Happy Autumnal Equinox

Misty Mine Country

The sun has officially crossed the equator on it’s annual journey to the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. The first day of autumn in the Colorado high country has greeted us with fog, rain and a morning of stunning beauty. The fog rolled in last night so I made sure to be up early before the sun would have a chance to burn off the fog in the Arkansas Valley, one of my favorite subjects to photograph! I caught glimpses of what I was about to see as I drove through town and around the first bend in the highway on my way to Victor, a sea of fog completely filling the low spots.

Small Herd of Mule Deer

As I proceeded toward my intended overlook I spotted a small herd of mule deer making their way through the deep mountain grass on their way to cover in the pine forest above, and as luck would have it I was also near a spot to pull the truck off the road. The deer weren’t too worried about my presence but they were also not about to take a break from their journey into the woods either! I quickly snapped off a few shots with my 100-400mm lens and then they were gone… out of sight.

I made several stops along the way wherever I could see the amazing weather phenomenon unfolding in the valley below and ended up with quite a few nice ones… if I do say so myself! I wasn’t sure how far up the pass the fog would reach so I decided to check on the mines and the south face of Pikes Peak at the summit of Victor Pass. The mines weren’t much to see today, the sky is dark and there really wasn’t any interesting fog there and I already have much better shots of the mines than anything I would have gotten today.

The Peak is showing signs of fall though, a good patch of aspen are already turning to gold! A few more days and they will be at peak gold. Hopefully I’ll get some really nice ones before my annual trip to Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut!

Anyway, have a happy Autumnal Equinox!

 

 

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

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

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

A Big Day

It was truly a big day, starting early on Tuesday morning with a long drive up to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Area. Kevin and I had high hopes of getting some great pictures of the burgeoning snowy egret and blue heron populations. As we drove past the central lakes we spotted a good number of egrets wading along the shoreline so we stopped to capture a few images. Shortly thereafter an osprey surprised us with a fly over and a splash down. Fortunately for us it took the intrepid raptor a few tries before we finally captured him splashing down and flying away with a fish so big he had to carry it in both talons! It wasn’t until I was home on the computer that I discovered one of the birds we thought was the osprey flying over was actually a rare capture of a Black Crowned Night Heron.  We also were privileged to get some nice shots of the snowy egrets and double crested cormorants in action.

Soon the sun was getting high in the sky and the heat of the day convinced us to move on to Waterton Canyon for a bike ride in hopes that the bears would be coming down to the river for a swim. My first bike ride of the year was not an easy one, I definitely need to get in shape! We rode all the way to the caretaker’s house without seeing anything to shoot before stopping at the old dam structure for a look. Once I had shed my pack I noticed Kevin taking pictures of the water and I soon discovered that a hapless rattlesnake had somehow fallen into the river and was trying to get out by climbing the tall cement walls of the dam.  He would try for a while and then drift back in the gentle current before trying anew. A crowd soon gathered, including a couple of the park rangers and we feared that if he didn’t change strategy he would eventually drown. Luckily he began moving across the the dam toward our side of the bank and was eventually swept away by the current which carried the poisonous viper to safety.

My hat was not so lucky though, blown into the river by a strong gust where I helplessly watched it drift downstream. We spotted it a quarter of a mile downriver and rode a bit ahead to a spot I hoped to climb the bank and recover it from the shallow water. But while we were waiting for the hat we got word that there were bears spotted in the water downstream, which of course took priority over my hat, now presumed drowned.

Sure enough there were a couple of young bears frolicking along the opposite bank where we were able to capture a few images before the beautiful beasts scrambled up the steep embankment out of sight.

 

 

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!

Breaking A Long Dry Spell

Pretty good morning out in the woods today, got some nice shots of birds and even a buck mule deer on the run. I can usually take a few landscape photos if I don’t see wildlife, but we’ve had such haze and smoke this summer that the distant mountains are barely visible. I’ve been to Eleven Mile Canyon a couple of times with no success and finally decided to just shoot whatever I happen to find on my local hikes.

Well today I got to shoot a magpie in flight, the male mate of the western tanager I saw yesterday, a Clark’s nutcracker and even the previously mentioned buck with fuzzy antlers well along to full growth later in the summer. Anyway, I hope you enjoy today’s batch of images 🙂

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!

Another New Bird!

I’m always amazed at the variety of birds I find on my simple mountain. Grouse Mountain is nothing special, it’s not high, not particularly scenic, and no more rugged than any other place. I often see sparrows and song birds and the occasional red-tailed hawk. And just when I think I’m about to get another picture of an ordinary sparrow or song bird I find out how little I know. The other day I thought I was just taking a picture of another goldfinch when I discovered that I had actually seen a female western tanager. Never even heard of the cute little bird, but here she is!

Osprey, Eagles and Heron Oh My

Quite a successful day of photography in Eleven Mile Canyon and a great video to go with it! Just click the link to see it! The day started with a few sightings of elk and deer along the way, but it’s too dangerous to try to stop along Teller County Road One to try to take pictures. Most people out there at that time of day are in quite a rage about having to go to work or having lost all their money at the casinos and it’s best to just get done with the drive as quickly as possible.

In the canyon I finally spotted one of our osprey and was able to capture a couple of images, even though I was pushing ISO 10,000 on a few of them! Topaz DeNoise was definitely a big help on these! An eagle was next up on the roster and it was my intention to capture a few images of him perched before catching him in flight. However he was having none of that and remained on his perch preening and looking around for over two hours. Finally at the very last second he turned around on his branch and flew off the wrong way. I managed to get one good image out of that and then just headed back downstream as it was already getting quite late in the morning.

A great blue heron put on quite a show on my way back down the river. He was intent upon fishing and paid me no mind at all. I sat on the bank and shot away to my heart’s content and captured a couple of stills with a fish in his mouth and some nice video footage of him jumping into the water. Eventually he wandered behind some boulders so I decided to go check on the eagles nest.

It just so happened that both parents were at the nest for a feeding of the eaglet when I arrived and I got some beautiful footage of the mother feeding the young one, watch the video to the end to see it! All in all it was an amazing day, I have to say 🙂

Oh, and I got another first for my eBird account, I thought it was just a goldfinch but Merlin says it is a Hammond’s flycatcher, who knew?

 

If you enjoy the content and wish to contribute to the cause, please just click the above button and select an amount!

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!

Definitely a Wild Day

I have to say… today turned out way better than I thought! First I couldn’t even figure out what to do with my day, so I just sat in my chair with my coffee until the sun was already way too high in the sky. I had some things I wanted to do but I knew there would be way too many people in the mountains on this holiday weekend. So I found myself giving up on doing anything when I finally decided to just take a little hike and check in on the art gallery in Victor.

Fox at Play

A last minute tip from a buddy revealed the location of a fox family in my area, so I went there first and spotted a couple of what appeared to be the two adult foxes still out enjoying the sunshine. I’ll have to try to get there earlier one of these days to see if I can catch the pups before they duck back down into the den for the day. I didn’t stay long, but I did shoot a couple of different angles to try to get the best light, and managed to get a couple captures that I like including this one which is my favorite of the day.

Then it was onward to my hiking trail near Victor

Mule Deer Doe

where I spotted a few deer, a couple of does and a buck. Fortunately they didn’t bolt when they saw me, just calmly wandered through a sunny patch before heading over the ridge into the dense forest.

I went without success this evening to try to view the fox family again, but I was fortunate to witness a red-tailed hawk flyby within easy camera range. He flew past the wrong way first, giving me a chance to check my settings, a 2000th of a second at f/8 with auto ISO with +1.3 exposure compensation turned out to be the right mix! Out of almost 200 exposures, this one (below) turned out to be my favorite. The wings weren’t in the bright sunlight but I captured the catch lights in his eyes perfectly! This one will definitely find it’s way onto my wall somewhere!

Red-tailed Hawk Soaring Overhead

 

If you enjoy the content and would like to make a donation to the cause, please click the button above and select an amount!

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies”!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

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