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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 itโ€™s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Pelicans Swimming

Eleven Mile and a 2x Converter

Had an opportunity to borrow a Canon 2.0x III teleconverter yesterday so I immediately thought of the eagles nest at Eleven Mile Canyon which has always been just out of reach for a good crop with my little 1.4x converter and 400mm lens. As I drove into the park area I didn’t see any eagles at the nest so I cruised on into the canyon in search of the osprey and blue heron and hopefully even the juvenile baldies.

Great Blue Heron at Eleven Mile Canyon

Didn’t see the osprey or the peregrines near the entrance so I motored upstream searching the banks of the river and nearby trees where I have seen the great birds many times. Eventually I spotted a blue heron in a tree, mostly just taking a nap, but looking up every once in while for possible threats. Unfortunately he was on the dark side of the river and with the 2x which introduces a two stop loss of light, my ISO values at a shutter speed of even just 1/800th of a second were up around 10k to even a less workable 12,800k. There was so much noise in the preview that I really couldn’t even tell if I had the image in focus. Oh, forgot to mention, with the 2x I’m limited to F11 and my Canon 90D won’t autofocus with a lens combination smaller than F8.

Osprey at Eleven Mile CanyonUnfortunately I didn’t get another opportunity to photograph until I had been all the way up the canyon and almost back out, when I finally spotted a large bird across the river resting in a dead tree. A quick glance through my long lens verified that the bird was an osprey so I rested my camera on the window frame of my truck and captured a few images. Eventually the beautiful hawk took flight and I was lucky to be ready, capturing a few images of him as he flew off with a fish in his sharp talons.

I quickly exchanged the 2x for the 1.4x which allows for only one stop of light loss and auto focused on his flight against the beautiful blue Colorado sky ๐Ÿ™‚ Later as I looked through my images it appears as though the tree the osprey was using to eat his breakfast could be a good candidate for a nest next spring. I hope she or he was taking good notes, it’s going to be a long winter down in the tropics before they return again to breed next spring!

Osprey at Eleven Mile CanyonHappy with my captures I departed the canyon, taking a quick look one more time for the peregrines on the cliffs of the canyon entrance. The eagles nest once again appeared to be empty, but I decided to put the 2x back on to do a magnification check against the 1.4x, just to see what it would be like to watch the nest a bit closer. As I peered through the lens and monkeyed with the focus ring I spotted one of the juvi’s in a tree a few yards behind the nest. I snapped a couple shots of him and decided to go down to the river bank for a closer look.

I grabbed my big tripod with the heavy duty Vanguard ball head and took a better look. Just as I got focused the third young bald eagle flew right in front of the other two and landed in the nest. Quick reactions resulted in a pretty amazing capture of all three of the offspring in one frame drawn in close with the 2x converter ๐Ÿ™‚

Juvenile Bald Eagles

So I have to say it was a pretty happy day in the canyon with good images of a great blue heron (taken with the 1.4x), the osprey and the young bald eagles!

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 itโ€™s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Two Birds

Wanted to test out my new vlogging microphone, I’ve been bumbling along all this time just using the on board mic on my 70 and 90D Canon bodies, which is fine unless it’s windy. So I ran across this nice RODE hot shoe mic at Best Buy for a good price and decided to give it a whirl!

I also needed a new intro to my Patreon channel, so I climbed Hell Hill with the whole mess and set up the equipment at the mine park on the summit to film the video. And after only about 27 takes I finally managed a version that didn’t make me want to throw up. I’m really not very good at being on that side of the camera ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Mountain Blue Birds

So I got my two birds with one stone as they say, the microphone worked splendidly and the video is published… But that’s not the end of this story! On the hike back down I spotted these two cute little mountain blue birds to add to the title of this post… Sometimes I’m so clever I can’t stand myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

While I was at it I added Models and photographer VIP tiers to my Patreon channel along with a new benefit, a once a month live photo shoot event with the eligible models and photographers. Trying to think outside the box ๐Ÿ™‚ I wanted to let models join for free but Patreon wouldn’t let me so I had to put $1 in that field. Too early to tell of course, but I’m hopeful that this is a good idea ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve always been afraid of doing something like this because of the liability, but now I have insurance through the PPA so I am all set to try it !!!

Beautiful Female Models Posing

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.

Awesome Birds at Manitou Lake


It was an awesome morning with the birds of Manitou Lake. I knew it was going to be a good morning when I spotted a great blue heron on the water the instant I arrived. He stayed for a long time and even let me get pretty close! The pelicans were flying in and out and I even spotted a couple of new birds for my Ebird profile at Cornell Ornithology labs!

Flock of American White Pelicans

Anyway, I am quite tired tonight so I am going to post this YouTube video instead of doing a lot of writing. What do they say, a video is worth a thousand words ๐Ÿ™‚ or something like that! If you enjoy the content I hope you will like and subscribe! It would really help my channel to grow!

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.

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An Exciting Discovery

Today Kevin & I were determined to get to Manitou Lake early enough to photograph the osprey fishing, so we were at the gate at 6:00 a.m. as the park opened. A couple of great blue heron caught us by surprise on the shoreline and took off before we could get much shooting in.ย  Once we were sure there were no more heron in the water, we moved over to the east side of the lake to achieve the best lighting situation, took up a position and waited.

Great Blue Heron at Manitou Lake

Unfortunately, no osprey showed up and we had to occupy ourselves with shooting the heron as they flew back and forth. Eventually the fly by’s became less frequent and we decided to go investigating. We have been wondering where they have been going to and fro…

So we hiked along the lake and then upstream where the water passes under a road bridge, on the other side is a marsh where we were suspicious they might be nesting.ย  As we stood there watching a strange sound greeted us… It sounded like a cross between bird and machine… we aimed our long lenses at the source of the noise and much to our amazement was a large colony of blue heron, nesting in the tops of the tall pine trees.

I had no idea heron nested in trees… but there it was before us… the source of all the chatter. A large colony of heron can make quite a racket! So now we know the source of the heron flights. Perhaps some day that information will come in handy!

Great Blue Heron at Manitou Lake

Great Blue Heron at Manitou Lake

Making the Best of Bad Weather

Great Blue Heron at RiverBoy it’s been tough to catch a break lately, seems like every time I get a chance to go out and shoot it is either raining or snowing! That doesn’t work very well for bird photography which requires a lot of high quality light, but sometimes it can work out well for landscape work. The Sangre de Cristo Range usually is a good candidate for bad weather photography, but as beautiful as they are… you can’t get good pictures in the rain of a subject that is sixty miles away :( Also, as in the case of dense fog… you can’t see them at all!

One of my days was just cloudy with a little haze so I was able to go to Eleven Mile Canyon where the canyon is so narrow, if you do find some wildlife it is a sure bet that the critters

Osprey at Eleven Mile

will be fairly close to you if they don’t scamper away! In fact the great blue heron like cold cloudy weather so I was able to grab a couple of my best captures ever of those majestic birds. The less than bright light also works well for the white headed osprey.ย  If you don’t get the exposure just right you will lose all detail in the most important part of the image. In direct sunlight negative two or more stops of exposure compensation is required which wreaks havoc on your background, so a little bit of diffusion from the cloud cover can be quite helpful!

In the case of dense fog, some great images of the pine trees and aspen yet to acquire leaves can be had. The historic ghost mines of the Cripple Creek / Victor mining district also make for good subjects on a foggy day. Now that the area has been modernized and and tourist defended, there are a ton of fences and signs that look terrible in a picture. A bit of dense fog hides a multitude of hideous photographic blemishes

Dense fog in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

A video hike through the fog is also an attractive possibility, like this trek I filmed on the way to the top of Grouse Mountain. A bit of fog added some mystery and entirely new look to my usual mundane hike that I mostly just do for exercise and the possibility of spotting some deer or cute little birds, now that the warm weather is here! Speaking of cute birds… just yesterday I was able to add a new life sighting of a green-tailed towhee that I photographed at the end of my hike when the sun was finally starting to break through!

And then there is always storm chasing, something I might try this afternoon with some tremendous thunderstorms promised starting at about 3:00 p.m.

Fog on the Mountain

Please donโ€™t forget to visit my YouTube channel to watch videos of many of my adventures in the mountains, and if you wouldnโ€™t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

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.

Cute little Green-tailed Towhee in the grass

Misty Mountain Morning Hike

I was tired this morning… tired enough that just sitting in my chair drinking coffee sounded like a pretty good plan. However when I got up to get that cup of coffee I saw all that beautiful fog outside and I knew I was going to have to go out in it! Fog in these mountains can turn an ordinary day into a glorious day of photography ๐Ÿ˜‰

Foggy Pike National Forest

Fog was really all I expected to see but much to my surprise I was met by a herd of mule deer at the top of the ridge. For some reason they were a bit wary of my presence today so I wasn’t able to get a whole lot of pictures before they wandered off into the deep forest.

The fog was inspiring enough that I decided to make a video out of today’s hike and while I was filming the amazing looking fog I mentioned all the songbirds I was hearing on the summit. First time this year I have heard any at that elevation! I discussed how they like to hide in the grass on the mountaintop and fly away the second you find them but I was surprised to notice a little bird off in the fog that wasn’t flying away. So I put my camera on my monopod and snapped a few stills of what turned out to be an amazing looking little yellow and black bird that I didn’t remember seeing before! He stayed long enough that I switched the

Yellow Rumped Warbler

camera to video and filmed him for a couple of minutes hopping around plucking things off theย  ground! Later in front of my desktop computer, I discovered that the little fellow was a yellow-rumped warbler, a version of which I have apparently spotted before according to my ebird account.

I also decided to drive on up to Goldfield to see how the fog was affecting the old historic mines there. on the drive to the top to Victor Pass there wasn’t much fog so I didn’t worry too much about pictures. At the turnaround as I looked back though, one of the mines was obscured by a bit more fog so I snapped a few stills as the fog rolled in. It wasn’t long and the mine was completely obscured by a dense mist. Good thing I got the shot in when I did!

Biscuits and Gravy

A nice plate of hot biscuits and gravyย  with coffee at the Gold Camp Bakery seemed like a fitting way to end this cloudy misty morning so I turned Old Blue back toward Victor. As usual the place was quite hospitable and a nice place to sit and enjoy being inside and out of the cold wet fog!

Please don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel to watch the video of today’s adventure in the mountains, and if you wouldn’t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

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.

Mule Deer in the Woods

Fog in Mine Country

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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?ย 

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.

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First Picture of 2021

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile CanyonI went out looking for hawks yesterday, without success… but today at Eleven Mile Canyon I had better luck. Got my first picture of the year as the bald eagles appeared over the South Platte River. The first one spotted was perched high in the tops of the pine trees, and he remained in place long enough for me to get my very first image of 2021 ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually he took flight and I got a few more before he disappeared around the bend. The rest of the day was quite successful as well, with the capturing of numerous images of the proud birds in flight and perched in the trees above the bitterly cold South Platte River.

Bald Eagle 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!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon