Eleven Mile and a 2x Converter

Had an opportunity to borrow a Canon 2.0x III teleconverter yesterday so I immediately thought of the eagles nest at Eleven Mile Canyon which has always been just out of reach for a good crop with my little 1.4x converter and 400mm lens. As I drove into the park area I didn’t see any eagles at the nest so I cruised on into the canyon in search of the osprey and blue heron and hopefully even the juvenile baldies.

Great Blue Heron at Eleven Mile Canyon

Didn’t see the osprey or the peregrines near the entrance so I motored upstream searching the banks of the river and nearby trees where I have seen the great birds many times. Eventually I spotted a blue heron in a tree, mostly just taking a nap, but looking up every once in while for possible threats. Unfortunately he was on the dark side of the river and with the 2x which introduces a two stop loss of light, my ISO values at a shutter speed of even just 1/800th of a second were up around 10k to even a less workable 12,800k. There was so much noise in the preview that I really couldn’t even tell if I had the image in focus. Oh, forgot to mention, with the 2x I’m limited to F11 and my Canon 90D won’t autofocus with a lens combination smaller than F8.

Osprey at Eleven Mile CanyonUnfortunately I didn’t get another opportunity to photograph until I had been all the way up the canyon and almost back out, when I finally spotted a large bird across the river resting in a dead tree. A quick glance through my long lens verified that the bird was an osprey so I rested my camera on the window frame of my truck and captured a few images. Eventually the beautiful hawk took flight and I was lucky to be ready, capturing a few images of him as he flew off with a fish in his sharp talons.

I quickly exchanged the 2x for the 1.4x which allows for only one stop of light loss and auto focused on his flight against the beautiful blue Colorado sky πŸ™‚ Later as I looked through my images it appears as though the tree the osprey was using to eat his breakfast could be a good candidate for a nest next spring. I hope she or he was taking good notes, it’s going to be a long winter down in the tropics before they return again to breed next spring!

Osprey at Eleven Mile CanyonHappy with my captures I departed the canyon, taking a quick look one more time for the peregrines on the cliffs of the canyon entrance. The eagles nest once again appeared to be empty, but I decided to put the 2x back on to do a magnification check against the 1.4x, just to see what it would be like to watch the nest a bit closer. As I peered through the lens and monkeyed with the focus ring I spotted one of the juvi’s in a tree a few yards behind the nest. I snapped a couple shots of him and decided to go down to the river bank for a closer look.

I grabbed my big tripod with the heavy duty Vanguard ball head and took a better look. Just as I got focused the third young bald eagle flew right in front of the other two and landed in the nest. Quick reactions resulted in a pretty amazing capture of all three of the offspring in one frame drawn in close with the 2x converter πŸ™‚

Juvenile Bald Eagles

So I have to say it was a pretty happy day in the canyon with good images of a great blue heron (taken with the 1.4x), the osprey and the young bald 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.

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.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Went out to check on the eaglets the other day, hadn’t been there in a while. As I pulled into the parking area at sunrise I caught a brief glimpse of on of the adults flying into the fog, leaving one juvi behind on the nest.

Heavy rains as of late have resulted in lush vegetation and a full flowing river. Unfortunately to go with it is a bumper crop of mosquitoes which I am still paying for days later with a number of itchy welts on my fingers from no more than five minutes on the river bank.

Kevin and I quickly retreated to higher ground and decided upon a drive up the canyon in hopes of locating the other two juvenile baldies.

Long story short, the baldies are doing fine and are happily flying about, exploring their newly discovered world πŸ™‚ We had several sightings and we’re able to capture quite a few nice images.

So two of the three eaglets are flying, which is pretty good. I imagine by the time I get out there again, all three will be airborne!

Blue Heron Catching Huge Trout

Watch my new video which includes a great blue heron catching a huge trout! What a great day of photography as I get to see pelicans, heron, baby geese and the bald eagle triplets!

Watch “Colorado Wildlife Photography Eagles, Heron and Deer in the Fog” on YouTube

Come with me on a foggy video journey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado and enjoy a herd of deer crossing the river, a beautiful great blue heron, and a family of bald eagles in HD video!

Also be sure to visit and support my Patreon channel! Exclusive content and free gifts for subscribing, monthly benefits for supporting the channel include exclusive content and images!

Springtime in the Canyon

New life abounds everywhere and water levels are finally rising in the South Platte River. I hope you enjoy my new video of osprey along the banks of the river plus beautiful scenes of bald eagles raisin triplets!

Encouraging Osprey Update

On a day I thought was without hope for a photo shoot, there was a break in the persistent Colorado snow as of late, giving me a short window to visit Eleven Mile Canyon. That is not to say it was a beautiful sunny day, on the contrary it was cold, foggy and gloomy. But as a photographer, this kind of day is sometimes the best of all!

Deer Herd in Snow

The drive to the canyon was magnificent, amazing stormy clouds and fog, and beautiful white snow covering the pine trees of the Pike National Forest like vanilla frosting. As I approached the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument I spotted a herd of mule deer at the base of the stunningly beautiful hillside, so I pulled my truck over onto Upper Twin Rocks for a good vantage point. Soon a huge black Dodge blocked my line of sight, as I looked up I discovered it was some old friends from my church in their new ride stopping to say hi πŸ™‚ They drove on and I proceeded to capture as many views and focal lengths as possible before the gentle ungulates moved on.

Storm Clouds on South Platte Rvier

I glanced over at the eagles nest upon arrival at the canyon entrance and mama eagle was on her usual perch. There isn’t much room in the nest these days with three voracious young ones all simultaneously clamoring for sustenance! However it was early and with all the gloom I knew that at best I would be able to obtain a bland noisy image, the likes of which I already have a collection of hundreds.

I made a slow cruise past the old osprey nest hoping to spot some action on the hillside indicating the construction of a new nest, even though I know that the possibility of such a thing is extremely unlikely following a failure to reproduce. Unfortunately I saw nothing to support my hopes for the newly homeless osprey couple. I continued my slow cruise up the rough canyon road carefully watching the dead trees along the banks of the South Platte as well as the riverbed for signs of wildlife.

Northern FlickerI stopped to snap a couple of images of the river and canyon along the way, but the trip upstream yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Near the big dam at the headwaters of the canyon I heard a peculiar chirping sound, so I pulled big blue over to the side of the road and got out to investigate. I quickly spotted an unusual colorful bird, slightly bigger than a robin or common blackbird calling out from one of the choke cherry bushes. I snapped a couple of images for Merlin and then began to make my way around to the south where I knew I would have better light. Unfortunately I was never able to get a front view of this little character, but I did get a good enough image for Merlin to identify it as my first ever northern flicker of the woodpecker family. shortly thereafter I captured an image, another lifetime first, a chubby little bird known as a townsend’s solitaire, which I’ll soon be adding to my Instagram page, along with a ton of other images from this shoot and many more!

Great Blue HeronThings began to look up on the trip down as I made several sightings of a beautiful great blue heron fishing along the river banks. Most of the time the giant water bird took to flight before I could get an image but fortunately I was able to capture one fleeting moment and a couple of satisfying images.

Eventually the winding river road returned me to osprey territory. I wanted to film a little video footage by the stream so I decided to get out with my camera at a particularly beautiful spot along the river. Much to my surprise I spotted one of our osprey flying in from downstream, so I readied my camera for a white bird in flight image against the stormy Colorado morning skies: shutter priority, a 2000th of a second and auto ISO with +1 dialed into the exposure compensation. I was stunned and woefully out of position when the great raptor landed along the banks of the pristine river. I tried to stealthily approach in hopes of a closeup but I was quickly detected and the beautiful hawk took flight.

Osprey Retrieving a Stick

Fortunately my settings were still good for a flight against the sky and as he circled me a couple of times I was able to capture a number of images. At first I thought he had caught a fish, but later in the truck as I zoomed in with my LCD screen to inspect the image I discovered that he had actually made the trip in quest of a stick from the riverbank. I have been heartsick since discovering the downed nest so earlier I had prayed for a sign that the impossible would happen, that the pair would spend the remainder of the summer rebuilding for a return to the area following this year’s migration. And I believe this simple stick is just the sign I was looking for, why would the osprey pair be gathering sticks except for the construction of a nest?Β 

Heavy Snow on the South PlatteI tried to follow the determined traveler but big blue is unfortunately no match for osprey wings. I spotted one of the pair again later, flying past the eagles nest heading back into the canyon, but soon the ever frequent Colorado snow had obscured my sight and I decided to call it a day. However, it is now my belief that the intrepid couple are somewhere on the hillside, busily preparing for next year’s offspring. I will continue to make frequent visits to the area in hopes of locating their new home.

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.

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A Small Bit of Joy

Spent the day in Eleven Mile Canyon… Was expecting to have a snow day today but this morning I could see the radar forecast was going to give me a window in the snowfall to get out for a while. Had a pretty good day in the canyon, saw the eagles, a couple of hawks, a blue heron and some nice scenery. I also managed to climb up the steep rocks to the lookout on the Overlook Trail for the first time ever πŸ™‚ I have some video and I’ll go into more depth of that hike in a future post.

_MG_6907But the greatest moment of all was a sighting of our beloved osprey. They have apparently decided to stay in the canyon, probably until they migrate in late August. The literature I’ve read says they will not work on a nest this summer. The female osprey only lays eggs once a year and if there are no eggs forthcoming it seems they don’t have the instincts to build a nest. Once a nest is built it is the center of their lives so now that it has been destroyed it isn’t a sure bet that the pair will remain devoted to each other and return next summer to start again, but I hope they do. They bring such joy to me and many other visitors to the canyon.

This is such a terrible picture, the osprey was soaring high above the ridge over where their nest was, far out of camera range. But I thought the tiny speck in the sky looked like the profile of an osprey so I snapped the picture with the hope that I would be able to identify it when zooming in Photoshop. Sure enough, I was right and the distant form was one of our osprey. I’m pretty sure I saw the other one further up the canyon but wasn’t able to move fast enough to capture an image.

Well anyway, I was glad to see them and the fact that they have stayed in the area together gives us a small bit of hope!

Devastation on the River

It is with terrible sadness in my heart that I have to report that our beloved osprey nest in Eleven Mile Canyon was felled by one of last weeks late spring snowstorms, two unhatched eggs were found in the river. They like to build their nests in barren trees and this one along the river just could not withstand the weight of all the wet heavy snow. We had so much fun watching this beautiful pair raise their chicks to flight last summer and were so much looking forward to another family this year.

Osprey Nesting Pair

The pair had returned right on time and had gone right to work on their nest. It wasn’t long before mama osprey was sitting on eggs and the father was busy bringing sticks and fish to his family in wait. We went to the canyon yesterday in hopes of catching some of the action on film but it was not to be. When we arrived we found the tree down, the nest destroyed and the beautiful raptors nowhere in sight.

Now we don’t know what will become of the nesting pair. From what I can read they may hang around the area for the rest of the season until they migrate. It is apparently the nest that holds the pair together so it isn’t guaranteed that they will return and rebuild but it is certainly our hope. I will return from time to time to look for them throughout the summer but I have to say, my heart is broken and I just feel like quitting.

I have created this Youtube video tribute to this pair of amazing raptors, I hope you enjoy it. Vaya con dios my beautiful feathered friends. May God give you the strength to return and rebuild next year.

Osprey Nesting Pair