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My View of Nature
by James Ownby

 October 2014 Updates:  I'm back in Stillwater after our ususal 5-month summer sojourn at our cabin in the mountains of New Mexico.  Just before I returned, fellow bird photographer Chad Smith joined me to photograph some of our birds of the Southern Rockies.   I've added 15 images to my Travel Diary even though there wasn't much travel involved.  I'll be doing quite a bit of that next week, however, as I fly to Singapore prior to a birding tour into Malaysia. 

                                             Picture of the Month:  September 2014
 

Rufous Hummingbird (228934 bytes)
  Rufous Hummingbird (immature) feeding at disk flowers of sunflower
 Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio, New Mexico
  Canon 5D Mark III with 500mm lens + 1.4TE, ISO 1600, 1/1250" f5.6
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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.
 

 


 

January 2009      An Incident near Fort Supply 

The bird 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.           
         The little 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 manager’s 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.
      Mountain 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.