Bighorn Afternoon

Winter weather is on the way, 8-15 inches of snow they are saying, but this morning it was beautiful! Checked the forecast and it looked like I would have until about 5:00 p.m. to go off and do something! Over coffee and a cinnamon roll I decided another run at Waterton Canyon would probably be the most profitable. I arrived at the canyon at about 10:00 a.m., strapped on my pack and headed into the canyon on mountain bike hoping for some good photography, but planning only on a good workout and a beautiful ride along the beautiful blue South Platte River in stunning autumn colors.

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

I wanted a good cardio workout so I was pedaling hard past the lowest bighorn viewing area with no beasties in site. Breathing hard I pushed ahead watching the cliff to the north for sign of the animals. Another mile passed and I thought I could see some large animals on the path ahead. I slowed down and carefully pulled up to park my bike at a safe distance to unpack my gear and ready myself for photography. As I neared on foot I noticed that the trio was a small group of rams wandering along the river while occasionally sparring with each other.

One of the beasts eventually moved into the grass to graze while the other two stood head to head, waiting for the other to make a move. Hoping for a clash I started a video but the two gladiators eventually separated and moved apart, the smaller one joining the other for lunch on the riverbank.

While I was getting some good portraits of the biggest ram, I noticed he had begun to

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

stare intently up the canyon towards the west. When I looked over to see what he was so interested in I saw the herd of ewe sheep and young ones walking toward us. Eventually the males and females joined and walked downstream together, grazing on the vegetation along the bank while occasionally approaching the river for drinks when a path to the water was available.

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

I just followed along with the herd, hanging with  them trying to get the best shots of especially the rams and the cute little yearlings who would occasionally butt heads as if trying to get the feel of the big game the rams were playing. The steep bank along the north side of the river finally gave way to a shallower approach and the rams took interest on some vegetation on the other side. All three of the big brutes walked to the edge of the stream and I could see that they were going to jump in. I thought they might just walk in and stroll across, but instead they leaped in and powered across as fast as they could! I wasn’t really ready for that but I think I got a couple of good shots of the action 🙂

One of the bigger females joined the rams in the feast when all of a sudden the little ewes

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

and lambs took off running downstream. Something obviously spooked them and they quickly headed for their favorite rocky cliff where I usually find them in the morning. I stopped for a few shots, and I would have liked to just stay forever… but dark clouds had already begun to move in and I sensed  that the weather was going to turn ugly earlier than predicted. Eventually I gave in, climbed back on my bike and pedaled for the truck as fast as I could.

Good thing too… it was snowing hard in Monument and raining and snowing already in Colorado Springs. At the time of this writing tonight, snow is falling hard in many parts of the state and car accidents are already piling up at an alarming rate.

I did manage to get some video footage which you can view on my Youtube Channel. Please subscribe if you like,  I need 100 subscribers so I can get my swkrullimaging URL!

As for me, I’m happy to be back home in the glow of my computer monitor as I review the splendid day that I had 🙂 As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool gift and household items and tech gadgets are also available with a picture. Just click the link to explore!

Bear and Bighorn

Bighorn Sheep Cooling in the Platte River

My mountain bike trek into the back country was way late yesterday, well beyond the early morning hours best for spotting wildlife… of course I brought my camera anyway, you never know! About three miles in I spotted a small herd of bighorn sheep ewe with a few lambs sunning themselves on a rocky knoll across from the Platte River. I parked my bike and got out the camera hoping for a few nice pictures to mark the day.

On my way back to my bike after a few shots of the ladies and their babies I spotted something moving in the water on the other side of the stream. OMG, it was the bear that I have long been seeking, this one a cinnamon colored black bear taking a break from the heat of the day in the cool Rocky Mountain water. I placed the camera on the monopod and snapped a few pictures from my vantage point on the opposite side of the river from the bear. Soon I

Colorado Black Bear

decided to go back to my pack for the 1.4x lens extension for some closer views.

By the time I returned though, the beautiful bear had completed her swim and was back on the riverbank nearly out of sight in the dense foliage lining the river. It was at that moment that I spotted more movement in the leaves and upon closer inspection with my long lens I discovered not one but two little cubs clamoring to keep pace with their mommy! They were making their way west in search of berries in the trees along the bank so I hopped back on my bike to follow.

Colorado Black Bear Family

The trio meandered along the shoreline of the pristine river, the little ones occasionally stopping to play while mom searched for the food she would need to survive the long Rocky Mountain winter. At one point the little ones got spooked by something and ran back downstream to search for a convenient place to climb to safety. Mom patiently walked back downstream to retrieve the youngsters and the journey upstream continued. Finally I captured my favorite shot of the day as the little ones frolicked, mom and one of the babies together! I had hoped to catch all three but the little ones proved to be much to busy to stop and pose for me 🙂 I believe I’ll return the week after next with

Colorado Black Bear Family

the hope that I will see them again before they crawl into their cave in the rugged cliffs for the winter.

Eventually the little family arrived at a particularly rugged and steep section of cliff and rock where mom led the little ones up a precarious crevice behind the rocks where there appeared to be a good source of food. I could no longer see the bears, only the trees shaking as the cinnamon bear bent the branches down for her babies, so I climbed on my bike and made my way back to the trailhead.

Wow… what a privilege it was to see these amazing animals up close… and to get to photograph them, amazing. A few others had gathered to take in the amazing scene but the bears paid no mind to the people on the other side of the river. I would like to see the little family make the river their permanent home, living out their lives in peace in the safety of the rugged cliffs of the canyon along with the growing herd of bighorn sheep.

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Also available are many household products, tech items and stationary, all with a beautiful #swkrullimaging photograph!

The Fawns

Mama Deer and Fawns

Today’s trek turned out to be extra special due to a rare fawn sighting 🙂 As I neared the turnaround point in the out and back part of the trail I saw movement in the mountain grass. At first I thought it was going to be a fox or maybe a coyote but as I looked through my long glass I discovered that it was a little fawn mule deer. Soon a second baby appeared followed by the mama who immediately spotted me and stopped for a long suspicious stare. The babies soon gathered  close to their mother for protection and joined the vigil. Eventually they decided that I was not threat  and continued along their way as I hid behind a tree using a branch to steady the camera. I stayed until they were out of sight, capturing this cute scene of the two little ones in tow 🙂

Mama Deer and Fawns

I love springtime in the mountains with all the new life and it is my sincere hope that through my pictures others will come to appreciate life in all it’s precious beauty and fragility and gain an understanding of the importance of preserving it for future generations to enjoy.

 

Time for Some Hot Chocolate

Massive Bighorn Sheep

Another cold windy day and I spent a good part of it out in the elements! Now I’m cold to the bone and I can’t seem to get warm. The furnace keeps coming on but it doesn’t seem to help so maybe some hot chocolate will help boost my core body temperature 🙂 Have to say though, looking back it was a pretty good day except for the 45  minutes or so on top of Tenderfoot Pass with no coat on trying to unlock my truck with a stick through a partially open window. Yup, in my excitement to jump out and get a picture I managed to lock myself out. Big Dog was just sitting there looking at me like I was nuts 😦

Bighorns frolicking in the Colorado Rockies

Got in a good hike on this beautiful Colorado winter day and I also got to shoot these awesome bighorn sheep! I’ve been waiting a long time to get a shot of the big dude… I have had occasion to photograph the younger smaller ones but not the big guy. I’ve seen him a few times but never in position to be able to get a good picture.

It was also entertaining to watch the youngsters running around on the side of the cliff. They seemed to be having fun, kind of reminded me of when I was a kid doing some stupid thing like building a huge jump at Baby Bighorn Playing on the Rocksthe bottom of the lake bank for our toboggan jump! We knew we were going to have a spectacular crash… the worse the better! We would play in zero degree weather on our Christmas break until we were absolutely frozen at which time we would adjourn to our friend’s grandmother’s house for hot chocolate and Yahtzee until we were warm enough to go back at it again!

I was amazed that the elusive beasts didn’t run away today, they just kept playing while the head sheep kept a wary eye on me. Up and down the mountainside they went… and I just stood there and filled my memory card until I was sure I had “the shot”.

I was on the west side of the mountainside as the sun was rising in the east so I could have used better lighting, but I’m still happy with what I was able to capture. As always, these images and more are for sale as wall art and cool gift and household items on my website! You can find these in my new “Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat” gallery!