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Ready for the Snow (Plumage)... White-Tailed Ptarmigan

Hiking high in the Hoover wilderness on an idyllic warm day (perhaps the nicest day I’ve ever seen this late in this area), I flushed half a covey of these birds, but some stayed put. By freezing and moving very slowly, I was able to get some shots with the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar as the birds cautiously accepted my presence and even resumed feeding. But it’s no easy task to photograph moving subjects with the Otus 85 (manual focus with razor thin depth of field).

These are White-Tailed Ptarmigan. I’ve never seen them before in all my hiking in the Sierra. Update: saw them again in 2018.

Plumage Swap for Winter Snow
f13 @ 1/100 sec, ISO 64; 2014-10-29 13:32:37
NIKON D810 + 85.0 mm f/1.4

[low-res image for bot]

The water is so low that dozens and sometimes hundreds of trout are trapped in small pools. Hiking by, the water goes alive in some shallow pools (sometimes the trout panic to the point of flipping right out of the water onto the bank). A fish-eating raptor could have a field day. This pool is relatively large and deep compared to many of the much shallower ones in which trout are trapped. This situation exists all over the Eastern Sierra due to the drought. Some trout are seen spawning in water so shallow their backs are at times out of the water.

Brook Trout trapped in Pool
f9 @ 1/200 sec, ISO 200; 2014-10-29 10:09:03
NIKON D810 + 85.0 mm f/1.4

[low-res image for bot]
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