The Animals are More Civilized

Another magnificent morning in Eleven Mile Canyon with all the wild forest dwellers. I arrived at sunrise with my chair and camera and as always I set up camp along the banks of the South Platte at the entrance to the canyon. I love that spot, at sunrise the amount of activity is incredible and you never know what you are going to see! I’ve seen all manner of birds, including eagles, falcons and all kinds of aquatic birds… not to mention the ubiquitous red wing blackbirds, deer and even a beaver!

Great Blue Heron in Flight

My day started with a brief sighting of the ever busy beaver retrieving materials for his lodge well hidden in the reeds along the west bank of the South Platte. Unfortunately he disappeared into the cover of the thick reeds before I could even raise my camera. As I watched to see if he was going to re-emerge a huge Great Blue Heron exited the canyon and flew towards me. Fortunately my camera was already set up for birds in flight to prepare for my anticipated eagle sighting and I quickly started shooting.  My new camera “wildlife photography setup” paid off and I was able to capture a few good ones of the flight 🙂

Double-crested Cormorant in Flight

As I was looking downriver to see where the heron may have gone another huge bird which at first I thought was the heron coming back already, came winging up from the lake. It was a huge long necked black and orange aquatic bird which I was also fortunate enough to capture on such short notice. At the time I didn’t know what it was but later on the computer I was able to determine that it was a Double-crested Cormorant. By this time I was feeling pretty privileged!

Merganser duck and ducklings

No sooner had I sat back down to watch for the eagles, I heard a kerplop in the water right  beside me. As it turns out a little family of Common Merganser ducks had been hiding in the reeds right beside me and had jumped into the water for a swim 🙂 Mama with a couple of ducklings in tow swam across the river to the west bank in the pristine water of the South Platte reflecting the golden glow of a Colorado sunrise. I didn’t notice it at the time, but one of the ducklings was actually hitching a ride on mama’s back 🙂 Now I don’t see why these ducks are called “common”, to me they are amazing looking and decidedly uncommon!

Female Red Wing Blackbird

And of course if you run out of things to point your camera at, there is always the considerable Red-winged Blackbird population to entertain you. I thought this little female busying herself along the riverside was extremely cute! I was fortunate to catch her standing still for a few seconds in front of the dense reeds lining both shores 🙂

By now the sun was rising high in the eastern sky and the flurry of activity along the riverbank was beginning to subside. Unfortunately there was no sign of the eagle family, which I haven’t seen in at least a week. I assume they are still coming back to the nest at night, but if they do they are gone at the first hint of morning light.

Pair of Osprey

I decided to make the trek up the canyon to see what activity I might find at the osprey nest, while at the same time looking around for the unpredictable flock of falcon that sometimes occupy the cliff walls near the entrance. I had seen a few of them flying back and forth out of the range of my 400mm lens but I didn’t see any along the canyon wall. Soon the osprey nest came into view and I could see one of the amazing raptors inside. It was one of the two juvenile birds which took flight shortly after my arrival.  I climbed the eastern bank of the river and sat with all my gear in my usual seat in full view of the nest and entire river valley.

Osprey with a Fish

The youngsters entertained themselves by taking turns soaring high and swooping low, putting on a great show for this photographer 🙂 I sat on my perch for hours watching the action. The nesting pair soared together in a show of pure joy and companionship which I imagined had been seen by very few human eyes. After a couple of hours each of the four family members had taken a perch high on their own dead pine tree near the top of the west wall of the canyon. However during this down time I did get to witness some rare aerial conflict, at one point far beyond camera range the father bird left his perch to warn a vulture that had strayed too close, followed closely by a falcon who was also disturbed by the huge scavenger’s proximity. Interestingly however, the osprey and the falcon however seemed unconcerned with each other. Besides that , the osprey family remained relatively motionless for a couple of hours until I was about ready to give up.

However by this time it was getting close to noon and several times in recent days I had noticed the entire family at the nest at about that time, so I decided to remain and see if the pattern would continue. Sure enough, at

Osprey Bringing Fish

about 11:50, one of the young birds returned to the nest and took up a perch on one of the lower branches. Then at 12:15 the other youngster returned and perched on another branch under the nest. The father bird remained motionless on his perch overlooking the scene when all of a sudden mama appeared with a fish for the lunchtime gathering! It wasn’t long before the papa osprey left his perch and flew off towards Eleven Mile Reservoir on a fishing trip of his own. He soon returned with another fish for the family as they all gathered inside the nest for the feast. I was fascinated by this bit of osprey custom, and by the fact that the entire family within a few minutes seemed to know what time it was!

Osprey Soaring

Angry clouds had begun to gather behind me and I knew rain was not far in the future. The osprey too seemed to know that a rainstorm was up as the rare gathering of all four birds in the nest continued until my departure. The father bird rarely stays in the nest more than a few seconds after delivering his bounty so I surmised they were hunkering down in preparation for the inclement weather.

As I hustled down the canyon to the shelter of my truck I began to dread leaving this idyllic location only to return home to all the bad news sure to greet me on the television and on the internet. The animals all seemed so civilized, mothers and fathers taking care of their young, watching so carefully over their nests and offspring, children obediently following behind and learning the ropes of the animals life they would soon be growing into. In fact they seemed more civilized that the population of human savages that I was about to rejoin. It’s a sad state of affairs when the animal kingdom is more civilized than the humans. It is astonishing to me that the behavior we have recently seen is tolerated, and even more astonished that some of our leaders even seem to be encouraging the mayhem. I can only assume that somehow they think they will benefit from the chaos, but I think they will soon discover that they have made a grave miscalculation.

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!

 

 

Houston We Have Lift Off


Osprey Chick Learning to Fly

Well that’s it… all the osprey we have been watching all summer are officially in the air 🙂 About a week ago the older chick took his first tentative flight from the nest over to the top of a nearby cliff, after which he took the leap and soared high into the clear blue Colorado sky. Today the younger fledgling hopped up and down, wings flapping furiously in a sustained test flight above the nest.  Papa osprey took up his usual perch overlooking the area as he kept a watchful eye out for any danger to his family while mama left the nest  for a nearby perch to give the young one space to take the plunge out of the nest. The older offspring soared high overhead as if to give the nest bound chick the confidence to take the leap.

Osprey Chick First Flight

Anticipation was high as the entire valley knew something big was up… Then it happened, the nest was left behind with a flight that swooped low at first and then gained altitude as the exuberant raptor flapped his wings and soared high above the pristine waters of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. After a couple of triumphant fly by’s the young bird found a landing spot and took up a perch in a tall dead tree high on the canyon walls.

Osprey Chick First Flight

We watched for a long time, the young aviators joyfully taking turns soaring over the canyon to practice and show off their new skills. For a while the siblings actually flew simultaneously and perched side by side on a tree limb to celebrate the moment together.

Not much attention was paid to the nest on this day, it appears that the summer home as a social gathering point has become secondary as the new flyers learn to soar and hunt for themselves. It is with a twinge of sadness that I realize our task as photographers to document this momentous occasion may be complete for this breeding season, although I may journey further into the canyon to see if I can discover the best fishing spot in hopes that I may capture the victorious moment a meal is snatched out of the water.

Osprey Chick First Flight

I also wonder what next summer will bring, will the young ones find a mate and return to the canyon to nest and raise a family of their own? Or from their vantage point high above the bonds of earth will they spot a better location to continue the circle of life? Time will tell…  as my thoughts turn to autumn, changing colors and cooling temperatures, and the rut season for the big mammals… the bighorn sheep, elk and deer.

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!

Eleven Mile Canyon Collection

Young bald eagle soaring past the cliffs

It was another wonderful day in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado, not there is such a thing as a bad day in the canyon… unless of course you managed to fall off a cliff into the raging river??? Today I got some great shots of the young eagle in flight, a mule deer fawn, the papa osprey coming back from a fishing trip to feed his family and some nice shots of the river and the canyon itself 🙂

Bald Eagle Fledgling Soaring

Anyway, it occurred to me that I really needed to add an Eleven Mile Canyon collection on my website for just these very special images! Plus I know I will be visiting that place many more times to capture as many images as humanly possible of the amazing wildlife that can be found there! If you want to purchase a print or gift from this collection just click the link and enter the collection, or gallery as some would call it, click on an image you like and all the prices and product options will become available!

Fawn Mule Deer at Eleven Mile Canyon

So I started the day at the riverbank where the eagles usually hang around. The youngster was perched on a tree branch and mama was perched on another tree branch much further away. Eventually the eaglet put on a good show, circling a couple of times, flying past the cliffs and landing back on a perch near the nest. Somewhere along the timeline mama eagle had taken flight probably going back around the cliffs on a fishing trip, and never returned during my visit.

Mule Deer at Eleven Mile

While I waited for action at the eagles nest, a cute fawn mule deer went past on the other side of the river, eventually followed by mom who was obviously looking for the little tyke! She was on the right path so I imagine she managed to find him soon enough 🙂 Also entertaining me while I waited for the money shots were a gaggle of Canada Geese deep dive fishing in the water and some red winged blackbirds. The usual swallows were swooping around but they continue to evade my lens with their great speed!

Father Osprey and Fish

Next on my agenda was a journey up the canyon to check on the osprey family. I’m thinking we should be getting pretty close to seeing the chicks take flight. The oldest baby is almost the color of an adult and the other two seem to be a week or two behind in development. I noticed when I arrived that the father wasn’t in his usual position as sentry on a dead tree above the nesting area so I was hoping he would soon put on a good show, returning from his morning escapades. I was not disappointed, it wasn’t long and he swooped in and delivered a fish to his eagerly awaiting family! He made a fairly dramatic approach, gripping the fish with talons extended, while the youngsters were all looking intently at him with great anticipation 🙂

Osprey in Flight

I waited a while on my own perch hoping for more action, but it looked like the raptor family was just settling down for their morning nap. I decided to head on up the canyon a ways to photograph the scenery for my new collection before heading for home to examine the day’s bounty 🙂

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!

Whitewater of the South Platte River

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!

An Unexpected Swim

Pair of Deer at Waters Edge

Had a startling and most unexpected experience yesterday while out taking pictures! I was standing on the east bank of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon watching for the eagles to return from their morning fishing trip when I heard some rustling in the reeds on the opposite bank. I thought it might be the beaver getting ready for his morning swim down the river so I readied my camera with the proper settings for such an event.

It wasn’t long and much to my surprise a doe mule deer poked her head out of the reeds to get a drink, or so I thought. I started snapping and after a few seconds another deer appeared behind the first one 🙂 I made sure to capture an image with the both of them before they walked right out into the water towards me.  Pretty soon another one came out from the reeds and joined them in their journey

Trio of deer in the Water

downstream.

I continued to photograph them wading across the river when I noticed even more deer, bucks and does a little way downstream were also crossing the river in the beautiful morning light and shimmering water. And to top off the experience, I was even able to capture the foothills of the San Isabel National  Forest in the background. Incredible, just incredible 🙂

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!

Deer at Waters Edge

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 Osprey Family

Gray mountain jay getting a drink

A visit to Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado can never be a disappointment and today turned out better than usual 🙂 Of course I had to check on the eagles when I arrived but they were already gone from the nest. It was a beautiful morning so I imagine they were soaring high above Eleven Mile Reservoir in search of fish for their lunch.

So I drove over to the entrance and paid my fee to enter the park. I cruised along slowly over the awful washboard dirt road hoping not to shake my poor old truck apart 😦 I’ve photographed the river rapids so many times that I really wasn’t looking for the best scenery in the river, I was more looking up on the cliff on the west bank for eagles or hawks. It wasn’t long and I

Robin by the River

spotted a nest on a dead tree right on the other side of the river, so I stopped to check it out.

I was surprised to notice a little movement in the nest so I got out my long lens and found a spot for a better look. I could barely make out a couple of little heads moving around in the nest so I went down to the river for a couple of shots. Fortunately a little grey bird flew in to entertain me during the semi down time, stopping for a drink in the golden water of a Rocky Mountain sunrise. Eventually the little fellow flew away and a robin came to visit with a mouthful of weeds she was apparently planning to use for her nest.

Osprey Mother and Chick

I went back up to the bank and was happy to see that the large birds were starting to rustle around. It wasn’t long before one of the birds flew out and took up a perch on a tree branch that was a good distance away. I snapped a few pictures which I may have a use for someday, but I ended up with much better ones that are commanding my attention first.

Soon I could see the mama bird and a couple of little ones stirring around. The mama caught me by surprise by suddenly flying off and I was upset that I missed my chance for an in flight shot. It wasn’t long though and she was on her way  back with a large twig in her beak which she promptly installed in the nest. Then she was ready to go again, and this time I was ready 🙂

Osprey Taking Flight

After shooting in from that location for a while I wondered if I could find higher ground that would give me a better view of the nest. I looked around and it appeared that the mountain behind me was climbable so I started the climb the steep slope. Eventually I spotted a nice rock that looked like a good seat where I would be able to steady the camera on my knee and have a good 180 degree view of the river over the trees and bushes.

Osprey Taking Flight

The beautiful raptors put on quite a show… the little ones stood up exercised their wings in what appears to be very early attempts to go airborne. They have a ways to go though, they didn’t seem to get any lift yet, where the eaglet I have been watching can easily catch an air current and rise quite a few feet out of the nest. It did make for a great photo op though, the whole event lasting maybe a minute. I got the idea to try to film some video and did manage to capture some cute mother chick interaction and have created a YouTube video for my channel. It’s a beautiful five minute capture of the sights and sounds of my day set to music, so give it a click and a like and subscribe to my channel if you would like to see more!

Osprey in Flight

Finally the father bird left his perch high in the trees and flew off towards the reservoir and after a few minutes he returned with a stick of his own, putting on quite a show by circling the nest several times before delivering his contribution to the nest construction. I thought he would quickly fly off again but he hopped out of the nest and took up a perch on  one of the dead tree branches forming the foundation for the nest.

Osprey Portrait

It was such a good pose that I decided to try for a portrait and attached my 1.4x lens extension. By this time the sun was getting hot and I was fully aware of the male raptor’s patience for sitting on a perch. He had occupied his tree for a couple of hours before taking flight this time, and it was getting hot and the lovely morning light was giving way to the harsh midday sun… I decided this would be a good time to head for home and take a look at what the day had given me 🙂

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!

Playing it by Ear

Doe Portrait

Today had no official plan, I knew I would wake up and have coffee… that’s a given. Sometimes I just fall back to sleep, puppies warming my lap are too much to overcome, at least in time to get out  before the heat of the day. Today however was a normal day… I may have fallen asleep again but my eyes were open again before the sunrise began to show through the eastern curtains.

As usual I proceeded to my favorite local trailhead and began the trek up the steep hill to the top of the ridge. However after about 50 yards I just turned back around. I haven’t seen any wildlife up there all summer and didn’t believe today would be any different. Rumors have been circulating about a moose roaming Bison Res so I thought it

Beaver Swimming

might be worth checking that out. Unfortunately the res is a private fishing hole and the entire road to it is gated and marked private.

I decided plan C was going to be a search for the bighorn sheep on highway 67… to no avail. Onward to Woodland Park… one of my favorite hikes is Paradise Open Space… from there you can go east or west and if you are really feeling ambitious you can climb all the way to the summit of Bald Mountain! That’s a tough tough climb though and my legs are tired and I wasn’t in the mood for

American Pelican in Flight

such a rigorous challenge. So I just climbed the hill and hiked along the ridge where I was fortunate to spot a deer peering at me from the dense trees of the Pike National Forest. She looked curiously at me for a few seconds and took a few steps toward me, plenty of time to snap off a couple of shots. Then she crossed the trail in front of me and vanished into the woods. I took a seat on a convenient tree stump hoping for the rest of the herd to meander up the trail but the doe I saw must have been the straggler. A half hour of sitting and listening to the birds can never be a  bad thing though!

After my hike I drove to another trailhead in the area and took a short hike to a nice

American Pelican in Flight

clearing where I hoped I would see some more deer but no, nothing  but the birds singing from high in the tall pine trees.

So I picked up a few supplies in town and headed to Lake George and the entrance to Eleven Mile Canyon for a check on the eagles. There was no sign of either the adults or the eaglet but I had arrived just before 10:00 a.m., right when a lot of eagle action has been known to happen so I resolved to sit and watch until 11:00. The eagles never appeared but I did see a White American Pelican, a beaver swimming in the river and a little family of merganser ducks, a mama and a few ducklings 🙂 And of course the ever present red wing blackbirds

Female Common Merganser Duck and ducklings

and sparrows were flying all about, keeping me entertained while I awaited my target. The eagles never showed but it was an hour well spent, time along the pristine waters of the South Platte is never without reward! I opted not to spend the $7 to actually enter the park as it was getting pretty hot and the light too harsh for interesting photographs.

Now I’m just spending the rest of my day Grillin’ and Chillin’ 🙂 Grilling some plant based hot Italian sausages… doing my part to put the ranchers out of business and free up federal land for those more deserving… the coyotes, wolves and wild horses mainly! I urge more of you to do the same, the plant based meat is quite tasty and ridding the land of ranchers and their stinking cattle is well worth the sacrifice!

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!

Week in June

Pair of Mule Deer

Quite a week it has been, three awesome photo adventures with photography buddy Kevin, eagles at Eleven Mile Canyon, a Wilson’s Warbler on a great hike to Anne-Marie Falls on Pikes Peak and a long desired photo trip to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Reserve near Denver Colorado 🙂

Last Saturday we had planned to make the hike to the pond on the Twin Rocks Trail in the Fossil Beds National Monument. Unfortunately not long after I arrived it had started to sprinkle and by the time Kevin got there we were in a full fledged rain storm with more to come throughout the day. The rain let up for a few minutes but we decided that we really didn’t want to get caught in a rain storm several miles back into the mountains.

Eventually we decided to go to Eleven Mile Canyon instead where we could quickly

Mother Bald Eagle with Her Eaglet

retreat to the shelter of the vehicle in the event of a rainstorm. It was raining when we got there so we just drove all the way to the end of the canyon making a mental not of all the good spots along the way.  I shot quite a few of the roaring river on the way back out but unfortunately I’m not really too thrilled with any of those images. The eagle at mouth of the canyon was however another matter! She and her eaglet were putting on quite a show 🙂 I had photographed the eagle and her youngster last winter, but the little one isn’t very little anymore! The little guy is almost full grown now and getting very close to flight. I was privileged to witness the eaglet spreading his young wings in the wind while gaining a few inches of altitude above the nest with mama eagle looking on intently.

Wilson's Warbler

Sunday was supposed to  be a much more hospitable morning so we decided to hike back out to Anne-Marie Falls on Pikes Peak in search of the little yellow Wilson’s Warbler. After arriving  we didn’t see any action so we took up a good vantage point and just waited. Eventually the diminutive bird began to circle in closer and closer and we were able to capture quite a few poses before he grew bored with the game and departed into the dense forest.

The day for our planned journey to the Arsenal arrived with an unexpected winter storm. I was tempted to bail, but the storm was supposed to give way by mid morning to a sunny pleasant day so I decided to chance the drive over the pass. It had been pretty warm all week and the snow was just melting on the roads at 3:00 a.m. when I arose so I really didn’t think there was  going to be a problem.

I was wrong… I didn’t encounter any snow on the roads on the way up the pass but by

American Bison and Denver Skyline

the time I got to Divide it was a total whiteout and the snow was piling up on the road. There was so much snow that I couldn’t even tell what lane I was in 😦 Eventually as we descended out of the mountains the snow gave way to rain and we were out of danger. However when we got to the arsenal it was still raining pretty hard so for he first hour we were having to shoot out the window and many pictures were ruined by the  lack of a good shooting angle 😦 Eventually the weather did clear and we got some wonderful images of buffalo, deer, pelicans, a blue heron and a few other kinds of small birds including the elusive swallows that have been taunting us for the last few days.

Female Redwing Black Bird

Today of course finds me at the computer monitor trying to deal with the couple thousand images that have been piling up on my computer these days! As always these images and more will be available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift and tech items are also available including t-shirts, coffee mugs, battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and pillows and much more!

Canada Geese and Goslings