Autumn Beauty in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

https://youtu.be/5Z-_2lA1KBo Sights and sounds of a beautiful autumn morning in magnificent Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado including amazing fall colors, bald eagles,  and mule deer. Don’t forget to subscribe if you like and don’t want to miss the next episode!

Autumn in the Canyon

Fall has come early to Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado… With the departing of the osprey some of the pizzazz has  gone out of my visits here, but the amazing color has made up for it! I arrived just after sunrise and was delighted to notice that both bald eagles were in the nest.

Eleven Mile Bald Eagle Pair

I grabbed my camera and my official observation chair and hurried down to the riverbank in hopes of catching them before they left for the day. Right around sunrise these days they can be found flying back and forth with sticks to fortify their nest for the harsh Colorado winter, but the show doesn’t last for long. Within an hour it is likely that they will both be off for the day doing eagle stuff!

Eleven Mile Bald Eagle PairJust after I got situated, one of the pair took off and flew into the canyon. Unfortunately my camera was nowhere near ready. Exposure compensation was set at +2/3 and my shutter speed was only at a 500th of a second. My first opportunity was completely blown. Quickly I adjusted my settings for eagles in flight, -2/3 exposure compensation to assure that the bright white of their head feathers are not blown out and about a 1250th of a second shutter speed. I usually like a 1600th or faster but in such low light 1250 is a good compromise.

Autumn Color in Eleven Mile

Eventually the eagle returned and I was able to get a couple of nice shots of the pair in flight. Soon after of course, the show was over and I decided to walk in and investigate the fall color situation. The sunshine had not yet reached the river valley so I was able to get a couple of nice motion blurs of the flowing stream and see that the colors were going to really pop with the light of the sun.

I went back to the parking lot to retrieve my truck for a long day of fall photography.  I slowly drove along the riverside road looking for all the best views. The colors along the river were well worth some sketchy scrambling on hands and knees down to waters edge and I took advantage of every opportunity! In addition to all the wonderful still images I was able to capture, I thought it important to capture some of the sound and motion of the beautiful golden water of the river. Still images are nice but sometimes they just don’t do the scene justice!

Three Deer Crossing

On my way out of the canyon I spotted a young deer crossing the river so I stopped and grabbed my camera. The yearling was soon joined by two other doe mule deer in crossing the river but unfortunately, once again I was unprepared for the situation… my camera was still equipped for scenery pictures with only a 24-105 lens and a shutter speed of 160th of a

Three Deer Crossing

second… but there was no time for adjustments and I just started shooting. Luckily it looks like a couple have turned out, one with a bit of pleasing motion blur 🙂

For your enjoyment I have created a nice 10 minute YouTube video with still imagery and video of today’s experience.  There are also many other adventures that I have documented with multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to

Autumn Color in Eleven Mile

watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons moreof my images are displayed!

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!

Autumn Color in Eleven Mile

Another Excellent Adventure

Bald Eagle on Nest

It was another excellent morning for photography at Eleven Mile Canyon. First of all I was glad to see that reports of a wildfire in the area were either not true or the fire is already out, no smoke anywhere in the area 🙂 I arrived just before sunrise and went immediately down to water’s edge to check for any action in the river below the dam. On a lucky day I might see the big beaver working on his lodge or even the osprey fishing for trout in the placid water. As I was getting my camera ready I spotted the great blue heron already on his daily return flight from the reeds and fish in the calm water above the dam. Unfortunately  I was not able to capture the

Tree Squirrel Eating

daily event as I was still fiddling with batteries and lenses 😦 I did however, notice that there was some movement in the eagles nest that I haven’t seen for some time! It was one of the adult bald eagles sitting on the nest and I quickly readied my camera for an eagle sitting still shot… Tv mode with a 400th of a second, ISO 640, F9 and -1/3 exposure compensation so as not to blow out the bright white on the eagle’s head!

Pair of Canada Geese

A quick scan of the area revealed nothing but a few Canada geese swimming in the placid water well below the dam. I thought I might be able to see the osprey watching for trout above the dam, but there was nothing but a bunch of tiny grey birds flitting back and forth between the cliff on the west side and the pine trees on the east side of the river 😦 This cute tree squirrl and this pair of Canada geese seemed like worth subjects though!

Mallard Duck

I looked on all the usual tree tops for the osprey but they were nowhere to be seen. The falcons were also taking a day off and I began to wonder if they and the osprey had already headed for South America. There was a cute duck quacking and swimming around in the glass like water by the reeds so I snapped a few of those, although I usually don’t bother shooting ducks and geese… but today I just wanted to make sure I captured something!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

With nothing going on above the dam I decided to venture back into the canyon to investigate the osprey situation. As I neared the nest I was surprised when one of the majestic birds flew right over my head. I wasn’t able to recover in time to get the shot but luckily I had arrived at the beginning of the morning feeding so the first raptor took up a position in the nest. I also took up my position high on the opposite bank with my favorite view of the nest and the entire riverbank.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

The youngster in the nest chirped noisily so I hoped the parents would soon answer with a fish… However it was the sibling who first answered the call and he too landed in the nest. But being in no mood to share his catch he quickly departed with his prize and perched on a dead  branch on my side of the river. In quick succession though, the mother osprey appeared with a stick for he nest followed by the father who delivered some kind of catch… It didn’t look like a fish, perhaps one of the ubiquitous ground squirrels was the preferred catch of the day!

Doe Mule Deer in the South Platte River

Eventually the majestic birds all disappeared so I headed upstream to see if I might find them fishing in the wide part of the river a couple hundred yards to the south. I didn’t see the osprey but I did spot this nice doe mule deer eating the lush grass on an island. She cast a wary glance in my direction so I just sat down and hoped she would continue. She quickly became comfortable with my presence and began to eat again. I snapped quite a few images of her in various positions but this one at water’s edge is my favorite!

Gold Finch Eating Flowers

After shooting a few stills of the beautiful flowing water I headed back to my truck where I noticed this little gold finch feeding on some wildflowers. A nice ending to an excellent morning.

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

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

El Quattro

Herd of Mule Deer Bucks

El Quattro, my son Chris’s idea… when a new buck joined the “Three Amigos” band of buck mule deer.  Not sure, I’m just calling them the “Three Amigos + 1”. I was near the end of my hike this morning and it was looking like they were nowhere to be found. But as I was walking down the mountainside rolling around ideas to avoid a photographic shutout, I looked across to the next ridge and spotted a lone buck. he was looking right at me so I quick snapped a picture.

Herd of Mule Deer Bucks

Soon however others began meandering up the steep hill so I just found a place to sit and watch to see how this scene was going to develop. Two of the band of four drew closer together and I was able to capture a couple images of the friendship before they wandered over the hill and down into the valley.

I decided to go around the ravine and see if I could spot them on the downside but I could only find one of the majestic fellow. He was posing against a very nice rugged backdrop though, nicely rounding out my morning! Any thoughts of a long drive to another location vanished as I looked through what I had already captured. Instead of continuing on I decided upon a nice breakfast and home to process the images!

Herd of Mule Deer Bucks

Yesterday I was looking for an image of the Three Amigos on my website to send to someone and decided that it was time to add a collection with just deer. I have a specialized collection for Deer in Snow but I think it’s now a  good time for the Just Deer collection to contain my huge collection of deer imagery including those in snow and all seasons including some beautiful autumn captures 🙂

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!

Eleven Mile Canyon Collection

Young bald eagle soaring past the cliffs

It was another wonderful day in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado, not there is such a thing as a bad day in the canyon… unless of course you managed to fall off a cliff into the raging river??? Today I got some great shots of the young eagle in flight, a mule deer fawn, the papa osprey coming back from a fishing trip to feed his family and some nice shots of the river and the canyon itself 🙂

Bald Eagle Fledgling Soaring

Anyway, it occurred to me that I really needed to add an Eleven Mile Canyon collection on my website for just these very special images! Plus I know I will be visiting that place many more times to capture as many images as humanly possible of the amazing wildlife that can be found there! If you want to purchase a print or gift from this collection just click the link and enter the collection, or gallery as some would call it, click on an image you like and all the prices and product options will become available!

Fawn Mule Deer at Eleven Mile Canyon

So I started the day at the riverbank where the eagles usually hang around. The youngster was perched on a tree branch and mama was perched on another tree branch much further away. Eventually the eaglet put on a good show, circling a couple of times, flying past the cliffs and landing back on a perch near the nest. Somewhere along the timeline mama eagle had taken flight probably going back around the cliffs on a fishing trip, and never returned during my visit.

Mule Deer at Eleven Mile

While I waited for action at the eagles nest, a cute fawn mule deer went past on the other side of the river, eventually followed by mom who was obviously looking for the little tyke! She was on the right path so I imagine she managed to find him soon enough 🙂 Also entertaining me while I waited for the money shots were a gaggle of Canada Geese deep dive fishing in the water and some red winged blackbirds. The usual swallows were swooping around but they continue to evade my lens with their great speed!

Father Osprey and Fish

Next on my agenda was a journey up the canyon to check on the osprey family. I’m thinking we should be getting pretty close to seeing the chicks take flight. The oldest baby is almost the color of an adult and the other two seem to be a week or two behind in development. I noticed when I arrived that the father wasn’t in his usual position as sentry on a dead tree above the nesting area so I was hoping he would soon put on a good show, returning from his morning escapades. I was not disappointed, it wasn’t long and he swooped in and delivered a fish to his eagerly awaiting family! He made a fairly dramatic approach, gripping the fish with talons extended, while the youngsters were all looking intently at him with great anticipation 🙂

Osprey in Flight

I waited a while on my own perch hoping for more action, but it looked like the raptor family was just settling down for their morning nap. I decided to head on up the canyon a ways to photograph the scenery for my new collection before heading for home to examine the day’s bounty 🙂

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Whitewater of the South Platte River

Where Eagles Dare

Herd of Mule Deer

Well technically hawks in this case 🙂 I didn’t set out to do anything special this morning, I just wanted to climb my usual mountain just for the exercise. About halfway up the ridge though I spotted a buck mule deer just off the path standing in the shade staring at me. The sun was about to clear the ridge line on the east so I decided to interrupt my hike and wait a few minutes for the morning light. While I waited the third buck joined the group I like to call the Three Amigos.

Herd of Mule Deer

Once the group was reunited, they began to move towards the top of the ridge and into the sunshine. As they moved I slowly followed and shot various combinations of the three animals until they eventually crossed over the top of the ridge and out of view. I was hoping they would still be there when I circled around the mountain on the trail.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

However as I circled the mountain I had my eye on another mountain… the one directly to the south. I have been looking at it for years, approaching occasionally in vain pursuit of the elk herd, but I have never climbed it. As I pondered the view from the top I began to veer towards what looked like a deer trail angling up the east side. The closer I drew to the steep approach to the summit, the more I  wanted to see the top. From there I knew I would have an awesome 360 degree view of the entire area 🙂

Rough Legged Hawk

I chose a route that crossed the mountain to the south and then angled back, it looked like the easiest approach. As I passed a tall solitary pine tree there was a commotion and a hawk took flight, I believe this to be the Rough Legged Hawk that has been soaring high above the mountains lately, but I’m not sure. I readied my camera as quickly as I could and started shooting. Unfortunately I was on the wrong focus mode for the initial captures so I changed to zone mode and began to shoot. A faster shutter speed would

Rough Legged Hawk

have been better but it looks like a got a couple of good ones 🙂

When I was almost to the summit I could see the Three Amigos, now miles ahead of me heading for some serious wilderness over the ridge line connecting the local peaks. Even though the distance was great between us, the majestic beasts spotted me and hastened their journey over the ridge and out of sight.

Herd of Mule Deer

The view from the summit was indeed spectacular, obscured only by the smoke and dust from the summer fires to our southwest. The local peaks were in full view along with the Sangre de Cristo range to the south. I’m thinking this will be an excellent vantage point when the colors change in the fall and when the snow flies in the winter.

From the summit I could see the real trail so I followed an old wagon trail down the south side of the mountain and onto the main trail. By now I was wishing I had planned better and brought along some water! Perhaps I’ll make the trip again this week with more supplies and a wide angle lens to better capture the grandeur of these mountains!

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

An Unexpected Swim

Pair of Deer at Waters Edge

Had a startling and most unexpected experience yesterday while out taking pictures! I was standing on the east bank of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon watching for the eagles to return from their morning fishing trip when I heard some rustling in the reeds on the opposite bank. I thought it might be the beaver getting ready for his morning swim down the river so I readied my camera with the proper settings for such an event.

It wasn’t long and much to my surprise a doe mule deer poked her head out of the reeds to get a drink, or so I thought. I started snapping and after a few seconds another deer appeared behind the first one 🙂 I made sure to capture an image with the both of them before they walked right out into the water towards me.  Pretty soon another one came out from the reeds and joined them in their journey

Trio of deer in the Water

downstream.

I continued to photograph them wading across the river when I noticed even more deer, bucks and does a little way downstream were also crossing the river in the beautiful morning light and shimmering water. And to top off the experience, I was even able to capture the foothills of the San Isabel National  Forest in the background. Incredible, just incredible 🙂

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Deer at Waters Edge

Wild Morning

Rough Legged Hawk

It was a wild and wonderful morning on the mountain, I saw a little of everything today 🙂 I wanted to see some wildlife today and I was debating a long drive to up my chances but in the end I decided on a short drive to my usual local trail. I knew it was a good omen as I was climbing the hill and I heard the screech of a hawk.  It sounded close by so I looked around and there he was perched on top of a power pole. Unfortunately he had is back to me and I couldn’t get a decent shot. So I waited hoping the big raptor would take flight but that didn’t work out either. When he finally flew he went down and all the power lines and the pole were in the way… later on I got a shot of him high in the brilliant blue Colorado sky but a closer shot would have been much nicer.

Herd of Mule Deer

I continued my trek up the hill and soon I spotted a lone doe mule deer in a perfect pose in the perfect morning light 🙂 But now my camera was stuck. I live in Tv mode and the front wheel wouldn’t change the shutter speed, it was stuck on a 2000th of a second from my birds in flight efforts yesterday. So I went to manual and that was a no go too. Av mode was next on the list and it was fine but it was setting a wildly outrageous ISO which I quickly locked in at 400. Now, free to choose my exposure compensation with the real wheel I set up for the shot. By then a few more deer had moved into the lush meadow to feed and I probably got in about a half hour of uninterrupted shooting. Kind of wish now that I had done a little video, but in all the excitement it didn’t occur to me. Eventually for some unknown reason the front wheel started working again and I finished up the scene in the preferred Tv mode using a 500th and a 640th of a second for a few captures before the deer disappeared into the wilderness.

Sage Sparrow on a  Perch

Eventually I was on top of the ridge in the clearing where I heard a faint but urgent chirping to the north. I looked over but didn’t see anything… a closer look revealed a sage sparrow on top of a bush singing her song with a fresh batch of nesting materials in her mouth! Usually those little guys stay perched for about a billionth of a second but today she stayed for a full portrait session 🙂

While descending the mountain I spotted a big coyote over by the prairie dogs standing and just staring at me. Naturally I stopped and snapped a few pictures before she began a wary retreat. Every few steps she would stop and look at me to see if I was a threat and I was hoping she would just stop and wait, but she finally trotted away and disappeared over the ridge.

Coyote Hunting Prairie DogsMy extraordinary morning in the mountains was at an end, I was back in the parking lot when I spotted what I first thought was the hawk again but it turned out to be a White American Pelican. I once again adjusted my camera for bird in flight and tried my hand at capturing he soaring majestically overhead. You can really go overboard with a bird soaring in the air with the rapid fire button and in about 10 minutes I had already rattled off about 150 more pictures… pictures I really didn’t feel like processing :( But a couple did turn out pretty nice so I  guess it was worth it :)

Fortunately a good number of my images from today made for good print candidates and

American Pelican

as always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some of  my adventures in action!

Playing it by Ear

Doe Portrait

Today had no official plan, I knew I would wake up and have coffee… that’s a given. Sometimes I just fall back to sleep, puppies warming my lap are too much to overcome, at least in time to get out  before the heat of the day. Today however was a normal day… I may have fallen asleep again but my eyes were open again before the sunrise began to show through the eastern curtains.

As usual I proceeded to my favorite local trailhead and began the trek up the steep hill to the top of the ridge. However after about 50 yards I just turned back around. I haven’t seen any wildlife up there all summer and didn’t believe today would be any different. Rumors have been circulating about a moose roaming Bison Res so I thought it

Beaver Swimming

might be worth checking that out. Unfortunately the res is a private fishing hole and the entire road to it is gated and marked private.

I decided plan C was going to be a search for the bighorn sheep on highway 67… to no avail. Onward to Woodland Park… one of my favorite hikes is Paradise Open Space… from there you can go east or west and if you are really feeling ambitious you can climb all the way to the summit of Bald Mountain! That’s a tough tough climb though and my legs are tired and I wasn’t in the mood for

American Pelican in Flight

such a rigorous challenge. So I just climbed the hill and hiked along the ridge where I was fortunate to spot a deer peering at me from the dense trees of the Pike National Forest. She looked curiously at me for a few seconds and took a few steps toward me, plenty of time to snap off a couple of shots. Then she crossed the trail in front of me and vanished into the woods. I took a seat on a convenient tree stump hoping for the rest of the herd to meander up the trail but the doe I saw must have been the straggler. A half hour of sitting and listening to the birds can never be a  bad thing though!

After my hike I drove to another trailhead in the area and took a short hike to a nice

American Pelican in Flight

clearing where I hoped I would see some more deer but no, nothing  but the birds singing from high in the tall pine trees.

So I picked up a few supplies in town and headed to Lake George and the entrance to Eleven Mile Canyon for a check on the eagles. There was no sign of either the adults or the eaglet but I had arrived just before 10:00 a.m., right when a lot of eagle action has been known to happen so I resolved to sit and watch until 11:00. The eagles never appeared but I did see a White American Pelican, a beaver swimming in the river and a little family of merganser ducks, a mama and a few ducklings 🙂 And of course the ever present red wing blackbirds

Female Common Merganser Duck and ducklings

and sparrows were flying all about, keeping me entertained while I awaited my target. The eagles never showed but it was an hour well spent, time along the pristine waters of the South Platte is never without reward! I opted not to spend the $7 to actually enter the park as it was getting pretty hot and the light too harsh for interesting photographs.

Now I’m just spending the rest of my day Grillin’ and Chillin’ 🙂 Grilling some plant based hot Italian sausages… doing my part to put the ranchers out of business and free up federal land for those more deserving… the coyotes, wolves and wild horses mainly! I urge more of you to do the same, the plant based meat is quite tasty and ridding the land of ranchers and their stinking cattle is well worth the sacrifice!

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

A Better Morning

Deer in the Pike National Forest

I awoke yesterday to a scratchy throat and burning eyes, a southwest wind had blown a ton of smoke from the Durango wildfire into the valley. Since I could barely breath a hike seemed like a poor idea 😦 Fortunately for us here in Cripple Creek, sometime in the night a cold front blew through and changed the wind around to the north. The smoke has cleared and this is a much better morning, I could actually see the mountains! I hope the cooler weather helps the firefighters battle the blaze, it has been way to windy and dry lately.

I started my morning out with a little jaunt up to Gillette Flats on a tip that the bighorn sheep were paying highway 67 a visit, but by the time I got there only a solitary scraggly looking ewe remained, the ram and the rest of the herd had already vanished into the dense pine forest above. The sheep are blowing their winter coats this time of year so they are kind of a mess and not very photogenic, she almost looks like an alien! I can never pass up an opportunity to photograph a bighorn though, so I stopped for a couple of portraits of her.

Bighorn Sheep Ewe in the Rockies

She didn’t pay me a lot of attention but on the couple occasions she looked at me I got the shots 🙂

After that little session I decided to go back to my usual hiking trail just to keep in shape and get in a couple miles of hiking at altitude. Luck was in my favor as I spotted the Three Amigos feeding on the hillside. As always, they kept a curious eye on me as they changed positions on their way up the hillside to the cool shade of the dense pine forest.

Deer in the Pike National Forest

Nothing to jump up and down about as far as pictures go, but I always enjoy the spiritual refreshing that only solitude on a mountaintop can provide.

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear!