Saturday, August 28, 2010

2010 Elk Rut Setting Up

The last two days in Boxley Valley show that the 2010 elk rut is coming soon. The biggest bull elk have moved down from the Upper Wilderness area and are pooling around the consensus elk viewing hot spot, the intersection of Highways 43 and 21. 

Photographing Elk in Boxley Valley 8/28/10
Two different herds of cow elk are in the valley now. They are both north and south of the intersection. I would estimate that there are perhaps 70 elk now in the Boxley Valley setting up for the beginning of the rut, now just a couple of weeks off. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I observed very early rutting behavior last year around the end of August. Things will really kick in two weeks later, about September 15, with the peak a bit later. 

I am seeing more photographers all the time. Most interest is in getting pictures of the bull elk. For the first time this year, they are starting to spar now and then. The velvet scraping that began about mid-August is generally complete with the exception of a couple of animals. 

Pretty soon the big boys will be squaring off. When they fight you can hear the clatter up and down Boxley Valley. Most of what people see is sparring, but when the big boys battle, it is an unforgettable experience. 

If you are a photographer your absolute best chances now at in the very early morning. You will see cow elk later than the big bulls. There was some sparring in the 43/21 field this morning. I always recommend that you get to the valley at daybreak and locate the elk. Remember the first elk you see might not be the best photo opportunity. Getting there early will give you time to survey the fields and make sure you get the best chances. Rookies stop at the first elk they see, pros make sure they locate the best animals. 

After your morning elk shoot, it is a short hop up the valley to the Boxley Mill Pond for another photo opportunity. 4 trumpeter swans are now on the pond. There are some great opportunities to shoot moody trumpeter shots in light morning fog. 

Another choice is to go for landscape shots both in the Boxley Valley and in Steel Creek along Roark Bluff. This is a great time to shoot brackets in preparation for HDR interpretations. With our current huge memory cards, bracketing is practical. If you have not tried HDR photography, you need to. It will expand your creative expression and allow you to get great images that are otherwise just about impossible. 

A fourth choice is butterfly photography. Even with this drought, there are patches of roadside flowers that are covered with butterflies. The drought has killed many wildflowers, so the flowers that remain are slammed with butterflies. Shooting is really good now, the challenge is finding the flowers. 

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