Coyote Ridge

Coyote Ridge is a trailhead at Eleven Mile Reservoir that I’ve been meaning to hike for a couple of years now. I’ve started the hike and turned around a couple of times, both times in the winter. The cold at Eleven Mile Reservoir is extreme so one time I turned around for that reason and the other time because I knew that I would not be able to climb the ridge without snowshoes or at least my Ice Trekkers.  The logical solution is to explore the trail the first time in summer… but I always seem to have something to do in the summer!

Yellow Wildflowers at Eleven Mile State Park

Well yesterday I didn’t have something to do… the osprey have probably already migrated to South America, the eagles have vanished from the Canyon and the deer and elk are nowhere to be found. I’ve seen pelican flying over the canyon on their way to the reservoir but the eagles don’t seem to have that behavior. I’ve seen the eagles fly west around the mountain where their nest is but from there where they go is a mystery. Once we spotted a bald eagle at the reservoir, along with a bunch of other birds hanging around a bag of trash thrown down by a camper, but that is the only time. However I have been suspicious for a long time that the eagles make the wild southeast section of the reservoir closest to the dam their summer home, the only section of the park without vehicle access.

Eleven Mile State Park

So I arrived early at the park yesterday with the intention of creating a video of this exploration and began the trek around the cove to the rugged ridge on the other side to the east. As I neared the ridge I could finally see where the trail was going to cut through the trees and rocks, up close it became obvious that the trail was a well maintained route facilitated by a set of stairs constructed of logs. I quickly made the steep but easy ascent anticipating a fabulous view on the other side. However the reward did not come immediately, I had to hike probably another half mile where an offshoot onto another outcropping became available.

On the higher ground the trails turn to forest roads for the Park Service, but mountain bike tracks also indicate that these are commonly used trails for bikers, something I’ll have to keep in mind. I would like to explore the entire southeast side someday but the distance is too great for me to want to do it all on foot. Mountain biking the section would be awesome!

Eleven Mile State Park

Well anyway, I made my way down closer to the shoreline to where the view did open up, allowing me to get some beautiful pictures and survey the entire vista to the west and north. I could see that there are a number of inlets in the wild terrain of the southeast side but I was unable to see the big dam marking the entrance to the stunning Eleven Mile Canyon. I suspect you would have to get right up to it in order to see it, so I wasn’t really expecting to see it from the first outcropping anyway.

After exploring the massive rocks creating this beautiful access to the lake I decided to just sit awhile and see if I might see the raptors flying over the clear blue water in search of the big trout I’ve often observed there. In the stillness of the morning, motion on the big island in the middle of the reservoir had caught

Pelicans at Eleven Mile State Park

my eye. Pelicans were landing and taking off from there and closer inspection through my big lens revealed a huge population of pelicans and great blue heron making themselves at home. The pelicans were all bunched together close to the east shore while the blue heron were spread out closer to the high ground in the on the north end. None of the birds paid any mind to the kayakers and paddle boarders floating past.

I never did spot any raptors, although some other hikers told me that red-tailed hawks could regularly be seen soaring overhead. Eventually I could feel my skin begin to burn from the blazing Colorado sun so I decided to call it a day, next time I will be sure to remember sunscreen. Although there are many trails up there going in every direction it wasn’t difficult to find the way back… just don’t stray too far from the water and you will eventually be returned to the starting point.

Once again, there is a video associated with this adventure, so I hope you enjoy it! If you do, I hope you will consider subscribing to my channel, you can definitely help it to grow by doing so!

Pelicans over Eleven Mile Reservoir

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.

Beautiful Outing at Manitou Lake

It always seems like the greatest expedition is going to yield the greatest images, but sometimes it’s the simplest choice that’s the best. This was one of those days… A quick check of the time of sunrise in Colorado indicated the sun would be peeking over the horizon at about 6:00 a.m., and by coincidence that’s exactly the time the gate at Manitou Lake opens 🙂 Other much more difficult locations with dubious chances for great images were quickly cast aside and plans were made for a sunrise arrival at the lake.

Great Blue Heron at Manitou Lake

Kevin and I were greeted by a few great blue herons fishing along the shoreline but unfortunately we were unable to get very close before the great birds took flight. No matter though, the herons weren’t done fishing and landed at more opportune locations around the lake where we would be able to make a more stealthy approach. A pair of beautiful pelicans were enjoying the early morning sun, standing on a log poking through the surface of the water. The interesting effect was it looked like they were standing on the surface of the lake!

A couple of laps around the lake on foot yielded a few nice images of great blue heron and pelicans landing on the water. by 9:00 the sun was already getting hot and the birds were all retreating to the shade where they could enjoy this beautiful Colorado summer morning in comfort.

These are just a couple of images that we were able to capture, please check out our new wildlife group called Wildlife of Eleven Mile Canyon and Manitou Lake to see more! And if you love wildlife the way I do, please feel free to join the group!

Pelicans Swimming

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.

Pelicans Swimming

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!