Blue Heron Catching Huge Trout

Watch my new video which includes a great blue heron catching a huge trout! What a great day of photography as I get to see pelicans, heron, baby geese and the bald eagle triplets!

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!

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!

Cold in the Canyon

I awoke at sunrise and took a peek out the front window to see what kind of day it was going to be, and  already I could see a beautiful day in the making.  I thought about a further trip but being the 4th of July weekend I was all too aware of the obligatory traffic jams in the mountains as the weekend travelers make the journey back home. I hadn’t seen the adult bald eagles for a few days and someone was trying to convince me that they had left for the season, so I decided on another trip to Eleven Mile Canyon to check it out for myself.

Morning Mule Deer

When I arrived the fledgling was perched on a branch above the nest, facing the wrong way of course… I waited about an hour and then he finally flew, but just from the nest back further into the trees where I couldn’t see him at all. Today there were no deer on the banks of the river either so I decided to make the hike back into the park to check on the osprey family.

It appears though that the deer had all congregated deep in the canyon today, and they were all trying to make their way out as I was making my way in. They warily approached me so I decided to appear non threatening and just sat down on a rock while they nervously passed. Right in that particular spot there is a cliff wall on one side and a drop off to the roaring whitewater below on the other, there is no other choice but to share the road! I did get a nice portrait of this doe though, with the beautiful canyon wall on the opposite side of the river creating a nice background for the image 🙂

Eventually the osprey nest came into view and I could see even from a distance that

Osprey Fledging

there was a bird in there. As I drew closer I could see that the mother and the two chicks were nestled snugly in their home on top of the trees. I made my usual climb up the other side of the bank to my vantage point and settled in for the wait. Fortunately it wasn’t too long before one of the fledglings was feeling frisky and started furiously flapping his wings 🙂 Of course my camera was on rapid fire for that display!

Osprey in Flight

Next on tap was a flight by daddy osprey who left his perch from a dead tree high above the nest, where he keeps a close eye out for danger. He flew off and was back in a short time with a stick which he swooped in to give to mama osprey. I was fortunate to capture a good one of him coming in for a landing at the nest clutching a prize in his formidable talons. He remained but a few seconds and flew back to his perch where he remained sentry for the rest of my morning.

Osprey Family on the Nest

Mama continued rustling around, occasionally reaching into the nest to tend to the chicks before finally taking perch on top of the edge of the nest. I was able to get some nice pictures of her and the chicks but I was really hoping for a flight.

Being the middle of summer I had left my sweatshirt in the truck and it wasn’t long before I was regretting that move! As I sat there in my short sleeved shirt sitting on the cold rock I just got colder and colder. Finally by 10:00 I think hypothermia was starting to set in and I was shaking so badly I could no longer steady the camera. I hung in there another half hour or so but mama didn’t appear inclined at all to go on a fishing trip so I gave it up and climbed back down the embankment, not an easy task on cold legs that had been doing nothing but stiffening for the last couple hours! Fortunately I made it back down without falling over the edge 🙂

As I neared the truck I thought I could see some action in a tree high above the eagles

Bald Eagle Fledgling

nest. I aimed my long lens up there but couldn’t really see anything except a big brown object. It looked kind of like an eagle but it could also just be a tree branch. Finally I snapped a picture and used the LCD playback to zoom in and examine the subject more closely. Sure enough, it was mama eagle sitting in the tree with her back facing me. Once again I devoted more time in the hope she would fly, but from what I could tell she never even twitched from her statuesque pose. As I was standing up getting ready to depart I heard the eaglet in the distance calling out to mama. She answered with a screech that echoed across the valley… and soon the young one was airborne and gliding toward the nest. Fortunately I ready and was able to capture a good image of him coming in for the landing 🙂 He is just a youngster but as you can see he is already looking quite fierce!

Now as I write, there is a beautiful rainstorm in progress, thunder echoing

Osprey Learning to Fly

through the valley to keep me company. I can’t say that I’m upset that the holiday weekend is almost over, definitely not a fan of the crowds the big days bring to the mountains.

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 Moment We’ve Been Waiting For

Baby Bald Eagle in Flight

Today was the day… the day we’ve been waiting for with great anticipation for weeks! The eaglet has finally taken flight 🙂 And even better, I was there with the camera to capture it! The little guy has been spreading his wings for a while now, gaining altitude above the nest, flapping his wing sand working up the courage to actually leave the nest and go out on his own 🙂

The youngster left his nest early this morning and made one good pass showing off as if he knew I was there watching.

Baby Bald Eagle in Flight

He then swooped in low to land on a boulder across the river. He remained there motionless until a deer went running by and startled him into flight again. This time he flew directly in front of me just on the other side of he river and into a thick area of pine forest, out of sight and out of range of my camera. I remained on the river bank for about an hour hoping he would take flight again but unfortunately I didn’t see him again today.

Baby Bald Eagle in Flight

The adult eagles were not to be left out of the action either, they were flying around swooping low and flying high, as if they too were celebrating the youngsters success! I did my best to take it all in with the camera but they were really moving! Not an easy task to stay on target with a long lens, and unfortunately the lighting was not all that great 😦  After putting on a good show they picked their favorite pine tree high on the cliffs for a perch where they sat motionless, side by side like the two love birds that they are.

Eventually I decided to take a little hike up the canyon to see what the osprey were up to but not much was happening, looks like I’m going to need an earlier start if I want to catch the best light and the most action in the canyon! I made the best of the little hike along the South Platte by shooting a couple images of the landscape and the whitewater which I have uploaded to my website… and also there was a cute little chipmunk who decided to entertain me for a little bit while I watched the osprey nest. 🙂

Bald Eagle Flight

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! Also don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some of  my adventures in action!

Bald Eagle Flight

 

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 🙂

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 flight  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 🙂

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