Expedition to Rocky Mountain National Park

Just got back from this year’s expedition to Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday. Every trip to the park is glorious but some are better than others, and this year was a great one! For starters I finally figured out how to navigate the timed reservation process so we got access to the entire park all day everyday, and even a campsite in Moraine Meadows Campground overlooking the meadow and the elk herds!

We arrived too late on the first day to get any shooting done, and had to sign in on the register at the ranger station close to the entrance to the grounds. We quickly located our site and put up the tent to the sound of many bulls bugling out their message to the herds and especially the other bulls! I couldn’t wait for morning light so we could get down the hill and have a look at the action!

ELk Herd

The first morning was crazy… There were bulls and cows running everywhere, galloping in circles and every which direction. I’m not sure why the bulls were in such a hurry to get the herd up into the trees that morning, but they were. It was difficult  to get good shots with so much motion but I did my best to watch carefully and shoot as much as possible! The shooting was over with as quickly as it started and we decided to drive over Trail Ridge Road to see the high elevation scenery and see if maybe there might be a moose to photograph on the west side of the park. Just for the heck of it I shot some phone video out the window as we ascended above tree line We had no luck with moose, but a trip over the high mountains is always a treat! The evening session with the elk was pretty good, we moved around quite a bit and took in some herds that we don’t always see, particularly the Beaver Meadows animals.

Elk Herd

It was the second morning that made the trip though! I was listening to the bugling while having my morning coffee and I could tell all the action was on the west end of Moraine Park, so just before first light we went directly over there and got a parking spot before the crowds arrived. We could hear animals in the distance so we packed up whatever gear we needed and hiked the Cub Lake Trail back into the meadow. I got some nice backlit shots there as the animals moved north toward the hills and the cover of pine trees. But they weren’t in as big a hurry as the day before and stopped to linger near the headwaters of the Big Thompson River. It was awesome, but bulls and the cows both made a few crossings, splashing and drinking the clear mountain water as we shot to our hearts content. By the end of the morning I had added another thousand captures to my haul for the trip!

Thursday was the Estes Park Farmers Market and we had good intel from the year before that the tamales are excellent, so we made it a point to hang around town for that. Indeed the Tamale Guy was there again with his tamale truck and we loaded up on chicken and pork tamales 🙂 With a full belly it seemed like an afternoon nap would be a good idea, and then it was time for another evening session with the elk! We had a couple of rain delays on Thursday evening, but still acquired a good number of captures. However it was obvious the weather was changing and a quick check of the weather revealed that Friday’s photography was going to be cut short as a major weather system moved in over the peaks.

Approaching Storm

We managed to get the tent packed just as the first raindrops started to fall, but decided to make one more lap through the park to see if there might be some shots through the rain out the car window. It sprinkled a bit here and there but the approaching storm over the high peaks of the park was amazing looking. I had to stop quite a few times for shots of the peaks as the clouds rolled in!

It seemed like a good omen and a fitting farewell to the park when a coyote took a break from hunting to pose for us and stare for a while! He was sneaking stealthily through the mountain grass and it didn’t seem we would be able to get a good shot of him, but just before he disappeared into the woods he raised up so we could see him and gave us the perfect opportunity!

Anyway, here’s a few more of my favorites from the trip, hope you enjoy them!

 

 

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt
 

Pre-Trip Adrenalin

It’s almost time… our annual pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park to see the elk rut. Actually it kicked in last night, that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach that won’t let you sleep. I hate that feeling, the uncertainty, the wondering if everything is ready, if I have forgotten something. I finally managed to fall asleep but I was already awake again at 3:00 this morning 😦

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

I did catch a break though while I was drinking my coffee and watching wildlife videos on YouTube. I was kind of half asleep watching a video on setting up the Canon R7 for wildlife, one which I had already watched before, when I heard a tidbit that I had never noticed… The “Wild Alaska” guy said on the main AF settings he leaves “tracking set to off, that way you can turn it on and off with a button. If you set it to on it is always on.”. Now I had noticed that tracking wasn’t behaving properly, I programmed the exposure lock button to turn on and off tracking but it seemed tracking was always immediately coming right back on and disrupting my focus point selection. Well I did what he said and switched the main tracking setting to off and now my programmed button works the way I want it to. That’s an important setting for me because it is quite often that I need to have a very precise focus point to aim through branches or grass to grab right onto the animal. Also important when you set animal tracking to off, go ahead and leave animal eye focus turned on.

The second minor issue I got ironed out this morning while setting that up is that the lock button also locks in a focus point. I couldn’t get the joy stick to change the location of my points and finally determined that on my last photo outing I had used the lock button to lock down the exposure. I didn’t realize it also locked up the focus points, so that and the tracking issue were awesome things to get ironed out BEFORE the trip!

So it turned out that last year’s trip was a bit to early in the month and we missed peak rut season, but despite that I got some great video of the elk herd in action and one of my favorite elk pictures (above) of all time! Click here to see the full video on my YouTube channel!

Well anyway, I hope to be able to post some phone videos to my channel throughout the trip so stay tuned!

Video of Bull Moose

Hope you enjoy my newest video of a bull moose feeding in the beaver ponds at Jefferson Lake Colorado!

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

The Trees are Silent

A week ago I saw an estimate that over one billion birds were in Colorado on the way to their winter shelters. The trees on top of my mountain were filled with bird song and I could see thousands of them of every variety, blue, yellow, gray and probably many others that my eye wasn’t fast enough to notice.

Mountain Bluebird

But yesterday the trees were silent. There were a few hardy winter birds preparing for the harsh Rocky Mountain Winter and a few mountain bluebirds hiding in the thick mountain grass. But for the most part the trees and the hills were quiet.

It won’t be long now and the leaves will be changing and snowflakes starting to fall on the peaks of the high country. I’m always sad to see summer go but in all honesty summer is the most difficult time for my photography. The mountains are constantly hidden by smoke and the animals are scattered over thousands of acres of wilderness. In the winter they gather in large numbers to the lower meadows and clearings where I can find and photograph them more easily. The deep Colorado snow extinguishes the fires and the bitter cold air can’t hold moisture like the heavy air of summer. The distant mountains are crystal clear and the sky is often filled with dramatic storm clouds drifting over the peaks. Winter is when I capture my best imagery.

But for today, it is the bluebirds that made themselves available to my lens. Hope you enjoy!

 

 

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt
 
 

Miracle in the Morning

Foggy Eleven Mile

There’s only one word I can think of to describe yesterday’s photo trip… and that is “Stunning!”. The journey was underway before the first rays of sun began to warm the mountainsides so my first goal was to just not hit an elk or deer with my truck before sunrise. As I pulled into the meeting place at Eleven Mile Canyon a few golden rays of sunshine revealed a layer of fog that had settled in over the cool early autumn morning. I was prepared for wildlife photography, but the beauty of the canyon in the morning forced me to dig into my camera bag for my 18-150mm landscape lens for a few shots of the scene unfolding before me!

Soon Kevin arrived and our trip was underway. The plan was to drive straight to Jefferson Lake about an hour’s ride to the north, to look for moose. Many times we have made the trip in vain, only once have we ever seen a moose. On a dreary rainy afternoon a couple years ago we saw one cow moose with her two calves under the darkness of the pine canopy, but we had never seen the great beasts feeding in the beauty of the shimmering beaver ponds in the soft golden glow of early morning light.

Foggy Elk Herd

The trip was barely underway however when I spotted movement in the dense fog. A closer look revealed a herd of elk in an open meadow. It looked to be three big bulls with around 20 cows. We were careful not to scare them into jumping the fence, something our Rocky Mountain elk don’t seem to be very adept at doing. The bulls knew better than to let the herd run out onto the highway, quickly rounding up the group and moving them east toward the safety of the forest and away from the threat of humans. Eventually the majestic animals settled down and we had the opportunity to shoot away for a while, until the scene was adequately captured

Bald Eagle

A few more miles down the road and a giant bird was spotted in a tree along Highway 77, otherwise known as Tarryall Road. The majestic bird didn’t quite look like the usual red-tailed hawks that usually line the roadway and closer inspection revealed an amazing bald eagle. We carefully exited the car, hoping to capture a few images before the great bird took flight. However as it turns out, the eagle had no interest in vacating his perch, especially not for a couple of photographers consigned to the other side of the barbed wire fence. So we photographed and waited, moved around and waited… until it became apparent that the big raptor was not going to fly. With the hope of moose still before us, the decision was made to abandon the position and head for the beaver ponds.

Pair of Moose

Soon we were rumbling down the rough dirt road leading to the beaver ponds just hoping for a miracle. As we drew near I spotted a huge black figure moving in the mist and the foliage… A moose, and a big bull at that! We found a  good place to pull over and prepared for a few fleeting moments with a bull moose, an amazing event indeed! Much to our surprise the great beast wasn’t too impressed with us and continued his morning feeding only a few yards in front of us. Eventually I was confident that I had some good captures but soon another huge bull came into view… Would it be possible to capture two bulls in the same image, the answer soon came as both animals stepped into the shimmering waters of the beaver ponds with beautiful autumn foliage behind them. The huge beasts slowly made their way across the pond, allowing every possible angle and lighting opportunity. Before it was over I had over 1,000 captures of the powerful and elusive animals logged onto my memory card! It was only 9:30 in the morning and we already achieved  more than we could have possibly dreamed for!

Red-tail Hawk

The only question then was, do we just call it a day or keep pressing for more? The light was still good enough for some hawk pictures so we went back a couple of miles down Tarryall Road again where we knew the red-tailed hawks would be lining the road from their vantage points high on power poles. I was hoping for a capture of a hawk with the beautiful peaks of the Mosquito Range behind them and it wasn’t long before I had accomplished that goal as well! Although it wasn’t until I had brought them up on the desktop computer at home that I was able to see the extent of that success! I didn’t know it out in the field but I had captured exactly the image I was hoping for!

From there it was onward to Antero and Eleven Mile Reservoirs where we were able to capture additional images of more red-tails, white-faced ibis, killdeer, horned larks, and even a herd of American Bison!

I hope you all enjoy a few more images from this fantastic day!!

 

 

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Primal Morning

Foggy Trees

It was an amazing foggy morning in the high country. When I first saw the wet pavement I considered just going back to bed but I know that it is this kind of day that often turns out to be the most incredible of all!  The morning started slowly with no wildlife showing themselves through the fog and the mist, only the trees were there to brave the weather.  I finished my hike soaking wet from the mist in the air and the wet grass, but my Ruggard rain cover kept the camera dry 🙂

I then decided upon a trip over to mine country in hopes of good shots of the head frames in the fog. The trees looked pretty cool there too and I got a couple of nice captures of the head frames, and then I spotted a lone doe standing on the mine tailings, probably feeding on some tall mountain grass that had grown through the ruins. I had to wait a while for her to look up, but the wait was worth it. I love this picture!

Coyote with Carcass

It was then I spotted motion in the distance… a closer look through the long lens revealed a coyote with a deer carcass. I assume he found the little deer in the ditch, the victim of  a car collision I assume. The big coyote was struggling to get his meal away from the road and back into the woods where he could eat in peace. Eventually he was able to drag it across the open field and settle in at the base of a hill in the tall weeds. He also had a shy friend that was considering joining in, but in the end the smaller animal decided to wait in the distance for a more opportune moment.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the images (at the end of the article)!

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt
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Last Picture of the Summer

Cars, trucks with camper trailers and RV’s are streaming out of the mountains by the thousands today as the end of the Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end of summer. Of course here in the high country of Colorado, that means snow could come any day now which is fine by me, although there will be plenty of nice warm days all the way up to Thanksgiving and sometimes beyond.

Merganser Ducks

A futile visit to Manitou Lake yielded very little, by first light hikers and fishermen were already piling into the park scaring away any birds that we might have been able to photograph. There were a couple of distant blue heron to dispel any rumors that they have already migrated, a couple little yellow birds that were far to elusive to photograph, and this cute little family of merganser ducks, which finally did pass by close enough for a picture.

Red-tail Hawk

Much to our surprise though, it was trip to Walmart that proved the most successful. As we drove into the parking lot we spotted a red-tailed hawk sailing down the dry creek bed and soon there were two hawks circling overhead in an amazing raptor dance high in the sky. So here it is… my last image of the summer!

Tonight I’m just relaxing as a calm has settled in over my little town, and hopefully tomorrow the birds and animals will begin to get a chance to return to their pre tourist season behavioral patterns. To sum up my feelings about the end of summer, “Thank God it’s over!”.

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Morning Surprise

Cooper's Hawk

So the plan today was to drive to the upper parking lot at the trailhead and beat the ‘shroomer to the upper meadows to see if I might find the elk herd before they retreat to the coolness of the dense forest. And of course maybe get pictures of the dusky grouse flock before her dog had a chance to scare them into the forest. There were no grouse but as I neared the edge of the forest I heard a strange call that required investigation. I eventually spotted the bird in a tree calling down to me. I had seen these before but always thought they were some kind of meadowlark or something. Not a tiny bird but not a big one either, bigger than a robin though. Anyway, I snapped a few pictures until the bird took off, and I continued on through the forest to look for elk.

Mule Deer Fawn

Alas, there were no elk on the summit but there were a few cute mule deer, including a doe with her curious fawn in tow. They stopped briefly to check me out and kept on walking. With my long lens I was able to photograph from a distance beyond their danger zone.

Upon arriving at my desktop I loaded up the interesting new bird and discovered it to be a Cooper’s Hawk. The All About Birds site provided by Cornell Labs identified the raptor for me including a few interesting facts about their lifestyle. They are a forest dwelling bird that feeds on other birds and migrate in the winter along with osprey to South America. According to ABCBirds.org , “Like so many other species, Cooper’s Hawks are harmed by habitat loss, which may limit suitable breeding habitat. Collisions with glass windows, turbines, and poorly lit communications towers also account for many deaths.” Just one more reason that I’m against the wholesale adoption of all those stupid windmills that don’t supply enough power to justify their damage to the landscape.

That the hawks eat other birds could explain the apparent shortage of song birds on my mountain this season! Well anyway, there is at least one nesting pair living in the dark forest, and maybe more. Now I can’t wait to get back up there for some more captures!

 

 

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Most Special Day of the Summer

Today will probably go down as the most special day of the entire summer. Last summer began tragically when the osprey nest in Eleven Mile Canyon was blown down in a storm with the loss of all three eggs. I saw the osprey occasionally throughout the summer but never both of them together. The literature says the nest is the glue that keeps an osprey pair together for life and if the nest is destroyed there is no guarantee that the pair will return as mates the next year. At the end of the season when the warmth of summer was  giving way to the cold of winter I was fortunate to be present when the pair met at a tree near the old nest, perhaps just as they were preparing for their 4,000 mile journey to their winter location in South America.  One of the birds was repeatedly bringing sticks back to the tree and dropping them on what looked like a good place to rebuild a nest. Some stayed in the tree and some fell on the ground, but it appeared like the one was trying to say to the other, this is where we are going to meet next year. Eventually it started to rain and the beautiful moment came to an end, but not before I got a nice video of the moment!

Osprey in Eleven Mile

Well this spring I was diligent to visit the site often near the end of April and the beginning of May. I was there when the first of the pair arrived, waiting faithfully at the chosen tree. I never did see a second osprey and there was no nest built this summer in that particular tree. Once again, I spotted a single osprey occasionally throughout the summer but never two together and I was never able to track down the location of a new nest. Osprey offspring begin to fly in August and by the first of September they are expected to be self sufficient. The parents appear to begin their migration about the first of September just to make sure the new ones are forced to gain strength and perfect their skills before the bad weather comes in and they too must migrate.

But the bad news was up until today I had not seen any sign of juvenile osprey in the canyon. I had almost given up, but today I had errands to run in the city and decided on a swing through the canyon on my way home. As I was driving upstream against the sun I spotted a bird in a tree over the river. At first I thought it was just a crow but I got out the binoculars to make sure. It was definitely not a crow, through the glare of the sun it was obvious the bird had a white head. I got out the camera and moved about a little trying to locate better light. A little better light revealed an osprey but still the scene was so severe I was unable to tell if it was an adult or a a juvenile. Suddenly I heard the familiar chirp of an osprey and a second raptor was flying upstream with a fish in tow. Soon both birds were flying together in a joyful dance in the sky and I was able to capture one of the my best images ever!

Eventually the pair landed in a tree nearby in much better light and I was able to capture a couple of nice portraits, revealing the fact that we now have two new osprey in the canyon 🙂 That means of course that the pair returned and built a nest somewhere else in the canyon, hatched two eggs and all is right with the world 🙂 I hope to visit the little ones a couple more times before they make the long trip south where they will remain for a couple of years before finding a mate for life and begin the circle of life anew .

 

 

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Coyote on the Hunt

First Elk of the Season

I arrived at the trailhead early this morning with the intention of taking the long trail through the woods and up to the second set of peaks, in hope of finding some deer or maybe even elk to photograph. The wily hawk was not on his perch this morning so there was no need to stop and waste time with him. I cleared the first summit I looked all over the clearing but found no sign of the large ungulates. As I traversed the summit I stomped around a bit hoping to see the dusky grouse, but no luck there either.

Bull Elk

So I trudged up the steep trail through the trees to the 11,000 foot level above the treeline. As I quietly neared the summit I noticed the aspen leaves shaking wildly at the forest edge. As stealthily as I could I cleared the summit and made my way around one of the old mine digs closer to the action. As I neared I could see a large brown animal, but only the top of his head and his ears. At first I thought it was a bear foraging for food so I was a bit nervous about approaching, but I needed to get a little closer to make sure.  Eventually more of the animal came into view and I was disappointed but also a little bit relieved to see that it was a big bull elk, not a bear.

Free Range Cattle

Unfortunately my camera was set up all wrong, configured for birds in flight as I passed through the grouse zone, and as the grouse sometimes occupy the edge of the forest above the treeline I had opted not to adjust any of the settings. So the shutter speed was set to high, tracking was off and animal eye focus was off. Single point focus would have been fine but I had a larger zone selected and when I tried to focus on the elk I kept hitting the weeds. Then I finally got a shot off and for the first time in my life, the sound of the shutter actually scared away my subject. So on my way down the mountain I fiddled around with my settings and took some shots for practice of the free range cattle that had gone down to the watering hole 🙂

Thinking that my chances were done for the day I shut the camera off to save battery power and was soon startled as a whole flock of dusky grouse was taking flight all around me. I tried my best to get the strap for the monopod off my wrist and turn on the camera but in the end all I could do was watch helplessly as the beautiful birds disappeared into the dense forest 😦

Red-tailed hawk

Luckily I did come away with the one image of the elk before the great beast drifted back into the cover of trees, but now I’m thinking I need to set up a couple of custom modes for quicker reaction. With three to work with I think I could use a birds in flight, large mammals, and maybe even long exposure landscape custom settings.

When I got back down the mountain the hawk was on his perch so I chased him around a while, but he proved too elusive for me once again. No good shots in flight for today (I’m not happy unless I can see eyeball detail). Anyway, I hope you enjoy the couple of images I did manage to capture!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

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