Top 10 of 2022

Published March 29, 2023

Well, better late than never...

Between a busy year, moving from Wyoming to Montana, and a burst pipe in a -40 degree cold snap over Christmas (aka when I planned to write this blog post!) the annual Top 10 never materialized. Maybe the impact is reduced but I figured why not -- so without further delay....

10. Wilson's Phalarope 

Phalarope are a bird I've been after for a while so when I saw a whole bunch of them around a stretch of river I figured I'd give it a go. The were really fun to watch and after some waiting this one swam by into just the right sun angle. I never thought of Wyoming as a place that would have a lot of shorebird activity, but it ended up being a productive Spring especially at this location.

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9. Elk (super) portrait

This trip to Yellowstone National Park with my parents on their visit was by all accounts not ideal for photography. In particular, we got the car stuck off some ice before getting to Lamar Valley. After a lot of shoveling, a very freaked out mom, and the kindness of quite a few strangers, we got out and decided "eh, the park can wait, let's go home". On the way out some elk trotted by and some good car positioning from my dad allowed me to get this very tight portrait of an Elk's eye against the mountains. I love the color scheme.

8. Grizzly bear in green

In early June I took a trip to British Columbia in search of bears (successful), wolves (unsuccessful), whales (successful), and other wildlife while trying to avoid catching covid (unsuccessful, unfortunately). It was a great trip (minus the covid), and I'll have quite a few grizzly bear images in the Top 10. This Spring bear in green was one of my favorites.

7. Greater sage-grouse lekking 

In March I spent a few days photographing the GSG lek. The sound, anticipation waiting for the sun to come up, the numbers of birds, everything was just so cool. This is somewhat the 'classic image' but I loved the raised foot, the puffed up chest, and the frozen together tail feathers.

6. Winter Milky Way

This was actually the first photo I captured (or at least edited) in 2022 -- I had become really interested in how this frozen lake surrounded mostly by mountains looked and after a few sunsets decided to try for the Milky Way there. It was freezing and a few stray clouds almost spoiled the party, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. The "waves" of ice leading to the Milky Way in particular I thought were really cool.

5. Yellow-headed blackbird

Laramie is known for its wind and this day in particular at the lakes really impressed that upon me. One benefit however to strong wind is birds having to really brake to land. This Yellow-headed blackbird did just that -- pausing for a few seconds before disappearing into the reeds. The setting here is what makes the image for me.

4. Greater sage-grouse

My final morning photographing the lek was by far the best. These two young males fighting (and the bottom one seemingly grimacing) was a sight to behold, and a photo I'm glad to have captured. 

3. Grizzly Bear courtship

This big male was pursuing the (relatively) small female for a while, and after cooling off in the water they began their courtship -- the very romantic act of wrestling. I love the setting -- the lupines, the mountains in the background, the water drops, and the somewhat different form of action. What an experience to watch these two.

2. Greater sage-grouse 

One thing I really enjoyed about the few days photographing GSG was the variety of light and conditions. A few inches of snow and a cloudy day completely changed the dynamic and scene. Action was slower with the snow, but the males didn't stop completely. Here an adult male kicks out a juvenile who came a little too close. 

1. Grizzly Bear nap

After the aforementioned courtship, the two bears snoozed. It was so special to see a large adult male grizzly bear just sleeping along a river bed. The lupines were the cherry on top. I could go on and on about this photo, but ultimately I'll just leave it at it's one of my all time favorites.

Well that's all folks -- in 2023 I want to photograph more grouse locally and do more astro especially in the Summer. Of course I'll try to get down to Yellowstone now that it's so close, and who knows what I'll find there. Hopefully the next "Top 10" blog can make it before the end of 2023, but no promises :). 

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