The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For

Baby Bald Eagle in Flight

Today was the day… the day we’ve been waiting for with great anticipation for weeks! The eaglet has finally taken flight ๐Ÿ™‚ And even better, I was there with the camera to capture it! The little guy has been spreading his wings for a while now, gaining altitude above the nest, flapping his wing sand working up the courage to actually leave the nest and go out on his own ๐Ÿ™‚

The youngster left his nest early this morning and made one good pass showing off as if he knew I was there watching.

Baby Bald Eagle in Flight

He then swooped in low to land on a boulder across the river. He remained there motionless until a deer went running by and startled him into flight again. This time he flew directly in front of me just on the other side of he river and into a thick area of pine forest, out of sight and out of range of my camera. I remained on the river bank for about an hour hoping he would take flight again but unfortunately I didn’t see him again today.

Baby Bald Eagle in Flight

The adult eagles were not to be left out of the action either, they were flying around swooping low and flying high, as if they too were celebrating the youngsters success! I did my best to take it all in with the camera but they were really moving! Not an easy task to stay on target with a long lens, and unfortunately the lighting was not all that great ๐Ÿ˜ฆย  After putting on a good show they picked their favorite pine tree high on the cliffs for a perch where they sat motionless, side by side like the two love birds that they are.

Eventually I decided to take a little hike up the canyon to see what the osprey were up to but not much was happening, looks like I’m going to need an earlier start if I want to catch the best light and the most action in the canyon! I made the best of the little hike along the South Platte by shooting a couple images of the landscape and the whitewater which I have uploaded to my website… and also there was a cute little chipmunk who decided to entertain me for a little bit while I watched the osprey nest. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bald Eagle Flight

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also donโ€™t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some ofย  my adventures in action!

Bald Eagle Flight

 

Wild Morning

Rough Legged Hawk

It was a wild and wonderful morning on the mountain, I saw a little of everything today ๐Ÿ™‚ I wanted to see some wildlife today and I was debating a long drive to up my chances but in the end I decided on a short drive to my usual local trail. I knew it was a good omen as I was climbing the hill and I heard the screech of a hawk.ย  It sounded close by so I looked around and there he was perched on top of a power pole. Unfortunately he had is back to me and I couldn’t get a decent shot. So I waited hoping the big raptor would take flight but that didn’t work out either. When he finally flew he went down and all the power lines and the pole were in the way… later on I got a shot of him high in the brilliant blue Colorado sky but a closer shot would have been much nicer.

Herd of Mule Deer

I continued my trek up the hill and soon I spotted a lone doe mule deer in a perfect pose in the perfect morning light ๐Ÿ™‚ But now my camera was stuck. I live in Tv mode and the front wheel wouldn’t change the shutter speed, it was stuck on a 2000th of a second from my birds in flight efforts yesterday. So I went to manual and that was a no go too. Av mode was next on the list and it was fine but it was setting a wildly outrageous ISO which I quickly locked in at 400. Now, free to choose my exposure compensation with the real wheel I set up for the shot. By then a few more deer had moved into the lush meadow to feed and I probably got in about a half hour of uninterrupted shooting. Kind of wish now that I had done a little video, but in all the excitement it didn’t occur to me. Eventually for some unknown reason the front wheel started working again and I finished up the scene in the preferred Tv mode using a 500th and a 640th of a second for a few captures before the deer disappeared into the wilderness.

Sage Sparrow on a  Perch

Eventually I was on top of the ridge in the clearing where I heard a faint but urgent chirping to the north. I looked over but didn’t see anything… a closer look revealed a sage sparrow on top of a bush singing her song with a fresh batch of nesting materials in her mouth! Usually those little guys stay perched for about a billionth of a second but today she stayed for a full portrait session ๐Ÿ™‚

While descending the mountain I spotted a big coyote over by the prairie dogs standing and just staring at me. Naturally I stopped and snapped a few pictures before she began a wary retreat. Every few steps she would stop and look at me to see if I was a threat and I was hoping she would just stop and wait, but she finally trotted away and disappeared over the ridge.

Coyote Hunting Prairie DogsMy extraordinary morning in the mountains was at an end, I was back in the parking lot when I spotted what I first thought was the hawk again but it turned out to be a White American Pelican. I once again adjusted my camera for bird in flight and tried my hand at capturing he soaring majestically overhead. You can really go overboard with a bird soaring in the air with the rapid fire button and in about 10 minutes I had already rattled off about 150 more pictures… pictures I really didn’t feel like processing :( But a couple did turn out pretty nice so Iย  guess it was worth it :)

Fortunately a good number of my images from today made for good print candidates and

American Pelican

as always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also donโ€™t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some ofย  my adventures in action!

The Osprey Family

Gray mountain jay getting a drink

A visit to Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado can never be a disappointment and today turned out better than usual ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course I had to check on the eagles when I arrived but they were already gone from the nest. It was a beautiful morning so I imagine they were soaring high above Eleven Mile Reservoir in search of fish for their lunch.

So I drove over to the entrance and paid my fee to enter the park. I cruised along slowly over the awful washboard dirt road hoping not to shake my poor old truck apart ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’ve photographed the river rapids so many times that I really wasn’t looking for the best scenery in the river, I was more looking up on the cliff on the west bank for eagles or hawks. It wasn’t long and I

Robin by the River

spotted a nest on a dead tree right on the other side of the river, so I stopped to check it out.

I was surprised to notice a little movement in the nest so I got out my long lens and found a spot for a better look. I could barely make out a couple of little heads moving around in the nest so I went down to the river for a couple of shots. Fortunately a little grey bird flew in to entertain me during the semi down time, stopping for a drink in the golden water of a Rocky Mountain sunrise. Eventually the little fellow flew away and a robin came to visit with a mouthful of weeds she was apparently planning to use for her nest.

Osprey Mother and Chick

I went back up to the bank and was happy to see that the large birds were starting to rustle around. It wasn’t long before one of the birds flew out and took up a perch on a tree branch that was a good distance away. I snapped a few pictures which I may have a use for someday, but I ended up with much better ones that are commanding my attention first.

Soon I could see the mama bird and a couple of little ones stirring around. The mama caught me by surprise by suddenly flying off and I was upset that I missed my chance for an in flight shot. It wasn’t long though and she was on her wayย  back with a large twig in her beak which she promptly installed in the nest. Then she was ready to go again, and this time I was ready ๐Ÿ™‚

Osprey Taking Flight

After shooting in from that location for a while I wondered if I could find higher ground that would give me a better view of the nest. I looked around and it appeared that the mountain behind me was climbable so I started the climb the steep slope. Eventually I spotted a nice rock that looked like a good seat where I would be able to steady the camera on my knee and have a good 180 degree view of the river over the trees and bushes.

Osprey Taking Flight

The beautiful raptors put on quite a show… the little ones stood up exercised their wings in what appears to be very early attempts to go airborne. They have a ways to go though, they didn’t seem to get any lift yet, where the eaglet I have been watching can easily catch an air current and rise quite a few feet out of the nest. It did make for a great photo op though, the whole event lasting maybe a minute. I got the idea to try to film some video and did manage to capture some cute mother chick interaction and have created a YouTube video for my channel. It’s a beautiful five minute capture of the sights and sounds of my day set to music, so give it a click and a like and subscribe to my channel if you would like to see more!

Osprey in Flight

Finally the father bird left his perch high in the trees and flew off towards the reservoir and after a few minutes he returned with a stick of his own, putting on quite a show by circling the nest several times before delivering his contribution to the nest construction. I thought he would quickly fly off again but he hopped out of the nest and took up a perch onย  one of the dead tree branches forming the foundation for the nest.

Osprey Portrait

It was such a good pose that I decided to try for a portrait and attached my 1.4x lens extension. By this time the sun was getting hot and I was fully aware of the male raptor’s patience for sitting on a perch. He had occupied his tree for a couple of hours before taking flight this time, and it was getting hot and the lovely morning light was giving way to the harsh midday sun… I decided this would be a good time to head for home and take a look at what the day had given me ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some ofย  my adventures in action!

Playing it by Ear

Doe Portrait

Today had no official plan, I knew I would wake up and have coffee… that’s a given. Sometimes I just fall back to sleep, puppies warming my lap are too much to overcome, at least in time to get outย  before the heat of the day. Today however was a normal day… I may have fallen asleep again but my eyes were open again before the sunrise began to show through the eastern curtains.

As usual I proceeded to my favorite local trailhead and began the trek up the steep hill to the top of the ridge. However after about 50 yards I just turned back around. I haven’t seen any wildlife up there all summer and didn’t believe today would be any different. Rumors have been circulating about a moose roaming Bison Res so I thought it

Beaver Swimming

might be worth checking that out. Unfortunately the res is a private fishing hole and the entire road to it is gated and marked private.

I decided plan C was going to be a search for the bighorn sheep on highway 67… to no avail. Onward to Woodland Park… one of my favorite hikes is Paradise Open Space… from there you can go east or west and if you are really feeling ambitious you can climb all the way to the summit of Bald Mountain! That’s a tough tough climb though and my legs are tired and I wasn’t in the mood for

American Pelican in Flight

such a rigorous challenge. So I just climbed the hill and hiked along the ridge where I was fortunate to spot a deer peering at me from the dense trees of the Pike National Forest. She looked curiously at me for a few seconds and took a few steps toward me, plenty of time to snap off a couple of shots. Then she crossed the trail in front of me and vanished into the woods. I took a seat on a convenient tree stump hoping for the rest of the herd to meander up the trail but the doe I saw must have been the straggler. A half hour of sitting and listening to the birds can never be aย  bad thing though!

After my hike I drove to another trailhead in the area and took a short hike to a nice

American Pelican in Flight

clearing where I hoped I would see some more deer but no, nothingย  but the birds singing from high in the tall pine trees.

So I picked up a few supplies in town and headed to Lake George and the entrance to Eleven Mile Canyon for a check on the eagles. There was no sign of either the adults or the eaglet but I had arrived just before 10:00 a.m., right when a lot of eagle action has been known to happen so I resolved to sit and watch until 11:00. The eagles never appeared but I did see a White American Pelican, a beaver swimming in the river and a little family of merganser ducks, a mama and a few ducklings ๐Ÿ™‚ And of course the ever present red wing blackbirds

Female Common Merganser Duck and ducklings

and sparrows were flying all about, keeping me entertained while I awaited my target. The eagles never showed but it was an hour well spent, time along the pristine waters of the South Platte is never without reward! I opted not to spend the $7 to actually enter the park as it was getting pretty hot and the light too harsh for interesting photographs.

Now I’m just spending the rest of my day Grillin’ and Chillin’ ๐Ÿ™‚ Grilling some plant based hot Italian sausages… doing my part to put the ranchers out of business and free up federal land for those more deserving… the coyotes, wolves and wild horses mainly! I urge more of you to do the same, the plant based meat is quite tasty and ridding the land of ranchers and their stinking cattle is well worth the sacrifice!

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

The Eagle Show

Baby Eagle in Nest

As the caffeine from my morning coffee began to revive my brain, I began to wonder how the eagles out at Eleven Mile Canyon were doing. The last time I was there I didn’t see them and there were reports that the eaglet had taken flight, so it has been a couple of weeks since I have seen them. By 6:30 I was itching to get outside with my camera so it seemed a good day to pay a visit. When I first arrived I didn’t see any of them in the nest, not with my bare eyes anyway… I needed a closer look so I got out my big lens and zoomed in. Much to my surprise the eaglet was in the nest, or above it I should say… disguised as a tree branch! I steadied the camera on the hood of my truck and just watched for a while.

Eventually I was rewarded with a short flight by the young raptor, probably a couple of

Red Winged Blackbird

feet over the nest. I was surprised that the parent eagles weren’t there, I thought I had a handle on their daily routine, with flight taken at about 10:00. So I thought, well… why don’t I hang around until a little after 10:00 and see if anything happens? In the meantime I whiled away the time by shooting an occasional shot of the red winged blackbirds that were hopping from perch to perch, occasionally dropping down to the clear blue water of the South Platte for a drink.

Bald Eagles in Flight

At 10:15 I was about to give up on the eagles and settle for the images of the eaglet in near flight. While messing around trying to photograph one of the speedy little swallows over the river that like to taunt me, I looked up and spotted one of the adults in the nest! Soon I also saw the other parent swooping in and I whipped my camera up and laid on the back focus button… The huge bird came into view and I started shooting. Only my middle focus point was activated and in precise mode so I did my best to keep that single small point on the eagle as he glided over to the nest and spread his wings for the landing. I was so happy to discover that quite a few of him preparing to land on the nest turned out pretty well ๐Ÿ™‚

For a few short minutes both adults and the eaglet were in the nest together but

Bald Eagles in Flight

unfortunately the baby had ducked down and wasn’t really visible from my angle. Shortly thereafter one of the adults suddenly and without warning took flightย  again, I imagine for another fishing trip over Eleven Mile Reservoir.

I hung around a few more minutes hoping that the youngster would join mama for a couple of poses but I was thinking the little one was probably tired from all his pre flight practice earlier in the day. I really hope I have the good fortune to be there when he eventually takes flight for real and joins his parents in the fishing. I wonder how long the eaglet remains with his parents before departing to make his own life? I’ll have to look that up I guess ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Bald Eagles in the Nest

 

Picture of the Day

Snowy Sangre de Cristo

While hiking the mountain on this cold gloomy morning I was inspired to try a new Facebook and LinkedIn advertising campaign, Picture of the Day. The campaign will be focused on my “Artist Choice” collection of images where I have placed my favorite pictures of all time ๐Ÿ™‚ There are of course collections for every category of images I frequently shoot, for example wildlife, autumn and the Rocky Mountain Winter collections. So, each day I will be placing a link to the picture of the day on each of my social media sites! Hope you will stop in for a look, a like and a follow ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

A Better Morning

Deer in the Pike National Forest

I awoke yesterday to a scratchy throat and burning eyes, a southwest wind had blown a ton of smoke from the Durango wildfire into the valley. Since I could barely breath a hike seemed like a poor idea ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Fortunately for us here in Cripple Creek, sometime in the night a cold front blew through and changed the wind around to the north. The smoke has cleared and this is a much better morning, I could actually see the mountains! I hope the cooler weather helps the firefighters battle the blaze, it has been way to windy and dry lately.

I started my morning out with a little jaunt up to Gillette Flats on a tip that the bighorn sheep were paying highway 67 a visit, but by the time I got there only a solitary scraggly looking ewe remained, the ram and the rest of the herd had already vanished into the dense pine forest above. The sheep are blowing their winter coats this time of year so they are kind of a mess and not very photogenic, she almost looks like an alien! I can never pass up an opportunity to photograph a bighorn though, so I stopped for a couple of portraits of her.

Bighorn Sheep Ewe in the Rockies

She didn’t pay me a lot of attention but on the couple occasions she looked at me I got the shots ๐Ÿ™‚

After that little session I decided to go back to my usual hiking trail just to keep in shape and get in a couple miles of hiking at altitude. Luck was in my favor as I spotted the Three Amigos feeding on the hillside. As always, they kept a curious eye on me as they changed positions on their way up the hillside to the cool shade of the dense pine forest.

Deer in the Pike National Forest

Nothing to jump up and down about as far as pictures go, but I always enjoy the spiritual refreshing that only solitude on a mountaintop can provide.

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear!

Magical Day in the Canyon

One of my most favorite places in the entire world reopened after being closed for months due to the accursed Covid-19 pandemic. I started the day with high hopes, pictures of the bighorn and a bear filled the Waterton Canyon Group and I was so hoping to get my chance today.

Hummingbird on a Perch

The mountain bike ride along this beautiful stretch of the South Platte River as it flows down out of the Rockies on it’s way through Nebraska where it connects with the Mighty Missouri is about six miles one way, unless of course you have the skills to continue on the single track portion of the Colorado Trail! It is not always easy to catch the animals at the river, you have to be at the right place at the right time so I just took a leisurely pedal all the way to the top of the canyon.Strontia Springs Dam is the high point of my ride and I stopped there at the picnic tables to take a break, having seen nothing to photograph for the entire six miles. While sitting there I spotted a cute little hummingbird resting on the very top of a small tree… I wondered if I could get a shot, got out the camera and gave it a try. Fortunately the little fellow sat there for a while and then returned a couple of times giving me time to catch him in a few poses ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually I mounted my bike and began coasting back down, intently watching the canyon walls and the river for the sheep and the bear. I stopped a few times to take breaks and waste time hoping the beasties would come down, all the while asking others on their way up and down if they had seen any animals.

Couple of Bighorn Lambs Playing

Finally near the bottom I refused to give up and decided to ride back up a ways to the the lower dam where I planned to stop for aย  while and hope for the best. As I neared the dam I spotted a few bighorn ewes down by the water on the opposite side of the river from where I usually see them. I snapped a couple of boring pictures of the scraggly looking ewes by the water and then I noticed a couple of lambs further up the cliff side playing on a plateau. Fortunately I captured them playfully butting heads which made for a great picture which I have already uploaded to my website , one of the most magical scenes I have ever photographed ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t think so while I was there because the sun was so

Herd of Bighorn Sheep Ewes and Lambs

bright I could hardly see anything, much less the LCD on the back of the camera! But now that I am home looking at the images on the computer I am pretty happy ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to catch some video but the whole show was over within about 15 minutes and about the time I thought about it they were already bedding down. Nothing interesting about animals sleeping ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Eventually the mama ewe noticed that the little ones were not with the main group anymore and the little band of females began the climb up the canyon walls to search for the wayward youngsters. She must have had a pretty good idea of their whereabouts as they went right to them. Soon the entire herd found a shady spot to escape the intense front range heat and lay down for their afternoon nap.

Female Common Merganser

I packed up my equipment and began the ride to the bottom while continuing to hope for a bear sighting. I didn’t see a bear but I did run across these cool looking Common Merganser female ducks which were worth getting the equipment back out for a few captures! After that I was already past all the good animal viewing locations so I pedaled hard back to the parking lot. All in all a pretty good day… a 12 or 14 mile bike ride in spectacular mountain scenery can never be a bad thing!

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear!

Be Like the Birds

Deer at First Light

It was an exceptionally quiet day on my mountain this morning, no wind, no other people, only the sound of the birds happily singing about the beautiful Colorado mountain morning. I was walking along worrying about going back to work with all the new virus related issues and rules when I found myself thinking, the birds know nothing of the Corona Virus or social distancing, nothing of the murders, riots and homelessness that permeates the news and our minds these days. They are just enjoying life, minding their own business bringing joy to everyone they come in contact with.ย  As I pondered the birds and life in general I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26,

Deer at First Light

Behold the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”.

The familiar verse helped me to resolve the dilemma cluttering my mind and I was able to finish my hike with peace in the knowledge that as always I was not walking alone. It occurred to me that we all might be a better off if we could be a little more like the birds!

Soon I noticed a few of my furry friends staring curiously out from the brush at me. I quickly checked my shutter speed

Sagebrush Sparrow

and steadied the camera for a shot. The deer herd slowly shifted their positions giving me an opportunity to shoot individual portraits and then a group shot ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually the small herd disappeared into the dense pine forest and I was left with some sage sparrows and baby prairie dogs who also were in a mood to cooperate with a little photo session ๐Ÿ™‚

Prairie Dogs

 

 

 

I Can Fly!!!

Eaglet on the Nest

This morning’s hike yielded nothing but a good workout, save for a picture of a distant chipmunk on a rock. Birds were chirping all around, the prairie dogs sounding out their warnings, and coyote barking in the distance. But nothing reached the lens of my camera.

So this afternoon I made another visit to see what the bald eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eaglet on the Nest

might be up to. As it turns out the adult eagles weren’t there but the youngster was in the nest still testing his wings. When I arrived he was perched on the branch above the nest but then moved back down into the safety of the large bowl. Eventually he posed on the front of the nest for a bit before jumping back down inside.

Female Redwing Black Bird

In the meantime I whiled the time away by photographing the red wings, the males chirping and showing off while the females gathered nesting materials from the ubiquitous cattails which are now bursting at the seams to scatter their seed. Today the females were very active so I practiced trying to catch them in flight. A couple attempts appear to have been successful, I’ll look those over better later.

Eventually the eaglet stood up and stretched to his full now impressive wingspan and took flight a few inches above the nest. I think it won’t be long before he is ready to take flight outside the nest and begin his life as our national bird ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually a walk up the trail along the river revealed this interesting bird which I have yet to identify, it appears to be some kind of grebe but I’m not sure.

Cute Water Bird