Paradise ponders... Debbie and I drove up to Hardware Ranch (and on toward Ant Flats) last night, late enough so that the sun had just set when we got back. For much of our trip, the sun was at a low angle, just over the Wasatch Mountains to our west. This made for some interesting lighting. We also took my spotting scope, and I tried for some wildlife photos. Given that I was hand-holding the camera (as they don't make a holder for the iPhone 6S+ that I have), I'm pleasantly surprised by the results. The photo at right was taken looking down toward the residences and barn at Hardware Ranch, from a corner of the “back” way up to the visitor's center. We don't know what those trees are with the yellow branches, but we've been watching them get more and more yellow as spring approaches.
We spotted this raptor sitting on the ground about 150' from Ant Flats Road, sitting in grass nearly as tall as it was. After looking at it for a bit in the binoculars, I set up my spotting scope to get a photo. Naturally, that caused the bird to fly away – to about twice as far from me :) The photos would have been much better if the little so-and-so had stayed put! After considering its perch-on-the-ground behavior and its appearance, we're pretty sure this is a juvenile Northern Harrier.
At the 5M cabin (by a set of gorgeous waterfalls), Debbie spotted this pair of Sandhill Cranes; female on the left, male on the right. She spotted them first as we were driving behind a little knoll that obscured them, and when we popped out from behind the knoll it took her several minutes to find them again. I thought she had imagined them :) These two were brightly backlit by the sun at a low angle (see their shadows), which is a difficult photographic setup, as my spotting scope was looking nearly into the sun. I'm really surprised how well this shot turned out.
After we turned around and headed home, we spotted a large herd (around 50 animals) of elk on a hillside about a mile west of us. At that point we were in the shade of the mountains alongside us, but the elk were around 600 or 700 feet higher than us, and brightly lit by the setting sun. It was a pretty scene even by eyeball, and even better in the binoculars or spotting scope.