I love all kinds of animals, although when you peruse the photographs below, it may appear that I'm only really interested in bison. When I lived in Michigan years ago, I focused primarily on photographing birds ( you can see a few of those old photos down at the bottom). However, since selling my Canon gear and switching to a Fujifilm mirroless camera system and lenses, I haven't had access to the long telephotos necessary for shooting wildlife. Recently I've acquired a mid-range zoom and have also been fortunate enough to occasionally borrow a long-range zoom lens, both of which made it possible to capture these images of bison at Land Between the Lakes. There will be more varied wildlife photos here over the coming year, so check back often.
CLICK ON ANY PHOTOGRAPH TO ENLARGE
I just love this curious fellow. This adolescent male posed for me for several minutes, interested in my camera. His image whispers a million secrets to me about everything from the velvety skin of his nose to the woolly fur on his back. His liquid, brown eyes gaze at me in the context of a not-so-distant legacy of slaughter and waste, near extinction, and then conservation through breeding in captivity. I'm so glad he's here.
Under a Watchful Eye
Another young bison meanders across the range, possibly in search of better grass, or just more agreeable company. I wonder if she appreciates the beauty of the changing foliage at the tree line? There is some evidence to suggest that birds, mammals, and even some insects are able to appreciate natural beauty. Evolutionary arguments for aesthetic appreciation in animals and birds focus first on identifying foods that look good (because they are good energy sources) and then on how food aesthetics are transferred to the aesthetics governing selection of sexual partners. I'm not sure I buy it. I just think that all creatures embody the environments that they experience, particularly when young. Thus, a natural affinity for earthly beauty exists in all of us -- we feel it and cannot possibly know ourselves beyond that frame of reference.
Most people don't know that bison and buffalo are not the same thing. Although it is very common to hear these words used interchangeably, the animals you see here are technically bison and native only to North American. Buffalo are native to Africa and southeast Asia (e.g., water buffalo). The grand lady in this photograph, however, is totally bored with the bison vs. buffalo question. She's attempting to nap on an unseasonably warm November day. Her eyes are closed and her mouth is hanging open, but I couldn't tell whether she was panting from the heat, or just snoring. If you'd like to know more about these bison, you can read my blog about them here.
There are two things I love about this photograph: the bird with its head crooked, actively searching thick fur for it's next meal, and the bison's eye gazing out with a heavy lid from its muddy face. She is clearly contented grazing on autumn grasses while being groomed by this enterprising bird. I'm also happy to have captured this bison at an angle where the archetypal shapes of bison head and shoulders are clearly visible.