Raptors in Motion

The excitement is building in the world of raptors, especially in the bald eagle department! The mating season is near and the unattached birds are preparing for migration. That means here in Colorado we photographers are getting ready for the highlight of the year when hundreds of the great raptors descend upon our rivers and reservoirs to look for mates and make the journey south for warmer digs.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

The nesting pairs that choose to stay however, are busy getting their nests ready for the long cold Rocky Mountain winter. And that’s exactly what my favorite nesting pair was up to at Eleven Mile Canyon on this photo adventure. It was chilly when I left before sunrise so I made sure to bundle up in my warmest winter gear for what was sure to be a bone chilling visit to the banks of the South Platte River at my favorite eagle viewing vantage point.

As I drove into the park and the nest came into view I was delighted to see that both eagles were still on location just as the sun was clearing the mountains to the east. The light was perfect and I was going to get the opportunity to capture some great moments!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile CanyonAt first there didn’t seem to be a lot going on so I settled into my camp chair for a long visit along the frozen banks of the clear cold South Platte River as it flows out of the Rockies toward it’s destination in eastern Nebraska. Pretty soon I began to see some activity, one of the eagles hopped out of the safety of the nest onto the “eagle porch”, a piece of dead branch sticking out over the nest.

I took this as a sign that something was about to happen, these eagles often hop up there when they are about ready to depart for their favorite fishing grounds for the day. It wasn’t long before the pair flew away without my being able to get a very compelling image of them in flight. I decided to stick around for a bit to see if maybe they would come back. And it’s a good thing I did, both birds returned with a stick for the nest! I watched as the mother eagle carefully decided upon the optimum location for the new building materials… Speaking of building materials, I recently read that an eagles nest can grow to ten feet wide and weigh up to half a ton!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eventually both birds took flight again, this time in a direction more toward me, as they flew past the beautiful cliffs behind the nest where I could get closer and more interesting images. I thought myself fortunate for this brief moment but much to my surprise both of the huge raptorsΒ  flew skyward and circled together past me several times πŸ™‚ I have never seen them do this before and I snapped each of their approaches toward me several times as they circled higher and higher, eventually drifting away and out of the range of my camera.

It was still early though and I wasn’t quite ready to give up on my day… so I decided upon a hike into the icy canyon to see what else might greet my day. As I strode along the river I noticed a herd of mule deer mirroring my journey on the other side of the river. I wondered if they might have the low point along that side in mind for a drink or a possible crossing so I did my best to stay out of sight as I tried to beat them to the spot.

Doe Mule Deer in Eleven Mile Canyon

I arrived first and took up a seat to wait patiently on a rock partially obscured from view on the other side by some foliage. I was right, it wasn’t long before the small herd of does arrived along the shores if the river for a morning drink. Unfortunately just as I was about to get some good river shots a fisherman roared up in a monster truck to disturb my scene and scare off my subjects. I was able to catch some pretty nice images of the herd as they departed, this being my favorite one. I also chose this image to try out the new radial filter in Adobe Camera Raw… the background was a bit bright for my tastes and I was pleased to be able to create this nice low key rendition of the scene as the furtive herd drifted back into the safety of the tall pines and mountains beyond.

American Dipper Fishing

The fisherman mentioned that he had been seeing what he thought was a mink swimming in the water near there so as I made my return trip I kept my eyes on the water, hoping for yet another photo opportunity on this beautiful early winter morning. And just as I was nearing the fast water, and the end of my ambition to photograph river life in he canyon, I spotted some movement, a sign of life in the cold dark water. It was an American Dipper… jumping from the safety of a rock into the icy water in search of a meal.

American Dipper Fishing

I watched in amazement as the diminutive bird actually dove under the water for several seconds at a time before popping back up several feet away with a little prize. These little birds are amazing, but I never imagined that they would actually swim underwater, submerged for seconds at a time! This proved to be very difficult to photograph however, I was never able to get focused in time for the entry and I was also unable to guess the exit location in time to be able to get a shot. The best I could do were a few images of the little guy on the rock, planning his next attempt.

I’m looking forward to the climax of the mating and migration season in the middle of next month. Another eagle watcher in the canyon yesterday said that she had been seeing a few more eagles, five in one day… including both golden and bald eagles!Β  Be sure to click the button to follow my page and not miss the next episode in the wilderness of these beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains!

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!

Scrambling to Catch Up

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

I seem to be capturing more images than I can keep up with these days! However it won’t be long and the osprey will be heading for warmer temperatures and I want to spend as much time as I can with them as the little ones continue to grow and increase their skills. They have to be ready to fend for themselves on the long trip to South America, usually by the end of August!

Sunrise on the River

On top of that, summer is racing by and autumn will soon be upon us, especially up here at 10,000 of feet! It is time to plan my fall visit to Rocky Mountain National Park so I was checking back through my archives to see when I went last year. In doing that I discovered that there are dozens of images from last year’s trip that have not yet been processed! So of course I am faced with the task of reviewing and editing them while I try to keep up with all the new stuff!

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Today began early, I wanted to be at Eleven Mile before sunrise to make sure I captured every event possible before the heat of the day would drive the animals into the protective shade of the forest. I was not particularly fond of the drive in the dark over the curvy mountain road, I may not do that in the pitch black again 😦 There must have been a major rainstorm last night, the water level had increased considerably and my vantage point on the river bank is very nearly underwater 😦 Thank God for Gortex boots, my feet managed to stay dry during the soggy trek and one face plant as I made my way through the mess. Fortunately I was able to keep the camera above water, although I did have to clear some muck out of the hot shoe 😦 It was worth it though, I arrived in time to get a couple of captures of the beautiful sunrise!

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Much to my surprise the Great Blue Heron was winging towards me in his daily fishing trip to the calm side of the dam when he just stopped and posed on a rock! this or course gave me the opportunity to shoot a couple of nice portraits and prepare for his next flight! I kept aiming the camera at him as long as my arm muscles could take the weight of my long lens, hoping I would be prepared when the flight finally came. Luckily I was ready and snapped off a number of images of him in perfect flight πŸ™‚

Common Merganser Ducks

The falcons were also flying around, very difficult to photograph in flight. They are very fast and they like to change directions! I will have to look carefully at each one to see if I have any keepers. A little family of merganser ducks paddled slowly by so I could get a nice shot of them and one of the osprey even flew over! Later on I wandered over to their nest to see what they were up to today. They were pretty active with several flights over their domain and the father osprey caught a huge fish! Unfortunately he brought it to a distant tree instead of the nest so I really didn’t get a shot of that.

Osprey in Flight

All in all it was a pretty productive day and I am happy with what I came away with. Tomorrow the plan is to be back at the riverside by sunrise!

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!

 

Band of Brothers

Full Grouse Mountain MapBand of Brothers,Β  that’s the new name I’ve given the growing herd of buck mule deer on my mountain πŸ™‚ I decided to go further than ever before in the park today, thinking it would be a good stepping stone for my “hoped for” ascent of Mount Quandary this fall. I know,

Band of Brothers Mule Deer Bucks

it’s an easy one… but I’ve never climbed it before and it would be my first 14er in my sixth decade of life on this planet πŸ™‚ Plus it was only a few months ago after surgery it was all I could do to walk a half a block down to the store! So anyway, I was pleased with my progress on this hike and am feeling more confident about a 14er summit this autumn!

As I cleared the top of the ridge I saw a buck mule deer peering through the trees at me so I avoided the trees and took the long way around the dense pines to the other side where I hoped to approach them without scaring them away. This resulted in a tough rocky climb that I had hitherto deemed impossible. I guess it’s true “Where there’s a will there’s a way!”. Had I gone through he woods they would have instantly bolted at the sound of my clodhoppers crashing through the branches. Fortunately they couldn’t see me until I cleared the summit and at the distance I was from them they just looked at me Summit Grouse Mountainwith curiosity. In fact one of the brothers took a few steps toward me to get a better look!

Then I set my sights on the distant peak, the summit of Grouse Mountain. It was actually difficult to tell if that peak was any higher than the one I was on, but I wanted to check out the unobscured view of the Sangre de Cristo. This may be the only place where you can see the entire eastern range without some kind of mountain or trees in the way! When I arrived at the top I took a look back and it was indeed quite a bit higher.

Female Dusky Grouse

Along the traverse I spotted a pretty good sized bird waddling past one of the old mines so I decided to take a break from the climb to see if I could get a picture of this peculiar bird I’d never seen before!Β  Well this one was quite a character, when she noticed me she quickly scampered under the cover of dense trees that had created an oasis of this abandoned mine high on the barren rocky mountain tundra. I quietly approached the mine hoping to get another chance and I saw her trot over to the other side of the mine behind the trees.Β  So I crept around the mine hoping she would go out in the sun where I couldΒ  get a decent shot, but wherever I went, she went the other way around the mine, never coming out from the shade of the tall trees 😦 Finally I decided to just shoot through the trees and do the best that I could to get a record of my sighting.Β  I posted the picture but didn’t get an immediate response on the ID of the bird so I downloaded a free app from Cornell Labs called Merlin.Β  I was pleased when it came right back with the name of the bird… female Dusky Grouse πŸ™‚ it said that she was an uncommon find in these parts!

Lone Doe in the Pike National Forest

From there it wasn’t far to the summit with the fantastic view of the Sangre de Cristo block fault range (above). It was awesome to stand in full view of the mountains from a place I had been eyeing for so many years πŸ™‚ I stopped and put my pack down to take in the view while recovering from the climb with a nice drink of Gatorade πŸ™‚ I traded out my long lens for a wide angle with a polarizer to cut through the morning haze, and captured a few views of the distant mountain range.

The trip back down was easy with only a small part of it on unfamiliar terrain. There really isn’t a trail most of the way, only the faint wagon tracks left behind by the miners over 100 years ago, most of which I have already explored. This was such an enjoyable hike that I hope to make it once a week to get in shape for the upcoming 14,000 foot climb to the summit of Mount Quandary! I was hoping to see the resident Rough Legged Hawk on the way down, but no such luck. I was privileged to spot this lone doe foraging on the mountain grass! If you look carefully you can see the massive Collegiate Peaks mountain range appearing faintly in the background!

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!

 

Joy in the Sky

When I arrived at Eleven Mile Canyon this morning I was glad to see three osprey in the nest and papa osprey not at his usual perch.Β  That meant I was about to get a shot of him flying in with the morning catch πŸ™‚ I looked around and didn’t see him in the air so I started climbing up to my own perch. Unfortunately that requires a couple of minutes with my back to the nest… I turned around just in time to spot one of the critters landing on a cliff nearby even though I hadn’t seen any shadows overhead indicating the arrival of the papa.

Osprey Chick First Flgiht

I whipped up my camera as quickly as I could and got a shot off just as the raptor was landing πŸ™‚ Odd place for papa to land though, I thought… Closer inspection revealed that it was one of the youngsters! His first flight, about 20 yards from the nest over to the top of a cliff πŸ™‚ He looked pretty proud of himself, doing some kind of little osprey dance where they kind of weave from side to side and bounce up and down… I’ll try to get some video footage of that now that I have a still of him in flight.

Eventually Papa did fly in and I was ready for him to land on the nest but he flew behind the trees and right on by the nest over to a tree near me on my side of the river. So I trained the camera back on the youngster hoping he would fly back to the nest. About a half hour later he started to stir, taking a couple of test flights just a couple of feet off the ground and then off he went, swooping past the nest and into the sky πŸ™‚ That’s the moment in the above picture… he looks so determined! No more worries about him being stranded on the cliff as he proudly soared high in the clear blue Colorado sky, making several passes past the nest and into the trees to the south.

Osprey Chick First FlightLol… it appears his landing skills are still needing some work though, I could see that he wanted to land on a couple dead trees but he overshot the target and had to continue on :( Eventually he made it to another massive bare rock where he clumsily landed high on top of a cliff. He rested there a while before once again taking flight, swooping past the trees and soaring high in the bright Colorado blue sky. It seemed like pure joy after all these weeks of being nest bound, bouncing up and down and trying so hard to follow his powerful parents into the freedom of the sky :)

He found another landing spot on the very top of the cliffs, far above the roaring river below, dangerously close to territory claimed by the buzzards who were circling today as Osprey Chick First Flightalways. I wondered where papa was, having not seen him in quite some time. As I watched through my 400mm lens I spotted a bird in a tree right above junior. I focused in and it was the ever watchful father osprey, on a perch not 20 yards from the new aviator. I should have known, the osprey are always watching their young, never both out of sight of their offspring and I know these formidable predators will never allow them to be harmed. In the picture below you can see the young one on the rock and the father in the tree overhead.

Osprey Chick First Flight

Well anyway, what an honor it was to be there for the little osprey’s first flight, I’m still pinching myself. The younger raptor was also busy today, catching a little air himself, or herself, I don’t think you can tell male from female… unless of course you are an osprey! I imagine the sibling will be taking flight in the next few days too… perhaps I’ll be there when it happens!

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!

Nature’s Way

Mama Osprey

Many of you know that I have been watching the Bald Eagle and Osprey nests that I discovered in Eleven Mile Canyon since early spring. I saw one eaglet grow up under the careful eye of his mother and father, spread his wings and finally take flight to begin his life as America’s National Bird. He still lives at the nest, gaining strength and learning from his parents how to hunt. Today I saw him take his longest flight yet πŸ™‚

Osprey Chick Learning to Fly

The Osprey family has two chicks, both of which are growing in size and strength. Today I witnessed a new development… the mother osprey made a short flight across the river over to a dead treetop not far from my favorite perch. At first I thought she was going on a fishing trip but then I thought she landed… I couldn’t see very well from my precarious position but I kept looking and eventually I spotted her through the branches of a tall pine tree. I slid over on the pine needles to a better spot which later resulted in the need for tweezers 😦 and got a shot of her watching over the youngsters. Soon she was calling out the the chicks, apparently encouraging them to fly and they did their very best! The older one flapped his wings furiously and for the first time he actually gained some air! It was quite an experience to behold πŸ™‚

Osprey in Flight

In the meantime a couple of turkey vultures were circling overhead, eventually drawing the ire of the father osprey who took flight to confront the intruders. They were apparently not eager for a fight with the fierce predator and promptly fled the scene. I tried my best to photograph the aerial incident but the confrontation was far too high in the sky for me to adequately capture.

Bald Eagle Fledgling

As I sat at my vantage point and watched the action I was struck by the dedication of the osprey and the eagles to the task assigned them by their Maker. The spend their days doing what they are supposed to do, asking nothing more and nothing less out of their lives. There is no question in their minds about what they are, what they are supposed to do or whether there might be something else in life they might pursue. They find a mate, hatch their eggs and tend to their chicks. The mother is content to nurture the young and the father stands guard on a perch high above the nest with a view of any danger that might approach and occasionally bringing a fish to sustain his family. It is Nature’s Way.

I only wish that people were so disciplined, so obedient and dedicated to the purpose given to them by their Maker. Unfortunately it is not so with humans constantly disobeying their Creator, ignoring all restraint in quest of their own will. Unlike the raptors I have been watching humans are never satisfied with their God given reality, aspiring instead to create their own kingdoms to the detriment of themselves and everyone around them. Those who seek that kind of power over others have something terribly wrong in their souls, they are evil and may God Himself destroy their tyrannical aspirations.

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!

The Eagles Were Smiling

Bald Eagle in Flight

Well I don’t know if the eagles were smiling but God definitely was smiling upon me this morning πŸ™‚ All the places I usually go in the summer to photograph wildlife were closed this summer due to the virus so I was forced to find some new places and learn some new skills. As it turns out Eleven Mile Canyon is fairly close by and it’s big attraction is raptors and birds of various types. I have spent my summer honing my skills photographing eagles and osprey while watching the progress of our area’s favorite eaglet as he grows in strength and has finally learned to fly.

Bald Eagle in Flight

I started the summer with all my camera settings and skills calibrated for photographing large mammals and I have to say, birds in flight is a whole ‘nother game! Well anyway, today it all came together, including my finding the camping chair which has been lost for as long as I can remember… it was folded up and sitting in plain sight in my room of course but this morning I just happened to spot it, completely by accident πŸ™‚

So off I went, just before sunrise in the hope of arriving just as the sun cleared the ridge toΒ  the east, providing perfect light over the eagles nest and the pristine waters of the South Platte River as it flows out of the Rockies on it’s journey through Nebraska to the Mighty Missouri.

Bald Eagle in Flight

With the warm sun spilling over my shoulders I set up my rig on the bank of the river with a “birds eye view” of the restricted raptor area on the west side. Ready for action, my camera set to Tv mode with auto ISO, 1/2000th of a second… plenty of shutter speed to capture an eagle in flight. I wasn’t too worried about the aperture, with my 1.4x extension attached I’m pretty much guaranteed the camera will use F8. I’d like a little faster but with the loss of a stop of light from the 1.4x, F8 is the widest my 400mm F5.6 can achieve. Usually I sit for hours with not much happening other than a little flapping of wings in the nest as the fledgling practices his newfound wing skills. The eaglet was indeed on the nest but I also spotted the mother eagle on a perch not far away so there was some hope that today could be special.

It wasn’t long and the youngster took flight and tried to join mom on the higher perch, Fledgling Bald Eaglet in Flightbut she was having none of it. The eaglet landed on a branch near her and immediately the mother eagle took flight and made a wide circle over the entire area before disappearing behind the mountain. Much to my surprise however, she was soon back and flying right over me at low altitude after which she just circled and circled for aΒ  good long time. with each pass I shot more images as she approached, while letting off the shutter as she turned her back to me in preparation for another pass.

Eventually she swooped in and landed in a tree above the fledgling. I thought the show might be over so I packed up to go visit the osprey further up the canyon, but after walking a few steps I looked back and all three eagles were in the air!Β  It was clear the show wasn’t over so I just went and sat back down in my chair and decided to remain on the banks of the Platte until the heat of the day drove all the critters into the shade of the dense pines in the San Isabel National Forest.

Bald Eagle in Flight

And what a show it was, one by one each of the eagles went on a long flight above me, soaring high on the mountain air currents and circling past over and over, as if they knew I was ready and wanted me to photograph them! By the time the sun began to beat mercilessly down upon the forest I had accumulated over 800 images, almost all perfectly exposed and tack sharp πŸ™‚

These I have included today are just a few of my favorite ones, there are many more including some cool shots of the red wings and some geese paddling by in the golden beauty of the early morning water that I photographed while waiting on the eagles πŸ™‚

As always, the best of these images are available for purchase onΒ my websiteΒ 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!Β For my viewers interested inΒ images for commercial use, please visit myΒ image licensing portal!

The Eagle Show

Baby Eagle in Nest

As the caffeine from my morning coffee began to revive my brain, I began to wonder how the eagles out at Eleven Mile Canyon were doing. The last time I was there I didn’t see them and there were reports that the eaglet had taken flight, so it has been a couple of weeks since I have seen them. By 6:30 I was itching to get outside with my camera so it seemed a good day to pay a visit. When I first arrived I didn’t see any of them in the nest, not with my bare eyes anyway… I needed a closer look so I got out my big lens and zoomed in. Much to my surprise the eaglet was in the nest, or above it I should say… disguised as a tree branch! I steadied the camera on the hood of my truck and just watched for a while.

Eventually I was rewarded with a short flight by the young raptor, probably a couple of

Red Winged Blackbird

feet over the nest. I was surprised that the parent eagles weren’t there, I thought I had a handle on their daily routine, with flight taken at about 10:00. So I thought, well… why don’t I hang around until a little after 10:00 and see if anything happens? In the meantime I whiled away the time by shooting an occasional shot of the red winged blackbirds that were hopping from perch to perch, occasionally dropping down to the clear blue water of the South Platte for a drink.

Bald Eagles in Flight

At 10:15 I was about to give up on the eagles and settle for the images of the eaglet in near flight. While messing around trying to photograph one of the speedy little swallows over the river that like to taunt me, I looked up and spotted one of the adults in the nest! Soon I also saw the other parent swooping in and I whipped my camera up and laid on the back focus button… The huge bird came into view and I started shooting. Only my middle focus point was activated and in precise mode so I did my best to keep that single small point on the eagle as he glided over to the nest and spread his wings for the landing. I was so happy to discover that quite a few of him preparing to land on the nest turned out pretty well πŸ™‚

For a few short minutes both adults and the eaglet were in the nest together but

Bald Eagles in Flight

unfortunately the baby had ducked down and wasn’t really visible from my angle. Shortly thereafter one of the adults suddenly and without warning took flightΒ  again, I imagine for another fishing trip over Eleven Mile Reservoir.

I hung around a few more minutes hoping that the youngster would join mama for a couple of poses but I was thinking the little one was probably tired from all his pre flight practice earlier in the day. I really hope I have the good fortune to be there when he eventually takes flight for real and joins his parents in the fishing. I wonder how long the eaglet remains with his parents before departing to make his own life? I’ll have to look that up I guess πŸ™‚

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!

Bald Eagles in the Nest

 

Magical Day in the Canyon

One of my most favorite places in the entire world reopened after being closed for months due to the accursed Covid-19 pandemic. I started the day with high hopes, pictures of the bighorn and a bear filled the Waterton Canyon Group and I was so hoping to get my chance today.

Hummingbird on a Perch

The mountain bike ride along this beautiful stretch of the South Platte River as it flows down out of the Rockies on it’s way through Nebraska where it connects with the Mighty Missouri is about six miles one way, unless of course you have the skills to continue on the single track portion of the Colorado Trail! It is not always easy to catch the animals at the river, you have to be at the right place at the right time so I just took a leisurely pedal all the way to the top of the canyon.Strontia Springs Dam is the high point of my ride and I stopped there at the picnic tables to take a break, having seen nothing to photograph for the entire six miles. While sitting there I spotted a cute little hummingbird resting on the very top of a small tree… I wondered if I could get a shot, got out the camera and gave it a try. Fortunately the little fellow sat there for a while and then returned a couple of times giving me time to catch him in a few poses πŸ™‚

Eventually I mounted my bike and began coasting back down, intently watching the canyon walls and the river for the sheep and the bear. I stopped a few times to take breaks and waste time hoping the beasties would come down, all the while asking others on their way up and down if they had seen any animals.

Couple of Bighorn Lambs Playing

Finally near the bottom I refused to give up and decided to ride back up a ways to the the lower dam where I planned to stop for aΒ  while and hope for the best. As I neared the dam I spotted a few bighorn ewes down by the water on the opposite side of the river from where I usually see them. I snapped a couple of boring pictures of the scraggly looking ewes by the water and then I noticed a couple of lambs further up the cliff side playing on a plateau. Fortunately I captured them playfully butting heads which made for a great picture which I have already uploaded to my website , one of the most magical scenes I have ever photographed πŸ™‚ I didn’t think so while I was there because the sun was so

Herd of Bighorn Sheep Ewes and Lambs

bright I could hardly see anything, much less the LCD on the back of the camera! But now that I am home looking at the images on the computer I am pretty happy πŸ™‚

I wanted to catch some video but the whole show was over within about 15 minutes and about the time I thought about it they were already bedding down. Nothing interesting about animals sleeping 😦

Eventually the mama ewe noticed that the little ones were not with the main group anymore and the little band of females began the climb up the canyon walls to search for the wayward youngsters. She must have had a pretty good idea of their whereabouts as they went right to them. Soon the entire herd found a shady spot to escape the intense front range heat and lay down for their afternoon nap.

Female Common Merganser

I packed up my equipment and began the ride to the bottom while continuing to hope for a bear sighting. I didn’t see a bear but I did run across these cool looking Common Merganser female ducks which were worth getting the equipment back out for a few captures! After that I was already past all the good animal viewing locations so I pedaled hard back to the parking lot. All in all a pretty good day… a 12 or 14 mile bike ride in spectacular mountain scenery can never be a bad thing!

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!