Rams at the River

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado lured me to Waterton Canyon where I hoped that I would have the opportunity to photograph the bighorn sheep rams coming down to the river too cool off and maybe even practice their fighting skills in preparation for the upcoming rut season.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As always in Waterton Canyon, my trusty mountain bike would carry me upstream along the South Platte River to the best sheep viewing locations. As I rode along my eyes scanned the canyon walls for signs of action among the wildlife. I have only seen the bears one time, but I always hope for another sighting! On the way in I did encounter a hawk, but by the time I was ready to shoot he was long gone.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

Eventually I reached the upper dam where I have had good luck photographing them coming down the opposite bank. Sure enough, I spotted a big ram making his way out from the shady oasis on the cliff side where they seem to be residing lately. As I watched and waited more and more of their band began to emerge from the darkness of the shade under the pine trees growing right out of the rock. Then suddenly as if  the boss had put the word out, they all rushed down to the side of the river for a drink 🙂

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As they crowded into the lush grass on the embankment, they occasionally would clunk their heads together as they jockeyed for position along the beautiful south bank of the river. I was fortunate to be able to film a couple of the encounters, the collision of horns ringing out like a gunshot through the valley.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

The rams remained at water’s edge for about an hour and a half before heading back up the embankment towards their shady spot. I slowly rode back downstream, looking carefully for more sheep and other wildlife that I might encounter. Eventually I spotted a small herd of females and lambs peeking over the cliff on the north side of the canyon so I stopped for a few shots of that action. They eventually came down and joined a larger group that were just lying in the shade on this hot lazy autumn day.

Autumn Colors on the South Platte River

Finally the lighting was just too terrible for photography so headed for home where later in the day I got some nice fall foliage along another part of the South Platte.

For your enjoyment I have also created a nice five minute multimedia video for my YouTube channel, of the rams coming down to the river and occasionally banging heads as they prepare for the upcoming rut season ! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more of my images are displayed!

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