The Eagles are Back and Another First

Bald Eagle CanyonWell after what seems like forever, I was finally able to return to Eleven Mile Canyon to check on the eagles. First I had to get my brakes fixed, then it was tie rods and ball joints, then it was a week of RSV and today I finally made it out!  I was first greeted by one of our nesting pair at the nest, a very good sign! I haven’t seen them since they left the nest in the spring after the young one took flight! Then I saw the other one up in the canyon a few times and managed to get a couple good shots of him. I tried to get some video but the settings on my camera were all messed up and I didn’t want to miss the still shot of the flight so I abandoned the idea. He was a bit jumpy today so I knew I didn’t have much time!

A little dark-eyed junco paid me a visit so I got a shot of him, and then I saw some ducks that looked a bit unusual. Turns out they are called the American Wigeon.

 

 

 

Storm Warning

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Storm Warning” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“! As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website 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
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Autumn and a Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Canyon

I got an unexpected visit to Eleven Mile Canyon yesterday! I was just there Monday hoping to find the bald eagles but there was no sign of the great raptors. Well yesterday’s trip was much later in the day and I really wasn’t expecting much but right there at the bend was none other than “Speckles” as he is called by the locals… perched on his favorite tree overlooking the river.

Unfortunately the light was horrendous and that particular tree puts him about as far from photographers as he could get in this canyon… perhaps that’s by design? Well anyway I thought he was going to eventually fly toward me for a better shot, but just has he started  to get restless he turned around and faced upstream for a takeoff in the wrong direction, as far as I was concerned anyway.

Eleven Mile Autumn

So I got back in the truck and slowly proceeded around the bend, hoping to get into better position for his new plan. Well just as I was getting ready to park he took off and flew right at me. The camera was in the seat next to me but by the time I could grab it, the eagle was over the ridge and out of sight. I didn’t see any more bald eagles the rest of the day, but it’s good to see at least one of our nesting residents alive and well!

The river and the fall colors however were beautiful and I found one stretch of river worth getting out the wide angle for. I’ve found that my old 24-105 F4L works great on the Canon R7 and I’m really happy with the color and contrast I’m getting with this oldie but goodie!

Bald Eagle Canyon

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

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

Quite an Assortment

I’ve seen quite an assortment of critters at the Canyon lately! My latest trip was pretty much centered on the bald eagles, and a cute little family of Canada geese… there isn’t anything much cuter than the little yellow goslings following behind their mother! However recently I’ve seen cormorants, a white faced ibis, great blue heron, eagles, red-tailed hawks, beaver, deer, American dippers, robins, and a ton of little sparrows that are hard to identify without referring to Merlin, my bird ID app from Corning University. Anyway, I just wanted to put them all in one place in this cute little gallery 🙂 Also be sure to view the video of our rapidly growing eaglet!

 

 

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

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!

Awesome Video of the Bald Eagles

Check this cool video with closeups of bald eagles, and other raptors in Eleven Mile Canyon. Also some cute goslings and a red-tailed hawk! Just click this link to watch the video on my YouTube channel ! Watch as mother eagle heads out to hunt for food and the still capture of her bringing home the bacon!

Bald Eagle

Finally Eagle Catches Fish

Red-winged Blackbirds

I’ve been trying for years to capture an image of a bald eagle actually catching a fish and yesterday it finally happened 🙂 A morning at Manitou Lake worked out and an early arrival time was scheduled. Unfortunately the gate wasn’t open yet so entering the park required a bit of a hike from a nearby unofficial parking lot but the morning was still young when we arrived at a likely vantage point for some good photography. Picture taking was off to a good start with some awesome captures of a female red-winged black bird, busily gathering cattail fuzz for her nest followed by the arrival of a few great blue herons.

Bald Eagle at Manitou Lake

Soon it was time for the arrival of the osprey that have been coming to the lake at the same time every day on their morning fishing trip. Unfortunately the osprey seem to have changed their schedule and have decided not to oblige us. It was beginning to look like another photo bust at the lake when suddenly a bald eagle flew in and circled the lake. Soon our National Bird was making a dive at the water, a bit far for a good capture but I readied my camera anyway. A 1600th of a second shutter time, f/8 and auto ISO seemed like good settings for an eagle gliding in for a catch.

Suddenly there was a splash and the mighty raptor was on it’s way with a good sized trout. I kept my lens trained on the approaching predator with my thumb on the back button focus, and kept shooting away. The bird was so small in the frame that it wasn’t really possible at the time to discern whether I was successful, but I was elated that I had actually witnessed the event!

Garden of the Gods

Then it was on to Woodland Park and Colorado Springs for supplies and to shoot the remaining frames of black and white film with my Canon A-1 film camera. I turned off at Manitou Springs to take the back way through Garden of the Gods in hopes of a worthy subject for my six frames of Ilford B&W film. Plus they are building a round about at the west entrance and I wanted to see if it was possible yet to get past the mess on 30th Street. Well, it is not, you can go across to the visitor center but it still isn’t possible to go north. Fontenaro Street to the south is the best route to Colorado Springs proper from the Garden. Before leaving however, I stopped for a few captures of the new leaves of springtime at the visitor center with my A-1 film camera and also a few with my 24-105 wide angle on the 90D using a polarizer.

Here are a few more images from the lake which can be counted on to provide a variety of bird species and color, hope you enjoy them!

 

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

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!

If you enjoy the content and would like to contribute to the cause, please click the donation button and choose an amount!

New Species in the Canyon

Yesterday was the day for my weekly visit to Eleven Mile Canyon. Unfortunately with gas prices the way they are I’ve had to limit my visits to the canyon to once a week. They day began with an apocalyptic looking cloud of dust enshrouding the entire landscape,  the result of tremendous winds we’ve been experiencing this spring. The wind from the night before had never subsided and was still buffeting my truck as I traveled down Teller County Road 1 to the canyon.

Bald Eagle Nest

I was unable to see eaglets in the nest at the entrance, probably due to the wind. I could see the mother eagle was fighting to stay on her perch on the edge of the nest as powerful gusts threatened to unseat her. I imagine the young ones instinctively know to keep their heads down in such conditions.

I watch carefully for osprey in the lower mile or two, as that is they formerly chose for their nest. However there were none to be seen on this day. There was also nothing at the bend, no eagles and not even the often seen blue heron that seems to have made that part of the canyon home for the summer season. However not too far past the bend we spotted a blue heron, then another… and another. All together there appear to be at least four of the great birds nesting somewhere near that relatively calm section of the South Platte River, good information for future visits!

Double-Crested Cormorant

Just beyond there another bird flew in and took up a position high on the giant rocks lining the river. A quick look through the binoculars identified the visitor as a double-crested cormorant, a first for the canyon! We snapped a few pictures of the handsome shore bird and continued on. Our experience with that particular bird at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal led us to believe that he might be comfortable standing on the rocks for a considerable amount of time… more than we had the patience for to be sure.

White-Faced Ibis

Another mile upstream another large bird revealed himself, a species I had never seen before… a large heron looking shore bird with the beak of an oversized sandpiper and unusual red and greenish markings. This one would have to wait for identification until I could get home and feed the image into Merlin, my bird ID application. Eventually I would learn that this was a white-faced ibis… another canyon first! Further investigation indicates that this species as well as the cormorant are expanding their range as climate change warms the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains.

Eventually the osprey flew over, but my equipment let me down on this encounter and I was not able to acquire focus lock as the great hawk circled overhead. Hopefully it won’t be long before the much anticipated Canon R7 mirrorless upgrade to the 90D is available and focus issues will be a thing of the past! I understand the new animal eye focus is quite incredible!

High winds often made audio impossible for the video I was shooting, but I still managed to get a few seconds of footage of the new visitors to the canyon, I hope you enjoy the short video on my channel!

If you enjoy the content and would like to contribute to the cause, please feel free to click the donate button below!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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

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!

Elk, Osprey, Blue Heron, Beaver & Eagles – What a Day!

Elk in the Pike National Forest

I knew it was going to be a good day when a small herd of elk cows crossed the road and ran out into golden light of a Rocky Mountain sunrise on my trip up to Eleven Mile Canyon! Traffic was stopped in both directions to allow for the passage so I grabbed the trusty Canon 90D and snapped a few pictures of the animals, happy to be safely on the other side of the highway. At the time only half the herd had crossed, but the other half didn’t appear interested taking the risk so I continued on my journey.

Soon I was at the entrance to the canyon and on my way past the high cliffs of the opening, looking intently for osprey and peregrine. Neither were at their expected location and I took note of the rushing water as a photo op for motion blur photography in case my wildlife endeavor in the canyon came up empty on this day.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

But it wasn’t long before I spotted my intended target, a beautiful white osprey perched high above the canyon on a dead tree branch. He was quite a distance away though, too far for my 400mm and 1.4x teleconverter. Fortunately I had recently borrowed Kevin’s 2x converter so I attached it and dragged out the tripod with my solid Vanguard ball head.The only reliable way to use the 2x is to switch the lens to manual and use focus peaking with live view. With that method it is possible to zoom in to 10x on the camera and turn the focus ring until the red color outlines any part of the subject that is in focus.

I watched the osprey for a long time, hoping he would take flight and I would get the coveted wing span in a flight image, but he seemed quite intent on remaining on the branch. His behavior was very much like a male osprey overlooking the valley for threats to a nest, not looking down at the river for fish, but scanning the valley up and down, carefully watching for intruders. This makes me think that maybe the new nest may be in that section of river, but I was not able to see the new structure, not even with my 10x binoculars. The male osprey upon seeing a threat will take flight and vigorously defend his territory and I have yet to see a bird willing to risk the ire of an osprey with his wicked talons extended.

Great Blue Heron

Eventually I got too cold in the canyon wind to continue at that location so I got back in the truck and cruised upstream hoping to see eagles, deer in the river, or blue heron. I was soon rewarded with a blue heron standing upon a rock in the sun on the opposite bank of the river. He was safe and comfortable in his location and allowed me to walk out onto a sandbar on the river and sit down on a nice soft island for a long session of photography.

While I photographed and filmed the heron I noticed a disturbance in the water on the opposite bank, closer inspection revealed a beaver swimming back and forth with a meal he had found deep in the river channel. Now I had to split my time between heron and the busy

Beaver in the South Platte

beaver, filming and shooting stills of them both. It was then that I noticed my camera wasn’t behaving properly. Usually when I’m filming with the 90D, the live view focus system will locate a subject and then track it. This time a single stationary focus point was lit up and failing miserably at keeping the subject in focus. If the focus point wavered at all off the subject the animal would go out of focus until the point returned over the subject.

I wasn’t able to resolve the problem until later at home in front of the computer and the detailed PDF 90D manual. It turns out that somehow while messing around with settings lately I had managed to take the camera out of tracking mode and select single point mode. I can’t imagine how I did, that but happily the problem has been corrected and the camera is once again tracking subjects in video mode 🙂

Eventually I decided the heron was not about to leave his comfortable sunny position on the rocks, and the beaver had sufficiently gorged himself on the succulent river grass he had located under the blue water of the South Platte and had continued on upstream. It was very cold down by the icy water and once again as I neared hypothermia, I gave in to the promise of heat and comfort in the truck and continued on upstream.

Bald Eagle on a Nest

There was nothing to see upstream and I noticed on my return trip that the blue heron had not moved from his original position. This time I passed him by and continued on downstream in hopes of seeing the osprey again. Upon failing to locate the osprey, my attention turned to the eagles nest where mother eagle was watching over her young. Once again I retrieved the tripod and the 2x in hopes of video footage including an eaglet or two.

I can tell from the behavior of the mama eagle that there are definitely eaglets in the nest, not just eggs. She is sitting much higher and spends a bit of time tending to something deep in the nest. It will be a few weeks yet before little heads began to appear above the rim of the nest!

I was lucky that the focusing problem didn’t destroy all my footage and am happy to present this Youtube video of my day, hope you enjoy it!

If you enjoy the content and would like to contribute to the cause, please feel free to click the donate button and leave a small gift!

 

 

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!

Spring in the Canyon

The canyon was full of life this morning! There were bald eagles, juvenile eagles, osprey, blue heron and a ton of little song birds. So amazing to see it this way after so many months of bitter cold. I tried a little experiment today, I left off the clear filter that has been attached to my 100-400mm lens since I got it a couple of years ago. I’ve been aware of a slight ghosting on distant objects for some time now but have been unable to determine the source of the problem. I thought it might be a known problem of moisture building up in the lens hood when the lens is warm and the air is cold but that didn’t seem to be it.

So this morning I focused on Mama eagle and took off the filter. Not positive but I think maybe it was a little more clear. So I tried today’s shoot without it. Unfortunately I was really tired this morning and wasn’t really able to concentrate on what I was doing so I don’t think I did that great of a job focusing, but the pictures are still nice. Hope you enjoy them !

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!

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