And Then There Were Three (Osprey)

I made it to the Canyon early today to see the eagles and osprey. I had hoped to see father eagle bring in a fish but he wasn’t around when I arrived at the entrance so I drove on in to look upstream. I didn’t see any osprey or eagles upstream either so I decided to just sit in the sun and watch the nest at the canyon entrance for eagle action. Others were gathered to watch the eagles as well and some were concerned that the male hasn’t been seen. It’s been two weeks since I have seen him so I hope he is OK.

Osprey in the Canyon

Eventually it warmed up enough for me to hang out on my vantage point at the osprey nest where I hoped to see papa osprey fly in with a fish… It wasn’t long before I heard the call of the osprey and there he was, swooping in to check on the female at the nest. After a minute or two he was off…  in hot pursuit of an intruder, a turkey vulture that had ventured too close to the nest. Once the intruder had been warded off I watched our hero fly past the cliffs and into the canyon upstream.

Then much to my surprise I heard the call of the osprey again… only this time it was off to my left, on my side of the river. Sure enough, there was an osprey perched on the dead tree behind me and to my left… calling out to the female. I had no idea how he had circled back so quickly and landed without my even seeing a shadow on the ground. Then all of a sudden I saw another hawk out of the corner of my eye, or what I thought was a hawk circling over the nest. I couldn’t believe that the osprey remained peacefully on his perch as the intruder flew closer and closer. I snapped away at the hawk in flight and got a few pretty good captures of what I assumed was going to be the red-tail against the brilliant blue Colorado sky. As I zoomed in and examined my LCD screen it was revealed that the hawk was actually another osprey.

Osprey in the Canyon

As I watched the show it became apparent that the two osprey knew each other and were friends. Then to my disbelief both osprey were landing on the nest to check on the female as she cared for the eggs beneath her. And she was fine with it too, absolutely no defensive action taken against either of the free flying raptors. This leaves me to wonder if one of them is their offspring from last year, or perhaps the second one is another female not yet of breeding age. Who knows, but I’ve never heard of a family of three adult osprey at one nest.

Eventually the two great birds took off at the same time where I later found them soaring together over Lake George lake. By this time mother eagle was still looking intently off to the north for her mate. Since I had spent quite a bit of time with the osprey I really don’t know if he had ever come back or not… but there was no evidence that there was any food left behind. On the other hand the young eagles didn’t seem to panicked about their next meal, so maybe all is normal after all.

Bald Eaglet and Mother Eagle

The drive home proved to be a bonus as I spotted a small herd of bighorn sheep and then a herd of mule deer grazing in the warm spring sunshine.

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Bighorn Sheep

Cool Video Clip of an Osprey Dancing

We decided upon an unusual afternoon photoshoot in Eleven Mile Canyon hoping for some osprey pictures before

Osprey Diving on a Fish

Kevin goes on vacation. We arrived at the canyon and decided to go directly to the osprey nest. As we arrived at our vantage point high on the opposite bank it became apparent that the mother osprey was indeed in the nest. Hopefully father osprey wouldn’t be far behind.

Luckily it wasn’t a long wait and we spotted him flying up the canyon. Soon he was soaring and swooping and finally landed on a log on the riverbank, something we’d never seen him do before. As I watched him he was bobbing and weaving like a prize fighter and I decided to catch his antics on video. Soon he dove off the branch and plucked a fish right out of the water. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a shot of the fish, but I hope you enjoy this image of him in full dive.

Osprey in Fishing Mode

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Wildlife Photography in the Canyon Stunning News

I set out this morning for an ordinary wildlife photo shoot in Eleven Mile Canyon. As I entered the area I spotted both bald eagles on the nest but opted to continue on up the canyon in hopes of something new. There was no obvious action at the osprey nest as I cruised by, so I continued upstream in hopes of spotting an eagle or a great blue heron fishing along the headwaters of the South Platte River.

Osprey in the Canyon

Unfortunately I made it all the way to the big dam at Eleven Mile Reservoir without seeing a thing, took a short break and headed back downstream. As I neared the twin tunnels I thought I spotted a large bird on top of a tree high on the opposite bank.  This is a very narrow and high stretch of the dirt road so it was difficult to locate a spot wide enough to stop… but I finally found a place next to a clearing in the tall pines. Sure enough, a bird on a tree… closer inspection through the big lens showed it to be an osprey. Great, I thought! I have discovered where the osprey like to hang out and fish! Something I’ve been searching for without success for some time!

Osprey in the Canyon

I aimed my camera out the window and took a couple of still shots and then waited for the flight. Unfortunately, the flight came but I failed to properly focus and the shots were a bust. I watched the raptor fly downstream and I thought I spotted where he found a new tree. As I arrived at the new location I was surprised to observe a second osprey flying in. The first osprey upon spotting the second puffed out his chest and flapped his wings. My guess was this must be some kind of greeting or a show of happiness to alert the other one to his location.

I was surprised to see the second one because I am fairly convinced that the mother osprey is sitting on eggs and it would be highly unlikely for her to leave them unless there was already a failure to produce results. After a bit they both flew off and I continued my journey downstream. I saw one of them high on a tree on top of the opposite ridge but I didn’t stop as he was way out of range of my 400mm lens.

Osprey in the Canyon

Eventually I was back at the nest where there was no obvious action. I decided to climb to my vantage point anyway, hoping to see mother osprey still sitting on eggs. As I observed the nest I thought I could see a couple of black feathers sticking above the rim of the nest but I couldn’t be sure if they were moving or if the wind was just blowing them. Eventually I was happy to see the white head of the female moving around between the loose sticks on the top of the nest.

Then I heard a familiar screech… Father osprey was sitting on a dead tree about 50 yards downstream. Hmmm… I didn’t see any of the osprey flying downstream, could there be four osprey in the canyon? As I look over the pictures I’m inclined to think so, the ones that I photographed upstream have a young look about them. I know that yearlings aren’t supposed to return from down south for a couple more years, but could it be that last year’s pair have returned to the canyon? Or perhaps these two have raised chicks in other years that are finally ready to return. Perhaps they are a migrating pair looking for a suitable place to nest. Anyway, it is quite an exciting event to have more than one pair of osprey in the area!

Osprey in the Canyon

I was lucky to snap a couple of images of the male osprey flying up to check on his mate before he took up his normal post high above the nest where he can watch for predators. I would have stayed longer but there is another winter storm moving into Colorado and in the shade on that cold rock in the canyon I was starting to get pretty chilled so I decided to move downstream to check on the bald eagles.

Along the way I heard quite a chirping commotion from the rocks along the river so of course I had to pull over and investigate. Standing proudly on a boulder out in the middle of the stream was a cute little grey bird known to us in these parts as an American Dipper. They are amazing little birds that sit on the rocks or along the shore looking for small fish. Occasionally you will see them submerge in

American Dipper

the water and come up with a prize.  I’ve seen them swim underwater for several feet while chasing their prey. They are quite fun to photograph and one of these days when they are particularly active I am going to capture some video footage so everyone can see these sturdy little birds in action !

Both eagles were on the nest when I pulled in but while I was getting my camera ready the father eagle flew off.  Then to my consternation the mother was nowhere to be found either. I observed the nest for a bit as one of the little ones was stretching his stubby wings… flight is already on his mind 🙂 Soon I spotted the second chick and then… there he was, a third eaglet. We have three growing eagle chicks in one nest! The turkey vultures overhead began to worry me a bit and then all of a sudden mama eagle Three Bald Eagletsflew in out of the trees. She was never far off after all and soon the vultures were circling the mountains from a much more comfortable distance. This was the best photograph I could get of the three little birds, catching them at all at a distance of probably 100 yards is a surprise to me! I watched for a while until I began to worry that one was going to get shoved out of the nest. I know it is unlikely that all three will survive to flight but I didn’t want to be the one to witness the inevitable unfortunate event 😦

So it was a stunning morning indeed. We may have another osprey nesting pair and hopefully three new eagles will be catching some air in about 10 weeks!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Bald Eagle and Eaglets

 

Boot Review – Salomon Quest 4 3 GTX

I’ve been wearing these hiking boots for about a month now… Got them in Alamosa when we were down visiting the Sand Dunes and the Sandhill Crane refuges during an unexpected car maintenance break. Turns out they have a pretty nice Kristi Mountain Sports sporting goods store there right on Highway 160 close to the repair shop, so we decided to go in and kill a little time. I’m always in the market for a good pair of hiking boots so that’s the first place I went and the Salomon Quest 4 3 GTX caught my eye right away. And as you can see from the link, GearLab liked them too!

IMG_20210425_105038457Right off I discovered that the sizing was spot on. Usually I have to get a boot that’s a half to a full size larger in order to keep the toe box from squishing my toes together so I had the very helpful salesman bring me a size 11. I wanted to try a 10.5 but they didn’t happen to have that size in stock. So I gave the 11’s a try and after a short bit of walking in the store I could tell that they were just way too long. The salesman offered to bring me a size 10 so I thought what the heck, can’t hurt to try. Much to my surprise the size 10 fit like a glove. They fit my size 10 feet precisely and the generous toe box was wide at exactly the right point to avoid squishing my toes.

After a short walk I noticed that the sole was a bit stiffer than I’m used to but after a month of wearing them in the mountains I can attest to the fact that the extra support is a real blessing on rocky trails. These boots were comfortable with no hot spots right out of the box requiring no breaking in. That’s saying something since my left foot is fairly jacked up from a bad accident as a kid that causes no end of problems for my feet in a lot of hiking boot models.

I really like the extra long lacing system that smoothly cinches up comfortably with a single pull of the laces. The Gortex membrane holds up perfectly even when submerged in water. I recently had a chance to wade out into a shallow section of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and even though the uppers were completely submerged, not one drop of water leaked through. Now of course if you wade into the deep water there is nothing to stop the boots from filling from the ankle opening.

The rugged outsole has excellent traction, carrying me up a steep and somewhat icy embankment where I like to observe my favorite osprey family. You can confidently feel the new Contagrip tread grabbing onto the terrain as you stride up even the most treacherous mountain conditions. I also find these hikers to be quite airy for such a formidable waterproof boot, providing comfort on even the warmest hikes.

I took these out for my longest hike of the season yesterday on the warmest day of the year, walking through rocky fields, snow, mud and even some ice. After several miles of these harsh conditions, plus steep ascents and descents my feet remained comfortable and blister free. Excellent stability prevented fatigue and exquisite construction provided uniform comfort over the entirety of my foot anatomy. All in all, I have to say… these are the best summer hikers I have ever owned, they are pure joy to wear! Salomon has certainly earned Gearlab’s highest honors for this shoe!

This blog post was not sponsored by Salomon or any other company. All gear used in the production of this post were purchase by me on my own volition.

Exciting Bald Eagle Developments

So yesterday was a huge day, well obviously the huge day came a bit earlier but it was huge day for me! Eagle fans from all around the area have been eagerly awaiting news on the new eaglets in Eleven Mile Canyon. So yesterday I piled my gear in the old Dodge and headed for the canyon. The first place I went when I got there is my favorite eagle viewing area down on the banks of the South Platte River.

Bald Eagles with Eaglets

When I arrived both adult eagles were at the nest and I snapped a few pictures. Unfortunately I missed the father eagle’s flight out of the nest but I stayed to see what else may develop in the beautiful meadow across the river. Every once in a while I would aim my camera back at the mother eagle who seemed to be feeding the little tykes. Much to my surprise the little guy popped his head up over the rim of the nest in his quest for another bite from mama. Awesome… I was positive that there was going to be an eaglet to watch grow throughout the summer. Later on I heard a rumor that there were actually two eaglets and when I got my video clips home I was happily surprised to see that I had actually captured proof that there would be two babies this year!

Osprey Nesting Pair

From there I ventured over to the dam and then on to the osprey nest where I found mama osprey deep down in the nest… presumably busy hatching eggs. Last year she too hatched and raised two osprey chicks. I was a bit concerned because I hadn’t seen the father osprey in a few weeks so I climbed the opposite bank and sat on my favorite rock to observe. Much to my relief the father showed up after a few minutes to deliver a stick to the nest. He worked with the stick a bit and then took off again. This time I was ready for a picture so I was able to get a nice capture of him taking flight, now available on my website for purchase as wall art.

I rounded my day out with a few more minutes watching the eagles, which were both back at the nest when I returned. This time I was lucky enough to get some captures of the father eagle in flight as he soared overhead before heading downstream on another fishing trip.

Red-Winged Blackbird

I’m really happy with the results of this outing, several nice captures of the great raptors plus a couple of nice shots of the newly arrived red-winged blackbirds 🙂 I also captured enough video footage to create a nice Youtube video of the action, including the sighing of both of the new eaglets 🙂  So please be sure to visit my channel and leave a like and a subscribe if you enjoy the content!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Bald Eagles with Eaglets

Journey into the Clouds

Snowing again for the I don’t know how many days in a row… I was trying to figure out what to do today while actually considering taking a day off and staying inside. Finally I made up my mind to just go out and shovel a bit and clear the snow off my truck so that I could go somewhere if I could ever figure out what to do. Once I was dressed and out I decided to just go visit my local trail and see how amazingly beautiful the trees of the high country forest might be on this cold dreary spring morning.

High Country Snow

Once on the trail it came to me that the key to finding something rewarding to do in this beautiful state of Colorado is just getting out the door. Once you are out in the great outdoors it doesn’t really matter what you have decided to do. Being outside in these amazing mountains is reward enough. Anything after that is a bonus. It doesn’t matter if you are visiting the same trail for the millionth time… it looks different every time you go. You never know what you are going to find. You could see some amazing cloud formations, a herd of elk, deer, a coyote hunting, a bald eagle or a red-tailed hawk.  If that doesn’t happen you might discover a new species of bird to add to your lifetime sightings collection!

As for me today, I wound up at my usual trail… I didn’t want to drive very far as the weather forecast was calling for a significant amount of snow and I don’t like to take chances with bad weather on the road. I began my climb up the hill and decided that at a minimum the trees covered in a beautiful mantle of white were going to be a great subject for today. I put my camera on a 650th of a second with auto aperture and ISO. I knew the bright white snow would affect the meter so I set my exposure compensation to +1 and snapped a test shot.  Then I wrapped my camera and lens in my trusty rain shield and headed up the hill.

High Country Snow

Amazingly at the summit I noticed that I was actually inside the storm clouds. The weather app indicated that it wasn’t snowing but a quick glance around proved definitively that was not the case at this elevation. This is often the case when you find yourself high enough to be in the clouds. I could see them swirling around me so I attempted to capture some of that action on video. I captured some idea of the effect but even video didn’t do the wonder of the scene justice!

As a bonus for the day I managed to capture a couple of images of deer and a red-tailed hawk in the snow. All in all I have to say I am quite happy I decided to just go outside… with or without a plan!

High Country Snow

Again there are far too many images from today to fit them all in this blog post, so please feel free to follow my Instagram page to see  the rest and much much more!

Also watch my Youtube Channel for a short video clip of the great blue heron!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Deer in Snow

They Know More than You Think

I am continually amazed at the level of advanced thinking exhibited by even the least of God’s creatures. Yesterday while out on my photo trek I spotted this beautiful Great Blue Heron on the opposite bank of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. I pulled my truck up so that it would be hidden behind a boulder where the bird would be unable to see me exit the door. However I was surprised to discover that the great bird had somehow been spooked and had flown off. Glancing around a bit, I saw him further upstream, as I wondered how he had become spooked. So I walked upstream until I had a clear shot through the reeds. Once satisfied that I had captured a nice image I moved further upstream and captured a few more images while the heron remained still.

Great Blue Heron

I continued my approach until I was directly across from the great bird where I continued my photography. I was fairly surprised that he didn’t fly. He was obviously aware of my presence, yet he remained still. I spotted a path across a shallow channel in the river and was able to access a sand bar that took me even closer where I was able to capture the best images of a Great Blue Heron of my entire career.

It was there that I discovered the explanation for the beautiful aquatic bird’s strange behavior. As I stood watching him a great shadow passed over which didn’t go unnoticed by the heron. This is also where my understanding of animal intelligence increased dramatically. The bird saw the shadow on the ground, but he looked up… He knew the threat was not from the shadow on the ground but from the terror in the sky above, in the form of the deadly talons of a massive eagle. There are fishermen lining the banks of this river from top to bottom so the heron understands that people are not a big threat in this environment. He was willing to take his chances with me a few yards away, but as he worried about the eagle he moved a few feet back from the bank into a little cave where he couldn’t be spotted from above.

This exhibits some fairly advanced thinking for an animal, not to mention a bird! First he has to understand the concept of a shadow and the source of the shadow. Then he has to be able to prioritize his threats and take evasive action. He understands that if he is able to block a line of sight from above, the eagle who is looking at the ground for prey will not be able to see him. He has identified a threat and made a plan to evade the threat while tolerating a large foreign being much larger and closer than the eagle above. I find this quite astonishing.

Animals experience joy, grief, fear and pain. If you have ever seen eagles dance in the sky, seen the joy of a wolf pack when a new litter of pups is introduced or listened to the mournful cry of a cow who has had her calf ripped from her side you would know this.

As long as we continue to elect greedy unprincipled men and women to our highest offices, people who’s god is money, who worship on the altar of power for the sake of power, no progress toward higher ideals in our law will be possible.

It’s time for this country to give our four footed and feathered creatures the respect and compassion they deserve. It’s time for America to join the few European countries that have recognized this and given sentient being status to their wildlife and livestock. This would go a long way toward the elimination of trophy hunting and trapping as sport in this country.

Again there are far too many images from today to fit them all in this blog post, so please feel free to follow my Instagram page to see  the rest and much much more!

Also watch my Youtube Channel for a short video clip of the great blue heron!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

A Wildlife Photography Smorgasbord

I wasn’t sure what I would encounter this morning as I made the familiar trip to Eleven Mile Canyon. I knew that shooting the eagles and osprey was going to be an iffy proposition with both species in the midst of their brooding

Herd of Elk

and hatching season. I always look for elk and deer as I pass the beautiful Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Even though they are rarely spotted, large herds of the magnificent beasts reside there and I always hope to see them.

As I neared the monument I spotted a couple of elk cows out in the open and quickly found a place to pull over. Much to my surprise there were many more scattered around the meadow, all heading my way in a big hurry! Not sure why they were in such a hurry, I guess they just didn’t want to be left behind. I looked across Teller 1 to the west to see what they were moving towards and spotted the bulk of the main herd already waiting on that side. I just started shooting as many of the little groups as I could get my camera focused on… I know these moments are over as quickly as they begin. Later I wished I had shot a little video footage, but the still pictures are my bread and butter and they are often all I have time for.

Bald Eagles at the Nest

Eventually all the animals were on the west side of the highway, relaxing and feeding in a thick patch of reeds as they meandered toward the dense forest to the west. I wanted a capture of the entire herd but by this time all the beasties were facing away from me.

As I approached the entrance to the canyon I noticed that both bald eagles were in the nest so I stopped for a couple of images and some video as they cackled and squawked about something. We now have at least three great blue herons on the lower stretch of river but they were too far away for a meaningful image. A few merganser ducks, a couple of mule deer and some red-winged blackbirds rounded out the big variety of wildlife that were out enjoying a beautiful Colorado spring morning.

I went back to check on the osprey but there was little action at the nest… mama is sitting deep in the nest on the eggs and papa osprey is back on his regular perch high on the ridge to watch for threats, something he seems to have a great amount of patience for! I watched for a while but the cold wind blowing over the ice water of the South Platte River was more than I could handle for very long!

Mule DeerAgain there are far too many images from today to fit them all in this blog post, so please feel free to follow my Instagram page to see  the rest and much much more!

Also watch my Youtube Channel for a short video clip of the eagles!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Merganser Ducks

How to Win an Argument

As I’m sitting here in my favorite spot along the river waiting for the wildlife situation to develop, it occurs to me that I’ve learned a valuable bit of wisdom in my years upon this earth. An idea is more like a seed than a hammer.

Autumn Color in Eleven MileIf you have an idea and you know you’re right, just say your piece and walk away. If you stay around and bludgeon people with it many will become angry and stop listening. Use your idea like a hammer and it will be like a seed planted on stone. No matter how hard you try to pound it in, it will never take root.

If you just plant your idea properly with faith and patience, like the seed of a plant or flower it will take root. Remember, even the mighty oak tree starts with a tiny acorn.

The seed may take longer than the hammer, but the end result is more fruitful.