Brave Little Pack

Had an awesome little trek this morning… Got to the trailhead acceptably early so I was hopeful that I would be in time for a successful wildlife encounter. Put the camera on ISO 400 and selected only the center focus point, my preferred setting for precise focusing on the animals eye, and strapped the camera over my back with the big lens attached. Off we went up the trail… me and the big dog. As we cleared the summit I spotted some movement in the shade and readied the camera, ready for the herd of deer to present itself. Lol… well it was a herd all right, not deer but wild turkeys! By the time I readjusted my composition the little buggers had already scampered into the dense forest 😦 Oh well… all I could see was there little heads above the thick mountain grass anyway.

Small Pack of Coyotes

Onward and upward… soon we had traversed the mountain and were on our way back down when I heard the bark of a dog followed by a couple more barks. I assumed the barking was coming from the parking lot far below until I heard a chorus of howls to go with the racket. It was my little pack of coyotes thatΒ  I had photographed in the spring just as they were in the process of beginning their new lives πŸ™‚ It took a bit but I was finally able to spot them in a thicket of trees, by now all joining in on the beautiful wilderness song. I had to smile though, they are bigger now but their squeaky voices are still small πŸ™‚ I think their original plan was to hold their position in the thicket and stand their ground but after seeing the massive size of Big Dog they soon lost their nerve and took off for a more distant position from which to make their presence known.

Even with the big 400mm lens attached, the animals were too far away for a salable

Small Pack of Coyotes

capture… but I at least got these to record the amazing encounter with these distant shots πŸ™‚ Already though on my Instagram account… a comment to jolt me back to this present reality, something about an AR-15 which I of course immediately deleted. Some people, all they can think of when they see an animal is how they can kill it. These little predators are not hurting anyone and they deserve to live in peace, performing their intended task ofΒ  keeping the rodent population down. It’s no wonder there are so many mass shootings in these times, we live in a culture of death which will only worsen until people are taught from an early age to value all life, starting with an appreciation for these beautiful wild creatures.

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Mount Evans Excursion

Finally had a day off that coincided with my buddy Kevin’s day off so we took advantage and made an excursion to the Mount Evans, Colorado summit via famed Mount Evans Road, the highest paved road in the country.Β  It was a great day for it too! Last time I went the clouds rolled in way too early and about the time I was ready to get my best pictures it got really dark and started to rain. We had some clouds this time but the light remained satisfactory for photography throughout the whole day πŸ™‚

One Horned Bighorn Sheep

We were encouraged that it was going to be a good day as we saw a few mountain goats and bighorn sheep on the steep curvy drive to the summit, but none with a place we could pull off the narrow road for pictures. No matter, goal number one was to reach the summit before the expected thunderstorms moved in. Lightning on a mountain summit is nothing to mess with! First order of business once we found a parking place was to take the quarter mile hike on the rocky trail to the actual summit and locate the geological survey marker! I’m pretty sure you have to touch it or the entire journey fails to be recorded in the big box in the sky πŸ™‚

 

On our way up the trail there was a guy admiring the scenery who told us that on this particular day there was a good view of Mount Holy Cross in the distance. I have read about it, some of my friends have hiked the mountain and some have climbed it… but I had never seen it with my own eyes. I aimed my camera in the direction he indicated but didn’t see

Mount Holy Cross

anything… we were determined to reach the summit so I just snapped a picture thinking that I would look for it in Photoshop later. Finally on the way back down I looked again through the long lens and saw what I thought must be the legendary cross. Today I compared my image to the ones on the forest service site and I am reasonably certain that I have captured a good view of it in this image. That blackish pile of rocks on the left is Mount Bierstadt, a 14er upon which I triumphantly stood only four short years ago! You can see the cross in the background near the middle of the image, snow filled cracks in the great mountain that give the appearance of a cross. According to History.com, “William Henry Jackson became the first person to photograph Colorado’s elusive Mount of the Holy Cross, providing reliable proof of its existence.”. Also, according to Summitpost.org, “The first reported and official sighting of the cross occurred on August 29th, 1869 when the second in command of the Whitney (A Harvard Man) expedition, a Mr. William Brewer (then a Yale professor) reported seeing a far-off cross. As the expedition was returning to Denver, the group decided to ride their horses to the local mountain of Grays Peak. While atop, Brewer wrote that, “The Mount of the Holy Cross was forty miles away, with its’ cross of pure white, a mile high, suspended aginst its side.” “.

As usual on the summit at least one set of people saw our cameras and asked us to do their portraits… with their camera of course. Given our camera equipment they said it looked like we knew what we were doing! I replied, well either that or I just spent a lot of money trying to look like I know what I’m doing πŸ™‚ Anyway I snapped a few shots for them with the magnificent Rocky Mountains in the background.

After a short stay at the summit we headed down to the visitor area where the bighorns and mountain goats were hanging out. The main goal of the day was to get some good

Baby Mountain Goat on Mount Evans Summit

captures of the wildlife, and hopefully some of the way too cute baby ones. After only a couple of minutes a mama and goat kid were located, unafraid of the people and willing to pose for a few pictures πŸ™‚ There were also some adult goats making their way around the boulder pile that made for some good captures too.

 

Finally we felt we had captured the scene adequately and began the drive back down. I was hoping we would see some larger herds feeding on the alpine tundra with a nice view of the amazing peaks surrounding Mount Evans and we weren’t disappointed! It wasn’t long before we encountered the unusual scene of mountain goats and bighorn sheep traveling in the same group! Pretty scraggly looking they were at this time of year when they are shedding their winter coats, but still a sight to behold! There was also a small mountain goat family making their way across the tundra, the little ones putting on a good show for the onlookers πŸ™‚

Eventually they ambled off and we decided to head for home. 350 images I captured yesterday, going to take a while to get all the good ones processed! In the meantime I have a couple uploaded to my website, ready for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas or traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift items, handy household items, tech gadgets like phone cases and batteries and much more!

Baby Mountain Goat in Wildflowers

 

Good Hunting

Coyote on the Hunt

Up late last night so today’s trek got off to a late start. I was quite surprised to see this healthy looking coyote doing his part in the heat of the mid morning sun to keep the prairie dog population under control. I wasn’t very close but my big 400mm Canon brought him in well enough to get a decent image. I wanted to take the time to attach my 1.4x but he was on the move so I figured I had better get while the getting was good! Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I was noticed and the little prairie wolf was putting distance between us in a hurry!

Elk on the Run

Sangre de Cristo Sunset

Not a huge morning for photography… But it was a fabulous morning for a hike with the big dog. I chose to tackle the high ridge again today because I know there is a herd of buck mule deer up there that have been eluding me for some time now. Unfortunately, today was no different. I was looking hard for the animals when we cleared the top of the ridge but didn’t see any sign that the beasties where there today. All of a sudden from behind a grove of trees I saw the backs of the deer as they high tailed it for the safety of the dense woods with no chance whatsoever of a picture.

It was a beautiful sunrise though, the distant mountains were obscured a bit by smokeMountain Wildflowers and haze but the effect on the nearer mountains created a nice effect. There was also a good crop of wildflowers blooming everywhere, probably what is tempting the mule deer herd so.

Finally as we neared the end ofΒ  our trek I noticed a herd of elk in the distance. I had hoped that they would stop and look at me, but they were definitely in a hurry to go somewhere! Seems every time I see elk these days they are on the run. I thought I was being quite stealthy and I don’t think they knew we were there but they were in a hurry

Elk Running in the Colorado High Country

anyway. I suppose they feel quite nervous out in the open and they were just trying to get to the safety of the wilderness as quickly as possible! I did get this shot of three of them going the other way and I’m thinking it has a good chance of being successful in the stock photograph world!

Perhaps I will outsmart the deer tomorrow… in the meantime I’m going to get a good meal in my belly!

Summer Doe

Cute Doe Mule DeerNot finding much wildlife these days, the sun comes up so early and it is already hot by 8:00 a.m. By this time most of the wildlife has retreated to the cool of the dense forest… and out of view for this photographer! There was one doe today, pausing to enjoy the lush mountain grass which has grown tall and green from all of the rain and snow we’ve had this year. She cast a wary eye in our direction but continued to feed between furtive glances. Each time I waited for her to look up before snapping a picture… pictures of an animal with it’s head in the grass make for a pretty boring subject. I was hoping a few more of the beautiful wildflowers would show brightly, but it is what it is.

Cute Doe Mule Deer

Beautiful Morning in the High Country

Deer in the Rockies

I have to say, it was a spectacular morning in the high country of Colorado today. Sun shining, not too hot, nice breeze πŸ™‚ And the wildlife seemed to like it too, there were quite a few out feeding on the nice green mountain grass… thanks to all the rain we have been getting lately. I think I have heard somewhere recently that they have declared the drought “over” πŸ™‚

Saw a beautiful buck up by the mines but he saw us first and vanished without a trace, with no chance at all for a picture 😦 Also saw this young buck and a doe mule deer that weren’t quite as skittish and then a rare treat with a couple of elk. The elk were on the move so this was the best shot I could get of them traveling in the other direction. At first I thought it was just a couple of cows but now on the computer I can see the lead animal is a big bull elk. Looks like his antlers are coming along nicely for the fall rut… only a couple of months

Deer in the Rockies

away!

The elk were too distant for a print so I haven’t uploaded that one to my website, but the deer can be found in the wildlife gallery as wall art on metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

Elk Running in the Colorado High Country

Beautiful Colorado Mountain Buck Deer

Interesting hike this morning… as we passed over the summit of the little mountain I could hear the livestock bellowing. As they came into view I discovered that it wasn’t just the cows talking, there was a bull as well, none to happy to see me and the big dog. I expect he was just warning his herd of the possibility of danger but I was not in the mood for a confrontation with a big bull so we just turned back around the other side of the mountain about a quarter mile short of the normal turnaround.Β  SoonΒ  the bull and his harem settled down and we were safely on our way back down the mountain.

Beautiful Buck Deer Sprouting Antlers

It wasn’t long before Big Dog was sniffing the air and dancing… like he does when he has detected a wild animal in the distance. You never know whether the animal might still be around or if he has just left behind a scent for the dog to smell,Β  so I got my camera ready in case of a deer or elk sighting. Soon I spotted him, this beautiful buck mule deer back in the trees at the edge of a nice field of grass and wildflowers. He was already well aware of our presence as well so I knew I wasn’t going to get any closer. I snapped a couple against the rising sun that I knew weren’t optimal shots but I wanted to make sure I at least had a rough record of the sighting. What I was hoping for though was that we might be able to ease around the mountainside to the east so that I could get better lighting on his face and today fate was kind. He didn’t move and just kept staring at us to see what our intentions might be.

Fortunately I was able to make a few captures with him standing perfectly still in the sun for me so that I would have something to upload to stock and this blog post πŸ™‚ Due to the nice soft early morning light I selected ISO 400 in hopes of a fast enough shutter speed to get this hand held image with my big 400mm lens. As I take a close look here on the big computer screen it appears as though I earned my money today πŸ™‚ You can see he is well on his way to a huge rack of antlers for the coming rut. You can even see the velvet still covering the new growth if you look closely πŸ™‚