Miracle in the Morning

Foggy Eleven Mile

There’s only one word I can think of to describe yesterday’s photo trip… and that is “Stunning!”. The journey was underway before the first rays of sun began to warm the mountainsides so my first goal was to just not hit an elk or deer with my truck before sunrise. As I pulled into the meeting place at Eleven Mile Canyon a few golden rays of sunshine revealed a layer of fog that had settled in over the cool early autumn morning. I was prepared for wildlife photography, but the beauty of the canyon in the morning forced me to dig into my camera bag for my 18-150mm landscape lens for a few shots of the scene unfolding before me!

Soon Kevin arrived and our trip was underway. The plan was to drive straight to Jefferson Lake about an hour’s ride to the north, to look for moose. Many times we have made the trip in vain, only once have we ever seen a moose. On a dreary rainy afternoon a couple years ago we saw one cow moose with her two calves under the darkness of the pine canopy, but we had never seen the great beasts feeding in the beauty of the shimmering beaver ponds in the soft golden glow of early morning light.

Foggy Elk Herd

The trip was barely underway however when I spotted movement in the dense fog. A closer look revealed a herd of elk in an open meadow. It looked to be three big bulls with around 20 cows. We were careful not to scare them into jumping the fence, something our Rocky Mountain elk don’t seem to be very adept at doing. The bulls knew better than to let the herd run out onto the highway, quickly rounding up the group and moving them east toward the safety of the forest and away from the threat of humans. Eventually the majestic animals settled down and we had the opportunity to shoot away for a while, until the scene was adequately captured

Bald Eagle

A few more miles down the road and a giant bird was spotted in a tree along Highway 77, otherwise known as Tarryall Road. The majestic bird didn’t quite look like the usual red-tailed hawks that usually line the roadway and closer inspection revealed an amazing bald eagle. We carefully exited the car, hoping to capture a few images before the great bird took flight. However as it turns out, the eagle had no interest in vacating his perch, especially not for a couple of photographers consigned to the other side of the barbed wire fence. So we photographed and waited, moved around and waited… until it became apparent that the big raptor was not going to fly. With the hope of moose still before us, the decision was made to abandon the position and head for the beaver ponds.

Pair of Moose

Soon we were rumbling down the rough dirt road leading to the beaver ponds just hoping for a miracle. As we drew near I spotted a huge black figure moving in the mist and the foliage… A moose, and a big bull at that! We found a  good place to pull over and prepared for a few fleeting moments with a bull moose, an amazing event indeed! Much to our surprise the great beast wasn’t too impressed with us and continued his morning feeding only a few yards in front of us. Eventually I was confident that I had some good captures but soon another huge bull came into view… Would it be possible to capture two bulls in the same image, the answer soon came as both animals stepped into the shimmering waters of the beaver ponds with beautiful autumn foliage behind them. The huge beasts slowly made their way across the pond, allowing every possible angle and lighting opportunity. Before it was over I had over 1,000 captures of the powerful and elusive animals logged onto my memory card! It was only 9:30 in the morning and we already achieved  more than we could have possibly dreamed for!

Red-tail Hawk

The only question then was, do we just call it a day or keep pressing for more? The light was still good enough for some hawk pictures so we went back a couple of miles down Tarryall Road again where we knew the red-tailed hawks would be lining the road from their vantage points high on power poles. I was hoping for a capture of a hawk with the beautiful peaks of the Mosquito Range behind them and it wasn’t long before I had accomplished that goal as well! Although it wasn’t until I had brought them up on the desktop computer at home that I was able to see the extent of that success! I didn’t know it out in the field but I had captured exactly the image I was hoping for!

From there it was onward to Antero and Eleven Mile Reservoirs where we were able to capture additional images of more red-tails, white-faced ibis, killdeer, horned larks, and even a herd of American Bison!

I hope you all enjoy a few more images from this fantastic day!!

 

 

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

Coyote on the Hunt

Bull Moose and a New Gallery

Big day yesterday… finally got some pictures of a bull moose! Kevin and I left at sunrise for Jefferson Lake where we have been trying all summer to capture moose images. In fact we’ve been trying without success to find moose for a couple of years now. This summer we finally saw a few moose cows, one in Jefferson Lake and a couple in Rocky Mountain National Park. But no big beautiful bull moose with those magnificent antlers.

Autumn in the San Isabel National Forest

We wanted to get to the park as soon as possible so there were no side tours at all on the trip there… no waterfalls, no hawks, no foggy landscapes, just the direct route to the park. We spotted the big cow moose and her calf fairly early in the morning, but not in the beautifully lit beaver ponds as we had hoped. She made such a brief appearance near the base of the pine covered mountain that we didn’t have time to even snap off a single image. We made a note of which direction she was going and set up near another beaver pond that we hoped was on her route, but she never showed.

The leaves in the park were beautiful so I couldn’t resist capturing a couple of shots while we waited and as it turns out they are a couple of my all time favorites! Pretty happy about that I have to say 🙂

Bull Moose on the Blue River

Eventually we decided to head on into Fairplay for some lunch but after one pass through the town we were aimed at Breckenridge so we just kept going, hoping for some great scenery to photograph on Hoosier Pass and a nice place to have lunch in the larger town. As we traveled along the Blue River nearing Breckenridge we noticed a large traffic jam in the road near a clearing in the river valley. In Colorado whenever you see a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, there is sure to be some awesome looking animal at the center of it!

Bull Moose on the Blue River

Turns out, it was our bull moose… He was out in the valley feeding on the tender reeds growing along the river banks. He was barely visible through the reeds but bunches of people were trying to get pictures with their phones from the top of the steep embankment. We were able to get a couple of unsatisfactory images but without going down the embankment to get on the other side of the trees there wasn’t much hope of a good capture. I looked the situation over and said to Kevin, “You know we are going down there…”! I heard the “Yup!” and we were scrambling down the embankment to get a closer look.

Herd of Elk Cows

Eventually we got into a good position and were able to watch the majestic beast for a few minutes as he munched on the reeds. At first I feared he was never going to turn around for a head on shot, but eventually he turned sideways to get at a bush and looked in our direction a couple of times so we could get a nice shot.

After lunch we returned to the lake for a couple more passes by the beaver ponds to no avail. We never saw the big cow moose or any other wildlife in the park the rest of the day, save for a couple of red-tail hawks. We did however have some luck just outside the recreation area, spotting a herd of pronghorns and a small herd of elk cows on their way to the high country in a hurry! If you look really carefully off to the right in the image, I accidentally picked up a stray pronghorn watching the elk run by!

All in all it was a pretty great day and I hope you enjoy a few of the images that I have gotten processed thus far! Oh, and before I forget… I have created a new gallery on my website just for moose! I don’t have a whole bunch of moose images yet, but I certainly plan to!

 

Pronghorn Antelope

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Hawks, Hunting and Gold

I fully expected to go out to another flat tire this morning so I was pretty happy to discover that the tire had held air overnight. Ran back in the house, grabbed my camera and headed for the Victor / Cripple Creek gold mining district where the leaves are changing around the old historic gold mines of a past era.

Gold Mine in Autumn

The leaves up on Victor and Tenderfoot Passes are in peak color, but a few  feet lower down in Victor there is still quite a bit of green so I was not expecting any photography there until later in the season. However there was a view of one of the mines with some gold in the background so I stopped to capture an image. I had to shoot with the long lens and crop pretty tight to get the leaves in the image, hopefully on another day I’ll have a wider field to work with. I also need to get back out in the morning and find the names of these mines for the metadata!

Red-tailed Hawk Hunting

I worked my way north up Victor Pass hoping for some more cool images when I spotted a red-tailed hawk hunting in the prairie dog town. I followed him around a bit until I finally saw him take a dive and snatch up a rodent, I assume a prairie dog. I would think the little creatures would be more mindful of the “death from the sky”, but maybe the young ones aren’t too smart yet. The great bird must have killed the rodent instantly because I never saw it so much as wiggle once he was in the grasp of the razor sharp talons of the powerful raptor.

Red-tailed Hawk Hunting

The hawk carried his prey high into the sky and then headed out across the open field, perhaps to bring to a young one or to a more private place to enjoy his breakfast. I was ready for some breakfast myself by this time so I headed back down the hill when I spotted a good view of this mine (below), the Vindicator I believe… with some golden leaves in the background. I stopped and readjusted my camera for a still shot of the mine and snapped a few pictures.

Unfortunately there was a large crowd at the Gold Camp Bakery so I decided to just go home for breakfast. Not a fan of the large crowds of leaf lookers up here in the mountains at this time of year.

 

Gold Mine in Autumn

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Wild Winter Solstice

Herd of Mule Deer

It was a wild morning on this 2020 winter solstice! I was much relieved to see the Three Amigos again, I haven’t seen them for months and was afraid a hunter had gotten them. Actually I am thinking of calling them the Fab Four since they have been roaming with another buddy since the fall, the fourth member was already at the tree line when I took this shot. Of course I know the Fab Four is also the name for the Beatles, but if you ask me the musicians don’t hold a candle to these big boys! They didn’t stick around long though, soon after they spotted me they began meandering toward the dense woods on the north and west side of the mountain.

Herd of Mule Deer

As my trek veered toward the north I spotted the rest of the herd making their way west as well, enjoying some mountain grass along the way. It looked to me like I would get some really nice shots in good light if I used some patience and waited for them to pass, so I took a seat on a big rock and waited. They were actually moving along pretty steadily so it wasn’t long before I began to get some good opportunities. However I noticed that they started nervously looking back and moving a little faster. I was pretty sure I wasn’t disturbing them as I peered into the distance to see what might be coming out of the trees over the hill, a coyote perhaps? Soon the disturbance came into view… my nemesis with the two dogs was coming up the trail behind me, and soon the deer were galloping

Herd of Mule Deer

toward the safety of the trees to the north. I did my best to capture the herd running, but I wasn’t exactly prepared for such an event. The original plan was to leisurely shoot them grazing in the grass at a relatively slow shutter speed and correspondingly low ISO value. I scrambled to reset the camera and fired a few frames off over a few seconds and then they were gone. I tell you, this guy is ruining my life, every day chasing away my livelihood 😦 I hope he moves on soon… or maybe this is a sign that it’s time for me to move on, perhaps closer to Rocky Mountain National Park, or maybe even Montana.

Such a brief encounter wasn’t enough to satisfy my wildlife fix today so I decided to drive on up to Eleven Mile Canyon in hopes of spotting some eagles or maybe some more deer or even a herd of elk! The initial drive up the canyon yielded exactly nothing, except that I did see the eagle lady driving back down the canyon… peering intently into the trees along the river. At the top I just turned around and headed back down hoping for a more fruitful pass through the canyon on the return trip. On my way down I spotted the eagle lady headed back up, I guess I should find out her name…

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eventually my journey came to an end and I had nothing to show for it. I pondered the eagle lady’s strategy and began to wonder if I should make a second trip? What the heck, I had already paid the fee and I wouldn’t be coming back for a while so I turned big blue back around and began a second pass through the beautiful wilderness along the headwaters of the South Platte. Soon I came upon the eagle lady out of her car with camera in hand, so I pulled up behind her and got out to see what the excitement was. Sure enough she had spotted a baldy in a pine tree looking intently at a section of open water, for fish I presume!

Red Tailed Hawk in Eleven Mile CanyonEventually he flew off in the opposite direction and I continued my drive up the canyon. No more eagle sightings but I did find a nice red-tailed hawk, also fishing along the river. He didn’t stay perched for long and I managed to get a nice shot of him in flight before he drifted away, well out of range for pictures.

I hoped for more on the way down but I was satisfied with the days good fortune and just enjoyed the scenery and the solitude the rest of the way down.

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!

Red Tailed Hawk in Eleven Mile Canyon

Sacred Sighting

Feeling pretty blessed this morning… Just as my trek up the mountain began I was  greeted by this beautiful red-tailed hawk. I was hoping to see one of my feathered friends so my camera was at the ready, shutter speed at a 1600th of a second, aperture f8, and auto ISO to guarantee a correct exposure.  My 1.4x extender was attached to my 400mm long lens and IS mode 2 was selected

Red Tailed Hawk in the Pike National Forest

for the optimum value for panning in case I could catch a raptor in flight. My eyes scanned the hillside looking for one of the great birds perched on the tree tops and there he was, already aware of my presence and watching warily from his distant perch.

Fortunately for me the trail snaked back and forth up the steep slope culminating with a pass just in front of the beautiful hawk on it’s journey into the dense pine forest. Finally I stood on near the summit right

across from the prize, still staring at me intently… I readied the camera and the instant that I achieved focus he took flight, well  before I was ready to begin tracking him 😦 By this time I was close enough that keeping him in the frame proved to be difficult, but I managed to get in a few nice captures before I lost him in the clear blue Colorado sky.

Red Tailed Hawk in the Pike National Forest

I watched where he flew and made sure my trek included a pass by those distant trees in case I might catch him again, but I would see no more raptors on this day. I have to say though, any day you can capture a hawk in flight is a good day 🙂

So as I began this blog post I did a quick search for “red-tailed hawk” so I could provide link to general information about this bird and I discovered that viewing one of these great birds is quite the spiritual experience! There were numerous links available to discover the deeper meaning of these fortuitous  encounters!

Red Tailed Hawk in the Pike National Forest

According to the “Power of Positivity” website, “Hawks represent the messengers of the spirit world, so seeing them definitely means the universe wants you to learn powerful lessons or expand your knowledge and wisdom. Hawks also encourage you to use laser focus and precision to get things done, and to take the lead in life. So, if you happen to spot hawks often in your life, the universe could be trying to send you these important messages.”. Who knew I was so close to destiny today 🙂

Red Tailed Hawk in the Pike National Forest

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!

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