Reminiscing About My Last Montana Camping Trip

My plan this morning was to make a simple, single image post but with a snowstorm predicted for today I began to reminisce about my last Montana camping venture and decided to take a trip down memory lane with this post.  I hoped to make one last visit to Montana before winter set in but I’ve now faced the grim reality that it just isn’t going to happen.  These images were all taken in mid-September in and near the Centennial Valley.

Sorry, no camera settings this morning.  I just ran out of time…


solitary sandpiper 9179 ron dudley

This Solitary Sandpiper hung out at a small pond the entire time I was there but trees around the edge made getting light on the bird difficult in the mornings.  This was taken later in the day so the light is a bit harsh but I still liked the image.



sharp-shinned hawk 9603 ron dudley

I watched this Sharp-shinned Hawk put on an acrobatic display in the air as it chased a songbird that literally made my jaw drop.  It failed at catching the bird and then landed in this less than ideal setting as it recovered from the effort.  I seldom see Sharpies in the valley during my mid-summer trips so I suspect this bird may have been migrating through.



flying insects 9342 ron dudley

One evening as we returned to camp when the sun was low we noticed “clumps” of flying insects with the light on them against a shaded mountain background.  It was fascinating to watch and difficult to photograph.  The bugs were swirling around in hundreds of little balls.  I suspect they were mating in mid-flight.  In many of my images of them, most of the insects were in circular “strings” as they followed each other individually in flight.



red-tailed hawk 9495 ron dudley

This juvenile Red-tailed Hawk with a blood encrusted bill allowed me to get very close.  Its tail was hidden by its rock perch so I decided to go for a few close-ups.



coyote 9893 ron dudley

This coyote was hunting voles along a road near the Montana/Idaho border.  I liked the stalking pose.



coyote 9966 ron dudley

I followed it for a while and eventually it paused at a trickle of a stream for a drink.  This is ranching country where coyotes are hunted relentlessly so I was very surprised that this one allowed me so close.



vesper sparrow 9184 ron dudley

I tend to give sparrows short-shrift on my blog so I thought I’d include this Vesper Sparrow in an attempt to make up for my sins.  This bird stayed in this same spot for quite a while as it picked seeds off the  ground.



swainson's hawk 9694 ron dudley

I always enjoy seeing the interesting foot positions of resting raptors and this Swainson’s Hawk obliged me for some time.



lower red rock lake 6691 ron dudley

This is the scene that greeted me from camp at sunset on my last day in Montana.  It’s a view (and a place) that I never tire of.

It will be at least six months and a long, cold winter before I can return to the Centennial Valley.  I’m sure it’ll seem even longer than that…


25 comments to Reminiscing About My Last Montana Camping Trip

  • Leisa

    Beautiful! Thanks for taking us along on your trip down memory lane.

  • Lisa at Greenbow

    What fabulous photos. I am glad you gave a little lens love to this sparrow. They are difficult to id most of the time since they are rarely still long enough. With your photo you can see all the field marks and it makes the id easy. Sharpies are rarely seen around here (SW IN) too. What a treat to see some of your camping experiences in a state I have never had the pleasure to visit.

  • Jean Haley

    Montana, Heaven on Earth. Such a variety of beautiful birds. I too, am partial to Coyotes. I live in the high desert, and we see or hear them often. They can be hard to capture since they are so skittish. Great job!

  • Melissa Groo

    Now you’ve got me wanting to go to that part of Montana, so much!! Beautiful work, Ron.

    • Melissa, well you made it to the eastern part of the state this past summer so just spread your wings a little next year and travel a little further southwest. It would be fun if we ran into each other out there. Maybe you could find a GGO for me…

  • Susan

    Don’t forget that House Sparrows are actually not sparrows – they are finches.

    • I didn’t forget, Susan. I was just afraid it would muddy the waters. Perhaps I should have taken the time to make that distinction in my comment though. Thanks for pointing it out, though.

  • Susan

    Enjoyed the trip. Wish I had been there!

  • Oh my. It would be so hard to tear yourself away from a place like that, with bonus birds too!!! Loved the insects as well. Loved it all in fact. Thank you.

  • Just exquisite. Thanks for inviting us along! Interestingly, seeing the Vesper Sparrow after the photos of the stalking coyotes gave me a real burst of affection for this simple, innocent bird. And I love the view from your campsite.

  • Nala

    Gorgeous photos, and thanks for the reminder of my own fond Montana memories.

  • Well, Ron, here I sit sipping coffee and going through these images for the fourth time. I have paused on the last shot to soak in that view. Sigh. Thank you.

  • Dick Ashford

    Hi Ron,
    Centennial Valley looks like my kind of place. I get up to the Swan Valley every 2-3 years (if I’m lucky), and your posts have got me thinking that I need to plan on a much longer trip! BTW, I am a “bird” guy, but coyotes have charisma. I admire them on several levels – thanks for sharing your great images.

  • Charlotte Norton

    What wonderful shots Ron! TYhanks for sharing!

  • Ellen

    Thanks for going down memory lane. I had no diea that raptors had such interesting foot poistions. Actually the position looks painful to me. And the Coyote are amazingly beautiful. Sparrows…well they should never have been brought to this country. They take over everything and scare away my Blue Birds. (But they are cute) Ron, I can understand why you so look forward to visiting your spot in Montana. So beautiful. Thanks.