Cool Video Clip of an Osprey Dancing

We decided upon an unusual afternoon photoshoot in Eleven Mile Canyon hoping for some osprey pictures before

Osprey Diving on a Fish

Kevin goes on vacation. We arrived at the canyon and decided to go directly to the osprey nest. As we arrived at our vantage point high on the opposite bank it became apparent that the mother osprey was indeed in the nest. Hopefully father osprey wouldn’t be far behind.

Luckily it wasn’t a long wait and we spotted him flying up the canyon. Soon he was soaring and swooping and finally landed on a log on the riverbank, something we’d never seen him do before. As I watched him he was bobbing and weaving like a prize fighter and I decided to catch his antics on video. Soon he dove off the branch and plucked a fish right out of the water. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a shot of the fish, but I hope you enjoy this image of him in full dive.

Osprey in Fishing Mode

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.

Sand Hill Cranes and the Dunes

Well we took a much longer road trip than usual yesterday, all the way over to the Great Sand Dunes and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. The journey started early, with a 3:30 a.m. wake up alarm followed by a sleepy drive over the pass where I met up with Kevin in Divide. We were already heading over Poncha Pass in light snow before the sun even

Sand Hill Cranes

started to rise. One stop for fuel and a gas station cappuccino later we were at our first destination, the wildlife reserve at Monte Vista hoping to spot some sand hill cranes to photograph. We knew we were pushing the limits of the great semi annual migration and the spring flight to the Nebraska Sand Hills, but were still hopeful that we might see a few of the amazing birds lingering behind.

The morning visit yielded a few captures of a small number of the great birds wandering around the refuge but we quickly decided to move on. The plan was to try another refuge located a few miles to the east, near Alamosa called the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge. It was exciting to see the Rio Grande River for the first time, and a beautiful northern harrier, but once again, the visit resulted in limited success.

Northern HarrierOnward to the Great Sand Dunes… It looked like it was going to be a cold dreary day at the dunes as heavy clouds were building over the Sangre de Cristo Range, but really it wasn’t too bad. We hiked a bit in the soft sand but the imposing dunes and the approaching winter weather convinced us that a trip to the summit of the dunes at this time of the day was not in the cards. I did get a few nice pictures of the towering piles of sand and the magnificent

Sangre de Cristo Range though, which I was pretty pumped about 🙂 One thing I learned, even though the wind wasn’t that bad, the fine sand blowing across the surface is not going to be friendly to camera equipment. Next time I’ll bring and old camera and lens with a rain cover over the gear for good measure. And no changing lenses while on the dunes! That fine sand could grind up internal DSLR parts in a hurry!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

From there we decided another visit to the Monte Vista Refuge was in order. We were hoping some more of the birds had completed their daily travels in pursuit of food and had returned to the wetlands. A quick stop at the riverside viewing area proved the decision to be a good one. Several hundred of the gangly birds had gathered near the viewing area in a large bunch and we had a blast photographing them walking and hopping around as they foraged in the rich  grasses along the banks with a magnificent panorama provided by the snow capped San Juan’s in the background.

_MG_0983Eventually the birds began to squawk and hop around while stretching their wings so we believed that a mass take off was imminent, the very event we had been hoping to photograph. Unfortunately the entire flock didn’t take flight at once but we did get some nice pictures of a number of good sized groups leaving the wetlands for their nightly roosting locations in the fields.

At that point it was  getting late and we decided to head for home… but the photo ops were not completely over with, the view of the western slopes of the Sangre with the afternoon sun shining through storm clouds was magnificent! Some of the scenes were so fantastic that photo stops along the roadside were necessary! And that wasn’t the only excitement on the way home… the wildlife began to come out for the evening and we saw deer, buffalo and a huge herd of elk in the Platte River Valley on the high prairie between the front range and the big mountains of the continental divide.

Beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Today finds me sorting through over a thousand images as I identify the best ones for my website and a few for the YouTube video that I have just completed! I hope you enjoy the video and please don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and hit that subscribe button! My channel is finally beginning to grow with all of your help 🙂

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.

Herd of Elk

 

 

Sure Sign of Spring

Red-winged blackbird

A sure sign of spring has arrived at Eleven Mile Canyon. My latest eagle finding adventure was less than successful, but I was happy to see the red-winged blackbirds have returned from their long journey south for the winter. It took a couple of seconds for my mind to identify the new sounds, which were quickly identified as the welcome sound of spring and the call of the red-winged blackbirds that make their home in the plentiful reeds along the South Platte River.

Mother eagle is still dedicated to her task of hatching her new eggs and the deer have also returned to the river bank in the early hours of morning to drink and partake of the tender grass found along the banks of the flowing water. Soon the osprey and other colorful song birds will be returning as well and I am looking forward to a summer of color in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado

Mother Eagle Hatching her Eggs

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!

Deer on the Banks

When Eagles Soar

It was another excellent day with the eagles… My original intent was to just go for a hike on my trail close by, but the second I arrived so did my nemesis with his wildlife chasing dogs. So I jumped back in my truck and took the four wheel drive road to the summit to make sure there wasn’t any wildlife there, and indeed I didn’t miss anything. So I drove back out and decided to head to my backup location and better photo location, Eleven Mile Canyon. It was my hope that I would find wildlife there, especially the eagles. I’m also watching the osprey nest with great anticipation!

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

All in all I would have to say it probably worked out for the best, I had several eagle sightings and some great captures! Plus there was a bonus at the end as I spotted a small herd of mule deer feeding on an island in the river. I stopped to grab a couple of captures and the gentle creatures didn’t seem to mind my presence so I was able to get some fairly closeup images. And much to my surprise the little herd decided to actually cross the icy river… an event that I came close to missing. Fortunately I was able to scramble up the trail a bit and get into position to capture most of the beautiful beasts in the water 🙂

Be sure to check out my video of the day which has the best clips and pictures of the day included. Also please be sure to click the notify, like and subscribe buttons if you enjoy my content and want to help my YouTube channel!

Mule Deer Doe in 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!

This blog post is not sponsored. Any equipment used in the production of this post was purchased by myself on my own volition.

 

 

 

 

Exciting Eagle News

It appears we’ve had an exciting development on the bald eagle watching front! Mama eagle is exhibiting signs of new motherhood! As of yesterday she has begun sitting on the nest indicating there are or soon will be eagle eggs! Watch my new video to witness the new bavior, plus more amazing imagery of the great birds hunting and fishing! Also don’t forget to smack the subscribe and share buttons!!!

Epic Battle in the Sky

Every day I go out I think is more amazing than the day before and today didn’t disappoint! Yesterday I wanted to get some motion  blur images of  the river flowing through the snow in Eleven Mile Canyon but by the time we were done

Icy South Platte River

with photographing the eagles the sun was too high in the sky, and that much contrast is not conducive to that kind of imagery.

So today my plan was to get back to the canyon early and photograph the river before the sun cleared the ridge on the east side, with the hope that I would spot some more bald eagles fishing along the banks of the South Platte. As I neared the entrance to the canyon I cast a quick glance over at the nest to check on the action there. It appeared that the great birds had already left the area so I quickly purchased my pass and entered the recreation area.

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Along the way I stopped a few times to shoot some particularly scenic spots along the river with my 24-105 and nine stop ND filter. I began to watch the treetops more carefully as I neared the bend, which is the eagle’s favorite place for fishing. Bang… sure enough there was a beautiful bald eagle perched high on their favorite dead tree. I pulled over and readied the camera for eagle photography, had to completely reset shutter speeds, apertures, the shutter drive mode and attach the 100-400mm lens and 1.4x converter. I carefully exited the truck, being careful not to startle the huge raptor too much.

I took a few shots of him on the perch even though he was in an inopportune spot with a branch right in the way, just so I could make sure I had my exposure compensation dialed in. There wasn’t much light yet so I was stuck with ISO values that I wasn’t too happy about, but sometimes in wildlife photography early in the morning you just have to deal with it.

Bald and Golden Eagles

After a minute or two the majestic raptor took flight and fortunately I was well prepared for the event. I probably got about half a dozen really nice ones before he soared high into the sky. I was busy tracking his movement hoping to discover where he might be going next, when much to my surprise he circled back towards me! I quickly reset the exposure compensation to +0 and checked my histogram. He soared away and then circled back once again… but this time with a few friends! It was difficult to tell what all kinds of birds had joined in but I’m pretty sure I spotted three bald eagles in the sky along with what I thought was a bald eagle juvi that continues to reside with his family.

However it appeared that the eagles were actually trying to drive away the golden colored one and as I zoomed in with the display I discovered that the odd one was actually the golden eagle that I see occasionally. I knew that guy was big, but until I saw him next to the baldies I had no idea how big! That bird is mammoth! And the group circled several times giving me a chance to include more than one of the great hunters in a single frame! Eventually the epic battle in the sky came to an end and the all the eagles soared away out of range of my camera. Unfortunately the light was on the opposite side so my captures are a bit silhouetted, but I still consider myself fortunate to have seen such a spectacle!

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

It’s difficult to put into words what it was like to see and hear this stunning encounter. This was one of those times when it is all over that I find myself just standing there thanking God for blessing me so. And believe it or not, my day wasn’t over… I had one more excellent sighting of a red-tailed hawk and some great weather photography as our next winter storm rolled in over the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. All I can say is wow… what an epic morning!

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!

Sangre de Cristo Winter Storm

Christmas in the Wilderness

Well I have to say it was a pretty darn good Christmas… Not the traditional kind of course, but a good one out in the woods with the furry and feathered critters. It was really tempting to just stay home and watch Christmas movies, but I guess that’s not how I roll. So I scraped the frost off my windshield and headed over to

Mule Deer in the Pike National Forest

my usual trailhead. Along the way, just as the sun was just barely coming up over the mountains to the east, shining right on a pair of cute doe mule deer peering out at me from the forest over a fence. Thinking these might be the only deer I was going to see all day long, I stopped and snapped a couple of portraits of them as they looked at me with great curiosity.

The hike itself yielded nothing but some good exercise so I decided to move on to Eleven Mile Canyon. On that drive I had the opportunity to jump out and snap a few images of two red-tailed hawks perched on power poles along the highway. The second one took a leisurely flight over my head, allowing for a couple of in flight shots 🙂 By this time I was feeling pretty lucky… Images of red-tails in the bank already and I wasn’t even at my intended destination yet 🙂

Red-tailed hawk in the beautiful blue Colorado sky.

Finally at the canyon, I’m getting a pretty good idea where in the six mile stretch of river it is that the eagles like to do their fishing.  Below the dam is completely frozen over now, so my old standby location for eagle watching is no longer available. About five miles in the river widens out and rounds a bend. So I just drove in slowly with that destination in mind while scanning both sides of the river for deer, American Dippers and raptors perched on branches above open water.

Bald eagle looking for fish in the Platte River below in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

Seeing nothing along the way my search grew more intense as I neared the bend, and then… there he was! Perched majestically on a dead branch above the river he watched the ducks and slowly moving water below. I got out and aimed my long lens at the great bird and watched. He cocked his head left and right and stared intently at the water. Using the hood of my truck to steady the camera I snapped a few of him on the branch before moving in closer along the river bank for a better angle. Eventually the majestic bird looked right at me, signaling that I was getting too close… So I grabbed one more capture and then retreated  back to my truck.

Eventually he took flight, perhaps to find a more successful fishing hole. I drove the rest of  the way to the dam and turned around for the return trip. Just before reaching the bend again I spotted another red-tailed hawk on a tree top. I knew I wasn’t going to have long for this capture so I readied the camera before getting out. And I was right, I got off one maybe two shots and then the handsome hawk was airborne, rising rapidly out of camera range and over the mountains to the east.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

And then I spotted the bald eagle again, perched on another dead tree just a few yards down from where he was before. This time there was no need to leave the truck and I used it for a hide as I steadied the camera on the hood once again. Again he flew after a bit, this time right toward me! And I was ready with camera settings for a bird in flight. I followed him with the view finder, snapping in high speed until my buffer was full.  The pictures looked good on the back screen but it wasn’t going to be until I was home at the computer before I would know for sure!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I decided not to try to follow him again, I already had almost 300 images to sort through! Christmas day was rapidly winding down and I wanted to get home before dark,  so satisfied with my digital Christmas presents I decided it was time to pack it in 🙂

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 the beautiful blue Colorado sky.

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

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

A Frozen World

Sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo Range was exquisite this morning, the golden glow of sunlight reflecting off fresh snow on the 14,000 foot peaks as a new winter storm begins to build in the distance. This was the highlight of my trek to the top of my favorite mountain today. Perhaps the four footed critters sense the approaching weather and have already hunkered down. As I began my descent I noticed that the distant peaks were already becoming obscured by dark clouds, it’s a good thing I got an early start!

Approaching Storm

Unsatisfied with the results of my adventure in the high winter wonderland, my thoughts turned to Eleven Mile Canyon. The clouds were giving me that beautiful soft light that I knew would be perfect for photographing bald eagles. Plus I know it is nearing the mating season and I am hoping that some of the migrating raptors decide on Eleven Mile as a place to hold over before they meet up and journey on.

_MG_2161A quick glance as I entered the park showed no activity at the nest so I decided to drive the entire six miles into the canyon, hoping for eagles especially, maybe even a  golden… but satisfied to see any kind of wildlife stirring in the frozen world that is the Colorado Rocky Mountains! The river at the mouth of the canyon was mostly frozen over, a situation inhospitable to any of my favorite wild creatures! About halfway up, openings in the ice began to appear and it wasn’t long before I spotted a lone American Dipper fishing along water’s edge. Much to my surprise the brave little fellow was actually leaping off his perch on the shoreline to dive under the icy water in search of a meal. It was a challenge to capture him in the air as he dove into the water but I finally managed to get a satisfactory image. I tried to follow him under the water to capture his exit, but that proved to be nearly impossible. The little guys actually swim under the surface for several seconds, changing direction all the while!

Icy South Platte

As I drove up the canyon I noticed that all of my favorite locations looked amazing in the snow and ice, the water even more beautiful than usual. I stopped several times to get out and photograph the amazing scenes using my 25-105mm lens with a circular polarizer attached, which was perfect for shooting the river as it snakes it’s way out of the mountains. I thought about trying some long exposures but it was extremely cold down by the water. I think I’ll wait for my 10 stop ND to arrive in the mail later this week and make another run at it next week with a heavy coat on! I decided this image looks best in black and white… and I also used my own toning method that I have perfected over the years to add a hint of blue to enhance even more, the mood of the bone chilling cold!

Winter Eagles

As I got back in the truck I spotted the faint shadow of a huge bird passing by… It was a bald eagle flying low, up the canyon towards the reservoir. I tried to keep an eye on him as I proceeded up the canyon, but a driving mistake here could be catastrophic! I was in no mood for a swim in the river so I eventually lost track of my intended subject 😦

More and more open water began to appear and the ducks and geese were taking advantage of it for themselves. I hoped that where waterfowl were gathering there would also be eagles in search of fish. My eyes scanned the shoreline and the treetops as I searched for the huge raptors. Finally, a large bird in a tree about 60 yards off the opposite bank. I put my 400mm and 1.4x extension back on and took a look. It was a bald eagle, staring at me from the distance. I snapped a couple using the truck window frame to steady the camera and dialed in the proper exposure compensation, well over a stop against the bright morning sky. Once I had captured the perching scene I looked down to reset my shutter speed to a 1600th of a second in anticipation of a flight. When I looked back up the great bird was no longer on the perch. I leapt out of the truck and looked around frantically for him and eventually

Winter Eagles

spotted him heading right at me! I acquired focus and completely loaded my buffer. A couple seconds later the camera buffer had cleared and the eagle soared past and made a circle just overhead. I felt so blessed to have witnessed such a tremendous flight 🙂

Eventually he flew around a rock outcropping and steered toward the east end of the reservoir, an uninhabited area of the lake where I have long believed the raptors go to spend their days. As I made my way back down the canyon I spotted the second eagle of our nesting pair, high in a tree on top of the mountains, motionless as if frozen as surely as the river they depend on for sustenance. I captured a couple more images even though I knew she was too far off for a usable picture, I can’t help myself.. a bald eagle!

My day wasn’t done though… as I drove along another large raptor flew past on his way down the canyon. I tried to follow what appeared to be some sort of white hawk, but he never stopped and I didn’tget a chance to get out the camera. A couple more scenery pictures of the frozen river and I decided to call it a day, and what a day it was in the frozen world of the Colorado Rocky Mountain winter.

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!

American Dipper on an Icy Perch