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!

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Coyote on the Hunt

Coyote on the Hunt

Seasons of the Raptor (second edition)

Seasons of the Raptor

I am pleased to announce that I have released the second edition of my first book, “Seasons of the Raptor“. It includes a new chapter complete with exciting images of the return of our beloved osprey pair to Eleven Mile Canyon, following the destruction of their nest in a violent spring storm the previous year. Also included is the return of the bald eagles to their nest at the entrance of the canyon along with their beautiful new eaglet who is now growing rapidly and working hard at learning to fly!

The book can be purchased from my printer / distributor at Lulu .com, along with a number of other publications I have created! For those of you who prefer Kindle, the book is available on Amazon in ebook format!

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!

Osprey in Eleven Mile

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?

 

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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!

They’re Back, the Osprey Have Returned

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon in early spring

Last year I first spotted my first osprey of the season on the 31st of March and the second the next day to reunite our nesting pair. It just so happened that I could make the trip to the canyon today so I made sure to look closely for osprey. Didn’t see any on my way up the canyon but was rewarded with two bald eagle sightings for my effort. Well actually I think it was one bald eagle spotted twice. I was messing around when he took flight the first time so I completely blew some perfectly good in flight shots but was lucky to see him again for a redo.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

I was hoping to get a lot of good footage for a video so I made sure to switch for a few seconds each time. I didn’t notice right away but I had left my picture style on monochrome so I ended up with monochrome video 😦 Oh well, there wasn’t much color early in the morning so I guess it didn’t hurt anything. Saw some deer on the way back down the canyon but no more eagles. Then just as I was passing the tree where we think the osprey might build their new nest this summer I spotted a white head in the top of a pine tree, a very unusual place for an osprey. So I snapped some pictures and took a few seconds of video before he flew. He landed on a cliff which was perfect for pictures and then flew again to the next cliff face.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

I never did see the mate, the lone osprey did seem to be looking around for her so maybe like last year she will only be one day late. I would sure like to see a few more of the amazing white hawks move into our valley, there was one extra for a while last season but it appears he moved on without finding a mate to nest with in the canyon. We have another pair over at Manitou Lake but the pictures are so much more attractive in the canyon.

Well anyway, it’s off to the city tomorrow to pick up my CD and black and white film at Mike’s Camera, so I don’t think I’ll have time to stop in but perhaps I’ll check on them again Sunday.

I’m getting better at Premier Pro all the time so I hope you enjoy the video! If you enjoy the content and would like to help out with the cause, please feel free to click the donate button!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Misty Foggy Autumn Morning

As I sipped my coffee this morning I was wondering why it was taking so long to get light. At the first sign of sunrise I peeked outside to see what kind of a day would greet me. Wet sidewalks and a dense layer of fog so thick it almost blotted out the street lights revealed the reason behind the stubborn darkness. There would be a short delay on this day as I knew I would have to wait for a bit more light before attempting any photographs.

Beautiful Buck in Dense Fog

My first thought was to go see if there was any interesting foggy effects and maybe even some  new snow on the south face of Pikes Peak, so I headed toward Victor while carefully watching the aspen stands for deer. As I climbed higher the fog got even more dense until I could barely see to drive. A huge buck mule deer crossed the road in front of me so I leaped out of the truck to capture an image. You can barely make out the handsome beast, but the ghostly figure in the fog made a pretty cool picture I think!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

Pikes Peak wasn’t visible at all so I decided to try something else. I was thinking Eleven Mile Canyon might not be quite as foggy and the drive would give the sun a bit more time to burn off the mist. I didn’t get very far up the canyon before encountering my favorite inhabitant, one of the osprey nesting pair high in the branches of a dead tree.

He carefully watched me for a while before taking flight and landing a few yards away on the cliff wall, where he watched the water intently for a fish. I snapped a few images of him watching the water and then he took flight. Fortunately I was prepared and got some nice ones of him flying away. He circled the water a couple of times looking for a fish before finally giving up and flying downstream to a new spot.

I spotted him one more time before the road grader scared him off, and I believe he circled back around and headed back upstream to quieter fishing grounds. I whiled away some time shooting the beautiful autumn colors lining the banks of the headwaters of the South Platte before calling it a day.

 

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

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!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Autumn in Eleven Mile Canyon

Still Together

I wasn’t expecting much, just decided to drop in for a look at Eleven Mile Canyon on my way home to check on the state of the river. We’ve been getting daily torrential rains right on the reservoir just above the canyon and I was hoping for some roaring whitewater on which to try out my four stop ND filter. As I cruised in to the canyon I didn’t see any action at the eagles nest and I didn’t hear the powerful rumble of a full river either.

Osprey at Eleven Mile Canyon

But what the heck, I have a season pass to the canyon so I decided to go in and see if the osprey were hanging around their old nesting location prior to the tree falling. Sure enough, I spotted something in the broken tree that they recently have  taken an interest in. I zoomed in with my big lens to discover what I believe to be the female eating a fish that she had pinned to a Y in the branch.

Much to my surprise, shortly thereafter the male appeared with a stick in his talons which he dutifully delivered to the tree. After the destruction of their nest and eggs in the spring storm I did some research and the literature says that osprey will not rebuild their nest. It isn’t even a guarantee that the pair will remain devoted to each other with the center of  their lives eliminated. The nest is everything to them and without it the little family often disintegrates.

Osprey at Eleven Mile Canyon

I haven’t seen them together all summer so it was my fear that they had just flown off and gone their separate directions. But when I saw this my heart leapt for joy, the two intrepid raptors are still together and looking for a new nesting site. I watched and filmed and photographed as the male made a dozen trips to the mountainside for sticks to return to the nest. Unfortunately the  female has yet to construct the foundation for the nest so he was just dropping the sticks on the tree trunk in vain, and many fell to the ground.

Soon I heard thunder and the male flew high in the sky to soar upon the approaching winds while the female never departed her precious meal. Soon the rain began and finally gave way to a deluge that I couldn’t leave my camera exposed to. But I did make this short video which I kind of feel is representative of the struggle these two intrepid souls have been subject to this year.

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

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!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Watch “Colorado Wildlife Photography Wildlife of Eleven Mile Canyon” on YouTube

New video of the amazing wildlife that call the canyon home!

Springtime in the Canyon

New life abounds everywhere and water levels are finally rising in the South Platte River. I hope you enjoy my new video of osprey along the banks of the river plus beautiful scenes of bald eagles raisin triplets!

Encouraging Osprey Update

On a day I thought was without hope for a photo shoot, there was a break in the persistent Colorado snow as of late, giving me a short window to visit Eleven Mile Canyon. That is not to say it was a beautiful sunny day, on the contrary it was cold, foggy and gloomy. But as a photographer, this kind of day is sometimes the best of all!

Deer Herd in Snow

The drive to the canyon was magnificent, amazing stormy clouds and fog, and beautiful white snow covering the pine trees of the Pike National Forest like vanilla frosting. As I approached the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument I spotted a herd of mule deer at the base of the stunningly beautiful hillside, so I pulled my truck over onto Upper Twin Rocks for a good vantage point. Soon a huge black Dodge blocked my line of sight, as I looked up I discovered it was some old friends from my church in their new ride stopping to say hi 🙂 They drove on and I proceeded to capture as many views and focal lengths as possible before the gentle ungulates moved on.

Storm Clouds on South Platte Rvier

I glanced over at the eagles nest upon arrival at the canyon entrance and mama eagle was on her usual perch. There isn’t much room in the nest these days with three voracious young ones all simultaneously clamoring for sustenance! However it was early and with all the gloom I knew that at best I would be able to obtain a bland noisy image, the likes of which I already have a collection of hundreds.

I made a slow cruise past the old osprey nest hoping to spot some action on the hillside indicating the construction of a new nest, even though I know that the possibility of such a thing is extremely unlikely following a failure to reproduce. Unfortunately I saw nothing to support my hopes for the newly homeless osprey couple. I continued my slow cruise up the rough canyon road carefully watching the dead trees along the banks of the South Platte as well as the riverbed for signs of wildlife.

Northern FlickerI stopped to snap a couple of images of the river and canyon along the way, but the trip upstream yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Near the big dam at the headwaters of the canyon I heard a peculiar chirping sound, so I pulled big blue over to the side of the road and got out to investigate. I quickly spotted an unusual colorful bird, slightly bigger than a robin or common blackbird calling out from one of the choke cherry bushes. I snapped a couple of images for Merlin and then began to make my way around to the south where I knew I would have better light. Unfortunately I was never able to get a front view of this little character, but I did get a good enough image for Merlin to identify it as my first ever northern flicker of the woodpecker family. shortly thereafter I captured an image, another lifetime first, a chubby little bird known as a townsend’s solitaire, which I’ll soon be adding to my Instagram page, along with a ton of other images from this shoot and many more!

Great Blue HeronThings began to look up on the trip down as I made several sightings of a beautiful great blue heron fishing along the river banks. Most of the time the giant water bird took to flight before I could get an image but fortunately I was able to capture one fleeting moment and a couple of satisfying images.

Eventually the winding river road returned me to osprey territory. I wanted to film a little video footage by the stream so I decided to get out with my camera at a particularly beautiful spot along the river. Much to my surprise I spotted one of our osprey flying in from downstream, so I readied my camera for a white bird in flight image against the stormy Colorado morning skies: shutter priority, a 2000th of a second and auto ISO with +1 dialed into the exposure compensation. I was stunned and woefully out of position when the great raptor landed along the banks of the pristine river. I tried to stealthily approach in hopes of a closeup but I was quickly detected and the beautiful hawk took flight.

Osprey Retrieving a Stick

Fortunately my settings were still good for a flight against the sky and as he circled me a couple of times I was able to capture a number of images. At first I thought he had caught a fish, but later in the truck as I zoomed in with my LCD screen to inspect the image I discovered that he had actually made the trip in quest of a stick from the riverbank. I have been heartsick since discovering the downed nest so earlier I had prayed for a sign that the impossible would happen, that the pair would spend the remainder of the summer rebuilding for a return to the area following this year’s migration. And I believe this simple stick is just the sign I was looking for, why would the osprey pair be gathering sticks except for the construction of a nest? 

Heavy Snow on the South PlatteI tried to follow the determined traveler but big blue is unfortunately no match for osprey wings. I spotted one of the pair again later, flying past the eagles nest heading back into the canyon, but soon the ever frequent Colorado snow had obscured my sight and I decided to call it a day. However, it is now my belief that the intrepid couple are somewhere on the hillside, busily preparing for next year’s offspring. I will continue to make frequent visits to the area in hopes of locating their new home.

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

 

 

Devastation on the River

It is with terrible sadness in my heart that I have to report that our beloved osprey nest in Eleven Mile Canyon was felled by one of last weeks late spring snowstorms, two unhatched eggs were found in the river. They like to build their nests in barren trees and this one along the river just could not withstand the weight of all the wet heavy snow. We had so much fun watching this beautiful pair raise their chicks to flight last summer and were so much looking forward to another family this year.

Osprey Nesting Pair

The pair had returned right on time and had gone right to work on their nest. It wasn’t long before mama osprey was sitting on eggs and the father was busy bringing sticks and fish to his family in wait. We went to the canyon yesterday in hopes of catching some of the action on film but it was not to be. When we arrived we found the tree down, the nest destroyed and the beautiful raptors nowhere in sight.

Now we don’t know what will become of the nesting pair. From what I can read they may hang around the area for the rest of the season until they migrate. It is apparently the nest that holds the pair together so it isn’t guaranteed that they will return and rebuild but it is certainly our hope. I will return from time to time to look for them throughout the summer but I have to say, my heart is broken and I just feel like quitting.

I have created this Youtube video tribute to this pair of amazing raptors, I hope you enjoy it. Vaya con dios my beautiful feathered friends. May God give you the strength to return and rebuild next year.

Osprey Nesting Pair

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