They’re Back !!!

I’ve been checking for a month now and finally… they’re back! The osprey have completed their four thousand mile semi-annual migration from Central America back to their breeding site at Eleven Mile Canyon, Colorado 🙂 As I entered the canyon I was disappointed to see that there were no osprey in the nest. It looked just as cold and lonely as it has all winter so I just kept driving with the intent on going up the canyon to look for the bald eagles

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

But wait… what is that, on the tip top of a dead tree way on top of the ridge. I stopped and got out with the camera and trained my long lens on the speck standing out against the blue sky.  It looked like a bird but I was unable to ascertain what kind so I snapped a picture that I knew wouldn’t be any good, but I could zoom in on the LCD screen and maybe see some more detail. Indeed it was an osprey, I could see the unmistakable stripe on his face. I assumed since he was so high just watching over the valley, that he might be the male as that is the behavior we came to know him for.

From last summer I remembered that he was patient, capable of sitting on that perch for hours at a time without moving. So I decided to continue on to search for the bald eagles. It wasn’t long before I spotted Speckles sitting in a tree looking intently at the river for a fish. He wasn’t quite as jumpy as he has been lately so I was able to get a few captures and some video footage as well. Eventually he flew and took up another position in the trees. Up to this point all I had been able to capture was him on the perch. Both times he flew it was into the trees with no chance of a picture.

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Finally I spotted him in a  very unusual location. He had taken up a perch on a tiny tree on top of the rocks above the tunnel. The lighting didn’t look very good so I was a bit disappointed but decided to stop and watch anyway. He remained a good long time and as I watched I realized that if he did take flight it would likely be right at me, a rare opportunity for sure! So I shot a few seconds of video footage before deciding to concentrate fully on the impending launch. Eventually my patience paid off and the great raptor took flight, just as I expected… right at me. He was even looking straight at me as his flight leveled off and the upward trajectory began.

Another highlight of the eagle hunt occurred up near the big dam. I spotted two large birds flying together in what appeared to be joyous play. A closer view had me hoping that I was witnessing the golden eagle finding a mate. Not so, however the news is good anyway, it appears that two juvenile baldies have decided to take up residence in the canyon. Probably the offspring of the two nesting pairs residing at each end of the canyon.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

My thoughts then returned to the osprey. I figured enough time had passed that the beautiful male might be done with his sentry duty at the top of the ridge and there might be some action closer to the nest. As I neared the nest I was happy to see  what I believe to be the female busy working on their abode in preparation for the mating season. I shot a few seconds of video and snapped a few images from the truck and then climbed the icy hillside on the opposite side of the river, at least as far as I dared given the less than safe condition of my usual perch on a rock high above the canyon floor.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

The mother osprey was active on this day, flying back and forth with sticks to fortify the nest, battered from the harsh Colorado winter. I was blessed to get captures of her approach, soaring in the sky and landing in the nest, all within an hour or so. I never did see the two birds at the same time but considering the behavior I witnessed, I’m pretty sure they are both back. Anyway, I am looking forward to a summer of entertainment from their antics, hoping they are able to raise two healthy offspring from nest to flight in late August.

To go along with this blog post I have recorded one of my better videos, including my trips up and down the canyon, the eagles and the osprey. I hope you enjoy it 🙂 And if you wouldn’t mind, please hit the thumbs up and the subscribe buttons to help my Youtube channel to grow! Also in anticipation of hundreds of new osprey images that I will be taking this summer I have created a new gallery on my website dedicated to these amazing raptors! Just click to enter the gallery and then click on your favorite image to view product options and pricing.

Osprey 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! 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.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

Sure Sign of Spring

Red-winged blackbird

A sure sign of spring has arrived at Eleven Mile Canyon. My latest eagle finding adventure was less than successful, but I was happy to see the red-winged blackbirds have returned from their long journey south for the winter. It took a couple of seconds for my mind to identify the new sounds, which were quickly identified as the welcome sound of spring and the call of the red-winged blackbirds that make their home in the plentiful reeds along the South Platte River.

Mother eagle is still dedicated to her task of hatching her new eggs and the deer have also returned to the river bank in the early hours of morning to drink and partake of the tender grass found along the banks of the flowing water. Soon the osprey and other colorful song birds will be returning as well and I am looking forward to a summer of color in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado

Mother Eagle Hatching her Eggs

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!

Deer on the Banks

When Eagles Soar

It was another excellent day with the eagles… My original intent was to just go for a hike on my trail close by, but the second I arrived so did my nemesis with his wildlife chasing dogs. So I jumped back in my truck and took the four wheel drive road to the summit to make sure there wasn’t any wildlife there, and indeed I didn’t miss anything. So I drove back out and decided to head to my backup location and better photo location, Eleven Mile Canyon. It was my hope that I would find wildlife there, especially the eagles. I’m also watching the osprey nest with great anticipation!

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

All in all I would have to say it probably worked out for the best, I had several eagle sightings and some great captures! Plus there was a bonus at the end as I spotted a small herd of mule deer feeding on an island in the river. I stopped to grab a couple of captures and the gentle creatures didn’t seem to mind my presence so I was able to get some fairly closeup images. And much to my surprise the little herd decided to actually cross the icy river… an event that I came close to missing. Fortunately I was able to scramble up the trail a bit and get into position to capture most of the beautiful beasts in the water 🙂

Be sure to check out my video of the day which has the best clips and pictures of the day included. Also please be sure to click the notify, like and subscribe buttons if you enjoy my content and want to help my YouTube channel!

Mule Deer Doe in River

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!

This blog post is not sponsored. Any equipment used in the production of this post was purchased by myself on my own volition.

 

 

 

 

Eagles Hawks Hiking and a Frozen River

Enjoy my new YouTube video of a day of hiking and wildlife including bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and the frozen South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. Please hit the subscribe button if you enjoy the content and want to see more!

_MG_8555As 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!

Flight of the Eagle

The plan for the day was to capture bald eagles in flight… Eleven Mile Canyon looked like the most likely place for that to happen. A high wind warning looked to foil my plan, but as it turned out the wind in the canyon wasn’t nearly as ferocious as  the wind out in the high prairie beyond the southern Colorado foothills.

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

I didn’t spot my first eagle until I was probably six miles into the canyon, a handsome fellow standing on a branch in the shade high above the South Platte River. Unfortunately he was in a terrible location  for a photograph so I decided to just shoot a bit of video, and a bit was all I was going to get. Seconds after getting out of the truck the great bird took flight. I was able to capture a few seconds of his flight before he disappeared around the bend.

I drove upstream a mile or so and then decided to turn around and look for the original character.  Again, I found him in an impossible location for photography, on rivers edge with the sun directly behind him. I did my best and bagged a couple of captures before he moved on to his next location where finally he had found a place in perfect morning light

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eventually the raptor took flight again and by this time the hour for soaring high into the sky had come, there would be no more closeup imagery on this day. So I decided to drive  back to the entrance and check on the nest that one of the two eagle pairs residing in the canyon calls home. When I arrived the female was in the nest, obviously disturbed by a couple of crows circling over her. Normally the eagle mom has a great amount of tolerance for the smaller birds but now with nesting season drawing near she has run out of patience.

She left the nest and chased the smaller birds with vengeance. The had no desire to take the eagle on and quickly left the area. I took that as my cue to call it a day, the wind at the canyon entrance was horrendous and I was certain all the eagles would be hunkering down until the windstorm was over.

Bald Eagle Chase

At each stop I captured a little video, enough to make a nice record of my day, I hope you enjoy it! Please take the time to subscribe if you enjoy my work and it will also really assist my channel to grow if you would also hit the thumbs up button!

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!

Icy South Platte River

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 raptors  flew skyward and circled together past me several times 🙂 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!  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!

Autumn in the Canyon

Fall has come early to Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado… With the departing of the osprey some of the pizzazz has  gone out of my visits here, but the amazing color has made up for it! I arrived just after sunrise and was delighted to notice that both bald eagles were in the nest.

Eleven Mile Bald Eagle Pair

I grabbed my camera and my official observation chair and hurried down to the riverbank in hopes of catching them before they left for the day. Right around sunrise these days they can be found flying back and forth with sticks to fortify their nest for the harsh Colorado winter, but the show doesn’t last for long. Within an hour it is likely that they will both be off for the day doing eagle stuff!

Eleven Mile Bald Eagle PairJust after I got situated, one of the pair took off and flew into the canyon. Unfortunately my camera was nowhere near ready. Exposure compensation was set at +2/3 and my shutter speed was only at a 500th of a second. My first opportunity was completely blown. Quickly I adjusted my settings for eagles in flight, -2/3 exposure compensation to assure that the bright white of their head feathers are not blown out and about a 1250th of a second shutter speed. I usually like a 1600th or faster but in such low light 1250 is a good compromise.

Autumn Color in Eleven Mile

Eventually the eagle returned and I was able to get a couple of nice shots of the pair in flight. Soon after of course, the show was over and I decided to walk in and investigate the fall color situation. The sunshine had not yet reached the river valley so I was able to get a couple of nice motion blurs of the flowing stream and see that the colors were going to really pop with the light of the sun.

I went back to the parking lot to retrieve my truck for a long day of fall photography.  I slowly drove along the riverside road looking for all the best views. The colors along the river were well worth some sketchy scrambling on hands and knees down to waters edge and I took advantage of every opportunity! In addition to all the wonderful still images I was able to capture, I thought it important to capture some of the sound and motion of the beautiful golden water of the river. Still images are nice but sometimes they just don’t do the scene justice!

Three Deer Crossing

On my way out of the canyon I spotted a young deer crossing the river so I stopped and grabbed my camera. The yearling was soon joined by two other doe mule deer in crossing the river but unfortunately, once again I was unprepared for the situation… my camera was still equipped for scenery pictures with only a 24-105 lens and a shutter speed of 160th of a

Three Deer Crossing

second… but there was no time for adjustments and I just started shooting. Luckily it looks like a couple have turned out, one with a bit of pleasing motion blur 🙂

For your enjoyment I have created a nice 10 minute YouTube video with still imagery and video of today’s experience.  There are also many other adventures that I have documented with multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to

Autumn Color in Eleven Mile

watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons moreof my images are displayed!

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!

Autumn Color in Eleven Mile

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂

So off I went, just before sunrise in the hope of arriving just as the sun cleared the ridge to  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 a  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!  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 🙂

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 🙂

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!