It was truly a big day, starting early on Tuesday morning with a long drive up to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Area. Kevin and I had high hopes of getting some great pictures of the burgeoning snowy egret and blue heron populations. As we drove past the central lakes we spotted a good number of egrets wading along the shoreline so we stopped to capture a few images. Shortly thereafter an osprey surprised us with a fly over and a splash down. Fortunately for us it took the intrepid raptor a few tries before we finally captured him splashing down and flying away with a fish so big he had to carry it in both talons! It wasn’t until I was home on the computer that I discovered one of the birds we thought was the osprey flying over was actually a rare capture of a Black Crowned Night Heron. We also were privileged to get some nice shots of the snowy egrets and double crested cormorants in action.
Soon the sun was getting high in the sky and the heat of the day convinced us to move on to Waterton Canyon for a bike ride in hopes that the bears would be coming down to the river for a swim. My first bike ride of the year was not an easy one, I definitely need to get in shape! We rode all the way to the caretaker’s house without seeing anything to shoot before stopping at the old dam structure for a look. Once I had shed my pack I noticed Kevin taking pictures of the water and I soon discovered that a hapless rattlesnake had somehow fallen into the river and was trying to get out by climbing the tall cement walls of the dam. He would try for a while and then drift back in the gentle current before trying anew. A crowd soon gathered, including a couple of the park rangers and we feared that if he didn’t change strategy he would eventually drown. Luckily he began moving across the the dam toward our side of the bank and was eventually swept away by the current which carried the poisonous viper to safety.
My hat was not so lucky though, blown into the river by a strong gust where I helplessly watched it drift downstream. We spotted it a quarter of a mile downriver and rode a bit ahead to a spot I hoped to climb the bank and recover it from the shallow water. But while we were waiting for the hat we got word that there were bears spotted in the water downstream, which of course took priority over my hat, now presumed drowned.
Sure enough there were a couple of young bears frolicking along the opposite bank where we were able to capture a few images before the beautiful beasts scrambled up the steep embankment out of sight.
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