The High Desert

Going back in time again to a previous trip to Oregon, I’ve pulled together a few photos from the High Desert Museum in Bend near Lava Lands National Park.

A recurring theme is the number of golden mantle ground squirrels that posed for me.  I noticed a marked improvement in the poses at the museum over the ones at the park.  I suspect the ground squirrels at the museum are professionals.

Besides the ground squirrels who scurry along the many paths, they also have native creatures on display.  Since shooting captive wildlife is far easier than sitting around waiting for it in the wild, I took full advantage of the opportunity.

Given that it was mid-afternoon, many of the animals were content to lie in the sun and let me shoot.  However, the river otter was not so cooperative.  I can only recall having been to a facility with river otters who were actually visible and active once in my life–it was nearby at the Seattle aquarium.  There must be something about the Pacific Northwest that makes otters more active.  I guess that makes sense since the people of the Pacific Northwest tend to be more active, too.

In any case, first I tried getting shots of the river otter through a glass wall on one side of the “pond” he was swimming in.  I thought it would be really cool to have underwater shots.  With little light, I was stuck with a slow shutter speed, so none of the underwater shots are worth looking at.  Just dark, blurred shapes moving through water.

Next, I headed outside hoping for better light to shoot in.  I did get more light, but it wasn’t exactly better light considering the time of day.  It was enough that I was able to shoot at 1/160th of a second, though.  That allowed me to stop at least some motion.  My favorite pictures of the otter are the two that show him shaking off.  The first one is the start of the shake with only his head in motion.  The second one is slightly later.  The shake has propagated down to his neck.  If I would have taken a bunch of shots, you could have seen how the shake moves from the head all the way down the length of the otter’s body.  It’s pretty amusing to watch.

Another critter that posed for me was the porcupine (hedge hog) who was part of the animal show we caught the tail end of (pun!).  He didn’t pose just for me–there was a big crowd in the amphitheater, but the porcupine remained amazingly focused on the bottle his handler was feeding him.

At the end of our day, Pat and I went to Pilot Butte State Park to enjoy the sunset.  It’s basically a giant hill in the middle of an otherwise flat town.  At the top, we were treated to spectacular views of the mountains, the clouds, and the setting sun.


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