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

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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!

A Black and White Winter

Finally completed a project I’ve been wanting to do for some time now… Shooting Eleven Mile Canyon on a frosty winter morning with black and white film in my old Canon AE-1. I almost waited too late though, we’ve had a warm stretch and a lot of the ice on the Platte River has melted along with most of the snow along the banks.

Icy South Platte River

But, we finally got a good snow and some zero degree weather yesterday and I decided now or never, at least for this season. So I loaded up a roll of Ilford ISO 400 film and ventured out to the canyon. 100 speed film would have been the better choice but I don’t happen to have any of that. I packed up the camera plus my old Canon 70D to shoot some video with and of course my 90D with the 100-400 and the 1.4x tele in case I spotted any eagles. I also brought along my old Sekonic incident meter so that I could use the old camera on manual without having to worry about the bright snow messing up my exposures.

Icy South Platte River

It occurred to me to check the old incident meter against my 70D to see if they agree, so I set the digital camera to the same values as the meter called for and took a couple of test shots. As it turns out the old meter and the 70D agree exactly on the parameters for exposure so I realized I could actually get some duplicate shots with the 70D while at the same time using it as a meter for the film camera. This of course gave me another idea for a blog post, a side by side comparison between film and digital images. When I got back home to the computer I converted some of the images from digital to black and white so when I get the film and prints back I will compare them in another post.

I was done with all the pictures and video about the time it started to warm up and melt the snow and felt that it had been a pretty good day. I decided to go on over to Woodland Park before it started snowing again and I was greeted by quite a show on Pikes Peak as the next storm was making it’s way on the scene. I had a few exposures left on my roll of 36 so I added a few cool black and white shots of the peak to my day as well.

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

We have another winter storm rolling in tomorrow night so perhaps I’ll use up the film in the snow on Thursday morning. I’ve also been wanting to try black and white film out on the old gold mining ruins on a snowy day so maybe I can kill two birds with one stone by shooting the Cripple Creek / Victor mining district in monochrome.

Speaking of birds.. When the sun finally came out and warmed the river banks a small flock of mountain chickadees came to visit. I tried my best to photograph them while they were happily singing and bouncing around… looks like I may have gotten one good picture anyway 🙂

Mountain Chickadee

I’m still working on the video for this post, as it turns out after upgrading to Windows 11 and installing a new video card my old video creating software no longer functions. I’m already paying $30 a month for my Adobe products, the Photoshop package plus inDesign, so for just $20 more I can have the entire suite of publishing products including Premiere Pro and After Effects. Unfortunately those aren’t simple to learn packages so the video is being delayed a bit while I get up to speed.

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!

Signs of Spring

My day started out with the unpleasant task of having to drive down to the city to renew my drivers license for the umpteenth time. I can’t believe how fast the last five years have gone by. I had just gotten a new license prior to moving to Cripple Creek so I had only had my license for a few months before the address was incorrect. All these years I have meant to get back down there to get the address change completed and now suddenly five years is gone and I never got it done. Fortunately the process went smoothly and my new license with the correct address will soon be in the mail.

Storm on the Peak

I used to go to Colorado Springs all the time with my wife shopping and looking for antiques so I sat in my truck and wondered what nostalgic thing I might be able to do while I was there. But as I sat and wondered I realized that all those years I was going there just for her. None of the places we used to go had any interest at all for me. There was a pet store nearby so I grabbed some pet food and just headed back up the mountain.

On my way up the pass I could see weather moving in on the great peak so I hoped I might have an opportunity to shoot my millionth picture of the mountain enshrouded in fog and snow. As I passed through Woodland Park I realized there was one thing that I might like to do, I used to love to go to the Donut Mill first thing in the morning and sit at the end table where I could drink coffee and stare out at the peak while trying to get my brain going. It was at that very table a decade ago that my idea for a wildlife and nature themed blog and website was hatched. That’s something, ten years of blogging, launched from that very chair. So once again I sat and pondered life with a cup of coffee and a massive maple frosted doughnut.

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

After that I needed to go pick up some puppy meds near the Eleven Mile Canyon and decided upon at least one trip to the southern dam and back. Afternoon isn’t the best time for photographing wildlife in the canyon but anytime I get within a few miles it seems a shame to pass up the chance to get some pictures. So as it turns out I didn’t see any eagles or hawks but I did see welcome signs of spring. As I passed the lake and the calm section of the river I noticed the tell tale sign of ice melt by the darker blue ice in the middle of the channel. The lake is still frozen solid but in a month that ice too will be getting thin and the ice fishermen will be pulling their fishing huts off the ice and  back to their summer homes.

Pair of American Dippers

The lower rapids that were totally frozen over a couple of weeks ago now have an open channel through the middle and most of the rest of the river is now mostly open water. A few very happy American dippers were singing and playing along the river bank. I hoped to see them fishing but they were just singing and playing while making their way downstream. They were successfully evading all my attempts to photograph them until this moment when I was fortunate to catch them together in an image before they vanished.

The osprey should already be well along in their perilous 4,000 mile journey back to the canyon from their winter home in South America and I’m very much looking forward to that. I have to say, photographing osprey might just be my favorite photographic activity. They seem to have a lot of personality and are fairly tolerant of photographers… and other people too. In my home town they built an osprey platform right in the middle of the baseball fields and a pair of osprey were willing to put up with all the activity and build a nest in the midst of the humans. Last year our osprey arrived on the last day of March.

 

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!

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

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 🙂 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

Vaya Con Dios my Feathered Friends

A cold quiet sunrise greeted me at Eleven Mile Canyon. One of  my favorite places for wildlife photography was formerly teeming with life through spring and summer but on this crisp autumn morning the river was silent. There were no herds of deer gathering in the clearing on the opposite bank of the South Platte River, no beaver hard at work in the reeds and no birds chirping. The only sound was that of the gurgling river on it’s journey through the Rocky Mountains and across Nebraska to join the Mighty Missouri.

Sunrise on the South Platte River

As the sun arose to greet the icy pristine water,  plumes of steam swirled around and combined with the fog forming from above. It was a beautiful tranquil scene, a fitting greeting to the changing seasons, autumn and the relentless approach of the Rocky Mountain Winter. As the morning sunlight conquered the darkness a lone bald eagle greeted me from far above, intently watching over the scene from her perch in the treetops.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eventually I decided to venture deeper into the canyon hoping for signs of life along the roaring whitewater, or perhaps near the placid pool above that.  Only the sound of the rushing water greeted me as I strode past the home of the peregrine falcons, perhaps they have already embarked upon their annual southward migration.

As I neared the osprey nest the incessant chirping of the juvenile osprey was conspicuously absent, the nest high above cold and empty. The two young raptors had been spending a lot of time watching over shallow waters in a meadow upstream so I just American Dipper  in Eleven Mile Canyonkept walking, hoping for one more chance to photograph the majestic creatures.

Finally, a lone American dipper greeted me at the prime fishing spot… Hopping around on the rocks, occasionally jumping into the ice cold water in search of sustenance. I whiled away the time observing the shenanigans of the energetic little bird, trying over and over for the perfect capture as I awaited the return of the osprey.

Osprey Soaring and Fishing

I repeated scanned the valley above and  below for the osprey hoping to see their triumphant return from a fishing trip, prey firmly in the grasp of  their mighty talons. But the moment did not come, the treetops remained silent,  the river in sole possession of the tiny birds of autumn. It appears that the cold snowy weather that enveloped Colorado earlier in the week has convinced them that it was time to begin their odyssey southward to the warm waters of Central America where they will spend two to three years maturing and gaining in strength and skill before once again venturing north in search of a mate and suitable breeding ground.

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

Vaya Con Dios my beautiful feathered friends, may He watch over you and keep you safe in your travels. I look forward to your return to this magnificent canyon someday.

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

Picture of the Day

Snowy Sangre de Cristo

While hiking the mountain on this cold gloomy morning I was inspired to try a new Facebook and LinkedIn advertising campaign, Picture of the Day. The campaign will be focused on my “Artist Choice” collection of images where I have placed my favorite pictures of all time 🙂 There are of course collections for every category of images I frequently shoot, for example wildlife, autumn and the Rocky Mountain Winter collections. So, each day I will be placing a link to the picture of the day on each of my social media sites! Hope you will stop in for a look, a like and a follow 🙂

As always, the best of these images 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!

Hiking Ann-Marie Falls Colorado

wp-15909461786523841634482648751622.jpgThe most difficult part of hiking the beautiful Anne-Marie Falls Trail on Pikes Peak Colorado may be finding it in the first place! I have long wanted to experience this trail and finally today I was able to fulfill that wish 🙂 Today is a Sunday so photo buddy Kevin and I met at 7:00 a.m. so we could beat the weekend crowds sure to gather on the Colorado Front Range Trails. Even after diligently studying the trail maps we weren’t too sure of the exact location of the trailhead so I loaded the trail into my Alltrails app and turned on the direction finder. We journeyed down the four mile dirt road on the west side of the peak marked as the turnoff to the

Beaver Ponds on the Anne-Marie Trail

famous Crags Trail. As we passed a blocked gate on the road about a mile past the Crags Trail parking lot, the magic electronic GPS finder announced the trail on the left which didn’t jive with the narrative so we just kept driving.

Finally at the end of the Crags road there was a small parking lot and a well marked trailhead with a large map on a sign. We donned our backpacks loaded with camera gear and headed down the trail. The first mile or so was a pretty tough ascent on well maintained trail, but with a couple of breaks and a little Gatorade the climb wasn’t too difficult. The beautiful trail wound it’s way through majestic old pine forest amidst birds chirping happily from the tall pines overhead.

Wilson's Warbler

Finally we began a long descent which culminated in a clearing featuring a picturesque beaver pond which of course we had to check out extensively! We walked most of the way around, occasionally having to take some care not to sink too deeply in the marsh surrounding the pond 🙂 After capturing the scenery with our wide angle lenses and shooting a couple portraits we came across a colorful cheery Wilson’s Warbler that flitted around us striking all manner of nice poses for a photographer to appreciate 🙂

Eventually we decided to continue on in search of the falls, for which we had not seen a single directional sign. We walked back to the trail where we debated returning the way we came,  continuing on or exploring a totally unmarked poorly maintained trail leading towards the southwest and

Wilson's Warbler

Sentinel Point in the distance. It was here that my practice of recording the hikes onto my Alltrails profile proved to be quite advantageous! A quick check of my phone screen revealed our location at the beaver pond and a stretch of unfinished trail leading in the direction of the faint trail along the creek flowing out of the south end of the placid water of the dammed pond.

We opted to continue down in search of the falls where soon we heard the babbling of rushing water.  With some indication of success, we were inspired to continue in the direction of the encouraging sound where before long we found the tiniest of waterfalls. Perhaps during the snow melt this might be an impressive falls but in the early summer it is just the pleasant trickle of a beautiful pristine mountain stream. Here I snapped a few pictures of the falls and the tranquil calm spot at the base of the diminutive waterfall.

Anne-Marie Falls

After a nice break we headed back up the trail to the junction where the GPS indicated the possibility of a loop that might cut some distance and a long climb up the steep ridge! We began walking up the alternate route where I checked our location occasionally and indeed we did find ourselves successfully closing in on our final destination without having to climb the ridge again! Eventually we found ourselves on Forest Road 383 which ended at a blocked gate, the place where the direction finder first indicated a trailhead about a half mile down from the parking lot and the main trail marker.

Speaking of GPS, I highly recommend hikers on obscure trails in the Pike National Forest have some kind of direction finder. There are unmarked trails and jeep roads going everywhere and without some high tech assistance it would be quite easy to head off in the wrong direction and turn a beautiful day into a trying experience.

As always, these pictures and 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 tech gifts are also available including the newly added Covid masks! You can also purchase apparel, coffee mugs, battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and pillows and much more!

Anne-Marie Falls

 

The Perfect Rig

Photography Rig by the Pristine Waters of the South Platte River

I’ve been working for some time now to assemble the perfect rig for gaining access to the back country for landscape and wildlife photography. I don’t know whether it’s really the perfect rig or not, but it suits me perfectly and I was dying to try it all out together! I wanted the Tamrac Anvil 23 for it’s size and rugged construction, big and deep enough for all my gear and including a camera with battery grip and long lens. It also has straps on the center back strong enough to carry a heavy duty tripod comfortably. Then of course a carbon fiber tripod with a good video head, I decided upon the Manfrotto 502A for it’s rugged build plus it’s capability to operate effectively in the harsh Colorado winter. And of course the bike, which luckily I was able to find pre-owned and in like new condition, a Nishika Colorado 21 speed mountain bike with shock absorbers on the front forks 🙂

My idea was that Waterton Canyon was going to be considerably warmer and the best

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

place to try it all out! However the weatherman was forecasting a cold gloomy morning and I was pretty sure that the sheep were not going to come down 😦 I felt kind of guilty driving 100 miles just to go on a bike ride so I was going to back out, but I called my favorite camera store Englewood Camera, and they just happened to have a good deal on a 4 stop ND filter that I’ve been wanting so I thought what the heck… I’ll stop in at the camera store and maybe I’ll even be able to try it out on my favorite part of the river. Years ago back in the film days I had captured a great image of the river and I’ve tried repeatedly through the years without success to duplicate it with the awesome new technology at our disposal these days so that I could have it for sale on my stock portfolio!

It was still cold and gloomy in the canyon by the time I got there at about 10:00 a.m. so I bundled up and hoped for the best. Indeed I did not see a single bighorn sheep in my entire ride to the top of the dirt road. Modifications I

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

had recently made to my bike, including seat, hand grips and pedals proved worth the investment as I rode hard all the way to the turnaround without having to dismount a single time 🙂 On the way up I identified the very spot that I captured my favorite image so many years ago and on the way back down I stopped there for pictures and video. The other time was autumn so I knew I would not have the beautiful colors, but I have always wanted to try the image in winter as well. I spent a good amount of time there using wide angle and long lenses, the polarizer and a plain skylight filter. The water wasn’t flowing sufficiently to need the new ND, but I’ll try that out over at Eleven Mile pretty soon.

All in all I think I am satisfied with my winter images and I got a great workout on my mountain bike in the fresh mountain air of the Pike National Forest. As always these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and traditional matting and framing! Also I have no sponsorship or compensation of any kind from any of these products. I have purchased them with my own funds because I found them most suitable to my needs.

Dumb Mistake

Whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon on the South Platte River

Me and the big dog went out again this morning in search of the beautiful buck mule deer that we’ve been seeing on the trail… We didn’t see the bucks but there was a nice looking elk cow meandering across the meadow that was visible when we reached the summit of our little mountain. My camera was ready to go… or so I thought, so I zoomed in and snapped the shutter. The usual satisfying mirror slap and shutter click sounded a bit off but I paid it no mind and captured a few more before she disappeared into the dense wilderness of the Pike National Forest.

Eventually our trek was complete and we found ourselves back at the parking lot where Whitewater on the South Plattte in Eleven Mile CanyonI gave Big Dog his drink and loaded ourselves back in the vehicle. As usual I made a quick check on the LCD screen of the day’s captures… First picture I looked at didn’t look too good, out of focus maybe? I always refocus a few times to make sure I get the shot so I checked another hoping to find at least one usable picture… no such luck, I stupidly didn’t check the mode wheel on the top of the camera and it was still set to Aperture Priority, which was still set for a long exposure of the river a couple of days before. Absolutely no chance of getting a sharp image of a moving elk at dawn with a 30th of a second shutter speed 😦 Nothing else to do but hit the reformat button on the memory chip and vow to do better next time.

That means I have nothing to work on today except the trip to Eleven Mile Canyon earlier this week. No wildlife to share today, but I do have a few more of the South Platte River whitewater for this blog!

As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Cool gift items, apparel and handy tech gadgets are also available… just click an image to see the options!

Whitewater in the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon