Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bighorn whisperer, redux.

06/04/12- There have been so many viewers to this post, that I think that they
might actually be interested in seeing desert bighorn photographs. So I want to let you guys know that after you finish this article, click on the new link right before my signature at the end and that link will take you to my latest encounter with the bighorn sheep and some REAL CLOSEUPS, as in like this
actual full size crop from one. Remember click on the link right above Morongobill at the end of this article.
crop117bighorn

Folks, this is a work in progress, with me writing and putting up videos as I go
and posting it every so often. So keep coming back for more. I will put a note up in this color font at the finish when the post is completed.

Friday was a mild day by desert standards with Palm Springs only going up to the mid 90’s and the parking lot at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve reaching 80
degrees F under the leafy boughs of the giant Fremont cottonwood giants over
head.

In other words, perfect weather to sally forth, in search of the elusive bighorn sheep!

On my way down, I passed a pollen laden mesquite and filmed this video.

Filmed at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve May, 2012.

So off I went, down through the marsh on my way to the canyon trail. I filmed
this 2 minute video while passing through, which will give you an idea of what
it is like out there. Note, there were no other people around- I had it all to myself.

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Above is the junction of the Mesquite Trail and the Canyon Trail, turn left heading downhill to get to the bighorn
country.
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In the above photo, the autofocus focused to the right of the bird.

Yesterday, I posted the photo of my leg with the allergic rash. This video shows
a little of that part of the trail. In springtime, there is a stream here with a small waterfall, but this day it was dry. I took the opportunity to film a short video where I discussed the environmentalist vs conservationist debate in the perfect
setting for it. Just because a gas pipeline runs through the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, does that mean that it is ruined? Thanks to the outraged local citizenry, the giant “GreenPath North” power transmission line project was
shelved by LADWP and this verdant oasis has been saved, hopefully for all time. After all, they said Ivanpah was a perfect site for green energy development- it had a casino and a golf course nearby!

No green energy transmissions line through here, no way!

After filming the above video, I continued on, now starting to feel the suspense
growing, would I run across the bighorn herd again? The photo below answers
that question, I think.
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That’s a bighorn to the left of the dead tree. This is exactly when I first spotted them.

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In the above shot, is an example of bad bokeh. I really don’t care for how the new Nikon digicam handled the
background at max zoom. Click on the image to open in a window by itself to see what I mean.
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I never did find out what they were looking at in this photo. In the next one, you see what having benign tremor can do when
combined with a shutter lag when photographing at max zoom. Obviously I intended to have the shot framed higher, I am including this poor shot to show just how capable this new camera would be if handled by someone with a steadier hand. The
issue was not with the electronic viewfinder, the camera moved as I was pushing the shutter and while there was a slight lag
between “squeezing the trigger and the camera filming the scene.
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This next one is just right.
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I like the next one a lot, look at the “kid” peering down at me. Did you know that the eyesight of bighorn sheep is 8x that of
humans and that they can spot us a mile away? And that within one day, a kid can follow along the mom on the trail, on the hillside.
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Above is a female I believe and below is another group, possibly all ewes.
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Again, if the edge is cut off, just double click on the photo and it should open up by itself in a new window.
Below, is it young love?
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By this time I had taken many photos and the temperature was starting to rise a
little. Going down the trail I was startled to come across a small group of about
four bighorn, on the hillside, eating away at the greenery.
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What, you never saw a lady eat? In the next photo it looks like a creosote bush is being devoured!
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In the above panorama, you can barely see the bighorns to the left of the dead cottonwood skeleton.

One thing I have learned is when all the bighorns look in the same direction, they have a reason. Either they are looking for predators, or looking for the boss ram. I looked and looked, not seeing either. Then he popped out from the
hillside background, how did I miss him?
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Evidently he was standing about 200 yards away on the hillside watching me intently the whole time. I felt the weight of his stare.
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This I think is the best photograph I have taken in a long time. Miraculously the camera and my tremor worked seamlessly together, this is exactly the photo that I intended to take. After taking this photo, the ram de-escalated the situation by turning around and starting to eat, threat analyzed and pigeon- holed as no threat, back to the serious business of gorging on all this
tasty salad.
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Below is my goodbye photo.
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After this I headed on down the trail with the goal of seeing Senor Cottonwood, here is a photo of his grizzled “eminence.”
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I took a panorama but the shot failed, here is a screen shot of what I could salvage of it. I guess my battery was starting
to die in the new camera.
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After a short visit with the aged one, I continued down the trail another 1/2 mile
and turned around and started back the steep climb uphill. Coming back upon
the shade of Senor Cottonwood, I rested about 15 minutes or so and headed out, hoping to run across the bighorns again.

Would I be disappointed?
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Nope.
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After a short visit, in which I got a little closer up the hillside to the group, without crossing the “hidden go no farther point,” I decided to wave goodbye and head back to see if I would be able to spot the other group, the larger one.
I did but it wasn’t easy as they had started moving way up the canyon hillside.
Thanks to the massive 1000mm zoom of my Nikon  P510 digicam, I was able to fire off a couple more decent shots.
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Can you spot the bighorn sheep in this next photo, this is how your eye would see the scene, no zoom.
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By this time, my aching feet encased in my wore out hiking shoes were in full chorus mode, singing lustily, telling me to get back up to the parking lot. In fact, I barely made it running out of fluids when I reached the trail sign posted earlier on this post.

This was a great day, a fun visit again with the bighorn herd, for me and not too big of an annoyance for them, I don’t believe.

Well I hope you enjoyed the post and that we will see you again, perhaps on the trail. For more info please comment or email me.

This post is now complete, with no further additions.

Click the link below for the new bighorn post with new photos!

When in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, walk softly and carry a big zoom lens! 

Morongobill