackson, and that was around 34 years ago! I’ve seen a few in Yellowstone and I’ve seen a couple in the zone between Leek’s Marina and Lizard Creek in Grand Teton National Park.
The hare was feeding on the fresh green grasses starting to grow under the old grasses. I sat in my vehicle and shot out the window over a bean bag. Since Easter falls on a Sunday, so there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the narrow county road. I am sure the lack of traffic helped me get the extra shots this morning.
It fed in the open for a while, then in a flash, the Snowshoe Hare was across the grass and onto the snow under some branches.
“My Easter Bunny” stopped and posed one more time as if to say thanks for coming down. I clicked off 30 or 40 more photos and it disappeared into the thicket.
By late April, the Snowhhoe Hares start changing from pure white to their summer brown color. They’ll eventually turn dark brown, but their large back feet remain white. With no need to come out to the roadway to get to the fresh green grass, they are almost impossible to find in the summer. This photo was taken on April 28th of 2020.
The photos on this page were taken with a Nikon D6 and a Sigma Sport 60-600mm, all handheld. Most were taken at F/8 and 1/1000th second in Auto ISO mode.
The post A Morning with the Easter Bunny first appeared on Best of the Tetons, Area Info & Photography.
Welcome to April!
The JH News and Guide Daily newspaper reported today that GTNP purchased the Snow King lift and will be installing the chairlift to the top of the Grand. It was part of the April Fool’s edition, but I didn’t catch it right away.
April is a month of noticeable changes
- The Snake River Bottom is now open for foot traffic north of the Moose Visitor’s Center. This gives us access to Schwabacher Landing, though it takes a 3/4 mile hike each direction.
- Antelope Flats Road was still closed as of April 1st, but I expect it to open to vehicular travel soon. I saw the snow plows working the area this morning, but the gates were still locked. You can still hike in.
- The Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides are still in operation, though on rubber tire wagons. There are still around 2000 elk on the Refuge, but I didn’t see a lot of antlers in the group.
- Most Bison are still on the north end of the Refuge, but I expect them to head north soon.
- The roadway between the Taggart Lake trailhead and Signal Mountain is open to hikers and bikers. It will open to vehicles on May 1st.
- It’s Spring Break for the kids here in Jackson, but based on the amount of people I see downtown, it must be Spring Break for other areas.
- Hibernating animals are beginning to reappear. That list includes Bears, Ground Squirrels, Marmots, & Chipmonks.
- Migrating birds are on the move. Some of the wintering birds, like Trumpeter Swans and Rough-legged Hawks, will be heading north. Other birds, like Sandhill Cranes, Bluebirds, Robins, and Meadowlarks are moving in.
- Currently, the “snow line” is from Moose Junction north. South of that line, much of the snow has mostly melted. This is holding some animals in the southern portion of the park.
- Moose are moving out of the river bottoms and back onto the sage flats. Of course, none of the bulls have much in the way of antlers.
- Grizzly tracks have been seen in GTNP, but actual sightings have been almost non-existent. They are expected to appear within the next two weeks.
- Mountain Goats in the Snake River Canyon have been essentially a “no show” this year. 79 were reported killed inside GTNP and 29 more are targeted for this year.
- The four Gray Wolves that wintered on the National Elk Refuge have been recently seen in the Kelly area.
April 1, 2021 – Friday
Please take a minute and register to sign up to follow this site. I’d love to have another couple hundred new subscribers from the group visiting the site this spring and summer. MJ
Subscribe to Best of the Tetons!
Tetons from Elk Ranch Flats: I got up fairly early today, hoping for a few landscape shots. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I took this photo anticipating that I would use the new Photoshop tool called Sky Replacement. This shot has the effect, though I reduced the opacity of the cloud layer to soften the effect. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 105 mm, 1/160 at f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 100, Handheld.
Note: If you are receiving this page by email, you’ve subscribed to Best of the Tetons. Thanks so much! But, this is only the FIRST entry on the first day of March. I’ll be adding more photos and comments throughout the month.
Tetons from Elk Ranch Flats: Same shot, just processed differently. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 105 mm, 1/160 at f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 100, Handheld.
Raven and Bull Moose: It’s fairly common to see a Magpie land on the rump of a Moose, but I haven’t seen that many Raven’s do so. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 260 mm, 1/800 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 110, Handheld.
Gros Ventre Moose: I saw a “Baker’s Dozen” (13) Moose this morning. Most were in the sage, but a few are still feeding on twigs and branches along the Gros Ventre. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 500 mm, 1/800 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 180, Handheld.
Sounds of Spring: Many of the songbirds returning to the valley are much more colorful than the wintering species. This Meadowlark was singing and posing north of Kelly. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/800 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 220, Handheld.
Mountain Bluebird: Another of the colorful birds I saw this morning. This Bluebird was on the National Elk Refuge. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/1250 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 250, Handheld.
Red-winged Blackbird: Another early spring bird with an easily recognizable song. I took this at the Flat Creek Wetlands north of the Visitor’s Center. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/640 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 800, Handheld.
Red-winged Blackbird: Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/800 at f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 400, Handheld.
Upset Goose: A pair of Canada Geese had apparently staked out a space at the Visitor’s Center. Another Goose was getting too close and it let the intruder know. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/800 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 125, Handheld.
Goose on the Run: One of the Geese flew down to flush this one away. I like to catch a little “action” when possible. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/800 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 200, Handheld.
Uinta Ground Squirrel: AKA “Chisler”. Several Chiselers have emerged at the National Elk Refuge. They are food sources for Hawks, Eagles, Foxes, Coyotes, & Badgers. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/1250 at
f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 250, Handheld.
Hairy Woodpecker: I’ve had a pair of Hairy Woodpecker’s all winter. I don’t know how much longer they’ll hang around. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 600 mm, 1/1250 at f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ⅓ EV, Auto ISO 640, Handheld.
Clark’s Nutcracker: For the past month or so, I’ve had two or three Nutcrackers visiting my back yard, along with up to four Bluejays and a singular Steller’s Jay. The brownish gray background will gradually change to green over the month of April. Shooting Data: NIKON D6, Sigma Sport VR 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3E at 320 mm, 1/1250 at f/7.1, Manual Mode, ‒ ²⁄₃ EV, Auto ISO 720, Handheld.
If you are a bird watcher, keep an eye out for Red-winged Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks, Cedar Waxwings, and Sandhill Cranes. They have been seen recently. Osprey should be back in two weeks or less.
Harrison Crandall: Lake Solitude: Over the month, I’ll be adding more historic postcards from the area. Click Here to visit the current grouping.
COVID-19 in Teton County, WY: April 1, 2021
Risk Level Moderate (Wyoming Department of Health) :
There are mask requirements in Teton County, and the Town of Jackson. Additionally, people on National Lands must follow CDC guidelines, requiring masks when inside commercial vehicles, and when 6′ distances can’t be maintained.
Remember, this is just the FIRST entry in the March 2021 Daily Journal for GTNP & JH. I’ll continue to add photos throughout all of February, so check back often. Also, much of February will resemble the last couple of weeks of January. Click the link above to visit the January page.
Winter Roads in JH and GTNP: Each year, I list off all of the road closures. Instead of that list this year, I created this map showing the roads that ARE open. The red dots indicate places where we are required to turn around. Click the map to see it much larger.COVID-19
I renewed all of my permits and am accepting photo tours for 2021…with modifications!
Normally, I drive my tour clients around in my vehicle. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve opted to offer tours by letting clients follow me in their vehicles. This allows for ample social distancing. I purchased several pairs of walkie-talkies to allow me to communicate while driving. Instead of eating inside one of the restaurants, I Creekside Market will make sandwiches to order for the day’s trip. Masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes will be provided. If you have questions, please ask!
The goal is to keep both of us safe, yet cover most of the same areas of the park.
Photo tours help me pay bills and continue to add content to this site. Keep me in mind if you are going to be in the valley! My tours are licensed by the National Park Service and National Elk Refuge.
I offer year round photo tours in Grand Teton National Park and Winter tours in the National Elk Refuge. Book now! Click the image for additional information.
The post April 2021 Daily Journal For GTNP & JH first appeared on Best of the Tetons, Area Info & Photography.
Client Comments: “As a published and passionate photographer, I recognized Michael Jackson’s extraordinary skills as a photographer. Today I learned more about composition and creative technical ideas than I ever could have imagined.” G.S., Jackson Hole.