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The Birds and the Bears

Virgina Rail sneaking


Finally reappearing on the blog after two very busy weeks of Bear Workshop and Birding Workshop.

After a very dry winter, the Rocky Mountain Front is collecting some moisture. The rain is pelting from the trees onto the tin roof, and even the young bull moose who sauntered across Alice’s Ridge—in full view from the dining room windows—has gone to hunker in the trees.

We saw a tremendous amount of bear sign (tracks, clawed trees, fresh hair clumps on wire, grubbing for ants) however, it wasn’t until the Bird Workshop that we got a fabulous look at a Grizzly bear through the scopes.

This is wild country, with a lot of room. It makes for a great illustration of desirable habitat, but sometimes difficult country to find animals with enormous home ranges.

The birds are a little easier.

On the day we went to tour Freezeout wetlands, then drove back across the prairie past the Pine Butte Swamp preserve and into the mountains we saw a measly 116 bird species.


It was wonderful, but enough birds to make your head swim. Ornithologists and artists David Allen Sibley and Keith Hansen added some new bird species to the Pine Butte Guest Ranch bird list including: red-necked phalarope, stilt sandpiper, and sanderlings.

David Sibley and Keith Hansen really allow you to see the birds as they are, not as you expect to see them based on previous experience or habitat. Sibley and Keith see them as they would draw them, so unusual and rare birds do not escape their attention.

Speaking of drawing, guests and some staff got a drawing lesson from the masters themselves, using Skar-ta (the magpie) as a compliant model.

The kitchen prepared fabulous meals, and the rest of the staff kept everything running smoothly while we romped around chasing birds.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the past two weeks, including a link to some videos taken during the two weeks from the trail cameras.

Click on the following link:

The optics! (and more optics)

Sunset over the prairie

Big Horn sheep (not birds, but we watched anyway =)

Cecropia moth on Pine Butte

Northern water thrush

The Amazing Kitchen Masters (AKM’s)

OOoooohhhh Good Morning

Sprague’s Pipit, a rare and threatened bird, looking very dirt like.

David Allen Sibley and Keith Hansen teaching bird illustration techniques

Sibley finger paints and it still looks amazing!

Big Horn Sheep illustrating why wool is good for water

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Harriet Elkington (Gran) #

    I love these pictures. That finger painting is amazing, as you said. And the cecropia is one of my favorite creatures. I like the ones that are interesting and I like the ones that are so very beautiful. I am so glad you post all that you do. Love you, take care, and go on doing what yur’re doing 🙂 Gran

    June 2, 2012
  2. jane wohl #

    I think I’ll have to do the Sibley workshop next year ….
    I love the cecropia moth

    June 2, 2012

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