Friday, May 4, 2012

5/4/12 Elk Watching Very Good -- Before 7:30AM

Morning Light, Fog & Clouds in Boxley Valley
Elk watching has shifted solidly to a summer viewing pattern. Before 7AM today I saw 4 herds grazing in Boxley Valley fields. By 7:45 they were starting to migrate to their bedding areas. This is the summer elk viewing experience.

Is it worth it to get up so early to see elk?  Absolutely yes. The elk are grazing in foggy fields. You can get photos of elk in the fog, around the edges of it, and fully emerged in the same photo. This makes ordinary field shots special if conditions are right. 

Besides seeing the elk, Boxley Valley on foggy mornings is just stunning.  If you are a photographer it is a great time to take moody landscape photos that exploit the fog as it lifts and animates the fields and buildings. Speaking personally, these are the summer landscapes that interest me besides the pooled-up river. This weather is wall-hanger weather if you can get your exposure correct. Perhaps it is a good time to learn HDR techniques to incorporate in your images. 

Hummingbird Moth at Ponca Elk Education Center
Roadside wildflowers are now blooming heavily. These are great places to get pictures of butterflies too. Make sure you pull off the road and be alert to traffic. There are many places you can prospect for roadside flowers along country roads. This is all day shooting. Butterflies like heat so you can shoot elk and landscapes early, then look for butterflies and roadside wildflowers later.

A great place for butterflies is the grounds of the Ponca Elk Education Center. There you park and be safe out of traffic. Any of the river access points are a good bet too. Remember that butterflies like to "puddle" along the edges of the river and creeks. 

The elk today were in southern pattern. Most of the elk are from the Highway 43/21 intersection and points south. There was one herd near Ponca.  I did see bulls in early velvet in another group. See the  brand new May map below. 

I have edited the wildflower list, although it is possible in some hollers a random specimen might show up of the early species, most are done. 

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