Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep And The Eastern Sierra Landscape Winter 2017

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

Four Rams Cropped

Sharon and I headed to the east side of the snow-laden Sierra Nevada for some winter scenery and possible SNBS photographs. We had a two-day break in the weather and while cold and windy near Bishop CA, the air was clear and weather good. I must say that I get as excited each time at the prospect of seeing Sierra Bighorn sheep as the very first time. I think those of the SNBS Foundation all suffer from sheep fever.
Dr. John Wehausen, Dr. Virginia Chadwick and the CDFW had a field trip scheduled for Friday the 23rd of February so Sharon and I headed over Thursday after noon for an overnight in Bishop.
After taking our winter Trans Sierra Nevada route over Tehachapi, we stopped occasionally for photographs and had a long stay southwest of Aberdeen looking in vain for sheep. Finding these sheep is for younger more experienced eyes than ours.
Steve Yeager (AKA “The sheep whisperer”) and I arranged to meet at his place early Friday morning for coffee. Our two Sharon’s chatted also. Then we headed up Pine Creek Road to look for sheep. The field trip group was meeting nearby north of Rovana later. Steve was able to spot a group of about 6 Ewes and a juvenile and young ram. There was also a more mature ram to the left by himself. All the sheep seemed disturbed by something and kept moving which made it harder to keep track in the rocks and boulders.
Sharon and I and Steve then went over to the field trip group. They had receivers to locate some of the sheep they were viewing however the sheep were too far for me to get good photographs. Most folks were looking through spotting scopes. Steve and a friend walked in a ways and Steve recovered a game camera to review. There were three dead mule deer that had been killed by mountain lions. They loaded one on the friend’s truck to take to the CDFW for an autopsy.
It was getting toward afternoon and Sharon and I wanted to try once more by Aberdeen on the way home. Steve told us friends of his, McKenzie and Mark were on site viewing sheep so we didn’t stop for lunch and headed directly there. Sure enough, they were still there and we drove directly to where they had parked. They located two groups of sheep for us that were the closest we had come across in the two days. One group was a large group of Ewes with juveniles who were mixed in with mule deer. We had seen and photographed this large group of mule deer the day before when we were there.
The second group consisted in four rams that were feeding as they worked their way up a long open slope to our left. Mark and McKenzie who work for the Rock Creek Pack Station in Bishop, had to leave and Mark told us the rams had gotten along up to the crest of the slope. We had enough photographs of the ewes and drove about a half mile to where Sharon thought we might be directly below them. She spotted them bedded down in a large patch of grass and boulders and we spent the next hour photographing them. The sun began to set which is earlier in the shadow of the Sierra. As the light began to fade, the temperature began to drop and we decided it was time to leave.
We had a lunch/dinner in Lone Pine in a nice place with lots of photographs of Western Movie stars who had filmed in the Alabama Hills nearby. We had one more stop for fuel in Tehachapi and pulled in the driveway in Fresno at 9pm. Needless to say we had to download the 300 or so photographs to my computer and view them before bedtime. It was once again, a special experience to spend time with friends and to view both the sheep and the wonderful eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. I used a Sony A7R2 and Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8 lens for the landscape photographs. I used my Sony with an adapted Canon 400mm f4 lens with a 1.4X extender (580mm) for the sheep.       


Pine Creek Road
Follow The Leader
Sheep With Mule Deer On Far Right

Solitary Ram Center Pine Creek Road
Rams Working Their Way Up The Hill. I Don't Know Where The 4th Ram Came From

 L to R Mt. Humphreys, Basin, Tom
 Mt. Tom
 Mt. Williamson 2nd Highest In The Sierra Nevada
 Near Aberdeen CA
 White Mountains From The Sierra Slopes
Mt Whitney Center Right Lone Pine Peak Left Of Center

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