Mid Summer Beauty

Good wildlife images seem to be hard to come by this summer. I have been unsuccessful in locating osprey at the two most likely locations, Eleven Mile Canyon and Manitou Lake. Weeks have passed without an osprey sighting. The bald eagles have also disappeared. The eaglet is still in the nest at the canyon entrance and I have seen the adults back in the trees, but as far as getting good pictures, the white headed raptors have evaded me. The herons still fly in and out of the canyon before the hordes of fisherman from the city arrive and they can also be seen right at sunrise at Manitou Lake. However once the first dog walker circles the lake, heron photography is over with. Pelicans can always be counted on to put on a good show though.

Today’s trip to Manitou Lake yielded a couple of nice images right at sunrise and I’m happy to have even a few to upload and perhaps print for the Gold Camp Art Gallery in Victor!

 

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”!

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!

 
 

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New Species in the Canyon

Yesterday was the day for my weekly visit to Eleven Mile Canyon. Unfortunately with gas prices the way they are I’ve had to limit my visits to the canyon to once a week. They day began with an apocalyptic looking cloud of dust enshrouding the entire landscape,  the result of tremendous winds we’ve been experiencing this spring. The wind from the night before had never subsided and was still buffeting my truck as I traveled down Teller County Road 1 to the canyon.

Bald Eagle Nest

I was unable to see eaglets in the nest at the entrance, probably due to the wind. I could see the mother eagle was fighting to stay on her perch on the edge of the nest as powerful gusts threatened to unseat her. I imagine the young ones instinctively know to keep their heads down in such conditions.

I watch carefully for osprey in the lower mile or two, as that is they formerly chose for their nest. However there were none to be seen on this day. There was also nothing at the bend, no eagles and not even the often seen blue heron that seems to have made that part of the canyon home for the summer season. However not too far past the bend we spotted a blue heron, then another… and another. All together there appear to be at least four of the great birds nesting somewhere near that relatively calm section of the South Platte River, good information for future visits!

Double-Crested Cormorant

Just beyond there another bird flew in and took up a position high on the giant rocks lining the river. A quick look through the binoculars identified the visitor as a double-crested cormorant, a first for the canyon! We snapped a few pictures of the handsome shore bird and continued on. Our experience with that particular bird at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal led us to believe that he might be comfortable standing on the rocks for a considerable amount of time… more than we had the patience for to be sure.

White-Faced Ibis

Another mile upstream another large bird revealed himself, a species I had never seen before… a large heron looking shore bird with the beak of an oversized sandpiper and unusual red and greenish markings. This one would have to wait for identification until I could get home and feed the image into Merlin, my bird ID application. Eventually I would learn that this was a white-faced ibis… another canyon first! Further investigation indicates that this species as well as the cormorant are expanding their range as climate change warms the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains.

Eventually the osprey flew over, but my equipment let me down on this encounter and I was not able to acquire focus lock as the great hawk circled overhead. Hopefully it won’t be long before the much anticipated Canon R7 mirrorless upgrade to the 90D is available and focus issues will be a thing of the past! I understand the new animal eye focus is quite incredible!

High winds often made audio impossible for the video I was shooting, but I still managed to get a few seconds of footage of the new visitors to the canyon, I hope you enjoy the short video on my channel!

If you enjoy the content and would like to contribute to the cause, please feel free to click the donate button below!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

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!

First Eaglet of the Season and Video

Decided to drop in yesterday and check on the eagle’s nest at Eleven Mile Canyon hoping to capture some video of the recently hatched little ones. I saw Mama eagle in the nest as I passed on my way into the canyon, and satisfied that there were still thriving offspring I continued on in hoping to get pictures of osprey and great blue heron.

Beaver in Eleven Mile Canyon

Unfortunately there were no osprey in their favorite stretch of river but as I cruised upstream I spotted an unusual object in the water. It looked like a big rock but I had never seen a rock like that in that location so I pulled the truck to a stop and readied the camera. I was surprised when I zoomed in to discover a giant beaver just sitting in the river, apparently hoping for food to float down the river into his waiting mouth.

Beaver in Eleven Mile Canyon

I snapped off a couple pictures while honing in on the best exposure settings, so I was prepared when he began to swim slowly downstream. I was able to capture a few nice images of his sleek form in the water before he was too far away.

I continued upstream and was soon at the big bend where I spotted a great blue heron fishing in the shallow calm water. I was only able to capture one image of him standing still before he took flight as I was fiddling with my camera settings.

Great Blue Heron

Those were my only opportunities for wildlife images along the river so on my way back downstream the second time I decided to stop and capture some motion blur images of the rushing water on a section of river that I had been considering for that purpose. The weather was beautiful in Cripple Creek when I left home but as usual the canyon was brutally cold. By the time I was done fiddling with the tripod I was near hypothermia and decided to cut the project short. I managed to capture a couple of technically correct images but none that satisfied my artistic desire. Perhaps next time.

Whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon

Next stop was the nest on my way out of the canyon. I attached the camera to the tripod to try to get some steady video footage while looking through the binoculars for the eaglets poking their heads above the nest. While I was commenting that I couldn’t see the little ones, a tiny head appeared over the rim of the nest and I was fortunate to capture a cameo of one eaglet. There may be more to follow but one is all I could verify on this day.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the pictures and video of the first eaglet of the season to appear above the nest!

Eagle and Eaglet

And of course if you enjoy the content and want to contribute to the cause, please feel free to click the donate button!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

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!

Elk, Osprey, Blue Heron, Beaver & Eagles – What a Day!

Elk in the Pike National Forest

I knew it was going to be a good day when a small herd of elk cows crossed the road and ran out into golden light of a Rocky Mountain sunrise on my trip up to Eleven Mile Canyon! Traffic was stopped in both directions to allow for the passage so I grabbed the trusty Canon 90D and snapped a few pictures of the animals, happy to be safely on the other side of the highway. At the time only half the herd had crossed, but the other half didn’t appear interested taking the risk so I continued on my journey.

Soon I was at the entrance to the canyon and on my way past the high cliffs of the opening, looking intently for osprey and peregrine. Neither were at their expected location and I took note of the rushing water as a photo op for motion blur photography in case my wildlife endeavor in the canyon came up empty on this day.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

But it wasn’t long before I spotted my intended target, a beautiful white osprey perched high above the canyon on a dead tree branch. He was quite a distance away though, too far for my 400mm and 1.4x teleconverter. Fortunately I had recently borrowed Kevin’s 2x converter so I attached it and dragged out the tripod with my solid Vanguard ball head.The only reliable way to use the 2x is to switch the lens to manual and use focus peaking with live view. With that method it is possible to zoom in to 10x on the camera and turn the focus ring until the red color outlines any part of the subject that is in focus.

I watched the osprey for a long time, hoping he would take flight and I would get the coveted wing span in a flight image, but he seemed quite intent on remaining on the branch. His behavior was very much like a male osprey overlooking the valley for threats to a nest, not looking down at the river for fish, but scanning the valley up and down, carefully watching for intruders. This makes me think that maybe the new nest may be in that section of river, but I was not able to see the new structure, not even with my 10x binoculars. The male osprey upon seeing a threat will take flight and vigorously defend his territory and I have yet to see a bird willing to risk the ire of an osprey with his wicked talons extended.

Great Blue Heron

Eventually I got too cold in the canyon wind to continue at that location so I got back in the truck and cruised upstream hoping to see eagles, deer in the river, or blue heron. I was soon rewarded with a blue heron standing upon a rock in the sun on the opposite bank of the river. He was safe and comfortable in his location and allowed me to walk out onto a sandbar on the river and sit down on a nice soft island for a long session of photography.

While I photographed and filmed the heron I noticed a disturbance in the water on the opposite bank, closer inspection revealed a beaver swimming back and forth with a meal he had found deep in the river channel. Now I had to split my time between heron and the busy

Beaver in the South Platte

beaver, filming and shooting stills of them both. It was then that I noticed my camera wasn’t behaving properly. Usually when I’m filming with the 90D, the live view focus system will locate a subject and then track it. This time a single stationary focus point was lit up and failing miserably at keeping the subject in focus. If the focus point wavered at all off the subject the animal would go out of focus until the point returned over the subject.

I wasn’t able to resolve the problem until later at home in front of the computer and the detailed PDF 90D manual. It turns out that somehow while messing around with settings lately I had managed to take the camera out of tracking mode and select single point mode. I can’t imagine how I did, that but happily the problem has been corrected and the camera is once again tracking subjects in video mode 🙂

Eventually I decided the heron was not about to leave his comfortable sunny position on the rocks, and the beaver had sufficiently gorged himself on the succulent river grass he had located under the blue water of the South Platte and had continued on upstream. It was very cold down by the icy water and once again as I neared hypothermia, I gave in to the promise of heat and comfort in the truck and continued on upstream.

Bald Eagle on a Nest

There was nothing to see upstream and I noticed on my return trip that the blue heron had not moved from his original position. This time I passed him by and continued on downstream in hopes of seeing the osprey again. Upon failing to locate the osprey, my attention turned to the eagles nest where mother eagle was watching over her young. Once again I retrieved the tripod and the 2x in hopes of video footage including an eaglet or two.

I can tell from the behavior of the mama eagle that there are definitely eaglets in the nest, not just eggs. She is sitting much higher and spends a bit of time tending to something deep in the nest. It will be a few weeks yet before little heads began to appear above the rim of the nest!

I was lucky that the focusing problem didn’t destroy all my footage and am happy to present this Youtube video of my day, hope you enjoy it!

If you enjoy the content and would like to contribute to the cause, please feel free to click the donate button and leave a small gift!

 

 

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Spring in the Canyon

The canyon was full of life this morning! There were bald eagles, juvenile eagles, osprey, blue heron and a ton of little song birds. So amazing to see it this way after so many months of bitter cold. I tried a little experiment today, I left off the clear filter that has been attached to my 100-400mm lens since I got it a couple of years ago. I’ve been aware of a slight ghosting on distant objects for some time now but have been unable to determine the source of the problem. I thought it might be a known problem of moisture building up in the lens hood when the lens is warm and the air is cold but that didn’t seem to be it.

So this morning I focused on Mama eagle and took off the filter. Not positive but I think maybe it was a little more clear. So I tried today’s shoot without it. Unfortunately I was really tired this morning and wasn’t really able to concentrate on what I was doing so I don’t think I did that great of a job focusing, but the pictures are still nice. Hope you enjoy them !

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

The Eagles Were Home

It was a good day in the canyon, got some great pics of a bald eagle upstream, both eagles were at the nest and at least one great blue heron has arrived!

 

 

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

They’re Back, the Osprey Have Returned

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon in early spring

Last year I first spotted my first osprey of the season on the 31st of March and the second the next day to reunite our nesting pair. It just so happened that I could make the trip to the canyon today so I made sure to look closely for osprey. Didn’t see any on my way up the canyon but was rewarded with two bald eagle sightings for my effort. Well actually I think it was one bald eagle spotted twice. I was messing around when he took flight the first time so I completely blew some perfectly good in flight shots but was lucky to see him again for a redo.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

I was hoping to get a lot of good footage for a video so I made sure to switch for a few seconds each time. I didn’t notice right away but I had left my picture style on monochrome so I ended up with monochrome video 😦 Oh well, there wasn’t much color early in the morning so I guess it didn’t hurt anything. Saw some deer on the way back down the canyon but no more eagles. Then just as I was passing the tree where we think the osprey might build their new nest this summer I spotted a white head in the top of a pine tree, a very unusual place for an osprey. So I snapped some pictures and took a few seconds of video before he flew. He landed on a cliff which was perfect for pictures and then flew again to the next cliff face.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

I never did see the mate, the lone osprey did seem to be looking around for her so maybe like last year she will only be one day late. I would sure like to see a few more of the amazing white hawks move into our valley, there was one extra for a while last season but it appears he moved on without finding a mate to nest with in the canyon. We have another pair over at Manitou Lake but the pictures are so much more attractive in the canyon.

Well anyway, it’s off to the city tomorrow to pick up my CD and black and white film at Mike’s Camera, so I don’t think I’ll have time to stop in but perhaps I’ll check on them again Sunday.

I’m getting better at Premier Pro all the time so I hope you enjoy the video! If you enjoy the content and would like to help out with the cause, please feel free to click the donate button!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Love Birds

Pair of Bald Eagles

It was an eventful morning in the canyon, I went expecting to find osprey but apparently the last few miles are a struggle for them this year. I’ve heard several pair of osprey have already occupied the nesting platforms down at Pueblo Reservoir so ours should be arriving shortly. But it was still good day getting pictures and video with the eagles. Way before I even got to the bend I spotted a pair of them in a tree overlooking the river and it turned out to be a perfect place to stop and shoot out the window. They remained there for quite a while before launching and finding a new perch upstream.

They both landed at the new location but not together, so I was only able to shoot them individually before yet another flight. This time I was able to get a good capture in flight but I had left my shutter speed on just a 640th of a second so it isn’t quite as clear as it could be.

Pair of Bald Eagles

From there I journeyed all the way to the dam before turning around, without seeing them again. I figured my day with them was over and figured I was on my way home. I was a little worried by then, I didn’t see any eagles at the nest on my way in and when I saw them together I wondered if something had happened to the eaglets. You don’t normally see the pair together once they begin taking care of the hatchlings.

On my way back down I saw Jamie again, this time waving frantically… so I pulled up close to see what all the excitement was… turns out the two were sitting side by side on a tree branch right over the road. I stopped and used my truck as a brace and stayed until they flew again. Unfortunately this time they flew the wrong direction so I didn’t get a great shot, but all in all I can’t complain… I got bunch of nice pictures… I’m going to have to look them over better but I wanted to get a video out quick so I didn’t spend much time processing them.

Anyway… I’m still getting the hang of Premier Pro so I still have a bit of a learning curve before I am good at it. I hope you enjoy the video though!

If you enjoy the content and want to help with my work watching over the wildlife, please feel free to click the donation button below!

Pair of 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! 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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Quite a Day and a Roll of Film

Bitter cold greeted me two days from the official arrival of the Vernal Equinox, otherwise known as spring. One thing is for sure though, spring cannot be counted on in Colorado. So a day of photography that began with an ice scraper and frozen fingers could only get better from there, and a green chili breakfast burrito at the Mountain Burger in Florissant Colorado didn’t hurt 🙂

Frozen South Platte River Valley

Eleven Mile Canyon was also frozen, something I was anticipating and had planned for by bringing my old Canon AE-1 film camera with it’s six remaining frames of black and white film. Bald eagle photography hasn’t been great there lately due to the imminent spring hatch of new eaglets but I figured I could at least get a few shots of the frozen river valley following our spring snowstorm. The frost covered trees and frozen chokecherry bushes along the banks of the South Platte were as beautiful as they were frigid.

Mule Deer in the Brush

As Kevin and I cruised up the river there were no raptors to be seen. It’s about time for the osprey to return so we carefully watched the treetops on the ridge for their appearance, but it seems we will have to wait a bit longer. The literature says they can arrive anytime after the middle of the month and last year I didn’t see them until the end of March and the beginning of April. There were no eagles, but at the bend we spotted a small herd of mule deer so we pulled a little ahead and out of sight so we could sneak back and get a shot of them feeding down by the river. I only captured one clear image of one of the does before they wandered into the dense reeds along the river bank but it felt good to get out and do a bit of shooting, something I haven’t had much luck with lately!

Winter Elk

A few more miles down the road revealed another herd of animals, this time some rarely seen elk making their way down to the river bed. We thought they might be trying to get to the water but it soon became apparent that the reeds along the banks were their target, probably for their breakfast. From the distance we were at it was difficult to get a clear shot of them but I snapped a few anyway just to have a record of the unusual scene. I’m amazed at the awareness of elk, we were probably a hundred yards away on the other side of the river and yet these amazing animals were immediately aware of the vehicle stopping and windows opening.

Horned Lark at Eleven Mile

It didn’t appear that there would be any eagles visiting the canyon this day so we decided to move on to the big reservoir in Eleven Mile State Park where we had good prospects of photographing the herd of pronghorn antelope. A curious flock of small birds followed the truck as we proceeded along the road through the park. I wanted to get a bit ahead of these interesting little feathered visitors but they wouldn’t allow it. Each time the truck got close to catching up with them they moved further ahead. Finally I stopped to see if maybe they would come back within camera range. Sure enough, when the truck stopped they stopped and I was able to shoot out the window. I wasn’t confident that I’d get a usable image of the tiny birds but I hoped I would at least get a good enough picture for Merlin to identify.

Winter PronghornAnd as it turns out, my Merlin app identified the flock as horned lark, a lifetime first sighting for me! This particular specimen appears to be the less brightly colored female of the species.

Soon we spotted the main subject of this visit, a small herd of pronghorn antelope making their way through the snow. Unfortunately there was nowhere to hide and the furtive creatures spotted us right away and began to move further away. It’s difficult to get a compelling image of an animal that is moving away and showing you it’s hindquarters, but luckily they stopped few times to look back to see if we were following them. Our long lenses and 1.4x teleconverters came in handy to get good shots of the swift little ungulates.

American Bison in the Snow

By this time the sun was high in the sky and the lighting situation on the bright snow was nearly impossible. But a lone bison walking through the snow with the mountains of the Pike National Forest in the background was too tempting to avoid. I dialed in a stop and a half of exposure compensation to account for the dark animal on the bright white snow and did the best I could. With a bit of Photoshop help I was able to bring out some detail in the animal, probably creating my favorite image of the day mostly just because it was a buffalo. They are such amazing majestic creatures it would be hard not to like a picture of them!

To top off an amazing day, I was successful in shooting the remaining frames of my black and white film so I hope to make a trip down to the city to submit the roll for processing. Mike’s Camera still develops film on site, a rare thing these days so I plan to take it there. Since I use Ilford HP5 black and white film, it will be possible to develop it there with their C41 processing system. Apparently some black and white films need to be sent to the main lab in Boulder, still a reasonable turnaround time compared to some places that take weeks to get your film done these days!

I will be placing many more images from today on my website and my Instagram account so please feel free to follow my progress on both of these platforms!

Frozen South Platte River

 

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Bald Eagles and the Spring Thaw

The ice continues to clear on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. Just a few weeks ago we were commenting on how much of the river was frozen solid and now most of the river is open and running fast. Mama eagle is still sitting on eggs at the canyon entrance and hopefully we’ll have eaglets to watch in a couple weeks!

Herd of Mule Deer

Unfortunately I didn’t see any eagles in the usual locations despite cruising up and down the canyon three times. I was fortunate however to spot a nice herd of mule deer does and a few American dippers. Eventually I gave up and was on my way out of the canyon for the final time when I spotted one of our nesting pair watching over the river about a half mile in, at the wide point in the clearing just before the whitewater just south of the old dam structure.

American Dippers in the South Platte

I sat and watched him or over an hour while I took pictures of his antics and waited for him to fly. I also shot some video but somehow managed to delete it 😦 I thought I had learned not to format the memory chip until after I was sure I had what I needed from it and had backed it up, but apparently that is not the case 😦

Eventually, when my arms and hands were exhausted from holding up the camera and long lens, the eagle finally decided to fly. And of course by then my hands were so cramped that I failed to hold down the back AF button and failed to keep a focus lock on the great raptor as he flew right at me in a perfect photo op. Shots I did get as the bird launched from the tree were good, but the background of tangled branches was quite hideous and there is nothing I can do to make it look better.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I did get one with the sky as the background but unfortunately there are no catch lights in the eyes, ruining the image as far as I’m concerned. Without seeing the fierce life in the eyes of the winged predator the image is a failure.

Today snow is falling furiously and I won’t be getting out on the roads for another attempt. Anyway, we have discovered that eagles don’t like bad weather and will most likely be riding out the storm in the shelter of their nests.

The good news is that our beloved osprey could be arriving any day now! The literature says that they can be expected anywhere from the middle to the end of the month. Last spring the first of our pair arrived on March 31st with his partner arriving the next day. Of course it’s possible that they arrived together and I just didn’t see them both. I’ve never gotten a firm answer on whether or not they travel together or just meet at their chosen breeding location.

Sorry about the video, but I hope you enjoy the few pictures I was able to capture!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

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